Morning Five: 09.05.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 5th, 2012

  1. Reading the tea leaves in the case of Dez Wells‘ whirlwind tour of several prominent basketball schools over Labor Day weekend turned out to be advantageous, as the rising sophomore wing on Tuesday decided to commit to Maryland. If you recall, Mark Turgeon’s program was the only school among the three he visited — Memphis, Oregon, and Maryland — where he tweeted out transparent clues such as #terpnation while he was on campus. The Terps will without question file a petition with the NCAA for an immediate waiver that would allow Wells to suit up next season rather than having to sit out the typical transfer year. Although we’re uncertain if there is a precedent for a player arguing as a basis for the waiver that he was wrongfully expelled from a school, the NCAA may face a veritable uproar if Wells is forced to sit out a season because of what an Ohio grand jury has decided is no fault of his own. And regardless of which year Wells actually suits up at Maryland, the news on Tuesday that the elite Class of 2013 Harrison twins will spend Midnight Madness at the Comcast Center has things looking up for Terp Nation indeed.
  2. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, the NCAA’s compliance and eligibility staff sure doesn’t seem to have much of an opportunity for vacation time right now. Providence super-recruit Ricardo Ledo told on Tuesday that he expects to have a decision in place on his eligibility sometime this week, and if you take the new college enrollee at face value, he says that he’s sticking around PC no matter what decision the NCAA makes. The site makes reference to three likely scenarios involving Ledo’s eligibility, but it doesn’t seem to contemplate what to us is the likeliest scenario: that Ledo is allowed to practice with the Friars this season but must sit out a number of regular season games as a fair punishment (think: Josh Selby). Guess we’ll find out soon enough.
  3. We mentioned yesterday that Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie remains in a Lubbock hospital relating to a medical incident he experienced when his blood pressure reportedly spiked to dangerous levels last Friday. Nothing appears to have changed on that count, as Gillispie was still a patient at the facility as of Tuesday night, but with the report released by‘s Jeff Goodman exposing to the world the many shenanigans that the head coach has allegedly pulled, he may as well not pass go nor collect $200 on the way back to his campus office. You really need to read the article thoroughly to understand the breadth of the problems and the climate that Gillispie has engendered there, but they range from a musical chairs of hirings, firings and player transfers, forcing players to practice for as many as eight hours a day, and making them practice or play while nursing severe injuries. We’re really trying to figure out how this guy could have been so successful at UTEP and Texas A&M if he was using these or similar coaching tactics at the time, but perhaps these recent problems are isolated manifestations of his Kentucky debacle.
  4. The Athlon Sports College Basketball Yearbook won’t be out on news stands for another three weeks, but Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journalalready has a bead on the top three teams in this year’s publication and they have a rather lower midwestern/upper southern feel. Coming in at the top of the list is Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers; moving southeast 90 miles, we run into Athlon’s #2 team, Louisville; then, moving east another 70 miles you hit their #3 team, Kentucky. It’s a solid trio, as each team will no doubt do some damage this season. Still, we have considerable trouble with the placement of a team in the preseason top five when quite literally more than 90% of its scoring is now playing in the NBA. Apparently the good folks at Athlon do not care to recall that last year’s Wildcats team returned experienced talent in Darius Miller, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb to join all those fabulous freshman, two of whom were better than anyone entering college basketball in 2012-13.
  5. We’re honestly not sure why anyone outside of the punditocracy watches the snoozefest known as political conventions these days, but if you happened upon the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last night you may have caught Michelle Obama’s brother-in-law, Oregon State’s Craig Robinson, make a quick recruiting pitch at the start of his dual speech with Barack Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-ng: “Any seven-footers out there, give me a call.” Obviously, the sheen of Robinson’s status as the First Bro-in-Law has worn off by now, but you never know where you might find unexpected leverage — maybe some young political-minded player out there will remember Robinson’s request in a few years and choose to make a visit to Corvallis one of his stops.

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Morning Five: 09.04.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 4th, 2012

  1. Here’s hoping everyone had a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend, wherever you may have spent it. By now, most colleges are back in session, and the weeks leading up to Midnight Madness (October 12 this year) are often fraught with tales of players getting into all sorts of trouble as the combination of free time and warm weather results in a devilish concoction — let’s cross our fingers that the next six weeks are clean. One player who recently found himself unjustifiably in hot water to the point of school expulsion (at least according to an Ohio grand jury) is Xavier’s Dez Wells. The rising sophomore star spent his holiday weekend flying around and visiting potential new schools — specifically, Oregon, Memphis and Maryland — according to several published reports. Earlier contenders Louisville, Ohio State and Kentucky had been removed from his list for various reasons, and it now appears that Mark Turgeon’s program may be the clubhouse leader as Wells is expected to make his decision in coming days. According to the Washington Post, Wells’ trip to College Park seemed to produce a level of excitement that he didn’t experience (or at least, share) while touring the others. Regardless of where he ends up, that program will receive an unexpected yet instant infusion of talent into its backcourt.
  2. This UCLA situation involving its top recruiting class remains interesting. We mentioned in yesterday’s M5 that the big news over the weekend involved the NCAA investigating potential violations in the recruitments of Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker. Athletic director Dan Guerrero fired back at this report on Monday, suggesting that such an investigation is “misleading and inaccurate” but offering little in the way of specific details beyond the simple statement that two Bruin players had yet to receive their amateur certification. A separate Monday report from Peter Yoon at ESPNLosAngeles stated that the two players not yet certified are Muhammad and Anderson (interestingly, Parker has been cleared, according to his source). Whether something substantive actually sticks to one or both of these elite recruits certainly must have UCLA fans nervous right now — the program’s resurgence depends almost entirely on the NBA-quality talent that these two are bringing to Westwood. If they are not available in 2012-13, UCLA likely drops from a top five team to a top 35 team, and Ben Howland’s job would correspondingly be in jeopardy.
  3. No doubt Howland’s blood pressure has risen over the last few days, and with good reason — acting as CEO of a major college basketball program is a stressful job. This is especially true in the midst of a crisis, such as the strong likelihood of a player mutiny that could threaten one’s reputation as well as his employment. Billy Gillispie, as we all now, has been hospitalized since Friday in a Lubbock hospital, and he is not expected to leave the premises soon as he receives ongoing treatment for high blood pressure. An early-morning episode Friday where his BP spiked to “dangerous” levels left the second-year head coach feeling the “worst” he’s ever felt. Presumably aware of what faces him once he returns to campus — to be certain, nothing short of a serious inquiry into how he runs his program — the salve for his long-term health might be to stay in the hospital for as long as possible. We certainly wish him the best in recovery on both his medical and professional counts.
  4. Some vacant assistant coaching positions were filled over the holiday weekend on both coasts, as Arizona State added two new members to Herb Sendek’s staff and Steve Lavin brought on a former one of his players to assist him at St. John’s. As Andy Katz notes on regarding ASU’s new hires, Sendek is clearly trying to make a bold statement in bringing former Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors head coach Eric Musselman in addition to Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Larry Greer into his program. Three thousand miles away in Queens, Lavin hired former UCLA point guard Darrick Martin to help him with recruiting and coaching up their backcourt. Martin played under Lavin — then an assistant to Jim Harrick at UCLA — in the early 90s, leaving the program as the then-all-time leader in assists and steals before moving on to the NBA for 15 years. He also has ties to the NYC area, having played prep basketball across the Hudson River at Bob Hurley’s famed St. Anthony’s program in the mid-1980s.
  5. It’s not often that the media publishes an in-depth report essentially stating that nothing happened, but that appears to be the case with the bizarre yet compelling story that San Diego State‘s best-ever 34-3 season in 2010-11 was targeted by those involved with the University of San Diego point-shaving scandal as another viable option. FBI agents who at the time were monitoring the key individuals associated with the USD case were also keeping a very close eye on a number of SDSU players — and when we write “close eye,” try this on for size — several players were subjected to “physical and electronic surveillance, GPS tracking devices on cars, phone logs, infiltration of the team by an undercover agent, even recruitment of a player to be a confidential informant.” Uh, yeah — that’s serious stuff. Thankfully, the outcome of all of this surveillance was the aforementioned ‘nothing’ — whether because SDSU players from that illustrious season were never actually approached by point-shavers, or because they were smart enough to turn down those doing the asking — we’re not sure. Still, the FBI never accused any Aztec players of wrongdoing, and the school has been adamant in stating that none of its players were involved in any of the shenanigans that went on across town. Crazy story.
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Morning Five: Labor Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 3rd, 2012

  1. What appeared to be a rebirth of basketball at UCLA is quickly turning into a potential nightmare as reports of a potential NCAA investigation into the recruitment of the Bruins top three incoming recruits has surfaced. We have known for a while that the NCAA was investigating the recruitment of Shabazz Muhammad, the star of the incoming class, but what is new is that the NCAA is also investigating the recruitment of Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, both top 20 recruits. Details on the investigation are sketchy at best–it is not even known if this is tied to the Muhammad investigation or if this is a separate case. Whatever it is it is not good news for the Bruins who were hoping to become relevant nationally for the first time since 2008.
  2. UCLA’s crosstown rival USC had its own issues this weekend as the investigation into the Trojans own scandal revealed evidence that implicates former basketball player Davon Jefferson as well as football star Joe McKnight. One of the individuals being investigated reportedly admitted that he gave Jefferson $3,700 in cash. With the other issues the school has had they could be facing a fairly harsh penalty from the NCAA if there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims. If that wasn’t enough bad news, the school also announced yesterday that Maurice Jones, who led the team in scoring, assists, and steals last season, would miss the upcoming season after being declared academically ineligible. While the Trojans should be much improved from last season (read: not absolutely atrocious) this will clearly be a big blow to any NCAA aspirations they may have had.
  3. The Trojans weekend was probably only topped by the one that Billy Gillispie just experienced.  Not only did the Texas Tech coach have to deal with reports of what some have called a “player mutiny” he was also hospitalized for an undisclosed medical condition. The news of the so-called mutiny should not be a shock given Gillispie’s reputation as the alleged injustices involved the hours they were practicing and “mental games” that Gillispie was playing. As for the hospitalization it appears to have been a hypertensive emergency where Gillispie’s blood pressure rose to dangerous levels, but from reports he seems to be doing well at this time. Even with that good news Gillispie has a lot on his plate when he gets out of the hospital.
  4. Wagner got a boost on Friday when the NCAA granted Dwaun Anderson a waiver allowing him to play for the Seahawks at the start of this season instead of January as some expected. Anderson, who was Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, had enrolled at Michigan State last summer before transferring to Wagner, which raised some question as to when he would be eligible. Anderson provides an already solid Wagner team with a level of athleticism that could bring the team, which is led by first-year head coach Bashir Mason, to another level assuming they can integrate him into their current group of players.
  5. If you are not familiar with Kansas forward Justin Wesley you may be hearing a lot about his exploits in the near-future even if it is not on a basketball court (well at least a real one). The Jayhawk junior, who averaged 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per game last year, has been selected to portray the legendary Wilt Chamberlain in an upcoming independent film titled “Jayhawkers”, which looks at Chamberlain’s impact on race relations in and around the Kansas campus. There is a chance that this film will not get made due to a legal dispute with the Chamberlain family not to mention some questionable funding issues. Given the nature of the film, which is being made by a Kansas professor, we suspect that the film would not spend too much time on the court where the only part of Wesley’s game that resembles Chamberlain’s is his free throw shooting (49.9% for Wesley and 51.1% for Chamberlain) or the Big Dipper’s prodigious appetite for, uh, extracurricular activities.
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Big 12 Weekly Five: 08.29.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on August 29th, 2012

  1. Because it just wouldn’t be a Big 12 Weekly Five without the dreaded conference realignment talk, new league commissioner Bob Bowlsby said last week he’s happy with 10 teams in the, uh, Big 12, for now. Naming inconsistencies aside, he has a point. Bowlsby told the Kansas City Star that a 10-team league allows for more flexible scheduling, and from a basketball standpoint, the idea of a true regular-season champion is appealing. Ten teams affords the Big 12 the rare opportunity in hoops to allow for home-and-homes with every opponent, so although an expansion may drive more revenue into the Big 12, we’re perfectly content leaving things the way they are.
  2. Hold on, folks: The Darrell Williams case isn’t over yet. The defense says it has new evidence in the case, and it’ll now try to convince a judge to grant the former Oklahoma State forward a retrial after a jury convicted him of rape this summer. There’s no word on what evidence the defense will present, according to the Associated Press, but Williams’ conviction is beginning to gain national notoriety after staying under the radar throughout the original trial. Reverand Jesse Jackson is now fighting on Williams’ behalf, and his supporters claim the lack of DNA evidence and possibility of misidentification means he got a raw deal. One of the victims in the case doesn’t see it that way, telling the AP that she is “infuriated” and that “they don’t know what happened to me and the other girl.”
  3. Kansas returned from its trip to Europe with two losses, which seems mildly concerning but probably affects little in the long run. Kansas State lost two games in Brazil, after all, and it’s August, not March. But Bill Self is never one to mince his words, and he ripped his team in an interview with CBS’ Gary Parrish recently. Parrish asked who stood out on the trip. Self’s response? “Really nobody. Nobody really impressed me. Everybody was just OK. [Senior guard] Elijah [Johnson] wasn’t great. [Senior center Jeff] Withey wasn’t great. [Senior guard Travis] Releford wasn’t great. I’d say [freshman forward] Perry [Ellis] showed as much promise as anybody in terms of scoring. But he has a lot to learn.”
  4. Iowa State has rewarded athletic director Jamie Pollard with a five-year extension, and he’s got Fred Hoiberg to thank in part for that. The deal provides a little more stability to Hoiberg’s staff, who can now work under a solid administration with excellent school support. When Pollard first hired Hoiberg, it wasn’t met with a lot of optimism around the nation. Sure, bringing The Mayor back to Ames fired up the fan base at home, but he had no coaching experience and seemed like a major risk. A disastrous stretch in Big 12 play during his first season didn’t calm any fears, but Hoiberg’s breakout year in 2011-12 made Pollard look like a genius.
  5. Let’s end this Weekly Five with some kind words for one of the league’s doormats. Laugh at Texas Tech all you want, but as this blog astutely points out, there’s more talent for Billy Gillispie to work with in 2012-13. The assessment is overly optimistic, sure, but there’s reason to believe that Gillispie’s second season could be a significant stepping stone in this rebuilding project. First of all, Tech will have a fresh roster after several transfers this offseason and a giant group of Class of 2012 newcomers. Most importantly, that recruiting class includes several new point guard options, including Josh Gray, who just might be one of the league’s most important freshmen next year. That position plagued the Red Raiders a year ago. Gillispie knew that and immediately went and found new options. Look at the bottom of the article, though, and you’ll really see why Red Raiders fans should feel decent about their situation. Billy Gillispie has done this before. It didn’t work at Kentucky, but he was a proven winner before that — a tough-nosed overachiever with the ability to sap every bit of talent out of his roster. That’s why he’s a perfect fit in Lubbock.
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Big 12 Summer Update Summary

Posted by dnspewak on August 8th, 2012

With two months remaining until Midnight Madness officially kicks off the 2012-13 season, there’s no telling how the rest of the summer will shake out in the Big 12. We’ll watch intently as the NCAA rules on the eligibility status of TCU’s Devonta Abron, Texas Tech’s Blake Nash and Oklahoma State’s J.P. Olukemi, and we’ll cross our fingers each day not to log online and read of a new injury, suspension or arrest. A lot can happen between now and mid-October, but it’s already been an eventful summer in the Big 12. The league added two programs in West Virginia and TCU, several teams picked up late signees from both the high school and junior college ranks, and the coaching carousel spit out the old and welcomed Bruce Weber and Trent Johnson to the fold. Here’s a look at the major happenings from around the Big 12 during the past four months, incorporating both the good and bad this summer (click through for the complete summary):

  • Iowa StateRoyce White made the unsurprising decision this spring to leave after a season for the NBA, but coach Fred Hoiberg signed an extension and Utah transfer Will Clyburn is tearing up summer league. The Mayor will be just fine.
  • KansasSo there’s a minor scandal involving an alleged drug dealer running around the 2010-11 Kansas basketball team. This could turn messy eventually, but for now, Bill Self is celebrating the late additions of freshmen Milton Doyle and Rio Adams, both deemed eligible by the NCAA to play this season.
  • Kansas State: We’re still not exactly sure why Frank Martin left a rock-solid program for one of the worst jobs in the SEC, but it’s Bruce Weber’s team now. He assembled a staff of familiar faces this summer, including former Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery, to lead a team returning almost every key piece from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad.
  • Oklahoma: All is quiet in Norman. Thank God. After Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel dragged Oklahoma’s basketball program through enough scandal to last a lifetime, Lon Kruger dealt only with a transfer from reserve point guard Carl Blair. Besides that, he’s using the summer to mesh a team with several individually talented returners, a few stud freshmen and impact transfer Amath M’Baye.
  • Baylor: Even amidst mass defections to the NBA, legal trouble from a former player, and an NCAA punishment/probation for impermissible phone calls and text messages, Scott Drew is still sitting pretty with a loaded roster for 2012-13. A few summer roadblocks won’t be enough to derail what he’s built in Waco.
  • TCU: The Horned Frogs hired Trent Johnson to lead them during this time of conference transition, and he’s fighting an uphill battle in almost every respect. His facilities still lag behind the rest of his league, as does his overall fan support and, most importantly, his sheer level of talent on the roster. He’s still waiting to learn the NCAA’s ruling on Arkansas transfer Devonta Abron, who’s appealing to play immediately.
  • West Virginia: Bob Huggins added a third major transfer last month in Boston College guard Matt Humphrey, who used the graduate school loophole to gain immediate eligibility. He’ll join Juwan Staten (Dayton) and Aaric Murray (La Salle), and together they must lead a group of fairly unproven but improving returners.
  • Texas: J’Covan Brown left school a year early, meaning Rick Barnes must now rework his roster this summer without his do-it-all scoring guard. Good news is that point guard Myck Kabongo decided to stay in Austin, and everybody’s already raving about the early performances of freshmen big men Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh.
  • Texas Tech: Six players transferred this offseason, allowing Billy Gillispie to ink nine newcomers for the Class of 2012. With questions still lingering about the scholarship situation, we’re not exactly sure who’s going to suit up for the Red Raiders in October. One freshman already left the team, and top recruit Wannah Bail’s academic issues forced him to briefly leave campus. Plus, South Florida transfer Blake Nash is waiting to hear about his hardship waiver, so this team is really a mystery right now.
  • Oklahoma State: All other problems in this league seem trivial compared to Oklahoma State. A jury convicted former forward Darrell Williams of rape in front of a courtroom full of teammates and head coach Travis Ford, the latter of whom testified on Williams’ behalf. Adding to those woes, Ford suspended center Phillip Jurick after a marijuana arrest last weekend, so it’s been a difficult summer for the Cowboys. On the plus side, freshman Marcus Smart’s performance at the U-18 Championships this summer already has coaches buzzing about his potential.
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Big 12 Summer Update: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by dnspewak on August 6th, 2012

In an effort to remind you that college basketball does in fact exist during the summer, Big 12 microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) will roll out three summer updates per week during the next month. The goal is to compile every bit of news and information from the summer months for each team and package it into neat, easy-to-read capsules for your convenience. Next on the list — Texas Tech. 

2011-12 record: 8-23, 1-17

Billy Gillispie knew he had a major reclamation project on his hands at Texas Tech when he took over prior to the 2011-12 season. The program, which has always traditionally lagged behind the rest of the Big 12 in attendance and overall support, had slowly faded from a perennial NCAA Tournament team under Bob Knight to a cellar-dwellar under Pat Knight in just a few seasons. So when Gillispie landed in Lubbock after Knight’s firing and brought in a boatload of junior college transfers and freshmen, it was no surprise his team finished with eight victories and showed almost no signs of life in his first season. Apparently, that did not sit well with half the team, since six players decided to transfer during the offseason. Gillispie had originally oversigned with his 2012 recruiting class, so it’s not certain what exactly transpired this spring, but it wasn’t strong publicity for Gillispie. Before you accuse him of losing control of his program, though, look at the actual defections that occurred. He’s not losing his entire team by any means. Only one starter (Javarez Willis) transferred. That’s not good, obviously. But the others? As harsh as it sounds, they’re replaceable. And the fact is, Gillispie’s best player and leading scorer returns for his sophomore year in Jordan Tolbert, and he inked eight — yes, eight — newcomers, a class with decent potential on paper. There are still roster questions and other potential defections to worry about this summer, so much that the team hasn’t even officially published its roster online yet. But minus Billy G’s tumultuous tenure at Kentucky, the rest of his track record affords him the benefit of the doubt at Texas Tech. It might not be all that pretty in 2012-13, but the rebuilding process has entered its critical first steps here. Now, we just need to figure out who’ll actually play on the team next year.

Billy Gillispie’s Program Can’t Go Anywhere But Up

Summer Orientation:  As much potential as this Class of 2012 may have, it already lost one member when juco forward Rodrigo Silva left the team this summer to pursue a pro career in Brazil. It’s important to note that the move isn’t yet official, but the word around Texas Tech circles is Silva’s father is ill, and his family has serious financial needs. Understandable. On the court, it’s difficult to lose a 6’10” forward with the largest frame of any recruit in the class, and he’s not the only one who might not make it back to Texas Tech. Fellow forward Wannah Bail, one of the most highly-touted freshman in this bunch, had problems in the classroom this summer and had to temporarily go home. Gillispie said he expects to see him on campus for the fall semester, but this situation poses a serious problem for everybody involved. Bail, a 6’8” tweener and a top-150 prospect, needs to add considerable strength but has the athleticism and defensive potential to log a lot of minutes in his first season– if he plays. That’s why this is such an important development for Gillispie right now. He played high school ball with Michael Carey, who also committed to Tech in February but may not qualify. To be quite frank with you, we’ve attempted to look into Carey’s status for the 2012-13 season, but it appears completely unknown at this point. We know he signed, and we know there’s questions about his eligibility, but that’s all we know. Again, that’s a trend this summer. Who in the heck will really play for this team this season? Here’s another example: Blake Nash, who did officially transfer to Texas Tech but may or may not play in 2012-13. The former South Florida guard wants a hardship waiver after logging decent minutes as a backup during USF’s NCAA Tournament run in March. If he’s eligible, he’ll likely find his way into the rotation in some capacity for Gillispie in his first season and will help stiffen that point guard battle in off-season and fall practice even more.

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Former Houston Coach Makes Strong Accusations Against Another Big 12 School

Posted by dnspewak on August 2nd, 2012

We’ve got a bit of a whodunnit on our hands this week in the Big 12. In light of the recent Central Florida sanctions, a USA Today article about third-party influences in college basketball quoted former Houston coach Tom Penders of accusing a Big 12 school of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to an AAU coach in exchange for a recruit. Normally, we might skim over this kind of news because it is so commonplace in this day and age of Reggie Bush, O.J. Mayo, Worldwide Wes, point-shaving scandals and god knows what other sorts of shenanigans programs engage in these days. We’ve all seen Blue Chips. We know the world is a dark, dark place.

Tom Penders Made Some Waves on Wednesday

But this accusation by Penders is different, simply because it is so incredibly easy to pinpoint who the culprits may be in this situation. Penders “declined” to name the recruit in question, but read the following quote from USA Today. He basically does our job for us.

Others move in the shadows of the sport. In six seasons as head coach at Houston, Penders estimated, an AAU coach or his agent asked Penders for money in return for the commitment of a prospect at least 25 times. On one occasion, an AAU coach and his agent visited Penders’ office with two offers: Pay tens of thousands of dollars in return for a player’s commitment, or place an AAU coach on his staff to establish a pipeline. “I threw him out of my office,” Penders said. Penders said the player, whom the coach declined to identify, spent one season at a Big 12 school before being drafted in the second round of the NBA draft. Penders said the AAU coach collected “six figures” from the Big 12 school that chose to engage in the scheme.

So we’re looking for a one-and-done Big 12 player drafted in the second round between 2005 and 2010. As fellow college hoops scribe Rob Dauster points out, that leaves us with three possibilities:

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 05.23.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on May 23rd, 2012

  1. It’s been a bizarre off-season for Billy Gillispie and Texas Tech. After a disastrous last-place finish in 2011-12 during Gillispie’s first season, the Red Raiders have now lost six players to transfer. The latest player to depart, Kevin Wagner, is heading to a community college. Seriously. It’s interesting to note that Texas Tech’s main contributors are staying aboard, though. Gillispie has signed nine freshmen for 2012-13, and he’ll have leading scorer Jordan Tolbert and point guard Ty Nurse returning. Losing six players in the span of only a few months is never good publicity, but Gillispie may be able to survive this situation.
  2. Patrick Beilein never played in the Big 12, but West Virginia‘s basketball program is a part of this conference now. So it’s important for us to point out that Beilein, the son of former WVU coach John Beilein, is the new head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan. The former sharpshooter with the Mountaineers helped his team to an Elite Eight in 2005 under his father’s methodical and perimeter-oriented style of play, and something tells us the West Virginia Wesleyan players might be learning how to A) play a 1-3-1 zone and B) how to light up the scoreboard from beyond the arc. But that’s just a hunch.
  3. Lon Kruger has jumped from job to job his entire career, so he’s probably used to being the bad guy. After all, the current Oklahoma coach is now with his sixth college program and also enjoyed a stint in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks. But after his most recent departure from UNLV, it sounds as though the Vegas people still appreciate him. Kruger can still be found in Las Vegas with his family during the off-season, and the tone of the article paints a picture of peace — not animosity. If only every coaching change could run this smoothly.
  4. In many ways, CBS has become indistinguishable from the game of college basketball. It represents everything about it: the NCAA Tournament, the Madness, the emotion, the drama. Now, Big 12 fans will get to see a few more games on the CBS Sports network after it reached a recent new deal with ESPN. At the very least, we’ll get to hear that catchy CBS jingle a few more times in 2012-13.
  5. And in your realignment news of the day, Clemson‘s athletic director is trying to do some damage control about reports his school will bolt from the ACC for the Big 12. Right now, officials at both Clemson and Florida State are being careful not to make any missteps, and they’re trying to stress that all of these realignment rumors are just that — rumors. We’ve heard this before, that’s for sure. At least we know what to expect after two years of the Realignment Apocalypse.
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Grading the Big 12’s 2011-12 Season: Bottom Half

Posted by dnspewak on April 5th, 2012

With the 2011-12 campaign now just a memory, it’s difficult to actually remember all of the drama and agony the Big 12 experienced during the last five months. Kansas’ thrilling loss to Duke in the Maui Invitational seems like ages ago, as does the Jayhawks’ first loss to Kentucky at Madison Square Garden. Remember when Missouri and Baylor were only a few of the remaining unbeaten teams in college basketball? Or when Texas found a way to lose game after game in the most heartbreaking fashion? These memories are hard to digest, but you’ll probably never forget the Border War drama between Kansas and Missouri, nor will you forget Iowa State’s rise thanks to the brilliant play of Royce White. The Big 12 kept playing until the final game of the 2011-12 season, ending with Kansas’ loss to Kentucky in the title game on Monday. And with the conclusion of this wild campaign, the final grades are in. Kansas earns an A+. Big surprise. Texas A&M earns an F. Big surprise, too, but for different reasons. The other eight teams settled into a grade somewhere between those two extremes.

We’ll cover the bottom half of the league today, and the top half tomorrow.

10. Texas Tech (8-23, 1-17)

Gillispie's First Year in Lubbock Wasn't Great


The Red Raiders get a free pass in Billy Gillispie‘s first season. Playing almost exclusively with newcomers, Texas Tech had no chance this year. Robert Lewandowski was the only senior on the roster, but not even he could lead this team to any sort of success. Their inexperience was just too much to overcome. The Red Raiders were plagued by turnovers all season and they never got consistent point guard play. Jordan Tolbert emerged as the leading scorer in the frontcourt, and he played the most consistent basketball on the team from November through February. Still, even after a last-place finish, Texas Tech should not worry about the state of this program. Gillispie’s success at UTEP and Texas A&M proves he can win in this state, and he’ll have almost everybody back next season.

9. Texas A&M (14-18, 4-14)


Sorry, A&M. You fail. Picked in the pre-season to win the Big 12, the Aggies suffered through a nightmare year, though there are extenuating circumstances to consider here. Coach Billy Kennedy learned of a Parkinson’s diagnosis in the fall, which kept him sidelined for fall practice and away from his team during critical teaching moments. As a first-year coach, Kennedy never had the chance to establish himself to his new players. Adding to the woes, many of those players missed time themselves with injuries. Star wing Khris Middleton had surgery on his knee in November and sat out part of Big 12 play. Point guard Dash Harris missed a handful of games, too, and his backup Jamal Branch transferred before conference play. Kourtney Roberson played only nine games before his season ended due to injury as well. As the troubles mounted, the losses began to pile up. The Aggies simply could not score because of all the roster turnover and the lack of creators on the offensive end. We thought this team could muscle its way to a Big 12 title by playing with the principles former coach Mark Turgeon instilled, but that never happened. Now, Kennedy must revamp this program and forget about the 2011-12 nightmare.

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Big 12 Tourney First Round Reaction: Oklahoma State vs.Texas Tech

Posted by dnspewak on March 7th, 2012

Oklahoma State 76, Texas Tech 60

Oklahoma State hardly looked like a team missing two key contributors on Wednesday night. Even without the injured Le’Bryan Nash and Philip Jurick, the Cowboys managed to pull away from a pesky Texas Tech squad 76-60 thanks to a second-half burst from Cezar Guerrero and Brian Williams. Despite briefly trailing by a point early in the second half, OSU regrouped by attacking the basket and forcing the Red Raiders to jack up bad shots from beyond the arc. Within minutes, that deficit turned into a double-digit lead, and from there Oklahoma State punished the young Red Raiders by working the clock and clamping down on defense. It all happened with major personnel adjustments — with Williams playing the four position and Markel Brown running the point. “Words really can’t describe how proud I am of our basketball team,” coach Travis Ford said. “For these guys to continue to play as hard as they are, they’re fun to coach.”

Texas Tech's season ended with a 76-60 loss to Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

Why the Cowboys Won: Cezar Guerrero really exploded in the second half, burying back-to-back three-pointers after his team’s brief one-point deficit. “I felt like I just needed to bring energy and get these guys going again,” Guerrero said. “Luckily, my teammates just got me open and I hit the shots. I was really feeling it today.” Texas Tech also struggled on the offensive end, looking every bit like the team that finished 1-17 in Big 12 play under first-year head coach Billy Gillispie. Even a strong effort from Jordan Tolbert could not overcome the Cowboys, who had four players score in double figures. Senior Keiton Page couldn’t find his shot early, but he heated up in garbage time to finish with a team-high 20 points. The key statistic to take note of here is Texas Tech’s performance from three-point land: 4-20. That’s your ballgame right there. That, and a 16-16 team mark from the free throw line for Oklahoma State.

What’s Next: Oklahoma State advances to play second-seeded Missouri, a team it defeated in Stillwater this year but could not compete with on the road. If Nash can’t go, though, the Cowboys have little to no shot. Nash put his team on his shoulders in that game, scoring important basket after important basket to announce to the national stage that he was a legitimate star. Without him, it’s important for Williams to keep playing as aggressively as he did against Tech. “We didn’t exactly play the way we wanted to up in Columbia,” Williams said. “We’ll just get to the film room and start studying Missouri.”

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