Texas A&M's Robert Williams to Kansas for Malik Newman:

If college basketball had a trading deadline, what deals would get made?

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We’re getting down to the stretch run for college basketball teams, and if anything has become obvious this season, it’s that all of the best teams in the country are flawed. 

Let’s pretend, for a second, that trades were allowed in college basketball. If they were, here are eight trades that would benefit some of the national title contenders this season. 

The major caveat here: These trades have to benefit both teams, and they have to be trades that, in theory, would be accepted. So, for example, no matter how much I want to pretend to send Jawun Evans to Duke, it would never happen with Oklahoma State now in the mix for a tournament berth. The same can be said for someone like Alec Peters of Valparaiso or Jack Gibbs of Davidson. 

Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard to Duke for Marques Bolden: Marques Bolden has totally disappeared from Duke’s rotation. He’s played a total of four minutes in the last three games, since the Blue Devils have made the change to playing small ball full-time. What Duke is lacking is a point guard, and Oklahoma, who is currently sitting at 8-14 on the season, has a senior in Jordan Woodard with Final Four experience that spent last season divvying up shots between Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins, who has some point guard tendencies in his own right. Why wouldn’t Oklahoma give up Woodard in a lost season for the chance to let Lon Kruger mold a guy with Bolden’s talent? And why wouldn’t Duke shed Bolden, who isn’t getting minutes this season and who has been recruited over for next year?

Oklahoma’s Khadeem Lattin to Villanova for Tim Delany: Lattin is an active, 6-foot-9 forward that blocks some shots and gets some rebounds and thrives playing a role, which is exactly what the junior would do for Villanova, who needs some help on the inside. The Sooners would get back Delany, a former four-star prospect and redshirt freshman that has seen his minutes limited as he fights through some hip issues.

Illinois’ Malcolm Hill to Kentucky for Sacha Killeya-Jones: Kentucky badly needs a source of offense in the half court, and Hill has been one of the best scorers in college basketball for the last two seasons. He’s big enough that he can play the four in a small-ball lineup and at least be as effective defensively as Derek Willis has been. He would also provide a much bigger offensive boost for a team that has become totally predictable on that end of the floor. In return, Illinois would be getting a big man with terrific upside that hasn’t been able to get off the bench this season for the Wildcats and who may have been recruited over by head coach John Calipari for next season.

Texas A&M’s Robert Williams to Kansas for Malik Newman: The Jayhawks have a shot to win a national title this season. They have the nation’s best back court in Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham and they have one of the nation’s best wings in Justin Jackson. They’ve been really good playing small-ball this season, but their biggest issue is a lack of size inside. It’s Landen Lucas, an undersized Carlton Bragg Jr. and … well, that’s about it. Williams, a freaky-athletic, 6-foot-9 forward that’s averaging 11.0 points, 6.8 boards and 2.5 blocks in 23 minutes for Texas A&M, is the perfect fit. He’s a potential one-and-done, and with the Aggies currently sitting at 4-6 in the SEC, why wouldn’t they give him up to get Malik Newman, who was a top ten player in the Class of 2015? They Jayhawks can afford to lose Newman to make a run at this year’s title, as Graham is only a junior and they still have a good shot at landing Trae Young for next season.

TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 29:  Markelle Fultz #20 of the Washington Huskies handles the ball during the second half of the college basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on January 29, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 77-66.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Washington’s Markelle Fultz to Creighton for Kaleb Joseph, Kobe Paras: Washington is currently sitting second-to-last in a Big 12 that is not very good at the bottom. Their season is over, and Markelle Fultz, who may be the single-most talented player in college basketball, is stuck on a team that will be lucky to end up in the CBI. Creighton is without their starting point guard after Mo Watson tore his ACL, which has turned what was once a high-powered, fast-break offense into one that is matchup-oriented and inconsistent. Fultz would be a great fit on the floor with the likes of Marcus Foster and Justin Patton, while Washington would get, in return, a former top 75 point guard that started as a freshman at Syracuse in Kaleb Joseph and an athletic, 6-foot-6 wing in Paras that originally was committed to UCLA. Both redshirted this season, and we saw what redshirts at Creighton had done for Foster, Patton and Watson. Adding talent and depth would be nice for when Michael Porter Jr. shows up next season.

Northern Iowa’s Jeremy Morgan to UCLA for Prince Ali: UCLA stinks defensively. Jeremy Morgan is a good defender, a 6-foot-6 wing that averages 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks. He’s also a guy that can knock down a three – he was shooting 40.4 percent this season before a recent 5-for-26 slump – which means that the Bruins would be adding a very good perimeter defender to their rotation without costing themselves the floor spacing that makes their offense so lethal. In exchange, UNI would be getting a former top 30 recruit that struggled to find minutes as a freshman and has missed this season due to injury.

Grand Canyon’s Dewayne Russell to West Virginia for James Bolden: Russell is averaging 22.5 points and 5.0 assists for Grand Canyon this season, who is not eligible for the NCAA tournament. He put up 42 on Louisville earlier this year. GCU would get back Bolden, a redshirt freshman guard that was a three-star prospect and who will star in the WAC for the next three years, when the Antelopes will be able to get to the dance.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11: Malcolm Hill #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini takes the ball up court against the Purdue Boilermakers in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 11, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Purdue defeated Illinois 89-58. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Malcolm Hill (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Temple’s Obi Enechionyia to Michigan State for Matt McQuaid, Kyle Ahrens: Temple had a hot start to the season but has slowed down in AAC play, leaving them open to making some moves. Michigan State could use a mobile, stretch-four big man that can defend the rim and hit threes. Enechionyia is 6-foot-10, shoots 37.8 percent from three while attempting six per game and blocks 1.7 shots per night. Adding that piece while giving up a pair of young role players seems like a match.

Pitt’s Jamel Artis to South Carolina for TeMarcus Blanton, Sedee Keita: South Carolina badly needs help offensively. Badly. They’re 150th in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and on Tuesday night, they posted a first half that saw them shoot 3-for-30. They went to four overtimes at home against Alabama because they couldn’t crack 30 percent shooting from the floor. Pitt is 1-9 in the ACC this season and loaded with upperclassmen. Their season is done. Why not move a senior like Artis, who is averaging better than 20 points, for a couple of talented youngsters? The Gamecocks have a chance to make a run this season, and you may not find a better 1-2-3 punch than Artis, Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier.

Louisville’s Ray Spalding to Iowa for Peter Jok: The Cardinals need to add perimeter shooting, and Jok may be the best perimeter scorer in the Big Ten. He’s also the only senior on a young Iowa team that doesn’t seem like they’re going to be making a run this season. Spalding is a 6-foot-9 sophomore with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and NBA potential. He’s also the fourth big man in Louisville’s rotation.

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.