Matt Painter

Purdue walk-ons rewarded for hard work, leadership

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Of Purdue head coach Matt Painter’s five upperclassmen heading into the 2014-15 season just two were scholarship players, with both Rapheal Davis and A.J. Hammons being juniors. The key word in that last sentence is “were,” because earlier this week Painter rewarded senior Neal Beshears and junior Stephen Toyra with scholarships.

For both players the scholarship represents a reward, not only for their hard work but also for their willingness to step forward as leaders on a team that’s incredibly young. In a story written by Nathan Baird of the Journal & Courier, Beshears discussed the leadership role he’s taken on, something that many walk-ons would be hesitant to do given their role on the team.

“Most (walk-ons), because they don’t play a lot, they’re afraid that if they say something, the guys that play a lot aren’t going to respond to them,” Beshears said. “I think a lot of the guys respect us and respect the walk-ons. If we’re doing what we’re supposed to it helps us influence them as far as doing the right things and playing the right way.”

Leadership for Purdue will be key this coming season, as the Boilermakers lost two of their top three scorers from a team that finished 15-17 overall and 5-13 in Big Ten play. Hammons’ return gives the Boilermakers a solid piece in the middle, but they’re going to need more from sophomores such as Kendall Stephens and Basil Smotherman if they’re to take a step forward.

Leadership will also be key, and if the players who stand to receive the fewest minutes are willing to step forward maybe that relieves some of the pressure on the players expected to lead the way statistically speaking. It’s never bad to have multiple leaders, especially if they all work to pull the team in the same direction.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.