Chris Mack

Chris Mack to sign 12-year old Trey Couch to Letter of Intent

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Normally, I’m thoroughly against the idea of recruiting athletes that are in the seventh grade, but I have to give credit to Chris Mack.

On Monday, the Xavier head coach signed 12 year old Trey Couch of Liberty Township to a National Letter of Intent.

Couch may be young and it may be against the strictest of NCAA rules, but it’s for a good cause. Couch has Cerebellar Degeneration, a neurodegenerative disease. He was diagnosed in 2010. The disease has no cure.

“This is a great opportunity for our team,” Mack said in a statement. “Sometimes we look at our everyday challenges and think we have it tough. We try to teach our student-athletes that there are a lot stiffer challenges that other people have to face.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to join my new teammates in the locker room and on the court,” said Trey.

Trey was teamed up with Xavier through Team IMPACT, a program that tries to improve the quality of life for kids facing life-threatening battles with disease. Trey will join Mack at a press conference at 4:30 p.m. on Monday to announce the signing.

Team IMPACT had a pair of brothers sign an NLI with Bradley earlier this month.

As a member of a Division I basketball program now, Trey is going to be a media magnet. The first thing Chris Mack ought to do is to get him into media training. When asked who his favorite team is, Trey, with a smile, answered “Kentucky”.

It’s gotta be Xavier now, little man.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?