Middle Schoolers Now Deemed Prospects

Due to the increased recruiting of young talent, the NCAA has deemed that seventh-graders are now officially considered prospects.

The NCAA voted to alter the definition of a prospect from ninth grade to seventh grade for men’s basketball in order to eradicate recruiting advantages, as numerous schools had complained that youth camps were giving participating coaches an unfair edge on recruiting. Because players at these camps often fell below the ninth-grade cutoff, the NCAA was previously unable to regulate these elite camps.

Joe D’Antonio, chairman of the 31-member Division I Legislative Council that approved the move at the NCAA convention this month, expressed mixed feelings about the change.

“It’s a little scary only because – we talked about this – where does it stop?” he said.

“The fact that we’ve got to this point is really just a sign of the times.”

Although men’s basketball was the only sport affected by the move, D’Antonio mentioned the change could instigate discussions on modifying the limit for other sports, particularly football.

Jordan’s Son Earns Scholarship

For Jeff Jordan, the cliché phrase “like father, like son,” can be readily applied.

The son of basketball legend Michael Jordan, currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois, has earned a basketball scholarship. Averaging nearly 10 minutes a game, Jordan has been recognized as a defensive specialist.

Jordan’s presence has boded well for No. 20 Illinois, which is experiencing a remarkable turnaround from last season. After a 16-19 campaign in 2008, Illinois has already surpassed last season’s win total. The Fighting Illini currently stand at 17-3 and are tied for first in the Big Ten.

Jordan turned down a scholarship from mid-major Valparaiso last season to walk on at Illinois. As a freshman he averaged approximately five minutes per game.

Self’s Potential Recruiting Violation

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self’s quick encounter with a recruit may cost the Jayhawk basketball program, as the NCAA is investigating whether the occurrence is a recruiting violation.

The incident took place during an evaluation period when coaches are not allowed contact with recruits other than to exchange greetings. After watching the game of guard John Wall, Self went down to the locker rooms to congratulate the coaches on their victory. Outside the locker room he was then approached by Wall. Self then apparently said to Wall, “I can’t talk to you, but you played really well.”

Self, who led the Jayhawks to a national championship last season, seems generally unconcerned with the encounter.

Pertaining to the incident, Self said, “If that exchange, which is all it was, is a problem, then our administration will deal with it . by no means am I going to deny that basically that happened. But the reason I was back in the back was to say hi to the coaches after the game.”

Wall is considered the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2009 by Rivals.com. The 6-foot-4, 184 pound point guard is also considering Duke, Baylor, Memphis, NC State and Oregon.

Huskies Honor Roy Into the Rafters

Last Thursday, Brandon Roy became only the second basketball player to have his number retired by the University of Washington, and only the 30th in Pac-10 history. The current Portland Trailblazer star did not have an easy road to this unique honor, and just six years ago, the idea of this ceremony would have been considered preposterous.

When Roy’s freshman year began, there was no indication that his career would end this way. Not only was he initially declared academically ineligible, but when he was finally cleared to play, he took a back seat to mighty mite Nate Robinson. When Roy finally seemed poised to break out at the beginning of his junior year, a serious knee injury kept him out virtually until the tournament.

In his senior year, however, the stars aligned for Roy. Finally, injury- and Nate Robinson-free, Roy averaged more than 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, shot over 50 percent from the field and led the Huskies to a 26-7 record and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, before an overtime loss to second-seeded Connecticut ended his college career.

NJIT No Longer Winless

Led by a career-high 26 points from sophomore guard Jheryl Wilson, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders defeated the Bryant University Bulldogs 61-51 last Wednesday. However, the highlights of this game between two unremarkable programs – both of whom will almost certainly not reach any postseason tournament in March – landed on SportsCenter for a very special reason. While most sports fans would point to the Detroit Lions’ ignominious 0-16 season as the pinnacle of futility, the Highlanders managed to build a 51-game losing streak against Division I while toiling away in blessed obscurity.

Although the Highlanders resumed their losing ways on Saturday against Longmeadow, the win over Bryant was encouraging for a team in only its third year of Division I play. Fortunately for the Highlanders, their transition from Division II to Division I will be enough to keep their losing streak out of the official NCAA record books, as they will not be considered a full Divison I program until next season. Members of the 1997-99 Sacramento State Hornets teams, who hold the record with a 34-game losing streak in those three years, will now look elsewhere to have their names replaced in the record books.

Kay Yow Loses Battle With Cancer

Long-time North Carolina State Women’s Basketball Coach Kay Yow died Saturday at the age of 66. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and finally succumbed after battling the disease for several decades.

Yow amassed a 737-344 record over 38 years with N.C. State and Elon. She coached the 1988 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, earned 20 NCAA tournament bids and reached the Final Four in 1998.

Despite such accomplishments, Yow is best known by many for her perseverance against breast cancer and for raising awareness and research money for the disease. Yow established the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund in 2007 to partner with The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Several Saturday games held moments of silence in Yow’s honor, including the N.C. State-Boston College men’s game in Boston and the Duke-Maryland men’s game in Durham.

“God bless Kay,” Blue Devils men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski said following the game. “A fighter until the end.”

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