Former Boise State forward Joey Nebeker disputes school statement regarding his departure

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Boise State’s announcement on Wednesday that seldom-used players Joey Nebeker and Edmunds Dukulis would be leaving the program had the look of more than a few departures that take place every spring. A player who didn’t see much playing time makes the decision to transfer, with an eye towards more playing time at another school.

It happens quite often, and the rising number of transfers in recent years has led some to use the word “epidemic” in describing the state of affairs.

However, according to BJ Rains of the Idaho Press-Tribune, Nebeker has argued that he did not want to leave and was forced out by the program.

Nebeker said Rice told him during a meeting earlier this week that his scholarship wouldn’t be renewed following the end of the current semester.

“He informed me that he’s going to cut me because he doesn’t think I’m good enough to play at this level,” Nebeker said during a phone conversation. “Basically, that’s the reason he gave me. I was shocked.

“I feel a little cheated. I didn’t get the opportunity I deserved and was promised.”

Situations like this are tough, primarily due to the fact that scholarships are one-year renewable. That means a program can decide to not renew an athlete’s scholarship for whatever reason, whether the reason is deemed “fair” or not. Nebeker was behind a group of players that included veterans such as Thomas Bropleh and Anthony Drmic, making it understandably difficult to earn playing time last season.

Unfortunately the lack of opportunity can happen at the college level, with the season being a “fluid situation” in which a coaching staff’s desires change based on how the year’s going and who’s next on the schedule. However, it’s possible that Boise State could have helped Nebeker and Dukulis earn the opportunity to play at another Division I school without penalty if Nebeker’s account is accurate.

Back in February John Infante wrote this story on the “run off waiver,” which was enacted back in 2012. Essentially, if a player released meets the following three conditions he can earn immediate eligibility without having to drop a level:

  1. Documentation demonstrating that the student-athlete would not have had the opportunity to return to the previous institution’s team for reasons outside the control of the student-athlete.

  2. A written statement from the applicant institution that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meets all progress-toward-degree requirements at applicant institution.

  3. A written statement from the student-athlete’s previous institution indicating that the previous institution supports the request.

Based on the conditions above it may be difficult to get a school to go along with this, as it could have a negative impact on recruiting. But on the other side of the argument is the idea that helping an athlete who had little chance of earning significant playing time do so elsewhere would be a positive for the program.

What’s next for Nebeker and Dukulis? That remains to be seen. As for Boise State, junior college guard Montigo Alford accepted the program’s last available scholarship on Thursday.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.