With No. 4 Kansas headed to Maui to participate in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the status of impact freshman forward Cheick Diallo remains up in the air.
Diallo has yet to be cleared for competition by the NCAA, so while he can help the Jayhawks in practices he’s yet to take the floor in game action for head coach Bill Self. Friday morning the school announced that Diallo has been granted a waiver to travel with the team to Maui.
The question: what does this mean with regards to the possibility of Diallo being cleared at some point in the near future? That is anyone’s guess at this point. While it can be viewed as a positive that Diallo is being allowed to travel, when it comes to such investigations so little information is made public that it’s tough to tell.
And while it isn’t a perfect comparison since Marquette was on its summer trip to Italy, the NCAA allowed Haanif Cheatham to travel despite being in eligibility limbo. Cheatham would eventually be cleared but it was too late for him to play in any of Marquette’s exhibitions in Italy, with the good news breaking while the Golden Eagles were playing their final exhibition of the trip.
Diallo’s a high-energy power forward who would have a significant impact once on the floor. But even with Friday’s piece of good news, we still have no indication of how much longer he’ll have to sit out.
An ongoing investigation by the NCAA hovered over the Hawaii men’s basketball program last season, one in which then-interim head coach Benjy Taylor led the Rainbow Warriors to within a win of the NCAA tournament. With the school since hiring a new head coach in former Saint Mary’s assistant Eran Ganot, Friday evening Hawaii announced that it has self-imposed some sanctions as a result of the investigation.
Among the sanctions are the vacating of 36 wins in which athletes since ruled to be ineligible, Isaac Fotu and Davis Rozitis, played, the payment of a $10,000 fine and the forfeiture of one scholarship in each of the next two seasons according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Hawaii, which received a Notice of Allegations in late January, has placed itself on probation for one year and will also cut its practice time for the upcoming season. Prior to the 2014-15 season the school fired head coach Gib Arnold and also replaced assistant Brandyn Akana as a result of the NCAA investigation.
Both coaches were cited in the Notice of Allegations, with Arnold being charged with “obstructing an investigation or attempting to conceal the violations.”
“For the most part these violations involve either intentional or careless failure to follow well-known bylaws that members of the men’s basketball coaching staff understood but failed to obey,” the school said in a release according to the Star-Advertiser. “The coaches compounded the adverse impact of these poor decisions when they (1) failed to report to the university’s compliance department their own or other violations in the program; (2) instructed or encouraged staff members and student-athletes to conceal or not report the violations or; (3) provided false or misleading information during the investigation rather than admit the violation occurred.”
The next step for Hawaii is a meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, which by rule should occur within the next 60 days. That meeting will determine whether or not the NCAA determines the self-imposed sanctions to be sufficient, and if not what additional penalties they may hand down.
Kansas freshman forward Cliff Alexander has experienced the highs and lows that most newcomers have to deal with in college basketball, but his season took a significant turn February 28. Alexander was sidelined as a result of the NCAA looking into an issue that could compromise his eligibility, but not much was offered up by Kansas as to what the NCAA is looking into.
Late Thursday, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported that the NCAA is looking into the possibility that one or more of Alexander’s family members received impermissible benefits from an agent. Alexander has missed the last two games for the Jayhawks, and it’s likely that Alexander be forced to play the role of spectator Saturday when the Jayhawks visit No. 15 Oklahoma because of the “speed” at which the investigation is moving.
Alexander has not yet been interviewed by the NCAA, sources said, though not because of a reluctance by either the school or NCAA investigators. Sources said legal counsel has been retained by the Alexander family and that may be slowing the investigative process.
Kansas will also be without junior forward Perry Ellis, who suffered a sprained right knee in Tuesday’s overtime win over No. 20 West Virginia. Ellis will be re-evaluated next week, and the results will determine his status for the Big 12 tournament. Even with Alexander on the court reserves such as Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor received opportunities to earn minutes, and in the win over West Virginia Hunter Mickelson was solid as well.
With there being no set time as to when Alexander will be able to return, those three become even more important for the Jayhawks as they look to play deep into March.