D.J. Bowles

Wichita State denies D.J. Bowles medical clearance due to cardiac condition

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With doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota implanting a implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in Wichita State freshman guard D.J. Bowles’ heart last week, the conversation transitioned to when he’d be back to full strength and whether or not he would be able to return to the basketball court. On Friday afternoon Wichita State announced that they’ve denied Bowles medical clearance, but the school will honor his scholarship for all four years.

“Our main concern is the health and well-being of D.J. for the rest of his life,” Wichita State director of athletics Eric Sexton said in the release. “He is an outstanding young man from a great family who has had a very traumatic 17 days. We hope that he will stay and complete his education at Wichita State, and have extended the commitment to honor his scholarship to he and his family.”

Bowles collapsed in practice on September 3, and local doctors were unable to pinpoint the reason for his collapse. From Wichita, Bowles went to the Mayo Clinic for more tests and ultimately the implanting of the ICD. To say the least the situation is a difficult one for all involved (most importantly Bowles), with the young man’s playing career at Wichita State coming to an end before it even began.

Bowles’ situation brings back memories of what Emmanuel Negedu went through in the spring of 2010, when the University of Tennessee denied him medical clearance after he suffered sudden cardiac arrest during a preseason workout in September 2009. A month after that decision was made Negedu was off to New Mexico, where he played in ten games during the 2010-11 season. Negedu was pulled from a game against The Citadel due to his internal defibrillator issued a reading that resulted in team trainers pulling him off the court, and sadly that was the last action he’d see as a Lobo.

Will Bowles attempt to take a path similar to that of Negedu? That remains to be seen, and one can only imagine the heartbreaking feeling that comes with having your career end prematurely due to a medical issue. But while it would be great to see Bowles back on the court at some point, his health is what truly matters.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”