Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie went pro to get better treatment for torn ACL

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Colorado’s hot start was one of the best storylines of the early college basketball regular season. The Buffaloes had lost the Pac-12’s leading rebounder in forward Andre Roberson to the 2013 NBA Draft, but Tad Boyle’s bunch still started the season 14-2, including a statement win against Kansas.

But much of that momentum was derailed on January 12th, as star junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie was diagnosed with a torn ACL and was ruled out for the rest of the season. The Buffaloes still limped into the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but they slowed down to a 9-9 finish without Dinwiddie, as Colorado was blown out in the Round of 64 by Pitt.

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With Dinwiddie going down with a season-ending injury, some expected the junior to come back for his senior season and try to help Colorado make one more run. But the 6-foot-6 guard made the decision to enter the 2014 NBA Draft despite not being able to fully work out for the NBA teams that would potentially draft him.

For Dinwiddie, the decision came down to the healing of his knee and the junior believed going pro allowed him the best chance to recover from his torn ACL.

“The deciding factor was that I get to pour all that I have into my knee,” Dinwiddie said to NBCSports.com about his NBA Draft decision. “I get to have professional-level rehab and attack it as hard as I want. There’s no summer school or anything else that’s taking away from that. Professional-level rehab, pour everything I have into it and let’s get ready [for the draft].”

Had Dinwiddie played the entire 2013-14 season, and remained healthy, there’s a realistic chance he could have been a first-round draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The California native can play both guard spots and had tremendous shooting splits (46% FG, 41% 3PT, 86% FT) during his junior year to go along with his strong natural leadership abilities.

Even though Colorado did everything Dinwiddie asked of them while he rehabbed his torn ACL, when speaking things over with his family, they came to the decision that rehabbing at the pro level would be more beneficial than staying in school. The Buffaloes helped Dinwiddie with new-age methods of attacking knee rehab like platelet-rich plasma injections and use of a hyperbaric chamber, but he still felt like professional rehab had more to offer.

“Within my family, my core unit, I [talked it over],” Dinwiddie said of his rehab. “I mean, it’s no secret: college has limitations that professional doesn’t. Just because of just the sheer dollars a pro team can spend. It’s not any knock on Colorado. They did everything possible that they could for me. They got me PRP injections at my request, they helped me get to a hyperbaric chamber when I asked, so they did everything they could. It’s just there’s a different level you can go to [with rehab].”

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The pro-level rehab has helped Dinwiddie get back on track from the knee injury as he looks to get drafted on Thursday. Dinwiddie was initially limited in his workouts for pro teams, but he’s still confident about making a full comeback as he begins his professional career.

“I started running at 11 weeks. I started shooting shortly thereafter. I’ve been doing a lot. I’ve been in the gym working hard,” Dinwiddie said. “So I hit the agility drills, the ladder. Everything is controlled. Jumping up on boxes, controlling the landing, making sure everything is safe. Whatever the [physical trainer] asks me to do. The bounce is going to be real when I get back. I’m talking about 40 [inches].”

The rehabilitation was a crucial component of Dinwiddie’s decision, but he also had a very tough choice in leaving behind a Colorado team that still has a lot of talented pieces in place for next season. The Buffaloes currently sit at No. 5 in College Basketball Talk’s preseason Pac-12 rankings.

“That was the biggest consideration and this decision is always tough because part of the reason my school loves me is because I played an unselfish brand of basketball. And a lot of times [entering the draft] is considered a selfish decision,” Dinwiddie said. “But it is my life and I have to do what is best for me. And I understand that if I go back and I raise my stock a little bit, I can make a million dollars on the front-end but at the same time, if my career goes longer on the back-end I can make that million dollars back. So give-or-take that million or two million dollars — or whatever it is — I felt like this was best for the longevity of my career and really being able to focus on my body and knee and pour everything I have into it.”

Based on that response, it’s clear that Dinwiddie is focused on the long-term aspirations of his professional basketball career. After a solid sophomore season, he also toyed with entering the NBA Draft early, but he was dissuaded in part by his parents, who didn’t believe he was mature enough to make the leap to the pros.

“I felt like I was ready — and I got the co-sign from my parents — which is something I didn’t have last year,” Dinwiddie said. “My parents felt that I had more growth to do as a man. So when my parents say, ‘do whatever makes you happy,’ and [our communication is] really kind of open, and they said [in the past], ‘we feel like you need another year of maturation,’ then that kind of opened it up for me to go. And seeing that confidence in my knee and knowing I was going to be back before the season opened it up for me to go.”

Although Dinwiddie is leaving Colorado a year early, he was still very positive about Boyle’s guidance throughout his career and the guard had nothing but positive things to say about the Buffaloes.

“I think the biggest thing Coach Boyle instilled in me was how to be a more complete leader. Not just on the court but off the court — and that’s my biggest takeaway from Coach,” Dinwiddie said. “Other than that, they just gave me guidance on what I should improve. After my freshman year, they told me to work on my body; I did that. After my sophomore year, my shooting numbers dipped. They told me that wanted me to continue to push them back up to where they were my freshman year and I did that. They were great for guidance and it takes hard work but that’s the biggest thing that Coach Boyle did for me.”

Missouri lands five-star forward Jontay Porter

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Missouri has another member of the Porter family in the fold as forward Jontay Porter officially committed to the Tigers on Monday night.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Michael Porter Jr., and father Michael Porter Sr., Jontay is currently a member of the Class of 2018 who is rumored to be reclassifying to the Class of 2017.

A 6-foot-10 forward who was recently elevated to five-star status on Rivals.com, Porter is having a monster spring in the Nike EYBL with MoKan Elite. Porter has been one of the best players in the league, as he’s putting up 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

If Jontay is able to join Missouri next season then he gives the Tigers another intriguing piece to play alongside his brother Michael, who is good enough to be a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although Jontay isn’t the go-to player that his brother is, he could be a very effective SEC role player early in his career, as his ability to rebound and stretch the floor makes him an extremely intriguing piece on the floor.

Kevin Stallings is a tone-deaf clown

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Pitt guard Cameron Johnson is the most coveted transfer in college basketball this offseason.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is coming off of a strong campaign with the Panthers in which he put up 11.9 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

Not only is Johnson a proven double-figure scorer in a league like the ACC, but he’s eligible to play right away thanks to his graduation from Pitt. Johnson graduating from school in three years and missing one season due to injury also makes him the rare graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. So, not only can Johnson come in and make an immediate impact, but he’s also able to stay for another year after.

This sort of thing almost never happens, let alone with a 6-foot-8 shooter that could sway the national title race.

It’s why blueblood programs like Kentucky and UCLA are in hot pursuit of Johnson. It’s why another ACC school, reigning national champion North Carolina, is also intrigued by Johnson being on the market.

Except Johnson won’t be allowed to attend North Carolina, or any other school in the ACC, without first sitting out a season and losing one season of eligibility. At least that’s how things currently stand thanks to Pitt’s power over Johnson — despite Johnson graduating from the school and having no more formal educational ties to the school.

Here’s what Pitt said on the matter in a release to the News-Observer.

“Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools; however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference.

If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so.”

Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings had a peculiar interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was published about two weeks ago. During the interview, of which the full transcript was made public, Stallings went in-depth about Johnson’s transfer and the current state of college basketball. Stallings also made remarks about how the media holds programs accountable for trying to bully certain players.

Here’s a small sample of what Stallings had to say.

“But the unexpected departures are the things that are becoming more common than uncommon in college basketball. You have guys constantly trying to transfer up. You have guys going pro that have never played a minute of college basketball after they’ve sat out a year at a school. You have guys asking out of their letters of intent with frequency. We’re dealing in a landscape in college basketball right now that is as probably as difficult and peculiar as it’s ever been. It used to be if a kid signed his letter of intent and he wanted out of it, you had to play a year of junior-college ball to get out of it.

“The media didn’t basically force institutions to let people break a binding agreement. It’s kind of interesting now the media tries to put so much pressure on programs, whether it be athletic directors or coaches, saying ‘Well, the coaches can move.’ Well, hey, guess what? I’ve got a great big buyout in my deal that prevents me from moving. I’ve got something in my contract saying I can’t go to another league school. It’s not as easy for coaches to go. That’s everyone’s rationale — ‘Well, the coaches can leave.’ We’re dealing in an environment right now that is as fluid as it’s ever been. It’s just where we’re at in the whole thing with the unexpected departures.”

Stallings makes some sound points–particularly about coaches having buyouts and the general perception of coaching changes in basketball.

But Kevin Stallings mostly sounds like a tone-deaf clown here.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for a millionaire coach who willingly makes the decision to change jobs.

Nobody.

Especially if that same millionaire is comparing a choice to change jobs to the transfer decisions of unpaid student-athletes. It’s even more laughable now that Stallings is holding power over an unpaid student-athlete from going to play at another school because of purely basketball reasons.

Pitt and Stallings need to do the right thing and release Johnson to play at any school right away because Johnson has already done everything he needs to do to appease the program.

Things changed dramatically for Johnson during his three years at Pitt. He became one of the ACC’s better players and earned his degree. Johnson held up his end of the bargain when he signed his Letter of Intent.  Now Johnson just wants the chance improve his basketball future by playing with one of the nation’s elite programs.

Stallings can blame the current state of college basketball, the media, or whoever he wants for Johnson’s transfer from Pitt.

But Stallings also has to realize that he’s going to be the one who looks stupid if he continues to leave these restrictions in place for Johnson. Stallings already has a history of this sort of thing when he placed transfer restrictions on former player Sheldon Jeter. If Stallings continues to uphold transfer restrictions on Johnson, then he’s going to gain a permanent reputation in recruiting during a time when players continue to gain more freedom over their basketball futures.

If Johnson does happen to go to an ACC school like North Carolina, it’s not as if Pitt has any sort of competitive roster that is going to be fighting the Tar Heels for league supremacy during the next two seasons.

Stallings and Pitt need to just bite the bullet, let Johnson have his freedom, and hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them for one or two seasons in ACC play.

It surely beats the alternative of being labeled a head coach who limits player freedom after six players left Pitt during a single offseason. That type of burn lasts a lot longer than two years.

Presbyterian hires Wofford assistant Dustin Kerns as new head coach

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Presbyterian finally has its new head coach as the program is set to hire Wofford assistant coach Dustin Kerns, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Kerns has been an assistant at Wofford for the past seven years during his second stint with the program. Also spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara, the Tennessee native is getting his first shot at running his own program.

Finishing last in the Big South last season at 5-25 and 1-17 in conference play, Presbyterian is trying to rebuild after head coach Gregg Nibert resigned in April. Nibert was the head coach of the Blue Hens for 28 seasons, so Kerns is going to be a completely fresh start for the program.

Tennessee lands impact graduate transfer James Daniel

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Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes earned a commitment from one of the top graduate transfers on the market on Monday when Howard guard James Daniel pledged to the Volunteers.

The 6-foot-0 Daniel was the nation’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game his junior season in 2015-16. Daniel played in only two games last season as a left ankle injury caused him to have surgery.

With nearly 2,000 career points to his name, Daniel gives Tennessee an additional perimeter scorer who should come in and make an immediate impact right away. While Howard has low shooting percentages and a high usage rate during his time at Howard, it’ll be interesting to see how the year off and more talented teammates will alter his game.

If Howard can be a more efficient scorer in his final season, then he has a chance to be one of the better players for the Volunteers this season.

Two workouts this week could alter Caleb Swanigan’s NBA Draft decision

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Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan has the most important decision among any college basketball player who could return next season from the 2017 NBA Draft process. If Swanigan comes back for his junior season, he’s the frontrunner for National Player of the Year. More importantly, Purdue would have a serious chance to repeat as Big Ten regular season champions, especially if Vince Edwards also returns from the same draft process.

Wednesday night is the decision deadline for players to return to college basketball for next season and Swanigan will use two more workouts scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday to help decide his future. According to multiple reports, Swanigan will workout for the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s workout with the Magic will also reportedly involve Cal big man Ivan Rabb — an important workout for Swanigan since Rabb is listed ahead of Swanigan on a lot of popular mock drafts. The Magic own three picks between No. 25 and No. 35 — which is listed slightly above the No. 40 slot that Draft Express has Swanigan listed. So if Swanigan has a good workout against Rabb for the Magic, then he could get himself some sort of guarantee from a Magic team that desperately needs talent and has a lot of picks in that range.

The Knicks also have Swanigan scheduled for a Wednesday workout as they own the No. 44 overall pick in the second round. Again, the Knicks are a team in win-now mode with current stars like Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis openly feuding with the team’s front-office, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Swanigan to land some sort of guarantee from New York in the second round.

Of course, guarantees for draft night are nice to have, but things can change quickly on draft night. Swanigan has to consider all of the information he is receiving before he makes his decision on Wednesday. But if Swanigan has two strong workouts and gets the information that he’s looking for this week, then he could easily bolt for a potential guaranteed contract.