Getty Images

Perry Ellis All-Stars: These guys are still in school

Leave a comment

It’s one of the true joys and unique aspects of college basketball. It’s also endlessly frustrating if you’re on the other side.

That guy who has tormented your team for years, that dude that just has destroyed your alma mater and that you’re sure had graduated and moved on, well, he’s still on the team. Still ready to get buckets and ruin your evening.

He’s one of college sports’ great archetypes, and he’s a member of the Perry Ellis All-Stars.

Luke Maye (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

FIRST-TEAM

LUKE MAYE, North Carolina: Back when he committed to the Tar Heels in 2014, Maye wasn’t even sure if he’d be on scholarship. After a star turn in UNC’s national title run in 2017 and an All-American campaign in 2018, the Tar Heels weren’t sure he’d be back for a senior season. The Cornelius, N.C. native did rebuff professional aspirations for a year to return for one final go-round in Chapel Hill as maybe the most high-profile returning player in the entire country.

NICK EMERY, BYU: Because they take two years off to go on a Mormon mission, BYU players are inherently more likely to end up on a list like this. But Emery is a special case. Initially a member of the Class of 2013, Emery — the more talented younger brother of former Cougar Jackson Emery — Nick averaged 16.1 points as a freshman in 2015-16 and 13.1 points as a sophomore, but he withdrew from school just days prior to the start of the 2017-18 season. He’s back this season, having to sit out the first nine games due to NCAA rules. Part of Emery’s decision to withdraw from school last year was due to his relationship with a booster and impermissible benefits he received. He’ll be playing as a junior this season after committing to BYU … in 2011. He turned 24 years old on September 1st.

MIKE DAUM, South Dakota State: There’s a certain sweet spot for “That dude is still in school?” guys that they’re well-known enough to be noticed and remembered, but enough on the periphery that they’re not always top of mind. The high-scoring Jackrabbit inhabits that space perfectly in Brookings, S.D. Daum has put up big numbers in back-to-back seasons for a team that has twice flirted with first-round NCAA upsets. The Jacks have maybe their best team of Daum’s tenure, which undoubtedly leave plenty muttering, ‘He’s still around?’ into March.

AKOY AGAU, Louisville: One of the best parts of putting together lists like this is charting the paths of guys like Agau. Born in the Sudan and raised in Nebraska, Agau signed with Louisville out of high school in 2012 when ‘Gangnam Style’ was hot, Barack Obama was in his first presidential term and Rick Pitino was months away from claiming a national championship. He played a year-and-a-half for the Cardinals before transferring to Georgetown. He sat out a year before playing a half-season for the Hoyas, but once again decided to transfer after John Thompson III was fired and Agau earned his bachelor’s degree, allowing him to grad transfer. SMU was the destination. That only lasted a year too, and it’s now back to where it began with his old program with a new coach, Chris Mack, as Agau is making the rare second graduate transfer for a sixth year

ETHAN HAPP, Wisconsin: The Illinois native followed the Brian Butch path at Wisconsin, redshirting his initial season in Madison before becoming a Badger fixture. He’s started all 105 games of his career, and he’s now is approaching actually being as old as his game looks. He fell below the national radar last year as the Badgers missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since ‘Titanic’ won Best Picture, which makes him an even stronger candidate for this list. Happ led Wisconsin in scoring, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals – the first Big Ten player to do so in 22 years – and will have one more season to torture Big Ten opponents with his below-the-rim offense and high-level defense.

Josh Perkins (William Mancebo/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM

JOSH PERKINS, Gonzaga: The former top-100 recruit played five games to start the 2014 season before a broken jaw delayed his freshman season a year. Since then, he’s started 108 games, including a national championship contest in 2017. He’ll have a chance to do that very same thing again this year as the Bulldogs open the season as a Final Four favorite.

CLAYTON CUSTER, Loyola (Chicago): The Kansas City-area product may be the poster child for the down-transfer. After starting his career at Iowa State, where he was stuck on the bench behind Monte Morris, Custer made his move to Loyola. He had a productive first season with the Ramblers, but, along with his team, burst onto the scene last year as the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year and helmed Loyola all the way to a shocking Final Four run. The clock hasn’t struck midnight for this Cinderella, though, as Custer, unlike so many mid-major March heroes, still has a final year of eligibility left.

MAKAI MASON, Baylor: Mason has one of the stranger transfer stories. The Yale guard missed the 2016-17 season due to foot surgery. Under Ivy League rules, Mason wouldn’t be able to to extend his career past four years, despite that missing season, so it was known ahead of last year that Mason would be headed to Baylor. Mason also missed most of last year with a stress fracture in his foot. He’ll finally be back on the floor this year in Waco after two years on the sideline that makes the 16 points per game he averaged as a sophomore seem like so very long ago.

REID TRAVIS, Kentucky: An absolute rarity here: A John Calipari player making this list. Travis began his career at Stanford in 2014, redshirted 2015-16 due to a leg injury and earned a Stanford degree (no small feat) this spring before flirting with a pro career and ultimately deciding to finish his career as a part of Big Blue Nation. When the Minneapolis native first stepped on Stanford’s campus, a number of his current teammates were just 14 years old.

JAQUAN LYLE, New Mexico: Let’s chart Lyle’s path to his senior season at New Mexico. Lyle played three years of high school at a high school in his Evansville, Ind. hometown and committed to Louisville the summer before his senior year. He then transferred to the powerhouse Huntington Prep in West Virginia. He then decommitted from the Cardinals and pledged to Oregon, even signing a National Letter of Intent. He then, though, was deemed inelieigble by the NCAA, which led to a post-grad year at IMG Academy in Florida. After that, he went to Ohio State, where he spent two seasons before deciding to transfer after he was charted with three misdemeanors for an incident outside of a bar in his hometown. Follow all that? It’s why Lyle is the lone junior member of the Perry Ellis All-Stars.

HONORABLE MENTION

TACKO FALL, UCF: The Senegal native has been part of the college basketball conversation for years given his enormous size at 7-foot-6. His height, though, obscures the fact that he’s also been a productive player of his three-year career. Fall has converted on more than 70 percent of his attempts through the field and has been among the country’s leaders in shot blocking percentage, topping out at 12.8 percent as a freshman. A shoulder injury cost him the second half of last season. He’s expected to be healthy for his senior season.

ISAAC COPELAND, Nebraska: A top-20 recruit in the Class of 2014, Copeland spent two years at Georgetown before transferring to Lincoln. Back surgery led to a medical redshirt season, and Copeland averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the Huskers last season.

DWAYNE MORGAN, Southern Utah: A top-15 recruit in the 2014 class, Morgan had two uneventful seasons (plus one ended by hip and shoulder injuries) at UNLV save for an arrest that stemmed from an argument with a cab driver and culminated with Morgan exiting the taxi and trying to drive a police car home at 6:40 in the morning. That was the end of his Runnin’ Rebel career. The Baltimore native then made a move to Southern Utah as a graduate transfer where he played the second semester and averaged 12.2 points. This is his final season of eligibility.

Four-star 2019 forward flips commitment from Big Ten to SEC program

Jon Lopez/Nike
Leave a comment

Four-star 2019 forward Tray Jackson flipped his verbal commitment from Minnesota to Missouri on Friday night.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decommitment from the Golden Gophers on Twitter and then announced a commitment to Missouri a little more than two hours later. Regarded as the No. 96 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, Jackson reclassified from the Class of 2018 and saw his recruitment blossom in the summer.

While decommitting happens in basketball recruiting semi-frequently, flipping a commitment to a new school within a matter of hours is a very uncommon practice. Typically associated with football recruiting, Jackson’s switch is a big deal for Missouri.

His pledge gives head coach Cuonzo Martin an athletic and versatile frontcourt player with upside as Jackson could play multiple positions. The Tigers missed on E.J. Liddell, but Jackson is a nice prize to land instead. Missouri now has two four-star prospects in the Class of 2019 as Jackson joins four-star guard Mario McKinney.

Minnesota needs to replenish its recruiting efforts as they are now without a commitment in the Class of 2019. With head coach Richard Pitino facing pressure to win this season, this isn’t good for the future of Golden Gopher basketball either.

West Virginia lands five-star 2019 center Oscar Tshiebwe

Getty Images
Leave a comment

West Virginia pulled in a major commitment on Saturday as five-star 2019 center Oscar Tshiebwe pledged to the Mountaineers.

A late-developing, high-motor big man who ascended into a national recruit this summer, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Tshiebwe represents an important grab for West Virginia. Tshiebwe represents a potential replacement for Sagaba Konate in the middle as the Mountaineers beat some pretty impressive programs to land him. That includes Baylor and Kentucky.

Tshiebwe is quick off the floor and a good athlete, as he could be a very dangerous player in Bob Huggins’ system because of his brand of basketball. Regarded as the No. 21 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2019 national rankings, Tshiebwe also took official visits to Baylor, Illinois and Kentucky during the recruiting process.

Tshiebwe joins three-star guard Miles McBride in West Virginia’s 2019 recruiting haul.

VIDEO: Marshall’s Taevion Kinsey easily clears three teammates on ridiculous dunk

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marshall freshman Taevion Kinsey put down one of the preseason’s best dunks on Friday night. With the Thundering Herd hosting Herd Madness, the 6-foot-5 Kinsey put down a ridiculous dunk that easily cleared three teammates.

Most dunkers use an arm on the shoulder during the dunk. Kinsey didn’t need any sort of help as he glided over his teammates.

Kinsey is going to be a dunker to keep an eye on in the future. His teammates certainly think highly of his dunking ability, as most of them projected Kinsey to win the dunk contest before the event even started.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson impresses Duke fans in Cameron Indoor debut, downplays link to trial

Duke Men's Basketball
1 Comment

Duke freshman Zion Williamson made some ridiculous dunks look effortless in his Cameron Indoor Stadium debut on Friday night. As part of Duke’s annual “Countdown to Craziness” event, Williamson took part in a scrimmage against his Blue Devil teammates.

That included Williamson going head-to-head with fellow freshman R.J. Barrett in a scrimmage. And more absurd dunks in the warm up line.

But besides for the on-court action, Williamson was also asked about his family’s link to the college basketball corruption trial. On Tuesday, a transcript of calls was read to the New York courtroom that allegedly included Williamson’s stepfather on FBI tapes asking for money and a job from Kansas men’s basketball coaches. The tapes were not admitted as evidence.

“Honestly, I’ve paid no attention to it,” Williamson said to reporters, including ESPN’s David M. Hale, about the trial. “I’m just a college kid, out here having fun with my classmates, looking forward to stuff like Countdown and our first game. You only get one chance at the college experience, and I want to enjoy it.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski also downplayed Williamson’s link to the trial, pointing to the NCAA eligibility center’s “exhaustive” process to vette incoming recruits.

“They have an eligibility center now that these kids and their parents go through — and they go through everything,” Krzyzewski said. “We feel very comfortable with him and all our freshmen.”

We’ll likely hear more about Williamson, Kansas and this trial, as time goes on. Williamson also might legitimately not know much about this if it was his stepfather on the call. For now, Williamson is making a huge impression with Duke fans every time he steps foot on the floor.

(H/t: Lawrence Davis III and Duke men’s basketball)

Louisville lands commitment from Irish basketball star

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
2 Comments

For the sixth time since Chris Mack took over the Louisville program, the new Cardinal head coach has landed a commitment from a member of the Class of 2019.

On Friday, it was Aidon Igiehon, a top 50 recruit, that announced he will be playing his college basketball for the Cardinals.

He followed in the footsteps of fellow four-stars Samuell Williamson, David Johnson, Jaelyn Withers and Josh nickelberry, not to mention three-star forward Quinn Slazinski.

And all this has happened over the course of the last five months.

Mack got the job in April, after he finished his final run with a Xavier program that he had been in charge of for the last nine years. That came just six months after Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino was fired for a series of scandals that had enveloped the university in the last few years, not the least of which was their involvement with the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball.

That may be the most impressive part of all of this.

No one really knows what is going to happen with Louisville and the NCAA as a result of the way that they were able to entice Brian Bowen on campus. What we do know is that while Louisville was on probation due to the fact that a member of their coaching staff was paying for strippers and sex workers for players and recruits, an agreement was made for Adidas to pay the family of Brian Bowen $100,000 to get him to enroll at Louisville. Bowen’s father said under oath that, in addition to that money, he also accepted at least one $1,300 payment from former Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson.

Those are NCAA violations committed while the program was on probation.

And those are the kind of things that the NCAA does not take lightly.

Everyone involved with the reason that Louisville was on probation and that actually committed those violations has moved on, but that hasn’t stopped speculation that the Cardinals could be facing even more punishment from the NCAA, which is what has made this recruiting job by Mack so impressive.

He’s filled up an entire class of prospects before he’s even coached a game for the program all while this nonsense is swirling around his program.

Was there ever any doubt that the Cardinals hired the right guy?