Enes Kanter

The NCAA whiffed when suspending Peter Jurkin and Hanner Perea

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In case you haven’t heard about it yet — I mean, you should have, because there wasn’t anything else important going on in the news last night, was there? — Indiana has had two of their incoming freshmen suspended by the NCAA for the first nine games of the season.

Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea won’t be allowed to suit up for the Hoosiers until a Dec. 15th game against Butler, and Jurkin must repay $250 and Perea $1,588.69 to a charity of their choosing. It’s a pretty stiff punishment, and it all stems from $185 that was spent more than two decades ago.

Mark Adams was the AAU coach for both players and, at one point, had attempted to become Perea’s legal guardian. The nature of their relationship would have allowed Adams to legally, in the eyes of the NCAA, spend the almost-$15,000 on things like lap tops, cell phones, meals and housing that make up the illegal benefits the NCAA has busted Jurkin and Perea with. But between 1986 and 1992, Adams’ ex-wife donated $185 — never more than $30 at once — in order to get an alumni sticker to put on her car. He’s permanently and forever considered a ‘booster’ for the school.

Seriously.

I’m not kidding.

The ex-wife of an AAU coach cost two players nine games and almost $2,000 in charity payments all for $185 that was spent on stickers before they were even born.

And you wonder why no one in their right mind trusts a decision that the NCAA makes.

The common theory being tossed around is that this is the NCAA reaching out and smacking IU for their association with Adams. You see, Adams runs a foundation called A-HOPE — African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education — that brings players from abroad to the United States to help them get an education and find a place to play college basketball. But, as was exposed in this ESPN investigation last April, there is plenty of smoke and all kinds of rumors floating around basketball circles about Adams’ relationship with IU and whether or not it is too close.

But that theory doesn’t exactly hold water.

If message board fodder is all that it took to get a player suspended, Shabazz Muhammad would never play college basketball. Kyle Anderson wouldn’t, either. Anthony Davis probably would have been one of a handful of Kentucky recruits that went the way of Enes Kanter. Baylor would never get an elite prospect eligible and the Canada-Findlay Prep-Texas pipeline would have been shut down a long time ago.

Could it simply be that the NCAA was actually able to find some kind of wrongdoing, even if that wrongdoing is one of the most ridiculous, letter-of-the-law interpretations that the NCAA has ever come up with?

“There’s no question they’re contributors in this program right away, but the bigger concern right now is for both Hanner and Peter individually,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told SiriusXM’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday night. “They don’t really know why this is happening and it’s really hard for us to explain it to them because I don’t really know why this is happening.”

Well, it’s simple, Tom. The NCAA doesn’t like your affiliation with Adams or A-HOPE, and they wanted to send a message about it. Since they couldn’t find anything illegal about the recruitment of the players, they are dropping the hammer on a technicality. They are trying to make a statement.

And they did. The irony, however, is that the ‘statement’ the NCAA made has more to do with the inept, archaic rules we’ve all come to know and abhor than with the two Hoosier freshmen.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

John Calipari doesn’t anticipate eligibility problems for Nerlens Noel

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On Monday afternoon, the Boston Herald broke the news that Nerlens Noel — the top recruit in the Class of 2012 and Anthony Davis’ heir apparent to the title of No. 1 draft pick — was taking two summer school classes in an effort to become eligible for the 2012-2013 season.

Noel, who is John Calipari’s prized-recruit this season, is apparently taking the classes to try and boost his GPA. With the NCAA looking into his academic background, it makes sense that Noel would want all of his t’s cross and i’s dotted.

And, according to Coach Cal, that is all this is:

Calipari said the highly-touted Kentucky freshmen class was in attendance (Alex Poythress,Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley) at the workouts Monday except for the top center in the class and a projected top two pick in 2013 in Nerlens Noel.

“He’s not here,” Calipari said. “Since he reclassified he had to do a few more academic things and he’s finishing school. We only have one summer session (to work the team out).”

Calipari said he doesn’t anticipate any eligibility problems for Noel to start the season.

Cal’s confident, which is probably a better sign than if he were to say that they needed to start preparing for the season as if they weren’t going to have Noel. But Cal was also confident that he’d have Enes Kanter eligible. Confidence doesn’t necessarily translate to eligibility.

We may be waiting for awhile for an official word on this one.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

How do other hauls compare to Kentucky’s recent classes?

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Some things never change.

Kentucky landed 2012’s top prospect in Nerlens Noel Wednesday night, a move that’ll almost certainly give the Wildcats the top-rated recruiting class in college basketball. Consider coach John Calipari four-for-four while in Lexington.

(He’s not done yet, either. Power forward Anthony Bennett, another 5-star player, is considering Kentucky, as are 5-star forwards Amile Jefferson and Devonta Pollard. Bennett is the best bet for the Wildcats, though.)

That’s a run unlike any other in college hoops history and gives the Wildcats four of the top recruiting classes the game’s seen since 2002.

Per Drew Cannon, who’s done work analyzing prospects for Scout.com and Basketball Prospectus, only North Carolina’s 2006 class and Duke’s 2002 class can compare to any of the last four groups Kentucky’s gathered. He places all of the ‘Cats classes ahead of 2007 Ohio State – the Greg Oden-led group that reached the title game – and ’06 Texas, which boasted Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James and Dexter Pittman (!).

Here’s his rundown of the top 16 classes since 2002, a combination of highly rated prospects and number of guys in said class:

That makes 2012 the closest hoarding of elite talent at a select group of schools since 2006. And those were some good groups in ’06.

All of the above classes include at least one 5-star guy, most have at least two or three. Some, like ’05 Kansas, feature four 5-star guys. And many were extremely successful. At least four (’11 Kentucky, ’06 UNC, ’05 Kansas, ’06 Duke) provided the backbone for national title teams.

The only question I have: Where will Kentucky’s 2013 class fall on this list?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Did James Michael McAdoo return to school for the money?

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North Carolina got some big news on Thursday afternoon when freshman James Michael McAdoo announced his intention to return to school for his sophomore year.

McAdoo was an all-everything recruit coming out of Norfolk, VA. And while his freshman campaign wasn’t overly impressive, there was a reason for that: he was playing behind Tyler Zeller and John Henson, who may have been the two best big men in the ACC.

McAdoo did get a chance to play heavy minutes late in the season as Henson went down in the ACC tournament with a wrist injury, and he didn’t disappoint. The freshman averaged 10.6 ppg, nearly double his season average, and 4.6 rpg in seven postseason games for the Tar Heels. That performance,, combined with the fact that McAdoo is a physical specimen that is a blood relative of Bob McAdoo, would probably have been enough to get him picked either in the late lottery or the middle of the first round.

In this day and age (and with the exception of last season, apparently), seeing a kid that is a guaranteed first round pick return to school is somewhat out of the ordinary. But McAdoo made a smart decision to return to school.

Why?

Because McAdoo has a chance to be a top five pick next season, and the difference between going 15th and fifth is a lot of money. Take a look at last season’s rookie scale. (For those that don’t know, first round draft picks get a guaranteed two-year contract with team options for the third and fourth year at predetermined values.) Jonas Valanciunas went fifth and Kawhi Leonard with 15th. Valaciunas will make double what Leonard does. Enes Kanter, who went third, will earn  almost $6 million more than Leonard in their first three years in the league.

That is a lot of money, enough to make it worth the risk to return for another season.

And rest assured, there is a major risk involved. While it is very possible that McAdoo could end up being the second coming of Thomas Robinson, who toiled behind Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins before finally getting a chance to shine this season, it is no guarantee. What happens if McAdoo struggles as the focal point of the UNC offense? What happens if he gets injured? What if he spends the offseason eating McDonald’s and Taco Bell instead of working out?

Plenty can go wrong over the next seven months that will scare of the teams looking for a franchise-changing draft pick. Barring some incredible stroke of bad luck, however, it is tough to envision McAdoo falling all the way out of the first round. If he ends up being the 25th pick of the first round instead of the 15th pick, McAdoo’s contract would only end up being worth around $1.6 million over the course of three years.

The bottom line is this: if you are projected to go in the mid-to-late first round, and, in a best case scenario, you’re a late lottery pick, it makes sense to leave immediately. The money made over the course of your contract wouldn’t be significantly greater than the money you would earn in that extra season in the NBA. But for that precious few that have a chance to play their way into the big money of the top five, there is plenty of financial incentive to stay.

I can’t help but think that is why McAdoo is back at Chapel Hill this year.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Kentucky, John Calipari and the ‘one-and-done’ perception

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All it took was five sentences from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create a stir regarding his future and Kentucky’s reputation as a place that churns out NBA players under coach John Calipari.

“I’m graduating here. I’m not going nowhere. I’m staying at Kentucky,” Kidd-Gilchrist said Saturday. “I’m dead serious. I don’t know why y’all laughing.”

Since then, stories have circulated on whether the Wildcats’ superb freshman wing should leave this season, if he’d benefit by staying, if he’ll just change his mind in a few months, etc. It’s to the point where even Calipari had to lay out multiple scenarios.

“If Michael is the one pick in the draft, yes, I would wrestle him to the floor and say, ‘What are you thinking?’ ” Calipari said. “He’s got to come up with some reasons he’s coming back and convince me. Here’s why: What if he got hurt and I’m out there convincing him to come back? What if that happened? Or something happened to him that all of the sudden really hurt him and his draft-ability and his future?

“It’s hard to live with yourself, unless you’re just trying to win five more games or ‘How many games can I win before I retire?’ This is about these young people.”

That’s a variation on Calipari’s standard response when it comes to the NBA draft. He’s always maintained that he’ll advocate what’s best for his players, which usually means advocating an early departure. Makes sense, too. His players who leave early are usually lottery picks.

The MKG stories also prompted another response from Calipari – to write a response on his website of Kentucky as a “one-and-done factory.” It’s an interesting read, too. Calipari reiterates his dislike of the NBA’s one-and-done rule, Kentucky’s APR results during his tenure and how he helps his players make pro decisions.

Really, it’s one of those things where Calipari can’t win, no matter how hard he tries. As long as his star players keep leaving after their freshman seasons – six at Kentucky, counting Enes Kanter and two at Memphis – the perception will remain that he’s recruiting players who only want to stay for one season. (I’d say he’s just recruiting really good players who are usually ready for the NBA, but anyway.)

But hey, battling public perception is just part of Calipari’s life.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

On Kanter, Kentucky and the NCAA’s ruling

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Barring a huge surprise, Kentucky will be without Enes Kanter this season. The NCAA’s ruling on the Turkish center’s eligibility — he was deemed to have been improperly compensated while playing for his Turkish club, Fenerbahce Ulker – brought about myriad reactions from around the web and some disbelief in Lexington.

As a result, the ‘Cats will simply be a little smaller this season and Kanter will be watching unless the school’s appeal succeeds. But that doesn’t seem likely.

Regardless of your feelings on the decision – summed up in two camps of “Big Blue got screwed!” and “Calipari couldn’t cheat on this one” – the case raises some interesting questions about the NCAA’s eligibility process.

Why would Kanter be deemed ineligible when a player who received similar benefits – Renardo Sidney – and was eventually cleared to play for Mississippi State this season. Both players ran afoul of NCAA rules. So how are they different? Glenn Logan from A sea of Blue breaks it all down in this excellent post, which includes excerpts from the NCAA’s rule book. His two crucial grafs are below:

It doesn’t require a mental Leviathan to see that both Sidney and Kanter were effectively professionals by rule — Kanter for not refusing $33k in extra benefits (no matter what you think about how they were used), and Sidney for accepting almost $12k in extra benefits.  But one may wonder why Kanter was declared permanently ineligible and Sidney, despite unethical conduct as well as being an NCAA-rule professional, was returned to amateur status with some game penalties.

This is a fair question, and one that the NCAA has yet to address.  They claim that every situation is different, and based on their actions, that is so.  But it does seem passing strange that no consideration of allowing Kanter to repay his professional gains, sit out 30% of the season (the current punishment for paid-back impermissible benefits in excess of $1001 and up), and become eligible after that as they did with Sidney.

This could still be the case with Kanter, though it doesn’t seem likely he’d wait on entering the NBA draft for another season. He’s already a known commodity among scouts and coaches and would be a lottery pick. Sidney needed another season of seasoning.

But one would think the Sidney case would serve as a precedent for Kanter, not an exception. And that’s what’s ultimately the most frustrating about the case: the NCAA doesn’t seem to be applying to same standards to each case.

Isn’t that the least it can do?

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.