Le'Bryan Nash, Isaiah Cousins

Oklahoma State forward Le’Bryan Nash to return for senior season

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With Marcus Smart (NBA) and Markel Brown (graduation) not in the picture for Oklahoma State, the decision of forward Le’Bryan Nash was an important one for head coach Travis Ford. Should he return for his senior season, or forgo his final season of eligibility with the hopes of being selected in the 2014 NBA Draft?

One day before the NBA’s early entry deadline Nash made his decision, announcing via his Twitter account that he’ll return to Stillwater for his senior season.

Nash averaged 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 2013-14, meaning that he’ll be the Cowboys’ leading returning scorer and second-leading rebounder (Kamari Murphy: 6.3 rpg). Nash is one of two double-digit scorers who will return to the program next season, with sharpshooting guard Phil Forte III (13.3 ppg) being the other.

The biggest question mark for Oklahoma State heading into the 2014-15 season is the point guard position, as they won’t have much experience at that spot. Jared Terrell has been released from his National Letter of Intent, and newcomers Jeff Newberry (JUCO) and Tyree Griffin (freshman) have yet to play a game in an Oklahoma State uniform.

But the good news is that Nash and Forte will be back, giving Ford two experienced options to run the offense through.

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?