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Arizona State bucks graduate transfer trend

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The current trend in college basketball centers on graduate transfers, veteran players who are eligible and can contribute immediately.

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley is taking a more long-term approach as he tries to rebuild the Sun Devils’ program.

With a solid core led by three senior guards and some much-needed frontcourt help on the way, Hurley opted to sign three transfers who will have to sit out a season instead of finding graduate transfers who could play right away.

“We try to evaluate the needs of our team and how we can continue to build and take the next step this year,” Hurley said Wednesday. “We have all these guys who I think can help our frontcourt this season and then we have these three guys who can step in and have proven that they can be impact players.”

Arizona State made a splash three years ago with the high-profile hiring of Hurley, the fiery former Duke and NBA guard who had turned Buffalo into an NCAA Tournament team in two seasons.

Hurley has had a tougher go of turning around the Sun Devils, winning 15 games each of the past two seasons.

Some of it has been playing in the tough Pac-12, a conference filled with bigger, stronger players than the Mid-American Conference and no easy games on the schedule.

A lack of depth, particularly in the frontcourt, has been the bigger culprit.

Hurley pulled in solid recruiting classes each of his first two seasons, but the Sun Devils were long on perimeter players and short on length. They could score, get out in transition, hit 3-pointers, but when it came to playing defense and rebounding, the Sun Devils were often overmatched inside.

The lack of size — and a few injuries — forced Hurley to shift his roster around, forcing players into roles they weren’t accustomed to. With no real inside presence last season, Hurley often had 6-foot-5 guard Kodi Justice playing post defense against players that were often six or more inches taller and 40 pounds heavier.

Arizona State will get frontcourt help this season with two eligible transfers and a pair of returning players coming off redshirt seasons.

With no need for immediate help, Hurley decided to build for the future, adding three players who will not be eligible until the 2018-19 season: Carlton Bragg from Kansas, Zylan Cheatham from San Diego State and Rob Edwards from Cleveland State.

The three veteran players will not only set the foundation for Arizona State’s future after seniors Justice, Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II graduate, but give the Sun Devils three veteran players who can help shape this year’s team.

“The one thing I can promise is our practices are going to be wars in there this year,” Hurley said. “I couldn’t really say that last season and the three guys we’re going to have sitting out and the other rotation guys added to those three, it’s going to create great competition in practice.”

Arizona State should be better this season than the previous two, thanks to the veteran leadership by the senior guards and the incoming help up front.

In addition to the three transfers, Hurley brought in De’Quon Lake, a 6-10 junior forward from Iowa Western Community College who will give the Sun Devils size inside.

Mickey Mitchell, a 6-7 mid-season transfer from Ohio State, is expected to be eligible sometime in December, perhaps by Arizona State’s game at Kansas on Dec. 10.

Ramon Villa, a 6-8 forward from Spain, returns this season after playing 33 games as a reserve last season. Arizona State also will add 6-8 Romello White, a player who loves to rebound, and 6-9 Vitaliy Shibel after both redshirted as freshmen last season.

Those players should help the Sun Devils shore up their frontcourt this season and the addition of the three transfers in 2018-19 should help solidify the foundation Hurley is setting in the desert.

“Coach Hurley has done a great job of building this program from where it was at to where it’s about to go,” said Evans, who averaged 15 points per game last season after sitting out 2015-16 as a transfer from Buffalo. “I feel like every year it’s getting better and better and better.”

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Follow John Marshall on Twitter @jmarshallap

Nevada faces challenging non-conference schedule

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Nevada will likely be a preseason top 10 team as the Wolf Pack have major expectations following last year’s Sweet 16 appearance.

With head coach Eric Musselman returning most of last season’s roster, while adding some key new pieces, Nevada has huge expectations entering the 2018-19 season. That means a proper non-conference schedule to challenge this team, which was released on Wednesday.

A Sweet 16 rematch with Loyola is one of the key games on the schedule as the Wolf Pack will head to Chicago for a game on Nov. 27. Nevada will also play some Pac-12 opponents with road games at USC and Utah and a neutral court game against Arizona State. BYU, South Dakota State and Grand Canyon are a few of the challenging opponents from mid-major leagues while the team also had neutral court games against Tulsa and either UMass or Southern Illinois.

It seems as though Nevada will only have a few cracks at top-25 caliber opponents during non-conference play, but this schedule doesn’t have a lot of bad games while also including a healthy amount of neutral games. Since Nevada won’t get as many challenges playing in the Mountain West as a typical top-25 team, they’ll have a lot of eyeballs on them during some of these games — particularly the USC and Arizona State matchups.

The rematch with Loyola should be another fun road test as the crowd should be rocking in Chicago for that one.

Former Mizzou tutor plans to reveal ‘full list’ of participants in academic fraud case

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A former Missouri tutor that admitted in 2016 to providing improper academic benefits to multiple Tiger athletes on Monday said that she has been named in a new Notice of Allegations and intends to expose more people attached to the investigation.

Yolanda Kumar tweeted that she is planning on releasing “the full list of students, classes and coordinators on twitter” at 6:39 p.m. on Wednesday, adding that she was dropped from the original NOA but was added back into the latest version after she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Missouri responded on Monday by acknowledging they had met with the Committee on Infractions and that the result of the investigation will prove that they acted with “integrity.”

“On June 13, 2018, the University appeared before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to review its investigative findings, and the Committee has since added a previously unnamed involved party and given notice of the Committee’s allegation to that individual,” a statement Missouri released to ESPN said. “While the University may not disclose the names of any involved student due to FERPA, we remain confident that this review will reveal that the University, as well as its student-athletes and staff, have shown great integrity in responding to the allegations raised. In order to protect the investigation’s integrity and in accordance with NCAA rules relative to ongoing investigations, we are unable to comment further any part of the process until it is completed.”

In 2016, Kumar told the Kansas City Star that she had been asked to offer special assistance to football and men’s basketball players, and confirmed to compliance officials that she had acquiesced, helping a dozen athletes. That led to the NCAA’s investigation, and as a result, a defensive tackle named A.J. Logan was suspended for six games.

Kumar also tweeted in 2017 that she was willing to sell the information she had involving the case for the $3,000 fee she needed to pay Missouri to get her transcripts from the school. On Monday, she tweeted that her debt was cleared by a couple from Kansas City.

All of this allegedly occurred during the tenure of former Missouri head coach Kim Anderson.

Michigan, John Beilien ink five-year extension

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Michigan announced on Wednesday that head coach John Beilein has signed a five-year contract extension with the school that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2023 season, at least.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The deal that Beilein signed is a rollover deal, which means that the contract will renew every year. In other words, as long as Beilein and Michigan want the option picked up each April, he will have a five-year contract with Michigan regardless of how long he coaches at the school.

This is Beilein’s 12th year with the Wolverines. Last season, they won a program-record 33 games and reached the Final Four, losing in the national title game for the second time in six seasons.

He is already Michigan’s all-time leader in wins with 248, and, through 41 seasons as a college coach, has amassed a career record of 799-461. In 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with four Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in addition to the two trips to the Final Four. He was named the he 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has won two Big Ten regular-season titles as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles.

There was some speculation earlier this month that Beilein would be leaving Michigan after he had an interview with the Detroit Pistons, but he withdrew from that search after the news became public and it seemed likely that Dwayne Casey would be hired.

Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch, Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.