With the start of the regular season inching closer the Georgetown Hoyas had a significant question that needed answering: when would UCLA transfer Joshua Smith be eligible to play in games? Smith transferred to the Big East school in January after playing six games for the Bruins last season, and it was unknown how long he’d have to sit out.
Wednesday evening the school announced that Smith has been cleared by the NCAA to play immediately, giving Georgetown some additional interior depth for the upcoming season. He’ll have four semesters (two years) of eligibility remaining.
“We are excited that the NCAA has approved the waiver for Joshua,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said in the release. “Now, he has to maintain a high level of commitment on and off the court. He will provide a significant low-post presence for this team.”
In two-plus seasons as a Bruin Smith, who was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, posted averages of 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. But due to weight (and the subsequent stamina) issues the Kent, Wash. native played an average of just 19 minutes per contest.
In a a story written by Andy Katz of ESPN.com back in August it was reported that Smith had lost around 40 pounds since arriving at Georgetown, down to 310 pounds after playing at 350 while at UCLA. If he’s continued on that path of eating properly and working hard in the weight room, Smith has the talent needed to be a valuable piece for the Hoyas as the look to win the Big East.
But that was something said throughout Smith’s time in Westwood, with the changes necessary for him to be the best player possible never taking place. It’s all a matter of commitment for Smith, and if it remains present both he and Georgetown stand to benefit.
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 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?