Jason Capel

If reports are true, it’s time for Jason Capel to release Devonte Graham

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By now, you should all know that the National Letter of Intent system is incredibly unfair for the athletes that are forced to sign it.

Devonte’ Graham is the latest example.

Graham is a point guard from Raliegh that played for the Garner Road AAU program and, last September, committed to go to Appalachian State. He signed a letter of intent during the early signing period, but after a successful high school season, a couple of bigger schools began poking around. So Graham asked out of his NLI, but Appalachian State head coach Jason Capel refused to give him a release, according to a report from Adam Zagoria.

Graham opted to go to prep school at Brewster Academy instead of enrolling at Appalachian State, and since he’s been there, he’s garnered interest from UConn, Pittsburgh, Creighton, Providence and Rhode Island. But he can’t get a release, so unless he wants to risk sitting out a season and losing a year of eligibility, Graham is in a bind.

If Capel, his head coach, had gotten some interest from a bigger program, he could have up and left without a moment’s notice, which is part of the reason that signing an NLI is so one-sided. It’s a legally binding document that is punitive only if the player decides to leave. Ask Richard Amardi. He signed an NLI with Iowa State, but when they ran out of scholarships, he was kicked to the curb.

The irony here?

If Capel had actually gotten a better job, Graham probably would have been granted a release by now.

Here’s what I don’t understand: why is Capel putting up this much of a fight? Why isn’t he letting Graham go off on his own way? He already forced the kid to delay his enrollment in college for a year by refusing to release him, now he’s going to try to cost the kid a year of eligibility and a redshirt season?

What’s he trying to accomplish? Does he want to burn bridges with Garner Road, one of the stronger AAU programs in the Mid-Atlantic? Is he really that ticked off that a player wants a chance to play in a bigger conference? Is it really worth the negative publicity? And if he eventually gets Graham to come to Appalachian State because he doesn’t want to lose that year, does he really think he’s going to be able to repair that relationship?

I get it, Jason.

You’re mad.

I’d be mad, too.

But it’s time to let it go.

Don’t try and hurt the kid’s career anymore because you feel like you got played. The ‘Vengeful Adult’ is not a role any coach should play.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: