Baylor lands Lee College forward Deng Deng

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With Cory Jefferson having graduated and Isaiah Austin foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft, Baylor head coach Scott Drew has two major departures to account for as the Bears look to build on their Sweet 16 appearance in 2014-15. Rico Gathers, Royce O’Neale and Taurean Prince were all members of Baylor’s front court rotation in 2013-14 and their returns will help next season, but there’s always room for another contributor.

Sunday afternoon the Bears landed one of the best junior college prospects available, as according to Brad Winton of JucoRecruiting.com 6-foot-8 Lee (Texas) College forward Deng Deng has committed to Baylor.

Deng was originally an LSU commitment, making the verbal pledge to join Johnny Jones’ program in 2012 with plans of joining the program for the 2013-14 season. However Deng needed a second year at Lee College, where he averaged 19.8 points and 11.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Nebraska was also considered to be in the running for Deng’s services.

Deng reached double figures in 27 of the 29 games in which he played this season, and he managed to grab at least ten rebounds in 20 games. Deng’s addition gives Baylor added front court depth, and he has the skill needed to be a key member of the Bears’ rotation in 2014-15.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on a couple 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?