One week after guard Lavar Batts Jr. announced his intention to transfer, NC State has reportedly filled that available scholarship. According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, former FIU guard Eric Lockett has committed to NC State.
As a grad transfer Lockett will be eligible to compete immediately for the Wolfpack, and he is the second such player to join the program this offseason with former Samford forward Wyatt Walker being the first.
Lockett, who began his collegiate career at George Mason before transferring to FIU, appeared in 32 games (31 starts) for the Panthers last season and averaged 14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 37.0 minutes per game. The 6-foot-5 Lockett shot 46.6 percent from the field, 29.2 percent from three and 71.7 percent from the foul line.
Lockett’s second season at FIU was a significant improvement on his first, as he started 13 of the 31 games he appeared in during the 2016-17 season and averaged 5.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest.
The addition of Lockett gives NC State additional depth on the perimeter, which will be key with the loss of leading scorer Allerik Freeman (16.1 ppg). In total NC State has to replace three of the top six scorers from a team that reached the NCAA tournament in Kevin Keatts’ first season at the helm, with Freeman and Lennard Freeman having exhausted their eligibility and Omer Yurtseven having transferred to Georgetown.
In total NC State will have eight newcomers on the roster next season, a number that does not include transfers Devon Daniels (Utah) and C.J. Bryce (UNCW). Both players will be eligible to play after sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules.
Late Night Snacks: Miami, Texas among Wednesday’s winners
Dennis Mavin banked in a shot from half court as time expired to give the Panthers a three-point win in the first round of the Conference USA tournament. Mavin’s shot came seconds after UTSA’s Keon Lewis’ game-tying three with 2.7 seconds remaining, and FIU will take on UTEP Thursday afternoon as a result. Will there be a better finish in any conference tournament this week? It’ll take a lot to exceed what happened in Birmingham.
Lafayette became the 12th team to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament as they beat the Eagles in the Patriot League final. Sophomore guard Nick Lindner scored 25 points and dished out four assists for the winners, earning tournament MVP honors as he scored 23 points in each of the Leopards’ first two tournament wins. Marko Vasic led the way for American with 15 points.
2. Texas 65, Texas Tech 53
The Longhorns avoided what would have been a really bad loss, as they beat the Red Raiders in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. Cameron Ridley led the way with 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and as a team Texas assisted on 17 of its 25 made field goals. Next up for the Longhorns is two-seed Iowa State, and a win there would further solidify their NCAA tournament resume.
3. Miami 59, Virginia Tech 49
The Hurricanes were also in a game they couldn’t afford to lose, and they beat the Hokies in a game that was closer than the final margin would lead one to believe. Sheldon McClellan scored 16 points and Davon Reed added ten for the Hurricanes, who face three-seed Notre Dame Thursday night. Miami shot 14-for-18 from the foul line and outscored Virginia Tech by ten from the line, and that was key in a game in which both teams had issues establishing consistent flow offensively.
1. NC State’s Anthony “Cat” Barber
Barber was outstanding in the Wolfpack’s win over Pittsburgh, as he finished with 34 points (9-for-13 FG, 12-for-12 FT) and five assists.
Wood scored 28 points (9-for-13 FG, 10-for-12 FT), seven rebounds and three blocks in the Runnin’ Rebels’ 67-46 win over Nevada.
4. California’s David Kravish
Career-high 25 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in an 84-59 win over Washington State.
1. North Texas’ Jordan Williams
Williams scored eight points but five of those came from the foul line, as he shot 1-for-11 from the field in an 82-54 loss to Rice.
2. Marshall’s Ryan Taylor
Taylor scored eight points on 4-for-20 shooting in the Thundering Herd’s 59-45 loss to Western Kentucky.
3. Kansas State’s Marcus Foster
Foster failed to score in the Wildcats’ two-point loss to TCU, shooting 0-for-5 from the field.
4. Seton Hall’s Sterling Gibbs
Gibbs shot 1-for-8 from the field, scoring six points in the Pirates’ 78-56 loss to Marquette.
ACC second round: No. 19 North Carolina advanced to the quarterfinals with an 81-63 win over Boston College with Marcus Paige (nine assists, six rebounds) and Brice Johnson (nine rebounds) scoring 17 points apiece. In addition to the Tar Heels and Hurricanes, Florida State and NC State advanced to the quarterfinals. Thursday’s quarterfinal matchups: Florida State vs. Virginia, North Carolina vs. Louisville, NC State vs. Duke and Miami vs. Notre Dame.
Atlantic 10 first round: Fordham and Duquesne were the two winners, with the Rams beating George Mason for the fourth time in the last two seasons and the Dukes beating Saint Louis, 61-55. Thursday’s second round: La Salle vs. UMass, Fordham vs. VCU, Saint Joseph’s vs. St. Bonaventure and Duquesne vs. George Washington.
Big 12 first round: Joining Texas as winners in Kansas City was TCU, which beat Kansas State 67-65 and put an end to the Wildcats’ disappointing season. Thursday’s quarterfinals: West Virginia vs. Baylor, TCU vs. Kansas, Texas vs. Iowa State and Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma.
Big East first round: Marquette rolled to a 78-56 win over Seton Hall, and in the nightcap Creighton played improved defense in the second half to take care of DePaul, 76-63. Thursday’s quarterfinals: Marquette vs. Villanova, St. John’s vs. Providence, Xavier vs. Butler and Creighton vs. Georgetown.
Big Ten first round: D.J. Newbill scored 26 points to lead Penn State to a 68-65 win over Nebraska. Minnesota won the second game of the day, beating Rutgers 80-68. Thursday’s second round: Michigan vs. Illinois, Penn State vs. Iowa, Northwestern vs. Indiana and Minnesota vs. Ohio State.
Conference USA first round: Joining FIU in the winner’s circle Wednesday were Middle Tennessee (63-60 over Charlotte), Western Kentucky (59-45 over Marshall) and Rice (82-54 over North Texas). Thursday’s quarterfinals: FIU vs. UTEP, Middle Tennessee vs. Old Dominion, Western Kentucky vs. UAB and Rice vs. Louisiana Tech.
MEAC quarterfinals: The top two seeds in the MEAC advanced, with North Carolina Central blowing out Coppin State and two-seed Norfolk State beating South Carolina State 68-54. Thursday’s quarterfinals: Delaware State vs. Howard and Hampton vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore.
MAC second round: The lower-seeded team won both games in Cleveland, with eight-seed Eastern Michigan beating five-seed Bowling Green 73-67 and seven-seed Akron beating six-seed Western Michigan 58-45. Thursday’s quarterfinals: Eastern Michigan vs. Toledo and Akron vs. Kent State.
Mountain West first round: In addition to UNLV’s comfortable win over Nevada, Air Force beat New Mexico 68-61. Thursday’s quarterfinals: Air Force vs. Boise State, Utah State vs. Wyoming, UNLV vs. San Diego State and Fresno State vs. Colorado State.
Pac-12 first round: USC became the first 12-seed to win a game at the Pac-12 tournament, closing their 67-64 win over Arizona State with a 21-4 run. Joining the Trojans as winners were California (over Washington State), Colorado (over Oregon State) and Stanford. The Cardinal beat Washington 71-69 on a Chasson Randle three with 2.4 seocnds remaining, and Marcus Allen and Reid Travis made some big plays to keep the Cardinal afloat. Thursday’s quarterfinals: California vs. Arizona, USC vs. UCLA, Colorado vs. Oregon and Stanford vs. Utah.
SEC first round: Play began in Nashville with two games, as Auburn beat Mississippi State 74-68 and South Carolina defeated Missouri 63-54. Thursday’s second round: Alabama vs. Florida, Auburn vs. Texas A&M, Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt and South Carolina vs. Ole Miss.
Southland first round: McNeese State and New Orleans advanced Wednesday, with the Cowboys beating Southeast Louisiana 62-60 and the Privateers taking care of Nicholls State 82-73. Thursday’s quarterfinals: McNeese State vs. Northwestern State and New Orleans vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
SWAC quarterfinals: The top two seeds both surpassed the 90-point mark in wins Wednesday, as top seed Texas Southern beat Alcorn State 95-74 and two-seed Alabama State (which is ineligible for the NCAA tournament) scored 93 in a 12-point win over Mississippi Valley State. Thursday’s quarterfinals: Jackson State vs. Prairie View A&M and Alabama A&M vs. Southern (which is also ineligible for the NCAA tournament).
FIU’s Dennis Mavin banks in half-court shot to beat UTSA (VIDEO)
Multiple conference tournaments tip off on Wednesday, one of which being the Conference USA tournament in Birmingham. And in the first game of the day, FIU and UTSA scripted a finish that will be hard for any game to match this week (or for the remainder of the season, for that matter).
After a Ray Rodriguez free throw gave FIU a 54-51 lead with eight seconds remaining, UTSA’s Keon Lewis hit a three-pointer from the right wing to tie the game. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners there was still time for FIU to attempt one more shot, and Dennis Mavin took full advantage of the opportunity.
Mavin banked in a shot (the defender was close but looked afraid to commit a foul) from half-court as time expired, giving FIU the 57-54 victory. FIU advances to the quarterfinals, where they’ll take on two-seed UTEP Thursday afternoon.
Vine credit: Pierce Roberson
Draft withdrawal snafu places FIU guard Raymond Taylor’s eligibility in jeopardy
On Thursday evening it was reported by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that Florida International guard Raymond Taylor was forced to sit out the Panthers’ game against Bethune-Cookman due to the school and NCAA looking into questions regarding his eligibility. The issue: whether or not Taylor, who entered his name into the 2012 NBA Draft, withdrew his name ahead of the NCAA’s April 10 deadline.
According to the report if it’s found that Taylor in fact missed the deadline, his eligibility could be in jeopardy. Taylor did not play at FIU last season after transferring in from FAU, but prior to that decision Taylor considered turning pro.
NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said in an email Thursday that a player can declare one time for the draft without losing their eligibility “as long as they are not drafted by a professional team and as long as they declare their intention to resume playing for their college team before the first day of the spring signing period, typically in April.”
Taylor did not. Based on the NBA releases, Taylor waited until sometime between May 3 and June 20 — after the early-signing period began — to withdraw.
One question to be asked here is how this situation, which occurred more than a year ago, is just now being addressed. Maybe Taylor, who’s averaging 12.2 points and 6.2 assists per game for Anthony Evans’ squad, was “lost in the shuffle” due to his decision to transfer from FAU to FIU. But isn’t this the responsibility of the compliance office, to make sure that a prospective student-athlete doesn’t have any issues that could place their eligibility in jeopardy?
As for the deadline itself, while the early April date is an inconvenience for players (and some programs will even tell players to go by the NBA’s withdrawal deadline) it is there. And when you’re a fringe (at best) prospect like Taylor, it becomes even more important to make sure that there are no such issues. Hopefully he’s allowed to return to the court at some point this season, but while ruling Taylor permanently ineligible would look to be harsh it’s difficult to take the convenient route and blame the NCAA for this one.