Quinton Chievous

Hampton hoping transfer Quinton Chievous can have immediate impact

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The 2013-14 season in the MEAC was dominated by North Carolina Central, as Levelle Moton’s team went 16-1 in conference play and earned its first NCAA tournament berth as a Division I member. The question for the other teams in the MEAC heading into the offseason was a simple one: how do they close the gap between themselves and the defending champion Eagles?

One team asking that question is Hampton, which finished second in the MEAC standings with a 13-4 record. But the goal for teams in small conferences is to win their league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, and for the second consecutive season Edward Joyner Jr.’s team lost its MEAC tournament opener.

The good news for Hampton is that while leading scorer and rebounder Du’Vaughn Maxwell (14.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is out of eligibility, they return the other four of their top five scorers led by point guard Deron Powers (11.8 ppg, 4.0 apg). The Pirates also add four newcomers with the most recent being former Tennessee guard Quinton Chievous.

Chievous played in just nine games last season for the Volunteers, but that hasn’t kept his new head coach from thinking positively about the impact the transfer could potentially have. Joyner discussed the possibilities in a story written by David Teel of the Hampton Roads Daily Press:

“We have some good young kids coming back,” Joyner said. “We thought we were going to be good anyway. So anybody we brought in, we felt like had to have an impact right now. Or, somebody worth investing the future in. Anything in between really didn’t make sense. We felt like he would come in and make an immediate impact.”

“We think with the addition of Quinton, you can never promise a championship, but we feel like we’re right up there,” Joyner said. “We know we’re ready to compete for it, and hopefully he can help take us over the top.”

Chievous will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, and the fact that he’ll be graduating from Tennessee in three years makes him eligible to play immediately. And while he played in just 22 games in two seasons (according to the story, Chievous felt he was being used out of position and should have spent more time on the wing), a fresh start could be just what the doctor ordered for Chievous.

The last program to repeat as MEAC tournament champions was Morgan State, with the Bears winning the crown in 2009 and 2010. With Chievous joining a solid combination of returnees and newcomers, Hampton will look to make sure that remains the case.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how CBSSports.com summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told CBSSports.com Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.