Illinois State forward Deontae “Teddy” Hawkins will have plenty of opportunities to show his skills in the Missouri Valley Conference during the 2014-15 season, but it won’t come against Wichita State.
That’s because the 6’8” Hawkins, who signed with the Shockers in the fall of 2011, will have to sit out both of Illinois State’s games against Wichita State during the 2014-15 season as part of a ruling by the Missouri Valley Conference and league commissioner Doug Elgin, according to a report from Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports.
Since Hawkins jumped from one Valley program to another, he fell under a rule that made him sit out two years for any intra-league transfer but Illinois State petitioned for a waiver for Hawkins since he had never actually enrolled at Wichita State or took a class at Wichita State as the rule indicates.
The Redbirds asked the Valley to allow Hawkins to play in all Missouri Valley contests in 2014-15 except the two games against the Shockers and the Valley agreed to the proposition after a meeting with five league officials.
“We think it served to protect the balance of interests between Wichita State, Illinois State and also the conference,” Elgin said in the Yahoo! Sports story. “There are competing interests when you have a situation like this, and all of these kinds of cases are complex. There was an initial consideration that he’d sit not only the two regular season games against Wichita State but also should the two meet in the tournament, but it was decided the two games were enough.”
Hawkins didn’t qualify academically at Wichita State after initially signing the letter of intent and enrolled at Quakerdale Promise Academy for a year of prep school for the 2012-13 season. Hawkins then committed to Illinois State this fall and because of his status as a non-qualifier, is not allowed to play or practice with the Redbirds throughout the 2013-14 season. Hawkins will have four years to complete four years of eligibility beginning with the 2014-15 season.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.