Following a surprise Final Four run, there’s little doubt that Gregg Marshall and Wichita State are pulling in better players than the school has seen since Xavier McDaniel and Antoine Carr toed the stripe on campus.
With big-time recruits come big-time headaches, it seems. Marshall had 6’7″, 240-lb. juco transfer Earl Watson schedule to join the team next season, but Marshall told the Wichita Eagle on Thursday that the beefy forward would not, in fact, be making the trip.
Marshall texted beat writer Paul Suellentrop that Watson “did not get done all he needed to in order to be admitted at this time.”
Pressed for details, Marshall said “There’s an academic class he’s got to finish up to have the number of hours to be admissible to school.”
It’s not great news, nor is it the worst, as Suellentrop points out:
Had Watson qualified, WSU would have been one scholarship over the NCAA limit of 13. WSU’s front line, missing departed seniors Carl Hall and Ehimen Orukpe, will rebuild with 6-9 seniors Kadeem Coleby and Chadrack Lufile, 6-8 senior Cleanthony Early, 6-7 junior Darius Carter and 6-8 freshman Shaq Morris.
Watson would have been a nice fill-in for the toughness and experience lost when Hall graduated, but Early’s leadership and a good-sized front line ensure that the Shockers will be a MVC favorite yet again this season.
I’ll be honest here. I don’t know if the French team Boulogne is any good or not, or how their talent level compares to your average SEC team, but the fact that they play in something called the “B Division” of French hoops doesn’t make them sound terribly impressive.
What I do know, thanks to Tuscaloosanews.com, is that Boulogne ran the Alabama Crimson Tide out of le gym last night. The French team jumped out to a 12-2 lead out of the gate, and ended up winning 100-70 when all was said and done.
One caveat we’ll throw out there: Boulogne was led by former Georgia Tech star Zack Peacock, who had 24 points and 10 boards in the game. The Tide had some decent performances to hang their hats on as well.
Senior guard Trevor Releford led the Crimson Tide with 25 points on 8 of 16 shooting from the floor. Junior guard Rodney Cooper finished with 16 points and five rebounds. Freshmen center Jimmie Taylor, of Greensboro, led Alabama with eight rebounds.
The Tide are 3-1 overall on their Eurotrip, and we all know not to read too much into these exhibition games. But the ugly number that came out of this contest – 37 percent from the floor for ‘Bama – can’t really be making Anthony Grant very happy.
These overseas trips are all about working out and finding out what your team can do, however, and now Grant knows what his men need to work on.
It sounds like Kaleb Joseph really wanted to go to Syracuse. According to the Post-Standard, the 2014 guard barely had to set foot on campus before he agreed to don the Orange.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Joseph told the newspaper. “In the back of my mind it’s always where I wanted to be. I’ve always been a Syracuse fan. It just felt right.”
Joseph and his parents had been on campus since Friday, and the coveted point guard gave his verbal on Saturday afternoon. He had previously visited Providence, and was scheduled to go to West Virginia in late September.
The rising high school senior from New Hampshire led Cushing Academy to the Class AA state championship last season. He announced his intent on Twitter at 4:49 pm. Syracuse may be getting a diamond in the rough, per Mike Waters of the Post-Standard.
Joseph is ranked No. 51 in the 2014 Class by ESPN. Rivals lists him at No. 56, but those rankings were put out prior to this summer’s AAU circuit, during which Joseph stamped himself as a rising star while playing for the Mass Rivals AAU team.
He’s humble, too.
“I know nothing will be handed to me,” Joseph told the paper. “That’s what I like. I’ve always liked being the underdog.”
The First Four took a little getting used to for those of us who remember when the tourney was a perfectly balanced 64 teams. Even so, the fact that it was hosted at the University of Dayton year-in and year-out helped give it a certain cachet and familiarity.
Dayton, of course, would love to keep the games in their hands as long as possible. Last year, they not only had the First Four, but were allowed to subsequently host second and third round games – quite a windfall.
The NCAA might have other ideas, according to Dayton’s WDTN TV:
The University of Dayton submitted a proposal, that if accepted, would have kept the tournament in Dayton beyond 2015.
That proposal was declined, according to Dave Worlock, director of media relations with the NCAA, and Dayton First Four organizers were told they had to go through the proper bidding process.
The University of Dayton has the tournament for the next two years, and the next bids will be for the years of 2016-18.
With the exception of baseball’s College World Series, the NCAA has never been too keen on awarding permanent custody of a tournament to one site. It only seems fair to open up the bidding. Then, if Dayton wants to keep the games, they’ll have to prove they can do it better than anyone else. Their long experience should give them a leg up.
Anyone who loves college basketball is looking forward to seeing what Andrew Wiggins can do in a Kansas uniform. The Canadian import is going to be the sizzle in Allen Fieldhouse for a season at most.
But Bill Self’s teams are more often winners because there’s plenty of steak behind the sizzle. Wiggins has been extremely impressive when showcasing his athleticism, but Self’s teams rely on staunch defense and precision as well as elite hops.
Wiggins is spending most of his summer working out at home in Ontario, so his wasn’t the first name out of Self’s mouth when the Lawrence Journal-World asked him about the summer practice standouts.
Self said that sophomore forward Perry Ellis and freshman guard Wayne Selden were the team’s most consistent performers during full-squad workouts this summer.
“These guys have been absolutely great,” Self said. “They work and they’re not scared to work, and for a bunch of freshmen, they probably impressed me as much with their work ethic as anything else. So it’s gonna be a fun group to coach.”
Before Wiggins committed, Self had already assembled an outstanding group of young, talented players. For him to call out Selden using a word coaches salivate over – consistency – is a pretty good sign that the Jayhawks will be one of the most dangerous teams in the Big 12 yet again. Their hopes for a tenth straight Big 12 title will go through Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State this season, but we’ve learned never to count a Bill Self team out at this point.
Big guard Eric Stafford had the skills to garner an offer from La Salle, a program on the rise coming off of a Sweet 16 appearance.
He also had the grades to play for Ivy League schools, but didn’t feel he could afford to pay his own way in the Ancient Eight.
The ideal solution came along in the form of Lafayette, a Patriot League school that could offer him a high-caliber educational experience and a full ride.
So Stafford became a Leopard.
“La Salle’s not a bad school, but Lafayette is better academically,” Stafford told the South Jersey Times. “I thought it was a better fit for my basketball game, to be honest.”
On the other hand…
“I would have loved to have had an Ivy League education,” said Stafford. “It was doable with financial aid, but it would have put a burden on my parents afterward and me. I didn’t want to put my parents through that. They saved money for my education, but I had this opportunity. I’m glad I did this.”
Stafford’s stats are impressive on and off the court. He averaged 15.8 points, 6.5 boards and 4.5 assists per game at New Jersey’s Pitman High, and his high school coach says he’s in line to be class valedictorian in his final season as well.
Sounds like Lafayette offers the best of both worlds for Stafford. And it’s not like you can’t play some meaningful ball in the Patriot League. Lehigh and Bucknell are just a couple of programs who have made bigger schools pay in the NCAA tournament in recent seasons.