Rob Dauster

Injured Wright State player has no feeling in his legs

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There’s an update to the Ryan Custer story we shared with you last week.

Custer, if you missed it, is a 6-foot-7 freshman on Wright State’s basketball team. On Saturday afternoon, he was critically injured jumping into a makeshift pool at a party in Oxford, Ohio. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Cincinnati where he underwent a five-hour surgery on his neck and spine.

The results of that injury have become more clear. He shattered the C5 vertebrae in his neck and currently has no feeling in his legs and limited feeling in his arms.

“The Wright State community was shaken this weekend when it learned that student athlete and men’s basketball player Ryan Custer sustained a serious injury in an accident off Wright State’s campus,” the school said in a statement released on Monday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Ryan and his family and we hope that the community and the followers of our program will keep him and his recovery in their thoughts and prayers too.”

A GoFundMe account has been established to help pay for Custer’s recovery and care.

Roy Williams responds to Maryland president by calling him a ‘double idiot’

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Fresh off of his third national title as the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels, Roy Williams felt the need to get some things off of his chest this week.

He vented on Sirius XM College Sports about the way that he’s been treated and the way the program’s been treated and all the typical coach-speak you’d expect out of him when talking about the academic scandal hanging over UNC’s head.

But things got really good when he was asked about Maryland president Wallace Loh saying UNC deserved the death penalty.

“Some people in the media that I never thought would go out and say things without all the information,” Williams said. “Then we have a president that says we should get the death penalty, the president of another university, and to me that’s just so silly. A guy told me one time that if you got a little knowledge, it turns you into an idiot, but no knowledge and you’re a double-idiot. That’s about the way I look at that thing.”

I’d love to meet the guy that taught Williams what a double-idiot is.

Stop calling college basketball transfers an ‘epidemic’

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There is no such thing as a “transfer epidemic” in college basketball, there are only players doing what every American does: Trying to better their situation in life.

It’s that simple.

And Rodney Pryor is proof.

The Portsmouth Invitational is a four-day, eight-team event that features 64 of the best graduating seniors playing in front of NBA executives, trying to earn their way onto some type of roster, be it summer league, D-League, training camp, anything.

It’s a group of guys looking to get their shot.

Pryor is headed there this week, as one of 45 players that come from what we consider high-major, or multi-bid, conferences. A 6-foot-5 lefty that averaged 18.0 points and shot 41 percent from three at Georgetown this past season, Pryor will get his shot at the league. He’ll probably make a summer league roster. He could very well end up in an NBA training camp. He’ll have his chance to earn an NBA roster spot before, in all likelihood, heading to the D-League or overseas.

Those opportunities might have come along had Pryor stayed at Robert Morris for his final year of eligibility.

They might not have, either. There are 19 players headed to Portsmouth from the mid-major ranks. Would Pryor have gotten an invite had he not spent all winter lighting up Big East defenses?

“I wanted to play on a higher level and showcase my talents,” Pryor told FanRag Sports in a profile of Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole. “There’s no substitute for the ability to play games regularly on national television.”

I bring up that FanRag Sports story because it’s a terrific look at what the rise in up-transfers can do to a mid-major program. Robert Morris, where Pryor played before leaving for Georgetown as a grad transfer, has been a stalwart in the NEC for as long Toole has been the coach. In his first five years with the program, he never finished worse than third in the league standings, winning two regular season titles, making two NITs — including one where Bobby Mo upset Kentucky in 2013 — and winning a game in the 2015 NCAA tournament.

But after the 2015 season, Toole lost his best player, Marcquise Reed, to Clemson. After last season, Pryor transferred out of the program. This year, Isaiah Still told the staff of his intentions to transfer to a bigger school to try and get more exposure.

Toole was one of the hottest names in college coaching in 2015.

He’s now coming off two straight losing seasons.

It’s a tough business, man.

But blaming the kids here is flat-out wrong.

Because this is what everyone does. When a better job offer comes along, you take it. Lawyers leave small firms for big firms. I stopped freelancing for Sports Illustrated while running my own website when NBC offered me a full-time job. In that FanRag Sports story, Toole says that he turned down Fordham — a bottom-of-the-barrel Atlantic 10 job — because of his loyalty to the program and his players, but would he have been as loyal if he was the one getting chased by Clemson or Georgetown instead of those players?

(Hint: He would’ve been an idiot to say no to either of those schools, and he’s an Ivy League grad. He ain’t dumb.)

That’s no different than Pryor jumping at the chance to play at Georgetown or Reed making the move to play for Clemson in the ACC.

And, frankly, it’s no different than a star college player jumping at the chance to head to the NBA early after an unexpectedly great year in college. I don’t see anyone pitying Greg McDermott for losing Justin Patton or Danny Manning for losing John Collins. The same can be said for the coaching staffs that developed, and likely will lose, the likes of Luke Kennard, and Semi Ojeleye, and Tyler Dorsey, and Jordan Bell.

But in only one of those cases are we referring to unpaid, amateur student-athletes trying to better their lot in life by transferring to a bigger program as an “epidemic”.

It’s not an epidemic.

It’s business.

It’s life.

And these players are doing the same damn thing every single one of you do in your career.

Kentucky’s Isaac Humphries to turn pro, sign with an agent

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A fifth Kentucky Wildcats declared for the NBA Draft on Wednesday, as Isaac Humphries announced his plans to forego his final two years of eligibility and turn professional. He will sign with an agent.

“This decision didn’t come easily for me. My goal has always been to play professionally,” Humphries said. “There is no better place to prepare you to take that step than the University of Kentucky. Over the last two years, thanks to Coach Cal and the coaching staff, I’ve gotten so much better and improved my game. I believe I have a lot more I can do, but I also believe that the time for me to take the next step is now.”

“At the end of the day I have to do what I believe is best for myself and my family. I know turning pro is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I understand that these next few weeks and months with the pre-draft process is going to take a lot of hard work and maybe some realistic truths. But, because of what I’ve learned at Kentucky and the support I have from my family and this school, I also feel like I’m ready to face those challenges and that I’m prepared for whatever is next and wherever that may take me.”

Humphries is a seven-foot Australian that played somewhat limited minutes in his two seasons in Lexington. He averaged just 2.8 points and 2.8 boards this past season, although he had a breakout performance in Kentucky’s Elite 8 loss to North Carolina.

“This was a difficult decision for Isaac but one that he and his mom put a lot of thought into,” head coach John Calipari said. “Isaac has gotten so much better in his two seasons here and I believe he’s only begun to scratch the surface of his true potential. I absolutely understand and fully support his decision and I will do whatever I can to help his dreams come true. You’re talking about a 7-footer who can shoot and can rebound. That has value anywhere in the world. He’s also just 19 years old, the youngest sophomore in the country this past season. Everyone forgets how young he is and how much he’s going to continue to grow and develop. He’s only going to get better and better. My belief is what you saw at the end of this season is just the beginning of his pro career.”

Humphries joins De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe in signing with agents. Bam Adebayo has not yet decided on whether or not he will return for another season.

Kentucky adds to top-rated recruiting class with late commitment

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Kentucky landed a commitment from former California signee Jemarl Baker on Tuesday.

Baker is a 6-foot-3 sharpshooter with a reputations for being one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the class. That fills the major weakness on Kentucky’s roster. But he’s also a borderline top 100 prospect. How much time will he see in a perimeter rotation that will be as loaded as usual?

Baker is the seventh member of Kentucky recruiting class that already includes five-star prospects Hamidou Diallo (who enrolled in January), Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington, Nick Richard and Quade Green and four-star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Maryland president ‘would think’ UNC academic scandal earns ‘death penalty’

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University of Maryland president Wallace Loh said that he expects that the academic scandal that has enveloped North Carolina’s athletic department over the course of the last six years would earn the school the “death penalty.”

“As president, I sit over a number of dormant volcanoes,” Loh said during a University of Maryland senate meeting Thursday, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “One of them is an athletic scandal. It blows up, it blows up the university, its reputation, it blows up the president.”

“For the things that happened in North Carolina, it’s abysmal. I would think that this would lead to the implementation of the death penalty by the NCAA. But I’m not in charge of that.”

Earlier this month, North Carolina won the national title in men’s basketball under the shadow of an NCAA investigation into academic fraud that allegedly dates back to 1993. Among the allegations are that the athletic department took advantage of what amounted to fake classes in the African-American studies department in order to help keep players eligible. One of the charges leveled against UNC is a lack of institutional control.

The investigation began in 2010 and was reopened in 2014. The first Notice of Allegations was delivered in May of 2015, and since then, two more amended versions of the NOA have been sent to UNC. The investigation is currently delayed as the NCAA is awaiting a response from North Carolina on the third version of the NOA that they received in December.