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.
With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.
Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.
“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”
Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.
Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.
“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.
“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”
Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group. Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.
As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.