Early Entry: Who made questionable, but understandable, decisions?

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Read through the rest of our Early Entry breakdowns here.

J’Covan Brown, Texas: Brown is never going to be a great NBA prospect. 6-foot-2 guards that are shoot-first and have a history of attitude problems aren’t exactly the NBA ideal. But Brown is coming off of a breakout season where he carried a group of Longhorn youngsters to the NCAA tournament while showing improved maturity and leadership. With a loaded perimeter attack of freshmen turning into sophomores next season and a daughter that he now needs to provide for, Brown probably made the right decision even if he doesn’t end up making the NBA.

Dominic Cheek, Villanova: Cheek surprised a lot of people with his decision to enter the NBA Draft. He struggled to find any kind of consistency at Villanova and never lived up to the hype he had coming in as a freshman. Simply put: Dominic Cheek will not be picked in the NBA Draft. So why is he leaving school? One report said he didn’t enjoy his time at Villanova anymore. Another said he had family members — his grandmother and two brothers — to provide for. Either way, Cheek knew his time as a collegian was up.

Moe Harkless, St. John’s: Harkless managed to play his way into the first round of the NBA Draft after a stellar freshman campaign with the Johnnies. He proved himself to be a versatile, play-making defender and a legitimate prospect offensively at the small forward spot. Could he have played his way into the lottery with a stellar sophomore season while leading his team to more wins? Probably. But you can’t blame a kid for taking the guaranteed money.

Meyers Leonard, Illinois: Leonard’s a potential lottery pick who just went through a thoroughly depressing sophomore campaign that resulted in his head coach being fired. That alone would be enough to convince a lot of kids to leave school. But Leonard has extenuation circumstances, as he is looking to provide for his family.

Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: I’m not convinced that Marshall is going to be a good NBA point guard, but as the saying goes, you need to strike while the iron is hot. Marshall had a sensational sophomore season and had his value to UNC proven after he injured his wrist against Creighton and the Tar Heels proceeded to look like a fifth-grade CYO team offensively. He’s a top point guard in a weak point guard class.

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina; Tony Mitchell, North Texas; and Cody Zeller, Indiana: All three of these guys would have been first round picks had they kept their names in the draft. All three made the decision to return which, financially, was smart. All three — who happen to be heading into their sophomore years — have ceilings much higher than where they were going to be picked in this year’s draft. Coming back to school should, barring injury, net them more money in the long run.

Austin Rivers, Duke: I have my doubts in regards to Rivers’ as an NBA prospect. I’m probably not alone in that regard. But he is the son of Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, which probably means that he got all of the information he needed to make a decision.

Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, Washington: Ross and Wroten are both so talented. If they had gone back and spent another season at Washington, the Huskies probably would have found themselves in the conversation with Arizona and UCLA as a favorite in the Pac-12 next season. The issue is that both players have holes in their game. Ross isn’t as assertive as he needs to be and Wroten can be too assertive, to the point of being, in professional terms, a ball-hogging turnover machine. They are both going to be first round picks this season based on their potential this season. That’s worth leaving for.

Dion Waiters, Syracuse: To be frank, I’m still not sold on this being the correct decision for Waiters. He showcased the kind of talent this season that could turn him into an all-american next season without having to split minutes with Scoop Jardine. But Waiters also has a bit of a history: he nearly transferred out of Syracuse last season because he couldn’t accept sharing minutes. Grabbing a guaranteed contract when it is available is understandable, but I’m just not sure I agree with it.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.