Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins not expected at NBA Draft Combine

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For the best prospects in the NBA Draft pool the two-day NBA Draft Combine (May 15 and 16) is unlikely to include much work in the way of on-court drills. Given their status as likely lottery selections, those players tend to not go through the agility, jumping and strength (185-pound bench press) drills that the other attendees will have to navigate.

Generally that means going through the physical examination, with the results being given out to the 30 NBA teams.

However Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ tandem of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, considered to be the top three prospects in this year’s draft pool, have decided to take it a step further: none are expected to even be in Chicago for the combine, according to both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

For some that may be seen as a “red flag” of sorts, especially in the case of Embiid given the lower back injury that prematurely ended his freshman season. But an unnamed general manager quoted in Wojnarowski’s story didn’t take that stance at all.

“To be honest,” one general manager told Yahoo Sports, “I’m surprised more guys don’t do this. It’s the only thing they can really control.”

Whether or not a prospect goes through the NBA-administered physical, they’re still going to have to be checked out by the teams they visit/work out for during the pre-draft process. And in the case of these three, their status as the top prospects in the draft will allow them to choose which teams to undergo a physical for once the NBA Draft lottery is held according to Wojnarowski.

The decisions of these three to eschew the NBA-administered physical is a surprising turn of events given the history of elite prospects at the very least showing up at the combine to be examined. If anything, it will be interesting if other elite prospects in the years to come choose to do the same.

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?