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The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Skirting the rules (Sports on Earth)
Recruiting obviously has a major impact on college basketball, with the nation’s top recruits making their decisions on national television and a number of games at the high school/grassroots level being televised. And with the way recruiting goes these days there have been plenty of accusations, either directly or indirectly, of cheating. So why have rules regulating it?

Meet Kansas’ Joel Embiid, a Cameroon native blossoming into a top NBA prospect (Bleacher Report)
Andrew Wiggins isn’t the only productive freshman on Kansas’ roster, with Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene also factoring into the rotation. And there’s also center Joel Embiid, whose upside has turned many NBA executives into fans at this early point in the season.

“Package deal” for former Cooper star Vaughn draws scrutiny (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
When package deals are discussed these days, more often than not the conversation is about two players committing to the same school. But in the case of five-star 2014 prospect Rashad Vaughn, his move to Findlay Prep along with assistant coach/mentor Pete Kaffey has raised eyebrows in Minneapolis.

The Jumper (Slam Magazine)
We don’t discuss too much women’s basketball on here, so the name Maggie Lucas likely isn’t a familiar one. But the Penn State senior guard is one of the nation’s best players, and she’s the leader of a team that plays six freshmen and hopes to make a run at the Big Ten title.

The magic of negative motivation (Ken Pomeroy)
Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson made some headlines late Tuesday with his remarks following a loss at Murray State. Many laughed and even applauded the coach for making those statements. With this being the case, do we tend to give coaches the benefit of the doubt in these situations? It’s definitely something to consider.

Thoughts on the freshman hype and how it’s been covered (NBA Draft Blog)
The top freshmen have received a lot of attention this season, be it at the college level or in the professional ranks with many noting which teams may be tanking for a better shot at the top pick. But the hype may be a case of “too much, too soon,” as the cart is being put before the horse so to speak.

Jump hook proving an extremely effective weapon for Niang (Ames Tribune)
Iowa State sophomore forward Georges Niang has been highly productive this season, posting averages of 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. And he has a weapon of choice on the block as well, with the jump hook proving to be a skill few opponents have been able to stop.

Bruins’ basketball success seems like ancient pyramid history (Los Angeles Times)
Of the 11 national titles won by UCLA just one came after John Wooden’s tenure came to an end, with Jim Harrick’s 1994-95 team winning the program’s last national title. And in a program that only hangs one kind of banner, getting back to those heights is something fans demand. Enter Steve Alford, who’s looking to return the Bruins to the top of college basketball.

Chaz Williams plays for past, future (ESPN)
UMass senior point guard Chaz Williams is one of the most exciting players in college basketball, leading the way for a program that’s ranked for the first time since 1998. And he’s got two sources of inspiration as he looks to help the Minutemen return to the NCAA tournament, his late father and his young daughter.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.