Michigan and Michigan State will sweat out the NBA Draft deadline

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The NCAA’s meaningless deadline to enter the NBA Draft has come and gone, but there are still 12 days until the NBA’s April 28th deadline to declare passes.

That means there are still 12 days for current underclassmen to leave school and put their names up for draft consideration. The smart players have waited, and there are a number of them that are still weighing their options.

These next 12 days could shape how college basketball looks in 2013-2014. If Kelly Olynyk returns to Gonzaga, Mark Few should have another Final Four contender on his hands. Marcus Smart coming back for another season would make Oklahoma State a Big 12 title favorite. Baylor will be waiting patiently to hear back from Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson. Syracuse (CJ Fair), Miami (Shane Larkin), Creighton (Doug McDermott) and UConn (Shabazz Napier) all have potential all-americans considering whether it’s worth it to make to jump to the league.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Hell, even Andrew Wiggins, the best high school player in the country and a near-lock to be the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, has yet to pick a school.

But nowhere will the next 12 days have more of an impact than in the state of Michigan.

The Wolverines already know that they are losing Trey Burke, which really isn’t a surprise. Burke wanted to leave for the NBA last season, but he decided to stay and became the National Player of the Year. Beilein knew he was gone before this season even began. Luckily, Beilein has a couple of point guards in the fold, as top 50 recruit Derrick Walton enters the program and Spike Albrecht — he of ’17 points in the first half of the national time game’ fame — returns for his sophomore season.

That probably would be enough to make Michigan a Big Ten contender once again, if they get everyone else back.

And that’s a big ‘if’.

Mitch McGary has the makings of a superstar at the college level, but since he finally showed that off during the NCAA tournament, the NBA has taken notice as well. McGary would likely get snatched up somewhere in the first round if he left school this year, and has a shot at sneaking his way into the back end of the lottery. Draft Express currently ranks McGary as the 17th best NBA prospect. Is that enough to get him to leave?

What about Glenn Robinson III? Many think that he actually wants to leave school this year, and there’s a decent chance that he could get snatched up in the first round of the draft if he did. Draft Express ranks him as the 21st best prospect in this draft and projects him to go 6th in their 2014 mock draft. He’s a 6-foot-6 athlete with three-point range and tremendous athleticism. His skills can be developed. You can’t teach potential.

That leave Tim Hardaway Jr., who would become the face of the program next season. But does he want to be the face of a program that looks nothing like the one that he played in this past season? If the rest of his team leaves, what else is there left for Hardaway to do at the college level?

And if those three end up going to the NBA, where does that leave Michigan? With Albrecht, Nik Stauskas, Caris LaVert and a bunch of freshman? There’s a chance that team could end up missing the NCAA tournament?

Michigan State doesn’t have the same kind of doomsday scenario as Michigan does. Keith Appling will be back in school, as will Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson. Travis Trice also returns, and they’ll be joined by a trio of big men capable of playing in a Big Ten rotation. That group should be enough to get Michigan State into the top 25 in the preseason.

But that doesn’t include Adreian Payne and Gary Harris in the conversation.

Payne was a top 20 recruit coming out of high school that finally found a way to put his ridiculous skill set to good use this season, coming on strong in Big Ten play and shooting his way up NBA Draft boards. He’s a borderline first round pick if he leaves. His teammate, shooting guard Gary Harris, may actually be worthy of a higher pick but, as Gary Parrish reported today, may actually be more likely to return to school. He’s dealt with a bad shoulder all season long, and he could be a top ten pick with a full season of playing at full strength.

Michigan State, with Payne and Harris in the fold, is a top five team and a national title contender.

Michigan, with McGary, Hardaway and Robinson back, is likely a top ten team and a Big Ten contender.

But if all five end up leaving, you may see a top 25 poll with neither Michigan school ranked.

That’s a lot on the line over the next 12 days.

You can find Rob 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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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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.