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Wichita State won’t take part in Tip-Off Showcase event in Dallas

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It’s official: Wichita State will not be taking part in the Tip-Off Showcase in Dallas on November 8th, the first day of games this season.

The event was originally supposed to be a quadruple-header at the American Airlines Center, a way to tie the start of the year to the city where the season will come to a close; the Final Four will be played at Cowboys Stadium this year.

But Texas and LSU dropped out, leaving us with a triple-header that features a couple of pretty good matchups — Baylor-Colorado and Oklahoma-Alabama will do well to whet the college hoops appetite — with a local battle between SMU and TCU crammed in as well.

Wichita State was one of the teams that was targeted to replace Texas and LSU, which would have been fantastic for everyone involved. The Shockers are coming off of a run to the 2013 Final Four, they have a passionate following and are one of the strongest mid-major programs in the country, entering this season as a top 25 team. As Matt Norlander wrote here, finding a big name to square them off against would have been an ideal way to kick off the college hoops season.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. From Nordy:

There was a scramble to get Wichita State into the event for a quadruple-header, but those plans fell through. Sources told that LSU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State passed. Had Florida State landed Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2013 (now at Kansas), there were tentative plans to get them into the event.

Sources also said Texas was initially involved in the Tip-Off Showcase but pulled out in the spring, causing organizers to hustle for a makeup game that eventually never came to fruition. Getting local teams to the arena was a primary initiative (thus why Oklahoma, TCU, SMU and Baylor are in play), and Wichita State qualified, but a worthy draw of opponent wouldn’t step in.

This is what happens when mid-majors get good.

No one wants to play them. That’s why the Shockers will be forced to kick off their season against something called Emporia State.

Gregg Marshall better get used to this is he plans to keep on winning games in March.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

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Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.