Oakland’s bid to remain atop the Horizon League standings took a hit on earlier this week.
On Wednesday, it was reported by Tony Paul of the Detroit News that rising sophomore forward Isaiah Brock had left the program.
Brock, a 23-year-old Army veteran, made headlines earlier in his collegiate career. In the fall, the 6-foot-8 forward who had done two tours overseas was ruled ineligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite earning dozens of credits online and during the summer at Oakland. Following an appeal and the backlash that came with the initial decision, the NCAA reversed the ruling.
According to the Detroit News, Brock is prioritizing academics over athletics and is still enrolled in the university as a student.
Brock went on to have a productive freshman campaign. He started 29 of 33 games for the Golden Grizzlies, averaging 6.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He earned Horizon League all-defensive team honors.
Oakland finished 25-9, winning a share of the Horizon League regular season title. The Golden Grizzlies were upset in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, wrapping up the 2016-17 season in the NIT.
When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.
Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.
The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.
Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.
“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”
Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.
One of the major trends of this college basketball offseason has been players attempting trick half-court shots that they get on tape.
While many players have opted to go with the blind, throw-it-over-your-head half-court shot, UIC senior guard Gabe Snyder decided to try a seated half-court shot.
Since Snyder also made the shot away from center court and more towards the sidelines, it makes it an even tougher shot.
Green Bay landed a former in-state forward as Pepperdine rising junior David Jesperson transferred to the Phoenix, according to Mark Miller of the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook.
The 6-foot-8 Jesperson is from Merrill, Wisconsin and averaged 11.1 minutes per game as a sophomore. Putting up 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, Jesperson shot 52 percent from the field last season, but wasn’t regularly productive in his minutes.
By playing closer to home in the Horizon League, Jesperson gets to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules and he’ll have two more years of eligibility after that. The younger brother of Northern Iowa forward Paul Jesperson, David can stretch the floor a little bit at his size and could be a useful role player in that capacity for Green Bay.
A big step for men’s basketball athletes in the Horizon League occurred on Monday as the league’s Board of Directors unanimously passed cost-of-attendance legislation late last week.
The measure comes in men’s basketball and “for at least an equal number of female student-athletes in a League-sponsored sport or sports.”
Federally created guidelines estimate that must stipends added in the cost-of-attendance initiative are between $2,000 to $4,000 for each athlete annually.
“On behalf of the Horizon League Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce passage of this recommendation from the Executive Council,” University of Detroit Mercy President Dr. Antoine Garibaldi, Ph.D. said. “This resolution aligns with our strategic plan and guides the current and future direction of the Horizon League.”
It’s nice that men’s basketball athletes — and their female counterparts in other sports, as part of Title IX — will get that extra stipend to not have to worry about covering the cost of other things while under basketball scholarship. It serves as a nice recruiting tool for the Horizon League’s coaches. Many other mid-major men’s basketball leagues could be forced to follow suit in the near future to match what the Horizon League has done because they have a clear advantage here. They can offer real dollars to student-athletes that similar counterparts are not offering.
While cost-of-attendance measures were passed with the “power five” conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC) in January, this is a strong step for a mid-major league like the Horizon League to take.
Full cost of attendance was initially passed by NCAA legislators in 2011 but was later voted down by the full membership.
Green Bay has its new head coach, according to multiple reports on Friday afternoon.
Linc Darner, the head coach of Division II Florida Southern, will replace Brian Wardle as head coach of the Horizon League program. Wardle left for to fill the same position at Bradley on March 27. In five seasons, Wardle was 95-64 (54–20) with two NIT appearances with Green Bay.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN and Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports both reported the news.
Darner, who played for Gene Keady at Purdue, led Florida Southern to the Division II national championship two weeks ago, completing a 34-1 seasons. Daniel Turner, a senior forward for the Mocs, had transferred from Green Bay.
Last season, Kim Anderson led Central Missouri to the D2 title before being hired by Missouri, his alma mater. He has 12 years of head coaching experience all at the Division II level at both Florida Southern and St. Joseph’s College (Indiana).
Darner will be taking over a Horizon League program that loses top scorers Keifer Sykes and Greg Mays, but does retain Jordan Fouse.