Aaron Ross, Landen Lucas

Kansas’ Landen Lucas hopes summer work results in more playing time

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Losing big man Joel Embiid was something Kansas head coach Bill Self and his staff planned for from a recruiting standpoint, with the Jayhawks landing Cliff Alexander and Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson eligible after sitting out last season. But there’s room for others to step forward and work to earn more playing time, with Landen Lucas being one players hoping to do just that.

According to Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World the redshirt sophomore has dropped nine pounds from his 6-foot-10 frame since the end of the season, but the shift in weight isn’t because Lucas felt he was heavyset. Lucas’ stated goal was to decrease his body fat before getting back to the weight he played at, hoping to raise his lean muscle mass in the process.

Lucas will play on an Athletes in Action team next month in Estonia and Latvia, and while those games won’t be played alongside his teammates they will provide solid game experience to a player who averaged just 4.9 minutes per contest in 2013-14.

“It definitely should be a fun time. It’ll be great because I really haven’t had a chance since high school (to play extended minutes),” said Lucas, Kansas University’s third-year sophomore center who is carrying 231 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame, down nine pounds from his listed weight of 240 last season.

“It’ll be good to get a feel for it and get ready for next year,” added Lucas, who worked as a camp counselor Saturday at former KU staff member Sean Harrington’s Players Camp at New Century Fieldhouse.

Embiid wasn’t the only personnel loss Kansas had to absorb in its front court, with graduate transfer Tarik Black also moving on. But with Ellis leading the way the Jayhawks won’t lack for bodies in the post, because in addition to Alexander, Lucas and Mickelson they also welcome back Jamari Traylor (4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg). Ellis and Alexander will be the headliners, but it takes more than two interior options to make a run at a national title especially when considering the depth other programs possess.

Within the Big 12 Texas added Myles Turner to its deep front court rotation, Iowa State has Jameel McKay and Giorgos Tsalmpouris to play along side Georges Niang, and programs such as Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma have solid interior options as well. And from a national standpoint multiple (expected) national title contenders have front court depth as well. How much more playing time Lucas earns remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t hurt Kansas to see him take a step forward in 2014-15.

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?