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The Hot Seat: Which college basketball coaches are in danger of losing their job?

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The wrench that has been thrown into this year’s Hot Seat list is that the fallout from the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball has not been fully realized just yet.

There are a number of guys at major programs that are stuck waiting to see what kind of punishment the NCAA is going to hand down and whether or not their employers will stick by them when they do.

There are also a handful of coaches that have entered a year where they need to start winning, which puts them on a much more traditional Hot Seat.

So without further ado, your 2019-20 College Basketball Coaching Hot Seat:

WAITING ON THE NCAA

WILL WADE, LSU: Wade is the guy that is in the most trouble here, as he was caught on a wiretap discussing, among other things, “a strong-ass offer” that was made during the recruitment process of current Tiger Javonte Smart. After that wiretap became public, Wade was suspended for a month – including LSU’s NCAA tournament run – before being reinstated a week after the Final Four when he finally met with LSU administrators. At the time, it felt more like a stay of execution rather than a show of faith. Joe Alleva, the LSU AD at the time, said Wade was going to be reinstated “absent actual evidence of wrongdoing.”

BILL SELF, Kansas: Kansas is going to fight tooth and nail against the allegations levied by the NCAA in the Notice of Allegations that was served last month, but that doesn’t change the fact that Self and company were hit with multiple Level I violations. It’s tough for me to envision a scenario where Self is actually fired, but there’s a chance that the two parties could end up parting ways one way or another by the end of the season.

SEAN MILLER, Arizona: Miller was in more trouble last year, when it was unclear what was actually on FBI wiretaps and what would get played in open court. But now that he’s made it through all of the trials, and now that the perceived stability in the program has led five-star prospects back to Tucson, Miller seems relatively safe. If Arizona has stood by him for this long, would they really cut bait when the Notice of Allegations arrives?

BRUCE PEARL, Auburn: This one is tricky. Pearl has a history with the NCAA, we all know this, and that may end up being relevant when the NCAA decides to hand down punishments for what happened in his program. Violations were committed by Chuck Person in Pearl’s program, which means he can be hit with a head coach responsibility charge. The bigger concern, and the weirdest part of this story, is that Auburn may or may not have self-imposed recruiting sanctions that they may or may not have actually adhered to.

ANDY ENFIELD, USC: Enfield has mostly managed to remain out of the headlines during this scandal, and the fact that he is recruiting as well as he ever has at USC should tell you all you need to know about the perceived stability there. That said, there are going to be violations coming because of what former assistant coach Tony Bland plead guilty to, and USC does have a history with the NCAA.

THE OTHER GUYS: Frank Martin of South Carolina and Brad Underwood, currently at Illinois and formerly the head coach at Oklahoma State, both could find themselves dealing with a head coach responsibility charge based on the actions of Lamont Evans. He was on staff at both South Carolina and Oklahoma State during the time that the FBI was investigating. Creighton’s Greg McDermott is also going to have to deal with the NCAA as a result of former assistant Preston Murphy’s association with ex-runner Christian Dawkins.

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THE TRADITIONAL HOT SEAT

DANNY MANNING, Wake Forest: It was less than two years ago, after Manning made his first NCAA tournament as the head coach at Wake Forest, that he was given a contract extension through the 2024-25 season. Since then, he’s posted back-to-back seasons with 11 wins and a 4-14 record in the ACC. Overall, he is 65-93 in five seasons in Winston-Salem with a 24-66 record in the league. It’s bad. The problem? Manning’s contract is reportedly fully-guaranteed through 2025, which means that Wake Forest will be on the hook for the roughly $15 million buyout at end of season.

Yeah.

It’s bad.

JOSH PASTNER, Georgia Tech: Pastner is heading into his fourth season at Georgia Tech, and he has yet to make an NCAA tournament, posting a 48-53 record. He’s won between six and eight league games each year at the school. He won’t be making the tournament this year either, as his program was banned from postseason play due to violations that were committed on his watch.

Back in 2017, Pastner signed a contract extension through 2022-23. The deal is fully guaranteed if he is fired before the end of the 2020-21 season, meaning that Georgia Tech would be on the hook for almost $7 million if they were to part ways with Pastner.

JIM CHRISTIAN, Boston College: Jim Christian missed his window. After a dreadful start to his BC tenure, Christian entered the 2017-18 season with some promise. But despite the fact that he had Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman on the roster, BC went just 19-16 on the season and 7-11 in the league. After another sub-.500 season this past year, Christian is now 62-100 in five seasons. He signed an extension in 2018 that runs through 2022, and he was retained this offseason when AD Martin Jarmond told reporters that he will look to invest in the basketball program and support his head coach.

SHAKA SMART, Texas: Shaka is the most interesting name on this list because he is the biggest name and Texas is easily the best job. His tenure in Austin has not exactly been great. The Longhorns have been to two NCAA tournaments in four seasons – they also won the 2019 NIT – but his record through those four years is 71-66 over and 31-41 in the Big 12. Some of that Shaka needs to take the blame for. Some of it is bad luck. He lost Isaiah Taylor a year earlier than expected. Jaxson Hayes and Jarrett Allen both ended up being one-and-done. Andrew Jones’ battle with leukemia is something no one could have predicted.

Shaka’s contract runs through 2023, and it is fully guaranteed. If he’s fired by the University, he’ll be owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million. That’s a lot of money, especially if they are going to have to pony up another $6 million to buyout that guy down in Lubbock. That does, however, set up a scenario where Shaka could end up leaving for a soft landing, getting out while there’s a chance for him to land a power conference gig before they run him out of the Erwin Center.

Put another way, I think Shaka ends up being the flash point for this year’s carousel. If he leaves – or if he is asked to leave – then things can get really interesting.

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PAT CHAMBERS, Penn State: Chambers is heading into his ninth season as the head coach at Penn State, and he has yet to reach an NCAA tournament. He came close in 2017-18, when his team was one of the last cuts on the bubble and finished the year ranked 19th on KenPom after winning the NIT. His contract runs through 2021-22, but the school has not released the details of his contract. Last season, after losing their first ten Big Ten games, the Nittany Lions finished the season winning seven of their last ten.

TIM JANKOVICH, SMU: When Jankovich signed a five-year deal in 2016 to replace Larry Brown, the Mustangs were the trendy team in Texas. In his first season as the head coach, Jankovich went 30-5 and won the American regular season and tournament titles. But that team had four NBA players on it, guys that were brought in by Brown. The talent level has dropped significantly, SMU has gone 6-12 in the AAC each of the last two years and at this point, the Mustangs aren’t even the trendiest team in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

FRANK HAITH, Tulsa: Haith has been unable to build on the NCAA tournament that he reached in 2015-16 with Tulsa. Last season, the Golden Hurricane finished 18-14 overall and 8-10 in the AAC. He did sign a two-year extension in March through 2022, but it is at a lower salary. Haith needs a big year.

JEROD HAASE, Stanford: This may be a year early on Haase, but this is his fourth season in Palo Alto, and the Caridnal have not really improved despite the fact that he has had improved talent coming through the ranks. He has finished under-.500 in two of his first three season, has a 25-29 record in a weak era for Pac-12 basketball and has yet to finish a season with fewer than 16 losses.

DAVE LEITAO, DePaul: Leitao is coming off of by far his most successful season during this four-year run as the head coach at DePaul. They went 19-17 overall and 7-11 in the Big East, good for a three-way tie for last in the league standings. Things probably won’t get better this season, not with the amount of talent they lost, and the program was put on probation in July. So obviously, DePaul had to … sign him to an extension?

Kansas transfer Grimes receives waiver, eligible immediately at Houston

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Maybe we now know why Houston was picked to win the AAC over Memphis.

On Tuesday, news broke that Quentin Grimes had won his appeal and received a waiver to gain immediate eligibility this season. Grimes was a top ten prospect in the Class of 2018, but after going for 21 points in the season opening Champions Classic, he struggled. In 36 games, Grimes averaged just 8.4 points and 2.0 assists while failing to prove himself a lead guard and struggling with consistency as a shooter.

Part of the reason why Grimes eventually was ruled eligible for this season was that Kansas did not have a scholarship available for him. The Jayhawks supported his eligibility throughout the process.

Grimes will get a chance at starting over with Houston, where Kelvin Sampson has proven to be exceptional at getting the most out of his backcourt. He’ll join DeJon Jarreau, one of this year’s breakout stars, and Nate Hinton in Houston’s perimeter.

With Grimes in the mix, Houston has the making of a top 20 team.

Grimes released the following statement on twitter:

Michigan State’s Langford out until January with ankle injury

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The joy of being named the No. 1 team in the AP preseason poll lasted for a matter of hours for Michigan State.

Because that’s when the Spartans found out that Joshua Langford, who missed the second half of last season, would be out for another three months after suffering a setback in his attempt to return from that ankle injury.

“It breaks my heart,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo told reporters on Tuesday. “I love Josh Langford. He’s given me everything on the court, off the court, in the classroom.”

Langford started the first 13 games last season before the ankle injury kept him out, but he was cleared to practice in full in September. But Izzo said on Tuesday that Langford’s ankle had limited him of late and that he did not play when the Spartans scrimmaged Gonzaga in Denver on Saturday.

College Basketball’s Breakout Stars: Who will be this year’s most improved players?

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One of my favorite things to do heading into a season is to put together a list of the season’s Breakout Stars. 

Sometimes, the picks are just too obvious – think De’Andre Hunter, or P.J. Washington, or Nickeil Alexander-Walker. 

Sometimes, those obvious picks just don’t pan out – like Herb Jones, or M.J. Walker, or Cane Broome.

Sometimes, a guy needs to be on the list for a couple years before he actually reaches said breakout – hi Jermaine Samuels!

Some people have strictly-defined parameters for putting together a list like this. I do not, beyond the basic principle that the player will be going from playing a role to being a star, whether that means he was a starter that will become an all-american or a bit-player slated to be a key cog on a potential Final Four team matters not.

Anyway, here are the 17 players that will be household names by the end of the year:



JERMAINE SAMUELS, Villanova

There’s an argument to make that Samuels’ breakout already happened.

It happened on February 28th of last season. Samuels popped off for a career-high 29 points, hitting five threes, as Villanova snapped a three-game losing streak by knocking off Marquette at home. During that three-game losing streak, Samuels had gone scoreless while attempting just two shots. Over the final seven games of the season, he averaged 11.0 points, cracked double-figures five times and helped lead the Wildcats to their fifth Big East regular season title and fourth Big East tournament title in the last six years.

And now the Wildcats are entering a season without Phil Booth and Eric Paschall to carry the offense while Bryan Antoine, their five-star freshman guard, is out with a shoulder injury. Someone needs to provide Villanova with some scoring. Samuels is a former top 40 recruit that picked Villanova over Duke and Kansas, that has proven the ability to put up big numbers and is a perfect fit for what Villanova’s offense has been over the course of the last half-decade. He’s a junior now. This is the year that players make the leap on the Main Line, and I’ll be ready for it.

ANDREW NEMBHARD, Florida

Everyone wants to talk about Kerry Blackshear and what his arrival will mean for Florida. What people seem to be forgetting is that Andrew Nembhard is a former five-star recruits that averaged 8.0 points and 5.4 assists as a freshman for the Gators and will be helping to fill the “role” vacated by uber-inefficient gunners Jalen Hudson and Kevaughn Allen. I think Blackshear ends up being the best player on the Gators this season, but Nembhard may end up being their MVP and their leader. On a team that projects to finish in the top ten and contend for SEC titles and the Final Four, that’s going to put him in the All-American conversation. That, to me, counts as a breakout star.

TRE JONES, Duke

This all hinges on what Jones becomes as a shooter this season. We’ve talked about this ad nauseum. I put together an entire video about it. Jones may just be the most influential player in all of college basketball this season.

TYRESE HALIBURTON, Iowa State

I’m torn about having Haliburton on this list because I’m not exactly sure how much better he can play than he did over the first three months of last season. That said, Iowa State is going to be one of the better teams in the Big 12 this season, and after a terrific performance playing for Team USA in the U-19 World Cup, Haliburton returns to Ames to play for an Iowa State team that lost pretty much everyone in front of him in the offensive pecking order.

The thing to note here is that I am not expecting Haliburton to suddenly become a guy that averages 18 points. That’s not who he is or how he plays. But I do think that there is a chance that he puts up a stat line that is somewhere around 12 points, six boards, six assists and two steals while shooting better than 40 percent from three. Put another way, we’re going to know that he is a star without having to look at the counting numbers to confirm it.

JAY HUFF, Virginia

We have talked plenty about Jay Huff and Virginia’s big guys in this space, but I think that he is in line for a massive jump this season. On the one hand, he’s actually going to be playing. Huff was in the same recruiting class as Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy. He redshirted his first year in Charlottesville, he played just twelve games as a freshman and managed to see the floor for roughly 10 minutes a night last year. With so much of Virginia’s frontcourt depth gone, he is going to be getting 30-35 minutes a night this year.

But as we talked about in the video below, it’s not just the added minutes that changes things. It’s how good Huff is as the big guy in ball-screen actions and the fact that Virginia ran a more ball-screen heavy offense last season. Huff is a 7-foot-1 rim-running, lob-catching, shot-blocking menace that also shoots threes at a 45 percent clip while being able to put the ball on the floor. He’s going to have a massive year.

ISAIAH LIVERS, Michigan

With Iggy Brazdeikis gone after his one-and-done season, Livers is going to be the guy that steps up for the Wolverines. A hyper-athletic, 6-foot-7 combo-forward, Livers is a good, versatile defensive weapon that shot 42.6 percent from three last year. Someone is going to have to step up and fill the scoring void that has been vacated by the departures, and Livers seems to be the obvious fit. I would not be shocked to see Livers showing up in NBA mock drafts at some point during this season.

DEJON JARREAU, Houston

This one is simple, really. Jarreau played just 18 minutes per game last season and still managed to put up 8.7 points and 3.3 assists despite sharing the backcourt with the likes of Corey Davis, Armoni Brooks and Galen Robinson. This year, those three are gone, which means that Jarreau is going to be the guy that the offense runs through. I think that he is up for the task, and considering Kelvin Sampson’s track record of finding a way to figure things out with his lead guards, all the dots connect.

NOJEL EASTERN, Purdue

Matt Painter has been as good as anyone in the country at finding ways to get his best players into positions where they can succeed, and I think that this year is the year that he figures out how to take advantage of the things that Eastern does well. He’s a skilled passer that has terrific size at the point and has proven the ability to take smaller guards into the post. I think that Aaron Wheeler and Trevion Williams are candidates for this list as well, but I tend to lean towards the veterans when it comes to Painter working his magic.

OCHAI AGBAJI, Kansas

This pick is not actually as easy as it may seem, and that’s because Agbaji’s emergence last season came after Udoka Azubuike went down with his wrist injury. So while Kansas is losing Dedric Lawson, among other, Azubuike is coming back and is going to demand a very large market share of the Jayhawks offense. Throw in Devon Dotson’s continued development, and the added opportunities for Agbaji may not be there. That said, I think that he is clearly the most talented perimeter player on the Jayhawks roster this season, and given his size, athleticism and ability from the perimeter, I think there is a real chance that he ends up playing major minutes as the four in this Kansas system.

Put another way, he’s definitely going to be better than he was when his redshirt was pulled midway through his first season in Lawrence, and he is definitely going to be a useful weapon for Bill Self, I just don’t see him emerging as a guy that scores 15 points per game.

COREY KISPERT and FILIP PETRUSEV, Gonzaga

These decisions somewhat hinge on whether or not Killian Tillie is back and fully healthy this season. If he is, then I think that Kispert is the guy that takes the biggest step forward for the Zags. He’s an underrated talent that has been hidden by the likes of Zach Norvell and Rui Hachimura, but he’s a guy that has the potential to be an all-WCC performer if given the opportunity. If Tillie ends up being banged up all season long, than Petrusev is the obvious pick. He’s a really talented big that will carry even more of the load without Tillie’s presence.

REGGIE PERRY, Mississippi State

After getting off to a relatively slow start to his freshman season, Perry was absolutely dominant for long stretches of SEC play. He averaged 11.2 points and 8.2 boards during conference play, posting eight double-doubles. After an offseason to develop, he should end up being the focal point of Ben Howland’s offense as a sophomore.

KIRA LEWIS, Alabama

The way that Nate Oats played at Buffalo, he gave his lead guards quite a bit of responsibility. Lewis is going to be his lead guard this season. As a 17-year old in the SEC, he averaged 13.5 points and 2.9 assists. He’s heading into his sophomore season at the same age as the kids in the Class of 2019 heading into their freshmen year.

JOE WIESKAMP, Iowa

As a freshman, Wieskamp was one of the best shooters in the Big Ten, averaging 11.1 points and shooting 42.4 percent from three. Then Iowa lost Tyler Cook to the draft and lost Isaiah Moss to transfer and look like they may have lost Jordan Bohannon for the season. Someone is going to have to score, and Wieskamp is certainly capable of that.

OSUN OSUNNIYI, St. Bonaventure

Osunniyi was one of the best defensive players in all of college basketball last season, averaging 2.7 blocks to go along with his 7.5 points and 7.6 boards. With three of the Bonnies’ top four scorers graduating, he is going to be asked to play a much bigger role this season.

NATE REUVERS, Wisconsin

There is always someone waiting in the wings in Wisconsin’s frontcourt, and this year it is Nate Reuvers. As a sophomore, playing on a team that ran their offense through Ethan Happ, Reuvers averaged 7.9 points, 3.9 boards and 1.8 blocks while shooting 38.1 percent from three. If the Badgers are going to get back to the NCAA tournament, they are going to need Reuvers to have a monster junior season.

JALEN HILL, UCLA

Hill is a bit of a reach, but someone is going to have to step up and be Mick Cronin’s frontcourt anchor, and Hill makes sense. He’s long and athletic, he can rebound and he can block shots, he can do all of the things that Cronin got out of his big men for the last 13 years in Cincinnati. There is more talent in Westwood than people realize. Hill is the perfect example of that.

Michigan’s Franz Wagner out 4-6 weeks with fractured wrist

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan freshman Franz Wagner is expected to miss four to six weeks with a fractured right wrist.

The school said Monday a full recovery is anticipated. The 6-foot-8 Wagner is the younger brother of former Michigan standout Moe Wagner. He’s expected to be a key newcomer in the basketball team’s first season under new coach Juwan Howard.

The Wolverines open Nov. 5 against Appalachian State. They face Creighton on Nov. 12 and Louisville on Dec. 3, and play in a tournament in the Bahamas in late November. Those are all games Wagner could conceivably miss if he ends up on the long end of his recovery timeline.

Michigan opens Big Ten play Dec. 6 against Iowa.

Kansas-Missouri hoops series to resume next season in KC

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Border War is returning to college basketball.

The acrimonious rivalry between Kansas and Missouri, once the longest continually played series west of the Mississippi River, will resume next season in Kansas City. The schools have agreed to play six times, with four of those matchups taking place on their respective campuses.

“Having coached a lot of games versus Missouri in my time in Kansas, I could not be more excited to start this series up again,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self, who had been among the biggest reasons the teams never played, said in a statement announcing the series Monday night.

The series began in 1907 with a pair of wins by Missouri in Lawrence. The schools went on to play 269 times over 105 years. The last meeting was on Feb. 25, 2012, when the No. 4 Jayhawks rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit to beat the No. 3 Tigers in overtime at Allen Fieldhouse.

The reason the series ended can be traced to Missouri’s decision to depart its longtime home in the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. During a period of chaotic conference realignment, the Tigers moved to what they considered a more lucrative league — even though it made far less geographic sense — and in doing so left the Big 12 scrambling for its very survival.

Many coaches and administrators at Kansas not only took umbrage with their decision but held a grudge for years. Among them was Self, who was asked periodically over the years if he could envision playing the Tigers again, and was usually steadfast in his refusal to schedule them.

Tensions finally cooled enough that on Oct. 22, 2017, the schools agreed to play an exhibition game in Kansas City dubbed “The Showdown for Relief” to raise money for hurricane relief efforts.

Kansas won 93-87 in their first meeting in five years.

The thousands of fans who turned up for the game, coupled with the buzz it generated on both sides of the Kansas-Missouri border, piqued the interest of new Kansas athletic director Jeff Long. He was not part of the conference realignment mess and harbored no ill will toward Missouri, making him the ideal figure to help patch up relationships and ultimately resume the rivalry.

“One of the best aspects of college athletics is rivalries,” Long said. “We have quietly sought input from fans and supporters on the renewal of this series and we believe the overriding sentiments are that this historic rivalry should resume.”

After the initial game scheduled for Dec. 12, 2020, at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, the schools will alternate between Allen Fieldhouse and Mizzou Arena for the next four games. The final scheduled matchup will return to Sprint Center, though it’s possible the series continues.

It’s also possible that the basketball matchups are just the beginning.

“Hopefully, this renewal on the hardwood will lead to more opportunities down the road in other sports,” Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk said. “Rivalries make college sports great, and there is no question that when Missouri and Kansas face off in any sport, it’s important to a lot of people.”