Nate Britt, Roy Williams

North Carolina announces plans for program that aims to help former athletes complete their degree

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With the NCAA reopening its probe into the North Carolina basketball program, the Tar Heels have come under fire due in large part to questions regarding the academic side of things. With former player Rashad McCants stating that he took no-show classes and earned a 4.0 GPA after struggling mightily in the classroom, detractors have wondered what it would take for the NCAA to not only revisit the situation but also punish Roy Williams’ program if their findings made it necessary to do so.

Yet even with this situation hanging over the athletic department North Carolina is making an effort to help its former scholarship athletes complete their degree requirements. On Thursday plans for the the “Complete Carolina” program were announced, with the school using donations from its boosters to help finance the scholarships given to returning athletes.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt announced the program, dubbed “Complete Carolina,” to the university trustees on Thursday. Having athletes come back isn’t new at Carolina, but Folt said the new program will formalize that invitation and put more resources into supporting former scholarship athletes who return.

Scholarships for those who accept the invitation will be paid for by UNC’s booster organization known as the Rams Club. The athletic department will cover any additional expense. To have boosters and the athletics budget paying for academics will be a refreshing turn from academics being compromised to support athletics.

North Carolina isn’t the first school to do this and they won’t be the last (hopefully), because there shouldn’t be a problem helping out an athlete who wants to return in order to complete their degree. As for current athletes, the school also stated that it will be more vigilant in making sure that the questionable/non-existent courses at the center of the academic controversy are no longer available.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.