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.
Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.
News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.
Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.
Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.