Rob Dauster

St. John’s lands former top ten prospect Zach Brown

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Chris Mullin landed his first major commitment as the head coach at St. John’s, as 7-foot-1 Miami native Zach Brown pledged to St. John’s, a source told NBCSports.com.

Brown is an interesting prospect. He was, at one point, a top ten prospect in the Class of 2017, but a series of off-the-court issues have hurt him. Once committed to UConn and considering reclassifying into the class of 2016, Brown transferred to Putnam Science Academy before getting booted from the school, reportedly for fighting with an opposing team after a game in February. He eventually decommitted from UConn and, a month or so later, was arrested for armed robbery and credit card fraud.

As a basketball player, Brown has a chance to be very, very good. He’s a terrific defensive presence because of his length and ability to maintain verticality at the rim, and he’s tremendous at keeping the ball high when he grabs a rebounds.

But between a troubled upbringing — his story is told really well in the Vice documentary embedded above — and the off-the-court issues he’s had in the last four months, it’s a risk for Mullin.

That said, when you’re trying to rebuild a program, you have to take some risks. If Brown pays off, he’ll team with transfers Justin Simon and Marvin Clark and be a guy that St. John’s can build around.

NCAA denies missing deadline in Donnie Tyndall appeal

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 file photo, Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pikeville in Knoxville, Tenn. The NCAA says Southern Mississippi’s men’s basketball program and former coach Donnie Tyndall  have committed multiple violations, including arranging fraudulent academic credit, impermissible financial aid and obstructing the governing body’s investigation, Friday, July 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)
AP Photo/Wade Payne
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Former Tennessee and Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall is putting up as much of a fight as he can against the NCAA as he tries to get his likely career-ending 10-year show-cause penalty reduced.

On Wednesday, he asserted that the NCAA had missed a deadline in responding to an appeal that he had filed. The original deadline to respond was July 5th, but that was pushed back to July 19th at 5 p.m., this past Tuesday. According to Tyndall, the NCAA blew right past that.

But according to an NCAA spokesperson, there’s no truth to that statement.

Tyndall also went after a change in the NCAA bylaws regarding the use of immunity in investigations. The crux of his argument in his appeal is that the NCAA ignored all of the evidence and witnesses supporting his case and, instead, listened to the one person that they gave immunity too, former assistant Adam Howard.

“Friday, at 6:10 p.m. they released some new bylaws, obviously so no one would read it on a Friday evening, that they had new rules in immunity cases,” Tyndall said during a radio interview Tuesday night on WLXG in Lexington, Ky, and transcribed by the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Basically everything they did wrong in my case, that allowed them to give Adam Howard immunity, they’ve now changed the bylaws and rules that if it ever happens again, then what they had done with me is technically illegal.”

The NCAA, in response, told the KNS that there has been “no material change” to the rule.

Tyndall is going to fight this thing to the death, it seems. But given the level of academic cheating that happened under his watch and the NCAA’s belief that he lied to them about it, I find it hard to believe that his penalty is going to be rescinded.

The ACC to expand to 20 league games

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: The North Carolina Tar Heels and Virginia Cavaliers tip off during the start of the finals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 12, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The ACC announced on Thursday that they will be launching the ACC Digital Network in 2019, news that had been reported earlier this week and finally became official.

What was hidden in that announcement, however, was that the ACC would be moving to a 20 game league schedule beginning in 2019. It’s smart for the conference, as it will add 15 conference games worth of inventory for the network to broadcast. That’s two more times they’ll be able to broadcast Duke and two more times they’ll be able to broadcast North Carolina, and Louisville, and Syracuse, and N.C. State, and all of the huge fan bases that make up what has turned into the best conference in college basketball.

The other part of it? Given that there are 15 teams in the league, the ACC already plays an unbalanced schedule. There are times were we’ll see the marquee teams in the league play just once a season. More games means that we’ll get, say, Louisville visiting Duke or Virginia at North Carolina more often. Again, that’s a good thing.

The bad part of this, however, is that it means that non-conference college basketball is going to get just that much more uninteresting.

Here’s the deal with non-conference scheduling: The power conference schools are required to have a certain number of home games during non-conference play based on how many home games they’re going to get in league play. Athletic Directors are, essentially, running a business, and they need to be able to bring in the money from season ticket sales, merchandise sales, food sales and parking fees that come with playing in their own arena. That’s part of how they fund the athletic department. It’s why buy games are a thing. These big schools can afford to shell out $50-$100,000 to bring a team into their gym because they know they will more than make that money back.

Let’s use Duke as an example. In the 2016-17 schedule, they play seven of their 13 non-conference games at home. When the ACC schedule expands, the Blue Devils will get an extra home game and an extra road game, so assuming AD Kevin White wants the same total number of home games, Duke will have to play six of their 11 non-conference games in Cameron.

That means they’ll have five games to work with. One of those games will be the Champions Classic. Half the time, one of those games will be a road game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. And if their road game in the challenge comes in the same season where the Blue Devils play in an exempt tournament — like, say, the Maui Invitational — where the field is eight teams, all of their flexibility when it comes to play home-and-home series vanishes.

They’ll be forced to play the remaining six non-conference games at home.

Now factor in that some ACC schools may require their teams to play more than just six non-conference games at home and that this is a trend that is happening all over the country at the high-major level, what you get is a situation where non-conference play slowly but surely turns into exhibitions on neutral courts and blowout wins for big programs on their home floor.

So while we’ll get more matchups between conference foes during January and February, home-and-home series between powerhouse programs in different conferences is slowly-but-surely becoming a thing of the past.

And college basketball’s relevance before the turn of the calendar takes another hit.

Report: NCAA investigating South Florida for academic fraud

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 22: Head coach Orlando Antigua of the USF Bulls calls out a play during the game against the Temple Owls on January 22, 2015 at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Owls defeated the Bulls 73-48 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Orlando Antigua
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The NCAA is investigating South Florida for academic fraud, according to a report from ESPN.

Oliver Antigua, the brother of head coach Orlando and a former assistant coach at Seton Hall, has not been allowed on the road to recruit during the live period this July, per the report.

The timing of this could not be worse. Let’s go beyond the fact that the Bulls have not gotten any better in two seasons under Antigua — he has won 16 games since becoming the head coach — but South Florida is in the process of trying to convince the Big 12 to make them one of the league’s new additions. That decision centers solely on football and access to Florida’s fertile recruiting grounds, so the impact may be limited, but if the Big 12 has better options why would they want to add a university with this hanging over its head?

VIDEO: Drake visits Texas wearing Kentucky gear

Kentucky coach John Calipari, left, and hip-hop star Drake speak during the team's NCAA college basketball Big Blue Madness, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
AP Photo/James Crisp
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We make fun of Drake for the teams that he decides that he wants to root for, but you have to give the dude credit, he sticks with the teams that he picks.

Drake paid a visit to the Texas campus in Austin and met some of the players on the Longhorn basketball team … while wearing a Kentucky t-shirt.

Shout out to the women’s team, who called him out on it and who ghosted him when he walked by:

He’s corny, an overrated rapper and a front-runner, but at least he’s a loyal front runner.

Ex-Spartan Appling to stand trial on weapons charge

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ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) A judge has ordered former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling to stand trial on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

Detroit police say Appling was arrested after officers stopped a fast-moving vehicle in June and saw him place a gun under a seat. Judge Kenneth King on Tuesday made the ruling after testimony from officers. Appling’s next court date was set for Aug. 2.

Appling’s attorney, Cyril Hall, has said that Appling didn’t put the weapon under the seat. WWJ-AM reports that Hall says Tuesday that he’s disappointed with the judge’s decision.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010 to 2014 and had two 10-day contracts with the Orlando Magic this season.

He also faces weapons and drug charges from a May arrest outside a suburban Detroit strip club.