Suspended guard Brandon Austin elects to leave Providence

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Just two days before Christmas, Providence College announced that freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, who were suspended prior to the start of the season, would remain suspended for the remainder of the season due to a violation of the school’s Code of Conduct. With that ruling being handed down, the two freshmen had a decision to make: either remain in school (they would be allowed to work out with the team) or transfer to another institution.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Austin has decided to transfer. A highly regarded perimeter prospect from Philadelphia, Austin was expected to be an immediate contributor for Ed Cooley’s Friars. And with Kris Dunn out for the season due to a shoulder injury, Austin would have been of even greater help to a rotation that has relied heavily on senior Bryce Cotton thus far.

“We wish Brandon success with his basketball career and with his academic future,” Cooley said in the school release announcing Austin’s departure.

McNamara’s story also mentioned a couple possible destinations for the 6-foot-6 guard:

Word from several Philadelphia basketball sources is that Austin’s advisors were calling other schools early last month as PC’s administration weighed its decision. Penn State, Oregon and Temple are a few of the schools being mentioned as potential landing spots.

Austin was originally gave a verbal commitment to Penn State in February 2012, only to change his mind five months later. Bullock has remained with the team and is working out in hopes of being ruled eligible to play next season.

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?