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Spending time at the point has paid off for Arizona signee Stanley Johnson

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Earlier Sunday, USA Basketball announced the members of the Under-18 national team, with the group led by Florida head coach Billy Donovan and assistants Sean Miller (Arizona) and Ed Cooley (Providence) now preparing for the FIBA Americas Championships to be played next month. One of the players on the roster is 6-foot-6 guard Stanley Johnson, one of the nation’s best recruits who will play his college basketball next season.

Possessing a skill set that allows him to impact the game in a variety of ways, Johnson is a player seen by many as one who will have an immediate impact next season. And while the time with USA Basketball this summer will certainly help matters, his senior season at Mater Dei HS in southern California has also set the stage.

In a story written by Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, Miller touched on the strides Johnson has made as a result of his having to play some point guard at Mater Dei this past season.

“I think Stanley is a very underappreciated ballhandler and passer,” Miller said. “He’s played against every player you can possibly imagine, and one of the things that’s really developed is his ability to handle the ball and pass.

“For somebody of that size, it’s quite a difference. … He has one of those bodies not everyone has.”

Obviously Arizona has its starting point guard, with T.J. McConnell returning for his senior season, but it never hurts to have more than one playmaker on the perimeter. Johnson can play that role, and it’s an important one with the Wildcats needing to account for the early departure of Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson.

Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon are certainly noteworthy losses for Arizona, which fell a couple points short of its first Final Four appearance since 2001 in an Elite Eight loss to Wisconsin. Yet expectations remain high in Tucson due to the return of every other key contributor, and the addition of a talented crop of newcomers led by Stanley Johnson.

Stanley will have every opportunity to be a major factor for the Wildcats when he arrives on campus, and based upon the reviews from Colorado Springs it sounds as if he’s well on his way to making sure he’s ready to take advantage this winter.

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
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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?