Temple v SMU

The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Bret Stretlow’s on-foot attempt to reach Chapel Hill cut short by postponement of Duke-North Carolina (Fayetteville Observer)
With No. 8 Duke scheduled to play North Carolina on Wednesday night, more than a few people abandoned their cars on Highway 54 when it became clear that driving to Chapel Hill would be too much of a test. And then there was Bret Stretlow of the Fayetteville Observer, who attempted to walk from his home to the Dean Dome, only to learn during his trek that the game had been postponed.

Retirement not an option for SMU coach Larry Brown (New York Post)
No. 23 SMU is in the Top 25 for the first time in nearly three decades, and they have their head coach to thank for it. During a time when most 73-year olds would be enjoying retirement, Larry Brown’s having the time of his life on the sidelines in Dallas.

Low-key front court sparks Iowa (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)
No. 16 Iowa picked up one of its biggest wins of the season last Saturday, beating then-No. 10 Michigan 85-67 in Iowa City. Roy Devyn Marble, who scored 26 points in the game, was the star for the Hawkeyes but he had plenty of help. Some of the helpers play in the front court, with Melsahn Basabe, Gabe Olaseni and Adam Woodbury all chipping in.

Loss shines spotlight on deficiencies of Buckeyes (Columbus Dispatch)
After winning two consecutive games, Ohio State seemed to be headed back in the right direction entering their game against Michigan on Tuesday night. But those problems that sprouted up during the stretch in which the Buckeyes lost five of six games were once again an issue in the 80-70 defeat. The biggest problem: the lack of an NBA-caliber go-to guy on the offensive end.

Fans cross line too often in college basketball venues (Statesman Journal)
With the events of this past Saturday, fan decorum has received an increased amount of attention in college basketball. While there’s certainly a need for schools to do a better job of policing fans, there also remains the need for players to do their best to ignore taunts that cross the line, although that can be hard to do at times.

Virginia rides humble approach to basketball success (USA Today)
No. 17 Virginia is the biggest threat to No. 1 Syracuse’s run to win the ACC in its debut season, with the Cavaliers boasting an 11-1 record in conference play after beating Maryland on Monday. And after missing out on the NCAA tournament last season, humility and solid team leadership has led to a resurgence in Charlottesville.

Near his father, Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow finds peace, success at Georgia State (Sports Illustrated)
After a frustrating 2012-13 season, guard Ryan Harrow made the decision to leave the Kentucky basketball program. And the move had more to do with the health of his father, who had suffered a stroke, than anything that had taken place on the court. Now closer to his father at Georgia State, Harrow’s been a key figure for the Panthers.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how CBSSports.com summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told CBSSports.com Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.