Recruiting rundown: Will Louisville get the Purvis treatment again?


Louisville made three former scholarship men’s basketball players into walk-ons this year, so it’s clear that the Cardinals have a dearth of future full rides available for current high school prospects. With that said, they’ve approached their incoming recruiting classes with precision, making few offers, but also scoring important pledges.

In recent days, Louisville reached into traditional ACC recruiting country, North Carolina’s Triangle region, and landed 6-2 shooting guard Anton Gill, a top-50 prospect from Ravenscroft (N.C.).  Known as a crafty scorer and accurate shooter, Gill is a terrific all-around prospect, and gives Louisville flexibility with his ability to play a passable point guard in addition to his off the ball prowess.

Coach Rick Pitino and his staff have made the backcourt their top priority in future recruiting classes, as Louisville signed Ohio-native point guard Terry Rozier as the sole current member of their 2012 class. In addition to Gill, the first 2013 pledge, Louisville also have a commitment from a hometown player, in a 5-11 point guard from Ballard (Ky.), Quentin Snider, a 2014 prospect.

Louisville fans are hoping that Gill works out better than the last commitment Louisville held from a top prospect from the Triangle, in 2012 star combo guard Rodney Purvis. He pledged to the Cardinals early on in high school, mostly due to his relationship with former Louisville assistant coach, and current Missouri assistant coach Tim Fuller. After Fuller left Louisville, Purvis re-opened his recruitment and ultimately signed with NC State.

It’s unlikely that Gill will follow Purvis’ footsteps, as he cited his relationship with Pitino as one of the chief reasons he decided to head to the Bluegrass State for college.

Stokes gives Vols instant impact in frontcourt
As expected, Southwind (Tenn.) power forward Jarnell Stokes, a 6-8, 250 pound presence, is headed the college hoops ranks early, and the blue chip native of Memphis is bucking the recent trend of elite Memphis high schoolers in joining coach Josh Pastner’s Tigers program, as Stokes has cast his lot with Tennessee.

What makes this decision even more important is the fact that Stokes will most likely be eligible to play in SEC league play for the Volunteers. He’s already signed an institutional offer of financial aid, and now needs to be officially admitted to the university, added to Tennessee’s institutional squad list, and become approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Those three steps are expected to be mostly formalities, as Stokes was an honors student in high school. He’s expected to be set to go around the start of Tennessee’s spring semester, which starts January 11. A universal top-25 talent in the 2012 class, Stokes was ruled ineligible to play by the state association after transferring from Central (Tenn.) to Southwind this season. Instead of sitting the season out, Stokes sought to enter college basketball early.

In the fallout from Bruce Pearl era, new Volunteers coach Cuonzo Martin didn’t have much time to put together a quality 2011 recruiting class after being hired late in the recruiting cycle, and quite simply focused on completing the roster with scholarship players, rather than selecting from any quantity of available talent. The two signees for 2012 to date, forwards Derek Reese and D’Montre Edwards, aren’t particularly highly-regarded, either. Stokes is an important first five star recruit for Martin.

In Stokes, Tennessee is in a double-bonus situation. Not only do the Volunteers have a player that could conceivably be a valued contributor this season, Stokes also represents a huge score and gives in-state recruiting credibility to Martin’s fledgling program. Stokes was considering several high-major programs, but Florida and Arkansas were the other programs that had scholarship space to offer him. Had Stokes selected Memphis, which originally was considered a favorite for his services, he would have sat out the season as a “recruited walk-on” according to NCAA regulations.

Over the summer Stokes was impressive, but he will be thrust into SEC play after not playing in a meaningful game for several months. It’s not clear how much impact he can have from the outset, but the bar hasn’t exactly been set high in terms of performance on the largely mediocre current frontcourt.

Don’t be surprised to see Stokes be an important addition for this season, and a building block and interior force as early as next season for the rebuilding Tennessee program.

Torian Graham commits and reconsiders NC State, again
Shortly after taking the reins as the head coach at NC State, new coach Mark Gottfried added a verbal commitment from top-50 shooting guard Torian Graham. That pledge lasted almost three months, before Graham decided to break off his pledge to the Wolfpack, and then transferred to Arlington Country Day (Fla.) to finish out high school.

On Thursday, Graham re-upped his verbal to the Wolfpack, and in fact announced his decision to attend NC State in a YouTube video. At the time, the scorer stated, “I’m going to end up at NC State, in my heart that’s where I want to be”.

While joining the Wolfpack may be what is in Graham’s heart, less than twelve hours after his commitment, he re-opened his recruiting, yet again. There is unquestionably more at play with the Graham/NC State situation that has fully been fleshed out publically at this point, as more influences are in play than the star player simply deciding he wants to attend NC State and play basketball.

As it stands, it seems fairly clear that Graham wants to join the NC State roster. His addition would push the already loaded NC State recruiting class into the No. 2 haul in the land (unless Kentucky adds one of the blue chip players they are pursuing first), with top notch distributor Tyler Lewis at point guard, elite combo guard Rodney Purvis and slick forward TJ Warren already signed and sealed.

Graham has bounced around in recent years, attending three high schools and playing on several AAU teams. He’s faced his mother’s death this year, and now something is holding up his apparent desire to play at NC State. It’s speculation as to what that factor ultimately is, but Graham’s talent is undeniable, and he’s one of a handful of elite guards left unsigned in the 2012 class.

For Graham’s sake, here’s hoping he receives some quality advice and counsel from the adults in his life, and makes a college star out of his basketball promise and acumen.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

NCAA tweaks rules on block/charge calls in men’s basketball

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INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA is tweaking how block/charge calls are made in men’s basketball.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rule changes on Thursday that require a defender to be in position to draw a charge at the time the offensive player plants a foot to go airborne for a shot. If the defender arrives after the player has planted a foot, officials have been instructed to call a block when there’s contact.

Defenders had to be in position to draw a charge before the offensive player went airborne under previous rules.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee members made the proposal after NCAA members complained that too many charges were being called on those types of plays.

The panel also approved reviews of basket interference calls during the next media timeout – if the official called it on the floor – a shot clock reset to 20 seconds on an offensive rebound that hits the rim, and players being allowed to wear any number between 0 and 99.

A timeout also will be granted to an airborne player with possession of the ball, and non-student bench personnel will be allowed to serve as peacekeepers on the floor if an altercation occurs.

Charlotte head coach Ron Sanchez resigns after winning CBI title

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Sanchez resigned as head coach of the Charlotte 49ers.

Sanchez took over the 49ers on March 19, 2018, inheriting a team coming off a 6-23 campaign. In five years Charlotte went 72-78 under Sanchez, highlighted by winning the College Basketball Invitational championship this past season, the Niners’ first post-season tournament title in school history.

The 22 wins this past season are the most for Charlotte since 2001.

“Ron took over a proud but struggling program and carefully rebuilt it into a 22-game winner. He has led with class, dignity and devotion to our young men,” Charlotte director of athletics Mike Hill said. “His decision to step down from Charlotte was a difficult one for him and everyone associated with our program. We wish him and his family every happiness.”

Hill said the team has already begun a national search for a replacement.

“This is a bittersweet day for me and my family as I step down to pursue other opportunities,” said Sanchez, who came the 49ers after working as an assistant coach at Virginia under Tony Bennett. “It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the 49ers basketball program over the past five years and I want to thank Niner Nation for its support. I will be forever grateful to my staff, players and the university.”

Marquette extends Shaka Smart’s contract through 2029-30 season

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MILWAUKEE — Marquette coach Shaka Smart has received a contract extension after leading the Golden Eagles to their first outright regular-season championship and tournament title in the Big East.

Smart’s contract now runs through the 2029-30 season. This is the first extension Smart has received since signing a six-year deal when he took over as Marquette’s coach in 2021.

Marquette didn’t release financial terms of Smart’s deal.

“In a very short period of time, Shaka and his staff have done a tremendous job of establishing a winning culture, both on and off the court,” athletic director Bill Scholl said in a statement. “Shaka’s vision for the program is focused on extended, sustainable success. The individuals who interact with the team on a daily basis are able to observe frequent examples of growth and the excitement around the program is contagious.”

Marquette has gone 48-20 in Smart’s two seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament each of those years.

The Golden Eagles went 29-7 and won the Big East’s regular-season and tournament championships last season after the league’s coaches had picked them to finish ninth out of 11 teams. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

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.