Shaka Smart

2014 forward Michael Gilmore becomes VCU’s fourth verbal commitment

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With two of their three seniors entering the 2013-14 season being big men Juvonte Reddic and Terrance Shannon, the VCU Rams have some room for new additions in the front court. Thursday afternoon it was reported by multiple outlets that head coach Shaka Smart received a fourth verbal commitment in the 2014 class in the form of 6-foot-9 forward Michael Gilmore.

Gilmore, who joins forwards Terry Larrier and Justin Tillman and guard Jonathan Williams, picked VCU over Kansas State, Georgia Tech and Miami. Gilmore attends Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Fla., and during the spring/summer he played with the Each 1 Teach 1 grassroots program that won the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam. That team included Duke commit Grayson Allen and North Carolina commit Joel Berry.

Gilmore’s seen as a top 100 prospect by multiple recruiting services, and his versatility will be an asset for the VCU program, which is looking to strengthen its status as one of the stronger programs in the Atlantic 10. The recruiting class the Rams have reeled in to this point will certainly help in that regard.

While Reddic and Shannon will be out of eligibility after this season, that doesn’t mean VCU will have a bare cupboard when Gilmore, Larrier and Tillman arrive on campus. Jarred Guest (2.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg in 2012-13) will have eligibility remaining, as will freshmen Mo-Alie Cox (redshirted last season) and Antravious Simmons.

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?