The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Duke deliveries by Santa (Duke Blue Planet)
Many college basketball fans across the country received presents that featured their favorite teams/players. Duke’s official blog compiled some of the things Blue Devil fans found under their trees on Christmas Day.

Chris Collins embraces challenge of leading Northwestern to NCAAs (USA Today)
Bill Carmody was relieved of his duties in the spring, with his inability to lead Northwestern to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history being one of the main reasons why. In his place is former Duke assistant Chris Collins, who has embraced the challenge in front of him.

No looking back: A new life and a new-ish game suit Chier Ajou just fine (Inside Northwestern)
One of the players on Collins’ squad is big man Chier Ajou, whose trek to Northwestern is an incredible one. Ajou’s a native of South Sudan, a land that has dealt with a violent power struggle for years. And after playing in just seven games last season, Ajou’s working to become a player who can earn consistent minutes in the new system.

Foreign-born players becoming more commonplace in college basketball (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Ajou was one of 333 foreign-born college basketball players last season, and a player who joined him in those ranks this season is Louisville’s Mangok Mathiang. Mathiang’s also a native of South Sudan, and his trek from the war-torn nation to Louisville began at the age of five.

From Philly to Texas: Aaric Murray now an NBA prospect again (CSN Philly)
Texas Southern forward Aaric Murray’s taken quite the road to the Houston-based school, spending time at both La Salle and West Virginia in his first four seasons (playing three) of college basketball. Now under the tutelage of John Lucas, Murray’s blossomed into the player he was able to only show flashes of in each of his two prior stops.

The commonality of the 40-point scorer in college basketball (CBS Sports)
With scoring in college basketball up from a team standpoint, college basketball has seen a rise in the number of individuals who have scored 40 points or more in a game this season. And the four-game slate on Christmas Day didn’t yield a 40-point scorer, ending a streak of five straight days in which a player reaching that mark.

Marcus Posley has no regrets over college change (Rockford Register Star)
After making the MAC All-Freshman team at Ball State last season, Marcus Posley made the decision to transfer to Indian Hills JC. It’s a decision that Posley doesn’t regret at all, and it’s one that has benefitted Indian Hills as well.

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?