NCAA suspends Frank Haith five games, docks Miami three scholarships

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Missouri head coach Frank Haith has been suspended five games by the NCAA for violations that he committed while the head coach at Miami, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

“The former head men’s basketball coach failed to meet his responsibilities as a head coach when he did not monitor the activities of his assistant coaches, and attempted to cover up the booster’s threats to disclose incriminating information, according to the committee. Additionally, two assistant football coaches and one assistant men’s basketball coach did not follow NCAA ethical conduct rules,” the NCAA’s report stated.

The suspension shouldn’t hurt Missouri too much. Their first five opponents? Southeastern Louisiaina, Southern Illinois, Hawai’i, Gardner-Webb and IUPUI. George Hill ain’t walking through that door.

Back in February, Haith was charged with “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance” stemming from a story written by Yahoo! Sports in 2011. Haith was reported to have had knowledge of a $10,000 payment given to DeQuan Jones, a top 25 recruit. Nevin Shaprio, a convicted Ponzi-schemer and admitted booster for the Miami football program, told Yahoo! that he had given the money to assistant coach Jake Morton.

Morton, who was an assistant coach at Western Kentucky until April when he resigned, was not given a show-cause penalty by the NCAA, but Jorge Fernandez, who was most recently an assistant at Marshall, did receive a two-year show-cause. That news was reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

Miami will also lose one basketball scholarship for each of the next three years, putting Jim Larrañaga in an even more difficult position as he tries to rebuild the program after losing six of his top seven players from last year’s ACC champions.

Here are the details the NCAA dug up on Miami hoops:

Two former assistant men’s basketball coaches looked to the booster to entertain high school and nonscholastic coaches of prospects. A former assistant men’s basketball coach did not follow NCAA ethical conduct rules when he provided false information during his interviews about providing airline points for a flight to a prospect and his high school coach. Despite giving the high school coach his airline account information to purchase flights with frequent flyer miles, the former assistant men’s basketball coach stated he did not know his airline points were used. During the hearing, the former assistant men’s basketball coach then admitted that he provided false information.

When the booster began experiencing financial trouble, he requested that the former head men’s basketball coach loan him a large sum of money or that the former head men’s basketball coach return the booster’s $50,000 donation. The former head men’s basketball coach denied the booster’s request; however, a former assistant men’s basketball coach agreed to loan the booster $7,000, which the booster eventually repaid. After the booster was incarcerated in 2010, he began to threaten the former head men’s basketball coach and assistant coach and demand money. The committee determined the former head men’s basketball coach and the former assistant men’s basketball coach worked together to make sure the booster received $10,000 to end the booster’s threats.

The former head men’s basketball coach was aware of the booster’s threats and he took steps to help a former assistant men’s basketball coach to make a payment to the booster’s mother to end the threats. As the leader of a high-profile basketball program, he had a responsibility to make sure he and his staff followed the rules. However, the former coach did not meet his responsibilities and this conduct resulted in violations. The committee noted that had he asked about the basis of the threats and the former assistant coaches’ relationship with the booster, he could have recognized potential concerns or taken the issue to the compliance office.

The Hurricane athletic department will accept all sanctions, which means that this saga, which has dragged on for years, will more-or-less end today.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.