Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello makes first comments since reinstatement

Leave a comment

Throughout the month of March, Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello was discussed as one of the coaches in line to land a position at a power conference program in the spring. He’d successfully turned around a once-struggling program, leading the Jaspers to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004, and his team gave Louisville all it wanted before falling 71-64 in the Round of 64.

On the heels of that 25-8 campaign Masiello was offered the head coaching job at USF, and it was a hire praised by many within college basketball.

However a background check by the school revealed that Masiello had not completed his coursework at Kentucky as an undergraduate, meaning that the offer was off the table. The questions following that occurrence focused on whether or not Manhattan would allow Masiello to return to his post, as opposed to who the young coach would have on his coaching staff at USF.

Manhattan ultimately decided that Masiello would be placed on leave until he completed his degree requirements, a task completed last month. Recently reinstated by the school, Masiello made his first comments on the matter in a story written by Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. And Masiello accepted responsibility for the situation, stating that he should have done more as a 22-year old to make sure that everything was taken care of.

“Even if everyone knew the whole story, I’m wrong. But there’s a big difference between having intent to mislead and making a mistake at 22 years old. I should be held accountable and punished for it, but I never had intent to mislead people. … Some people might say, ‘I still wouldn’t have thought that,’ and I get that too because some people will say, ‘What do you mean you didn’t have your degree on your wall?’ I didn’t have my degree on my wall. It’s just something I never really thought of. I’ll tell you, it will be in August.

“Certain people will never understand. The people who are gonna think it, they’re gonna think it no matter what.”

One question to be considered in the aftermath of Masiello’s situation was how his players at Manhattan, who nearly lost their coach to another school, would react to his return. In Kussoy’s story multiple players voiced their support for Masiello, who worked hard to turn around a program that won just six games in the season prior to his arrival.

That support within the locker room will be vital as Masiello works to build on what his program has accomplished in the first three years of his tenure. Manhattan will have to account for the loss of key players Rhamel Brown, Mike Alvarado and George Beamon. But they’ll have some solid returnees to count on in 2014-15, with forward Emmy Andujar and guard Shane Richards among that group.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

1 Comment

Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

Allen Dean Steele /Allsport
1 Comment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.