Morning Five: 07.25.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 25th, 2011

  1. Perhaps never in the history of modern college basketball has such an inconsequential player (to this point of his career) caused so much message board speculation over where he might ultimately land (Makhtar Ndiaye?).  Former Wake Forest center Tony Woods, he of the misdemeanor assault plea for pushing and kicking his girlfriend last year, will finally re-surface at Oregon after months of rumors and endless chatter that he would end up at Louisville, then Kentucky, then Texas.  The situation took a turn in favor of Dana Altman’s Duck program when it was discovered that Woods could be eligible to play in Eugene immediately because UO utilizes a quarter system, whereas the other schools are on a semester calendar.  This quirk will allow Woods to finish up his associate’s degree coursework prior to school beginning in September, making it so that he can begin practicing with the team in October and suit up for games again in early November.  Oregon certainly has the need, as last year’s best interior player, Joevon Catron, was a senior and has moved on.  If Woods can tap into some of the promise that made him a Top 50 recruit in the class of 2008, Oregon may move more quickly up the Pac-12 standings than expected next season.
  2. Speaking of the topic of eligibility, it appears that St. John’s recruit Maurice Harkless will in fact be eligible to play for Steve Lavin next season.  Late last week the NCAA cleared Harkless to play for the Johnnies as a result of an investigation to determine if he had played for current SJU director of basketball operations, Moe Hicks, during his prep AAU career.  Call it the package deal rule, but the NCAA has a regulation to avoid situations where schools hire AAU coaches to get to their elite players (see: Michael Beasley), and since Harkless had played for the New York Gauchos a couple of times, there was some question as to whether his association with Hicks (an administrator with the Gauchos) violated that rule.  The NCAA ultimately ruled that Hicks never actually coached Harkless, a fine-line distinction no doubt making Lavin a very happy man over the weekend.  Harkless is the type of elite recruit based in the NYC area that St. John’s must attract in order to get back to upper echelon of the Big East conference on an annual basis.
  3. Act One of the Bruce Pearl aftermath came to light on Friday in Knoxville, as the News-Sentinel reported that Tennessee has imposed a two-year probation on itself as a result of NCAA wrongdoing under Pearl’s (and former football coach, Lane Kiffin’s) direction.  Here’s the key statement: UT believes that “the penalties imposed during the course of its investigation, coupled with its corrective measures, adequately address the violations that occurred.”  As such, the school’s “probation” levies only a very minor restriction on new head coach Cuonzo Martin’s program, removing an ability to feed players occasionally through off-campus meals.  Arguing that all of the principal bad actors have since been removed from the program, the school clearly believes that it has suffered enough as a result of the Pearl fiasco.  Of course, the NCAA Committee on Infractions has the final ruling on this, and we have to believe that UT basketball will lose more than the occasional pizza party when the ruling finally comes to pass in the next several weeks.
  4. Well, this is certainly interesting.  Over the weekend, Connecticut confirmed (and then denied) that it is in the process of negotiating a deal to oust current athletic director Jeff Hathaway from his position.  Normally, we may not have much of an interest in this administrative decision or non-decision, but according to UConn insiders, the departure of Hathaway may be just the thing to inspire three-time national champion Jim Calhoun to give another year (or two, or three) a shot.  The other intriguing angle to this power play against someone who presided over the basketball team’s latest national title and the football team’s bid to the Orange Bowl is that the Hathaway is scheduled to take over as the Selection Committee’s chairman next season.  This of course begs the question as to whether he might remain in that role if he is no longer affiliated with a Division I school.  Keep an eye on the UConn Blog for the latest on this story.
  5. It’s not very often that the mother of the nation’s top-rated recruit openly questions why a school she likes isn’t recruiting her son, and even less so when that school is a rather pedestrian mid-major, but that appears to be the case with respect to Class of 2012 superstar Shabazz Mohammed and his mom’s alma mater, Long Beach State.  Faye Mohammed starred in track and basketball at LBSU in the mid-1980s, but to hear her tell it, she “would have liked to see [head coach Dan Monson] come in and get involved and see what happened with that.”  Admittedly, the former Gonzaga and Minnesota coach would likely have faced a losing battle going up against schools like Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and UNLV (his official list), but don’t you at least make a few calls and hope for a hail mary?  After all, other than that school over in Westwood, Long Beach is the only other local school.
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