Jason Capel

Appalachian State responds regarding status of Devonte Graham

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The case of one-time Appalachian State signee Devonte Graham is certainly an interesting one, with the player looking to be released from his National Letter of Intent and the school refusing to honor this request. The school’s reasoning behind its decision centers around its belief that Graham was tampered with after signing the NLI, thus resulting in his request to be released.

With the calls of many growing louder that Appalachian State should release Graham, the school released a statement regarding the matter Friday afternoon. One of the school’s biggest problems with the matter is the idea that Graham’s being “held hostage” due to their refusal to release him from the NLI.

“While we understand that it is en vogue for the media to hammer away at the perceived bureaucracy of the NCAA, recruiting rules and guidelines are in place to protect student-athletes and NCAA institutions alike,” the school noted in the statement. “Without them, recruiting would be utter chaos. Also, while we greatly appreciate the advocacy of the national media covering men’s basketball, especially related to reforms in recruiting practices as a whole, we are confident that those who have shared their opinions over the past 24 hours are not aware of the full circumstances in this particular situation.

“If all of the facts regarding the situation and how it has unfolded since last spring were to come to light, we believe that the opinions that we are holding a student-athlete “hostage” would change. It would be very disappointing if not.”

So, what could the “full circumstances” of this situation be? As noted above, there’s a feeling that Graham was tampered with despite having signed the NLI to attend Appalachian State. As for the school in question, the entire situation is being investigated currently by the NCAA according to Appalachian State. While there’s no proof as to which school may have tampered with Graham, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com did send out the following tweet Friday afternoon:

Whether or not there was tampering is up to those investigating the case to decide, and N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried denied the allegations according to ESPN. Regardless, many will argue that Appalachian State should simply release Graham and let him go on his way. But can they really be blamed for being upset about this matter? And more importantly, if a recruit is in a position where he may change his mind why sign?

This situation is different than what Top 25 prospects encounter, as it’s difficult to see their school of choice refusing to take them on if they decide to sign only the grant-in-aid as opposed to signing the NLI as well. For other players there could be a fear that not signing the NLI would lead to the school recruiting over them. But if anything can be learned from Graham’s situation, it’s that a recruit better be sure before signing on the dotted line.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.