Morning Five: 04.12.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 12th, 2011

  1. In absolutely no surprise whatsoever, UConn All-American and Final Four MOP Kemba Walker is expected to announce that he will forgo his final season of eligibility in Storrs and enter the NBA Draft.  His decision to go pro has been an open secret for some time, as he will graduate in May and his jersey has already been retired into the rafters at Gampel Pavilion.  The RTC NPOY will without question go down as the most popular player in UConn history, and when you consider some of the tremendous names who have come through that program — Chris Smith, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, etc. — this is high praise, indeed.
  2. Conversely, it was a rather large surprise that a presumptive top five pick, Baylor’s Perry Jones, announced on Monday that he will be returning to Waco for his sophomore season.  The 6’11 forward had a solid 2010-11 campaign, averaging 14/7 and earning a spot on the all-Big 12 freshman team, although his offensive production tailed off in the later part of the season.  Jones’ return, along with UNC’s Harrison Barnes and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (supposedly), means that three of the very best members of the Class of 2010 will be back playing college basketball again next season.  Thanks, NBA lockout.
  3. The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on Monday that the NCAA secondary violation that contributed to Bruce Pearl’s dismissal last month involved the director of basketball operations providing two free tickets to a player’s mother.  According to a report sent from UT to the SEC discussing the violation, neither the coaching staff nor the player knew of the violation at the time, which begs the question as to why such a relatively minor problem was deemed a final straw in leading to Pearl’s firing.  Of course, there was the 30-point Second Round NCAA loss to Michigan where his players quit on him… there’s that, too.
  4. While on the subject of tickets, one of the Kansas “consultants” to the KU Athletic Department who was involved in the selling of ducats for private profit was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in federal prison.  Kenneth Blubagh and his wife Charlette, the former Director of the KU Ticket Office, had pleaded guilty to bilking Kansas out of nearly a million dollars in ticket sales over the past half-decade that they used to buy extravagant vacations and other lavish toys.  The best line from this article referred to Kenneth’s role as consultant: “Blubaugh…was on the Kansas Athletics payroll as a consultant from August 2007 until January 2010. Prosecutors say they still aren’t sure what consulting duties he had handled, other than furthering the conspiracy.”
  5. Some transfer news…  St. Louis center Willie Reed, one of two star players (along with Kwamain Mitchell) involved in an on-campus sexual assault last summer and subsequently booted from school for the fall semester, has dropped out of SLU after having become reinstated in January.  There’s no report as to whether he plans on transferring anywhere else, but he’ll obviously need to get his academic house back in order after missing two consecutive semesters if he plans on playing college basketball again.  Also, South Carolina guard Ramon Galloway is leaving the Gamecock program for LaSalle, despite playing nearly 25 MPG and averaging 11/3 for Darrin Horn’s squad last season.  He represents the seventh player to transfer out of the program in Horn’s three-year tenure at the school.  Considering that SC has finished at or near the bottom of the SEC East the last two seasons, this isn’t the kind of confidence-inspiring news that Horn needs as he tries to rebuild that program.
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