Draft withdrawal snafu places FIU guard Raymond Taylor’s eligibility in jeopardy

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On Thursday evening it was reported by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that Florida International guard Raymond Taylor was forced to sit out the Panthers’ game against Bethune-Cookman due to the school and NCAA looking into questions regarding his eligibility. The issue: whether or not Taylor, who entered his name into the 2012 NBA Draft, withdrew his name ahead of the NCAA’s April 10 deadline.

According to the report if it’s found that Taylor in fact missed the deadline, his eligibility could be in jeopardy. Taylor did not play at FIU last season after transferring in from FAU, but prior to that decision Taylor considered turning pro.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said in an email Thursday that a player can declare one time for the draft without losing their eligibility “as long as they are not drafted by a professional team and as long as they declare their intention to resume playing for their college team before the first day of the spring signing period, typically in April.”

Taylor did not. Based on the NBA releases, Taylor waited until sometime between May 3 and June 20 — after the early-signing period began — to withdraw.

One question to be asked here is how this situation, which occurred more than a year ago, is just now being addressed. Maybe Taylor, who’s averaging 12.2 points and 6.2 assists per game for Anthony Evans’ squad, was “lost in the shuffle” due to his decision to transfer from FAU to FIU. But isn’t this the responsibility of the compliance office, to make sure that a prospective student-athlete doesn’t have any issues that could place their eligibility in jeopardy?

As for the deadline itself, while the early April date is an inconvenience for players (and some programs will even tell players to go by the NBA’s withdrawal deadline) it is there. And when you’re a fringe (at best) prospect like Taylor, it becomes even more important to make sure that there are no such issues. Hopefully he’s allowed to return to the court at some point this season, but while ruling Taylor permanently ineligible would look to be harsh it’s difficult to take the convenient route and blame the NCAA for this one.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.