California State Fullerton v UNLV

UNLV power forward Demetris Morant to transfer

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Early Tuesday morning it was reported by multiple outlets that UNLV forward Demetris Morant, who played in 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013-14, has decided to transfer. According to the reports Morant aims to transfer to a school closer to his father, who suffered a stroke, in Florida.

And according to Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there’s apparently a leader in the race for Morant’s commitment.

Morant will seek a waiver from the NCAA in hopes of being granted eligibility for the 2014-15 basketball season. He is most likely transferring to Florida Gulf Coast.

“Demetris has been granted his release and he will be transferring,” coach Dave Rice said. “His dad has been very ill. We will support a hardship waiver 100 percent. He’s a great kid, and he’s done a great job for us academically.”

Morant (0.6 ppg, 0.5 rpg) played an average of 3.8 minutes per game last season, with starters Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith and reserve Christian Wood being the leaders in minutes amongst UNLV’s front court players. UNLV did lose Birch, Smith and Carlos Lopez-Sosa at the end of the season, but with talented players such as Goodluck Okonoboh and Dwayne Morgan joining the program significant playing time would have been tough for Morant to earn.

However minutes weren’t the reason for Morant’s decision to transfer, but rather the health of his father.

For UNLV the departure means that they’ll be without another body in the front court, placing more pressure on the players who will be a part of the rotation in 2014-15. UNLV has depth on the perimeter, even if they were to lose another player at some point in the near future, but that isn’t the case inside. The question now is whether or not Rice and his staff can address the issue with a late recruit, be it a freshman or a transfer.

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?