USA Basketball

Five-star small forward Justise Winslow commits to Duke


Less than a week ago Duke received commitments from point guard Tyus Jones and center Jahlil Okafor, and on Thursday afternoon Mike Krzyzewski’s recruiting haul got even better as 2014 five-star forward Justise Winslow followed suit. Winslow, who attends the St. John’s School in Houston, Texas, joins the aforementioned duo and shooting guard Grayson Allen in Duke’s 2014 class.

There are some moving pieces to consider when evaluating Duke in 2014, with Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton being seniors and the possibility of Jabari Parker being a lottery pick in next summer’s NBA Draft (should he decided to leave school, of course). Adding Winslow, a player capable of scoring both inside and out, to the equation gives Duke a skilled forward more than capable of competing for playing time immediately on the wing.

Winslow chose Duke over UCLA, Arizona, Texas A&M and Florida, with a few wondering if the Bruins (with an assist from signee Kevon Looney) would be able to pull off the recruiting “upset” in the end. But Winslow chose Duke, joining forces with two teammates on the United States under-19 team in Okafor and guard Rasheed Sulaimon. And like Sulaimon, Winslow is a product of the Houston Hoops grassroots program.

During this past summer’s Under-19 World Championships Winslow posted averages of 9.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, ranking fourth on the team in scoring and second in rebounding behind Arizona freshman Aaron Gordon. The 6-foot-6 Winslow was one of two high school players on the roster, with Okafor being the other.

Here are a few clips of Winslow in action with the Houston Hoops.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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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 cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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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?