After more than a month had passed since ten people, including four Division I assistant coaches, were arrested in connection with an FBI investigation into corruption and fraud, indictments were handed out to eight of the ten. The two people who have yet to be indicted are Munish Sood and Brad Augustine, with Sood being a financial planner based in New Jersey and Augustine formerly running the 1-Family grassroots program.
1-Family, which is based in Florida, is an adidas-sponsored grassroots program. Among the eight men who were indicted are two men with deep connections to adidas, Jim Gatto and Merl Code. While they’re not being indicted does not mean that Sood and Augustine have already begun to cooperate with authorities, it is a development that bears mentioning.
According to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, Sood and Augustine no longer appear by name in the indictments, with Sood now referred to as co-conspirators. Sood is “CC-1” and Augustine “CC-2” in the updated reports.
Indictments in the case were handed out this week, with coaches Tony Bland (USC), Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State), Chuck Person (Auburn) and Emanuel “Book” Richardson (Arizona) among those who will now have to sit in front of a grand jury. It should be noted that even though Sood and Augustine have not been indicted at this time, that does not rule out the possibility down the line.
There’s still a lot to be figured out with regards to this case and its ultimate impact on college basketball. Much of that will depend upon what the FBI gathers from those willing to speak in order to avoid serious penalty.
Report: Bruce Pearl not cooperating with Auburn’s internal investigation
Beginning the season with hopes of earning an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2003, things have not gone as planned for the Auburn Tigers during the preseason. The Auburn program was hit hard by the ongoing FBI investigation, with assistant coach Chuck Person being arrested in late September and indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday.
Add in the fact that two players, Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley, are being held out of competition as the school looks into their eligibility in connection to the FBI case, and things have not gone smoothly for head coach Bruce Pearl.
However according to a report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Pearl has apparently not done all that he can to help the school conduct its own investigation. Per the report Pearl has not cooperated with Auburn’s efforts to conduct an internal investigation of the basketball program, with school officials informing Pearl that he’s placing his employment in jeopardy as a result.
To have this kind of turmoil just days before the start of the season is suboptimal to say the least.
Auburn opens its season Friday night against Norfolk State. No determination has been made regarding the statuses of Wiley, who suffered a stress fracture while playing for the United States U-19 team this summer, and Purifoy for that game. With those two sitting out, Auburn dropped an exhibition to Division II Barry University last week.
One could argue that Adams’ backcourt sidekick Matt Mobley deserves to be on this list as well. But the pick here is Adams, as he’s coming off of a junior season in which he averaged 20.6 points, 6.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game, Adams is entrusted in producing offense not only for himself but for his teammates as well, and more often than not he gets the job done for Mark Schmidt’s Bonnies. Adams is a key reason why the Bonnies are expected to contend in the Atlantic 10 and could earn their first NCAA tournament bid since 2012.
PF Peyton Aldridge, Davidson
Much to the chagrin of some, Aldridge was not on our list of the top 100 players in college basketball. And with Jack Gibbs out of eligibility, Aldridge has the potential to be one of the most productive offensive players in America this season. As a junior Aldridge averaged 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, producing an offensive rating of 118.5 as well. By March, leaving Aldridge off of the top 100 list could prove to be a major mistake.
PG Kyron Cartwright, Providence
Cartwright receives ample respect within the Big East, which is to be expected considering the fact that he was named the league’s Most Improved Player last season. As a junior Cartwright averaged 11.4 points, 6.7 assists (tops in the Big East) and 3.5 rebounds per game. Look for this to be the season in which Cartwright becomes a household name nationally, as he leads a program aiming not only for its fifth consecutive NCAA tournament berth but a Big East title as well.
Daum’s name is one that should be heard more often in 2017-18, given how productive he was as a sophomore last season. The 6-foot-9 power forward averaged 25.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, shooting 51.4 percent from the field, 41.8 percent from three and 86.9 percent from the foul line. A 6-foot-9 forward who attempted just over five of his shots (15.2 FGA per game) per night from three was nearly a 50/40/90 shooter. That’s incredible, and Daum’s name is one that more college basketball fans need to know.
SF/PF Vince Edwards, Purdue
With his size, standing at 6-foot-8, and skill set Edwards allows Purdue head coach Matt Painter to go a variety of ways with his matchups. Given the perimeter options on this team, including Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias, P.J. Thompson and freshman Nojel Eastern, Purdue can employ Edwards as a four to force mismatches at that position. Last season Edwards averaged 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, shooting 48.6 percent from the field, 42.3 percent from three and 82.0 percent from the foul line. Efficient offensively and solid on the other end of the floor, Edwards could merit All-America discussion come March.
PG Rob Gray Jr., Houston
The American Athletic Conference is loaded with guards this season, and among the best in the conference is Rob Gray Jr. The 6-foot-1 redshirt senior averaged 20.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for the Cougars last season, earning first team all-conference honors as a result. Gray is certainly given the respect he deserves within the American, but has he received enough respect nationally? Look for that to change this season as he looks to lead the Cougars to their first NCAA tournament bid since 2010.
Speaking of players who threatened the 50/40/90 mark last season, Tyler Hall did so while averaging 23.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last season. Shooting 47.6 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three and 83.7 percent from the foul line, Hall produced an effective field goal percentage of 59.5 in 2016-17. The 6-foot-4 guard was a focal point of the Montana State offensive attack in each of his first two years with the program, and that’s unlikely to change in 2017-18.
SG Mustapha Heron, Auburn
With the statuses of Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley undetermined at this point due to the ongoing FBI investigation (and fears of what the NCAA could do down the line), Auburn will begin its season shorthanded. But in Heron the Tigers have a talented shooting guard in Heron who can put points on the board in a flash. As a freshman Heron averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from three. If there’s one area where Heron could stand to improve from last season it’s the turnover department, as he averaged 2.4 per night while dishing out just 1.3 assists per game.
PG Aaron Holiday, UCLA
After starting 32 games as a freshman Holiday moved into a reserve role last season to make room for Lonzo Ball, and he handled the adjustment well. Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists per game as a sophomore, with both numbers being improvements on his freshman year numbers (10.3, 4.0). With Ball, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton all having moved on, more will be asked of Holiday alongside the likes of freshmen Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes. And given his abilities on both ends of the floor, Holiday may very well emerge as one of the top guards in the country in the eyes of those who aren’t already rating him that high.
SG Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State
Two years after arriving in Starkville as part of a recruiting class headlined by Malik Newman (who is now at Kansas), it’s Weatherspoon who is entrusted with the task of leading the way for Ben Howland’s program. As a sophomore Weatherspoon averaged 16.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs, shooting nearly 47 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from three with an effective field goal percentage of 53.3 percent. The talent on the roster has improved, which could in turn help one of the top perimeter talents in the SEC become more of a household name nationally.
Others worth considering: Joshua Braun (Grand Canyon), Bryant Crawford (Wake Forest), Terence Davis (Ole Miss), Drew Eubanks (Oregon State), Tra Holder (Arizona State), Shake Milton (SMU), Khyri Thomas (Creighton).
Auburn forward Horace Spencer out for season with shoulder surgery
The 6-foot-8 Spencer is averaging 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he’s one of the team’s best rim protectors.
Spencer’s surgery will be performed on Thursday.
“Horace, he’s one of our toughest players, and he’s a fighter, and he’s not afraid, and he’s a really good teammate,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said in the release. “Horace has got a little bit of mother hen, and he’s got a little bit of big brother in him. He’s our team protector.”
Pearl noted in the release that Spencer was out for four months after last season after knee surgery, so he’s had a hard time staying healthy during his first two years at Auburn. On the bright side, Spencer being out for four months means that he’ll get most of this summer to improve before his junior season.
Kentucky used a second-half surge to pull away from Auburn as the No. 6 Wildcats ran away with a 92-72 SEC home win on Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats (15-2, 5-0) were only up, 70-64, with a little over eight minutes but used a 22-8 run to close out the game as the team’s offense once again showed why they are among the best in the country. Freshman guard Malik Monk led Kentucky with 24 points on the night as the Wildcats shot a red-hot 57 percent (11-for-19) from three-point range.
Bam Adebayo added 15 points and eight rebounds for Kentucky while De’Aaron Fox (13 points), Mychal Mulder (12 points) and Isaiah Briscoe (10 points) also finished in double-figures.
Auburn (11-6, 1-4) was led by T.J. Dunans’ 23 points while freshman Mustapha Heron had 11 points.
If Kentucky shoots 57 percent from three-point range they are going to be nearly impossible to stop — and it wasn’t just Monk was going bananas and hitting all the deep jumpers. Monk hit four three-pointers and kept up his normal pace but inconsistent shooters like Briscoe went 2-for-2 while Wenyen Gabriel (six points, 16 rebounds) was 2-for-3 from distance as well.
Auburn was able to stay in the game for longer because of some woeful free-throw shooting from Kentucky. The Wildcats’ were only 17-for-32 (52 percent) from the free-throw line — well below their season average of 69 percent — but that might only be a one-game issue and not a long-term problem.
Auburn keeps momentum going by landing five-star Class of 2018 forward
When Bruce Pearl took the job at Auburn, it was assumed that he could recruit top-100 caliber players to the struggling program, but Pearl’s recruiting is exceeding those expectations.
On Thursday night, the Tigers landed another huge commitment as five-star Class of 2018 power forward E.J. Montgomery pledged to Auburn on Twitter. The commitment of Montgomery represents the third consecutive recruiting class in which Pearl is bringing a five-star prospect into the fold.
Montgomery’s sister, Brandy Montgomery, plays for the Auburn women’s basketball team, so the Tigers were able to capitalize on the connection.
The 6-foot-9 Montgomery emerged on the national scene as an eighth grader as he was a rare rising freshman who was productive playing up on the 17U level in the adidas Gauntlet. Regarded as the No. 9 overall prospect in the national class, according to Rivals, Montgomery’s commitment is a great start for Auburn in the Class of 2018.
An athletic big man with a lot of upside, Montgomery has a chance to be a double-double threat on a nightly basis if he plays up to his potential.