Inside the SEC: Oct. 18

18 Oct

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

Vanderbilt’s Ezeli Suspended 6 Games

One of the SEC’s premiere big men, Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli, has been suspended six games by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits.

The 6-foot-11 Ezeli had his dinner and hotel room paid for by a Commodore alumnus, which is deemed a violation by the NCAA. The school self-reported the incident to the NCAA and SEC in August, and the verdict was handed down on Monday.

“I am very sorry and would never want to jeopardize my college career over such a petty thing as a meal or a hotel room,” the senior said in a statement released by the school. “I would have been able to afford those things myself. I have always tried to do the right thing; I should have known better and am embarrassed that my mistake could affect my team.”

Ezeli will return just in time for Vanderbilt to play one of its tougher non-conference foes, Xavier, on November 28.

“All of us are disappointed, especially Festus,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “He is always striving to do the right thing and cares a lot about the university, our program and certainly his teammates. He is allowed to practice and play in our exhibition game and we look forward to his return Nov. 28. Neither Festus nor I will be making any further comments on this matter and will direct all questions to Vice Chancellor David Williams.”

Ezeli started every one of the Commodore’s 34 games a season ago averaging 13 ppg. and better than six rebounds. His ply earned him a spot on the Pre-season Wooden Award watch list.

Rebel’s Holloway Cleared by NCAA, Awaiting SEC Clearance

As first reported by ESPN’s Andy Katz, Murphy Holloway has been granted a transfer waiver by the NCAA allowing him to suit up for Ole Miss this season.

Holloway then confirmed the news via Twitter.

“I’m bakkkk….. they freed me……yeaaaaaaaaaa. Olemiss basketball we on babeeee.”

Holloway is not out of the woods quite yet however, the SEC still has to agree to the waiver in order for him to be eligible.

The 6-foot-7 forward played his freshman and sophomore seasons in Oxford before transferring to South Carolina in order to take care of his daughter.

While sitting out last season Holloway decided to return to Andy Kennedy’s program, so he applied for the waiver to avoid having to sit out consecutive seasons.

As a sophomore he averaged just over 10 pointer per contest, while grabbing a team-high 7.6 rebounds.

UF’s Larson Reinstated by Donovan

Back in April both Cody Larson and Erik Murphy were both in handcuffs, now they are both once again part of the Gators men’s basketball team.

While Murphy was allowed to return to the team last month, Larson was reinstated last week by coach Billy Donovan after he avoided jail time, instead receiving two additional years of probation.

“Both guys were very embarrassed, had a great deal of sorrow and regret for what happened,” Donovan told Michael Dirocco of the Florida Times-Union. “I know that they as well as their families went through a lot personally over the last several months with what happened. I know they don’t want to represent themselves, their families and the program in that way. There were obviously some things disciplinary-wise that we had placed on them while the case was going on. But because it did take quite a bit of time for both of those guys, they have shown a lot of growth and development as people. I think it’s time for them to move on.”

Larson says he has grown from the situation and is hoping to move forward with the team now.

“I think I’ve learned a lot. Just kind of a self-exploration type of situation and I’ve been doing things now to help me and really help the team. That’s my main goal right now, just to pay the team back for what I did. I feel like I need to work as hard as I can every day and do the right stuff. Just have no excuse for anything,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry for what happened. I apologized to my team. I’ve apologized to my coach. I’m just ready to move on and get this season started.”

While the Gators are leaded in the backcourt, their frontcourt is thin after the losses of Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus, and Chandler Parson, so Larson could be counted on to play meaningful minutes alongside Patric Young and Murphy.

LSU’s First Game Free to Public

After two lackluster seasons in a row, the fan support is Baton Rouge has waned from the days of just three seasons ago when Marcus Thornton, Tasmin Mitchell, and Chris Johnson had LSU playing in the NCAA tournament.

Now the Tigers are trying to build some of that support back. The school announced that admission to the team’s home opener on November 12 will be free to the public.

The game against Nicholls State is scheduled to start at noon, but that is subject to change depending when the football game against Western Kentucky is set to kickoff, which will not be known until October 31st.

Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis, except for season ticket holders, who will be able to sit in their normal seats.

Gray Decommits from Mississippi State

Two months ago Josh Gray committed to the Bulldog’s because he fell in love with the coaching staff, now that relationship seems to be on the rocks.

While the 6-foot-1 point guard is still going to consider coach Rick Stansbury’s staff and Mississippi State, he decided to open up his recruitment over the weekend.

“Just me and my family wasn’t sure about the program,” Gray told “We just decided to open it back up. We’re still considering Mississippi State.”

Since making the decision to decommit, Gray has heard from Seton Hall, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, and Penn State.

He has visits planned to all of those schools planned, but still hoped to make a decision fast enough to sing in the early period.

“Hopefully I can make the decision early because I want to sign on the 14th,” he said. “But if I can’t sign on the 14th and take more time, I’ll just have to.”

“Tiger Madness” nets Auburn Two Commitments

Auburn coach Tony Barbee said “Tiger Madness” is a great event for the fans, turns out it was also great for the coaching staff.

Tony Barbee’s staff was able to secure two verbal commitments over the weekend from Jordon Granger and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum.

Granger a 6-foot-7 forward Missouri told Evan Woodbery of the auburn Bureau that his visit went exceptionally well.

“This weekend met my expectations and went beyond,” he said.

Granger, who hails from the same high school as Arkansas freshman B. J. Young, chose the Tigers over the Razorbacks, Missouri, and Detriot.

Dixon –Tatum, who started out playing at Grand Valley State, now plays at Chattahoochee Tech. He is a 6-foot-11 center prospect, originally from Indiana.

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