Jason Capel

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


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.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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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

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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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.