Mark Emmert open to possibility of allowing D-League players back into NCAA

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Over the last couple of days, NCAA president Mark Emmert has given a series of wide-ranging interviews covering just about ever topic in college sports that you can think of.

But for the purposes of this site, perhaps the most intriguing were things that he had to say about the relationship between college basketball and the NBA.

It’s not a secret that the process for a college kid transitioning to the NBA is less than ideal. The one-and-done rule — which, frankly, is the NBA’s decision to make — creates a situation where it’d difficult for fans to get to know the stars at this level. It also means that the best basketball players in the world last all of five awkward, transitional months on a college court, which is five months more than before but less-than-ideal if we’re talking about actually seeing these kids play like stars.

But there isn’t much that Emmert can do about that.

There is, however, something he can do about the rules surrounding early entry to the NBA Draft. The way the rules are currently structured are terrible for the athletes making the most important decision of their lives. They’re forced to declare for the draft with two weeks of the national title game being over, before NBA teams have really put a great deal of thought into who they like, what position they need to add and where they would be willing to draft a particular player. The NBA Draft’s deadline to declare is at the end of April, which gives some of the borderline draft picks more of a chance to figure out their draft stock, but it’s still less than ideal.

And according to Emmert, he’s open to changing that. From an interview with

I think members need to look at the relationship between college sports and professional sports, and I don’t know what this looks like, but allow young men that are playing college basketball, for example, to get a much better sense of the marketplace. Right now, the only way they can really get a clear picture of the marketplace is declare for the draft and step away. Most of our rules say now you’re done. Go over there, you’re finished. Is there a way for those who aren’t going to play in NBA to learn from somebody in the outside world who says, look, you’re not going to play professional ball?


I’m more than happy to have us all consider what should the model look like in relationship between us and professional sports leagues. OK, if you go play a year in the D-League, does that mean you never, ever come back to college to play? I don’t know. Maybe that’s something we need to think about.

Allowing kids to bounce back and forth between college and the D-League is not exactly ideal, but what if this lead to a situation where a professional team can draft a players’ rights and then stash him back in college? The Spurs have done this quite a bit with European players, why can’t we find a way to do it with college kids as well?

Would that be better for NBA teams than stashing them in the D-League?

Who knows. This may not work for first round picks, who would probably rather cash those guaranteed paychecks while sitting on an NBA bench than come back to college for a year. But what about someone like, say, Spencer Dinwiddie. He left school a year early and was a second round pick by the Pistons. He earned a contract, but he’s played in six games for a team that’s 3-19 while trying to shake off the rust that comes with recovering from a torn ACL.

Would it be better for him and for the Pistons if they retained his rights and allowed him to return to Colorado for a year? And wouldn’t it be better for Colorado if they still had Spencer Dinwiddie?

Who is worse off in that situation?

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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

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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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.