Eight midseason additions who’ll impact college hoops


Jon Kreft committed to Florida State in August of 2004.

That’s all of six years and four months ago. Kreft was preparing for his junior year in high school at the time, which would put him in the class of 2006. That’s the same class as guys like Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, and Ty Lawson. Every member of that class that graduated or left school within four years has become a professional, be it to the NBA, overseas, or, like those NCAA commercials love to tell us, in something other than basketball.

While the rest of his high school class is cashing paychecks, Kreft was finally granted eligibility at Florida State today. Tonight against Stetson, Kreft will suit up as a Division I basketball player for the first time in his life.

As you might imagine, it has been a long road for Kreft.

In May of 2006, he was arrested with a friend in a car with 15 grams of weed and a digital scale. He also admitted to hiding 1.7 grams of cocaine in his buttocks. He served almost a year in jail, but by the time he got out, Kreft’s scholarship offer from Florida State was gone. He found himself at Chipola College, spending the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons there. He had hoped to enroll at FSU for the 2009-2010 season, but he still needed to finish some course work.

So after clearing all of those hurdles, Kreft, now 24 years old but a junior in terms of his eligibility, will finally have the chance to play for the Seminoles.

It may be difficult for him to earn minutes initially. Florida State already has a deep and talented front line.

But that isn’t the story here.

The story is that Kreft turned around his life. And now he’ll have a chance to get an education. That is, after all, the purpose of collegiate athletics.

Kreft is far from the only player joining his team midway through the season. Here is a list of eight players that have yet to play a game, but could end up having a huge impact on the outcome of the season.

Josh Selby, Kansas, Fr.

We all know the story of Josh Selby by now. A Baltimore native, Selby had a relationship with Bay Frazier, Carmelo Anthony’s business manager, that the NCAA determined was based on his athletics abilities. He was suspended by the NCAA for nine games, and will become eligible to play on Saturday against USC.

What Selby’s impact will be is unclear. Most expect him to become a starter before long, but Bill Self is playing the part of the politician perfectly, requiring Selby to earn his spot in the starting lineup. He was considered just as good, if not better, than Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving coming out of high school, so it shouldn’t be an issue of if he will have an impact, but rather what that impact will be. He has needed the ball in his hands throughout his high school career, but Kansas runs a system that thrives on ball movement and runs through the Morrii, twin big men Marcus and Markieff. That said, a back court featuring Selby and Tyshawn Taylor will be talented, dynamic, and incredibly entertaining to watch.

If Selby can accept the fact that he will play a role, albeit an important one, for the Jayhawks, it shouldn’t be long before Kansas rivals Duke as the best team in the country.

Drew Gordon, New Mexico, Jr.

Gordon was arguably UCLA’s best player in the season and a half he spent in Westwood. But the talented power forward was never quite able to accept his role for Ben Howland, or the system that the Bruins ran, and left the school after six games last season.

With all due respect to the front line of San Diego State, Gordon could step in and immediately become the best big man in the Mountain West Conference. He’s big, hes athletic, and he is versatile. He can score with his bask to the basket, he can get out and run the floor in transition, and he can rebound the basketball. New Mexico already has a solid front line, but freshman Alex Kirk is more of a pick-and-pop player while AJ Hardemann and Emmanuel Negedu and big and physical, but more athlete than basketball player at this point. Gordon is on another level talent-wise.

It will be interesting to see what the Lobos look like with Gordon in the fold. Right now, they are probably the fourth best MWC team behind SDSU, BYU, and UNLV, who are all top 25 teams. The MWC will be that much better with a dangerous Lobo team. His first game will be Sunday against the Citadel.

Renardo Sidney, So., and Dee Bost, Sr., Mississippi State

Both of these kids had to wait for NCAA clearance to return to the Bulldogs, but for very different reasons. Sidney enrolled at Mississippi State prior to last season, but as a result of improper benefits he received and the NCAA’s belief that his family profited off of his athletic ability while he was in high school, Sidney was declared ineligible for last season and 30% of this season. He’ll play his first game on Saturday against Virginia Tech.

Bost, on the other hand, entered the NBA Draft back in April and took too long to withdraw his name. In a bit of an unexpected move, the NCAA cleared Bost while suspending him nine games. Since he was academically ineligible after last year, Bost’s suspension won’t kick in until the first semester is over.

Thanks to some tricky scheduling by Rick Stansbury, both Bost and Sidney will be available for the entirety of SEC play. And, there seems no doubt, these two will make the Bulldogs much better. They should immediately become the favorites in the dismal SEC West, but with losses to Florida Atlantic and East Tennessee State already on their resume, will the Bulldogs be able to do enough to earn an NCAA bid this season?

Jio Fontan, USC, Jr.

Fontan is a talent. As a freshman at Fordham, he averaged 15.1 ppg and 4.7 apg. But the Rams were terrible, and the St. Anthony’s product wanted out. He left the school five games into his sophomore season after a long battle with the athletic department, finally settling on USC has his destination.

Last year, USC’s season turned when they added redshirt senior Mike Gerrity to the mix. Can Fontan have that same impact this year? Kevin O’Neil has said that Fontan is their best player right now, and that carries some weight, considering Nikola Vucevic is playing great and freshman point guard Maurice Jones has impressed early in the season playing a whopping 38.4 mpg.

The Trojans already have losses to Rider, TCU, and Bradley, but if Fontan can change the course of the season, the NCAA Tournament committee may look past those losses. Fontan will make his Trojan debut opposite Josh Selby on Saturday.

Mike Holmes, Coastal Carolina, Sr.

Coastal Carolina was one of the best mid-major programs in the country last season, winning 28 games. This season has been a bit of the same, as they are currently 8-2 on the year with their lone losses coming to Georgetown and the College of Charleston in the Charleston Classic.

Holmes gives them an entirely new dimension. He’s a legitimate, high-major big man. He averaged 10.4 ppg and 7.7 rpg as a sophomore at South Carolina, but was dismissed midway through his junior season due to repeated violations of team rules. Holmes will have a shot at redemption this season, and he is already making good on that opportunity. He had 14 points and 10 boards off the bench in the Chanticleer’s 78-69 overtime win at LSU on Monday.

Roberto Nelson, Oregon State, Fr.

Its been a long wait for Nelson, the best recruit to head to Corvallis since Gary Payton, as he’s had to deal with a year and a half of NCAA scrutiny of his academic eligibility. But the time is finally here, as Nelson had four points in 15 minutes off the bench for the Beavers in a win on Sunday over Texas Pan-American.

Craig Robinson has made it clear that he wants to bring Nelson along slowly, but he may not have the choice. Oregon State is not Kansas. They do not have a roster full of high school all-americans. They are one of the worst high-major teams in the country, and any kind of infusion of talent at this point in the season is incredibly important if this team wants to be competitive in a weak Pac-10 this season.

Gregory Echinique, Creighton, Jr.

Echinique may have played for Rutgers, but that doesn’t change the fact that the kid was a hell of a player in the Big East. As a freshman, he averaged 8.4 ppg and 8.4 rpg. Before transferring out of the New Jersey school as a sophomore, he was averaging 12.6 ppg and 7.7 rpg.

And now he is headed to the Valley, which may as well be known as Death Valley this season. For a league that is generally considered one of the best mid-majors in the country year in and year out, this is certainly a down season. Creighton hasn’t been great either, losing to both Nebraska and Iowa State already this season.

But with Echinique joining forces with the Blue Jay’s talented big man Kenny Lawson, Creighton all of a sudden has a front line that can compete with the high-majors. We’ll get out first look at the Venezuelan on Saturday against Iowa State.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”