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Inside the SEC: Nov. 1

1 Nov

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

SEC Media Day Recap

Justin Young already gave us a rundown of some of the memorable quotes from SEC basketball media day, which you can check out here and here.

But here are some more that are most SEC fans will find interesting. Continue reading

Questions, questions, so many SEC questions

25 Oct

Is this the year where Vanderbilt makes it to the Final Four? (PHOTO: Getty Images)

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

With the talent abound in the SEC this year and high expectations for teams involved, there are bound to be questions surrounding the league. What are they? Well, we dive into them. Continue reading

Inside the SEC: Oct. 25

25 Oct

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

This week a look at the preseason media awards, where SEC schools fell in the coaches poll, four freshmen on Wayman Tisdale award list and more. Continue reading

Projecting the SEC

24 Oct

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

The SEC is heavy at the top, solid in the middle and the bottom has a number of teams that could fit the sleeper mode. So what does that mean exactly? A fun and unpredictable year in the league. Here’s the National Hoops Report crack at how we think the league will finish up. Continue reading

NHR Preseason All SEC teams

24 Oct

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

The SEC has some of the top teams in college basketball this season. With that, some of the nation’s best players are in the league, too. The National Hoops Report rolls out our preseason picks for all-conference in the league. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Inside the SEC: Oct. 4

4 Oct

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

Two Former Tennessee Assistants Unhappy with Pearl

When Tennessee decided to fire Bruce Pearl and the rest of the men’s basketball staff, Pearl was awarded a $1 million buyout, his assistants on the other hand were not so lucky.

The embattled coach spent the summer vacationing, before landing a high-paying job with a wholesaler in Knoxville.

It’s not the money that has former assistants Steve Forbes and Jason Shay upset, it the way they have been treated by Pearl.

The Volunteer’s former assistants Tony Jones, Forbes, and Shay were all able to find jobs, but none to the caliber of their posts at Tennessee. Jones is the boy’s high school basketball coach and physical education teacher at Alcoa High School. Forbes is the head coach at Northwest Florida State, where Shay is his assistant.

When they were relieved of their duties, they were awarded four months pay.

“Bruce Pearl is a friend of mine,” Jones told GoVolsXtra.com “I felt he took care of the staff when we worked together, and he did the best he could in giving us a fair severance.”

Jana Shay, the wife of Jason, had a differing view of the situation.

“From his end, it’s business. That was a lesson I had to learn, I guess,” she told Gary Parrish of CBSSpoints.com, who some time with Shay and Forbes in Florida. “I think Bruce tells people he did the best he could for us, and those who don’t know him probably believe that. I just don’t know that I believe that totally.”

“At one point in the discussion, they weren’t going to get any severance; I had to fight for it. I wasn’t happy with the settlements, either, but it was the best I could do,” Pearl told GoVolsXtra. “When families break up, it’s sad that sometimes these things can happen,’’ Pearl said Wednesday. “Jason and Jana expected more from the university and they expected more from me, and obviously they are disappointed.’’

Steve Forbes, who earns a salary of $60,000 at his new position, is facing financial issues as well as having to deal with his family being split.

Forbes, who has been unable to sell or rent his home in Knoxville, is facing foreclosure.

“My family is split up for the first time ever,” he told CBSSports.com. “My daughter is a senior at Tennessee. She lived at home with us. But now we don’t have her because we don’t live there anymore.”

Both Forbes and Shay have expressed the idea that they had no choice by to tell the whole truth to the NCAA about the now infamous Aaron Craft barbeque photo, for fear of losing their job and more importantly their career.

“You do that in this business and you are done,” Forbes to CBSSports.com. “Blackballed. You’re not loyal.”

Jones, Forbes, and Shay will all be able to try to get back into the division one ranks in the 2012-2013 season, when their one-year show cause penalty expires.

Vanderbilt’s Tinsley, Ezeli, and Tchiengang Talk Progress On and Off the Court

Three of Vanderbilt’s key returning players from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, Brad Tinsley, Festus Ezeli, and Steve Tchiengang have all had offseason injury issues. The three seniors all gave Jeff Lockridge of Vanderbilt Insider an update on their status.

Tinsley, who averaged just over ten points a contest a year ago, suffered a broken bone in his right hand in August during a pickup game.

“It was the first Friday we were here (back at school in August). I had just flown in from home. We were playing our first pickup games, and it was on a play where me and Jeff jumped and I tried to make a drop pass and my hand hit his thigh.”

Tinsley is positive that the setback has actually helped his development.

“It’s actually been a blessing in disguise because my left hand is now a hundred times better. I’ve been doing a lot of dribbling, a lot of passing left-handed … I’ve been screwing around shooting lefty, too … but a lot of core stuff and running. My left-handed dribbling has come a long way. I wouldn’t say it was a weakness, but it was definitely something I needed to get better at. Anytime you can strengthen your off hand, it’s a lot better than not. If you can go both ways just as strong, it makes you a better player.”

Ezeli, who is coming off and All-SEC season, had surgery on his right knee over the summer to repair a ruptured patella tendon.

“The surgery went well. The (rehab) now, it’s just normal stuff that you go through after you have surgery to try to get your explosion back,” he said. Adding his knee is “almost back” to 100 percent.

Ezeli, who averaged 13 points and 6.3 rebounds as a junior, said he is working hard on in the post area as well as trying to expand his game.

“People know I’m going to be in the post, so I’ve been working on that, trying to refine that a little more. I’ve been working on a little bit of a jump shot to give more opportunities for other players to drive in there and have more diversity on the team – more of a variety of offense for the team.”

Tchiengang, a reserve forward, is still recovering ankle surgery he underwent in July. He hopes to return by the beginning of the season, but he unsure if that will be the case.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to put a number on it, but I have awhile to go. My goal is to be ready (when the season starts). That’s the goal of the whole training staff to try to get me there right on time so I can get some practices in before the season. I haven’t done much with the team aside from lifting (weights) and meetings, so I need to be on the court and work with the guys.”

Andy Kennedy Talks Team with Jon Rothstein

College basketball insider Jon Rothstein recently caught up with Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy to talk about the 2011-2012 version of the Rebels. Rothstein posted a portion of the interview on his Twitter account.

The first major challenge that the Bulldogs will have to overcome is dealing with the loss of Chris Warren. Warren was the team’s leading scorer a season ago at 19 points per game.

So far Kennedy thinks the process is going smoothly.

“I’ve seen a noticeable change in our demeanor because we don’t have one guy who is so dominant with the ball,” he said. “People are recognizing that they all have to be involved on every possession. It’s encouraging to see.”

With Warren and second leading scorer Zach Graham gone the Rebels will have to rely heavily on the frontcourt for production. Reginald Buckner and Terrance Henry will be the “backbone” of the team according to Kennedy.

Buckner, a junior, racked up a team-best 50 blocks as a sophomore. He also averaged better than six points and six rebounds per contest.

“He is the leading shot blocker in the history of our program,” Kennedy said. “He stops things for us at the rim.”

Kennedy can already see a difference in the attitude of senior Henry, saying he has “a sense of urgency.”

Mississippi’s front court could be getting even stronger if the NCAA clears Murphy Holloway. Kennedy said that the NCAA is yet to rule on his eligibility, but should do so by October 14th.  Holloway, who played for the Rebels as a freshman and sophomore, decided to leave the program and transfer to South Carolina. However, after just one season in Columbia Holloway decided he wanted to once again be a Rebel. He last played in the 2009-2010 season, when he tallied more than 10 points a contest, while grabbing 7.6 rebounds.

Talented freshman Jalen Kendrick, who left Memphis before ever playing a game, will be able to suit up at the end of the first semester.

Dundrecous Nelson, who help take over for Warren at the guard spot, role will be greatly expanded form his freshman season.

“His talent has never been in question,” Kennedy said. “Now that he has the opportunity, he just has to maximize it.”

Kentucky “would be UCLA” if No One-and-Done rule, According to Calipari

While speaking at a coach’s clinic at Rutgers University Friday, Kentucky coach John Calipari expressed in words what all Wildcat fans have been daydreaming about since his arrival in Lexington.

“Could you imagine if I had these guys three and four years? It would be UCLA,” Calipari said, at the clinic was to help raise money for In Brayden’s Eyes, The Brayden Carr Foudation, which is in honor of Rutgers’ assistant coach Jim Carr’s son, who lost his battle against cancer.

The Big Blue Nation could only dream about the possibility of John Wall and Brandon Knight in the backcourt, or how last year’s Final Four matchup with Connecticut would have ended if DeMarcus Cousin was still patrolling the paint.

In his first two seasons Calipari has had five so called “one-and-dones”, including Wall, Knight, Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and Daniel Orton. The number would be six if you include Turkish center Enes Kanter, who enrolled at Kentucky but was never ruled eligible.

While bringing in another stellar recruiting class that could feature several more players that could leave after one season in a Wildcat uniform, Calipari once again stated he is not a fan of the rule.

“People that say, ‘Well, he likes one-and-done.’ I hate one-and-done. Why would I want one-and-done?” he said. “I’m getting guys, I’d like to have them four years. We’d win a whole lot of games. But that’s not the rule so now we end up losing three and four and five and maybe six this year to the NBA.  If you’re happy for the kids, you just try to figure it out later.”

SEC Well Represented On Pre-Season Wooden Award List

The John Wooden Award watch list was announced on Monday and seven players from the conference have made the list of 50.

Vanderbilt lead the way with three players in John Jenkins, Festus Ezeli, and Jeffrey Taylor. Mississippi State’s Dee Bost, Florida’s Patric Young, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, and Alabama’s JaMychal Green also made the list, that does not include freshman or transfers.

ESPN’s Andy Katz had opposing coaches break down every player on the list, here is what was said about the players from the SEC.

John Jenkins-“He is the best shooter in the SEC and maybe the nation. He puts it down some, too, but is just deadly when he has a good look.”

Festus Ezeli-“He might have the best chance at a long career of anyone in the league. He is older and a legit NBA center.”

Jeffrey Taylor-“He benefits from being surrounded by great players. But he also suffers because he is talented enough to be a lead role player.”

Dee Bost-“He has terrific physical skills. He probably should have stayed in the draft two years ago, because he would have made a team.”

Patric Young-“He was as physical of a freshman as this league has seen. He is going to be in a bigger role this season.”

Terrence Jones-“Jones is a dynamic player who does his damage in a lot of ways. The added year of experience will make him a player of the year candidate.”

JaMychal Green-“Green is an athletic, front-line player who likely will get more touches this year. He has always been very versatile.”

Auburn’s Barbee Hires Former Teammate

Auburn head coach Tony Barbee announced that Harper Williams has been added to the program as an administrative assistant.

“I am very excited about Harper joining our Auburn basketball program,” Barbee said in a statement. “My relationship with Harper goes back to when he was a college teammate of mine at UMass. Harper comes to Auburn with a wealth of basketball knowledge having played and coached professionally for 17 seasons.”

The two played together at UMass for four years, in one of those years, 1992, Williams was names Atlantic 10 player of the year. He was inducted to UMass Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.

His professional career came to an end in 2010 after one year in France.

USC’s Harris Injures Foot

South Carolina’s Demontre Harris became the just the latest player from the SEC to suffer an offseason injury.

Harris, who sustained an undisclosed foot injury according to reports, joins Kentucky’s Jon Hood and Vanderbilt’s Brad Tinsley as players to get injured during workouts. Hood tore his ACL, while Tinsely broke a bone in his right hand.

The 6-foot-9 Harris, who averaged 3.7 points and 36 rebounds as a freshman, is expected to be reevaluated my doctors next week to determine the extent of the damage.

McGary Cancels UK, Updates Recruitment

Mitch McGary, the number one ranked power forward in the 2012 class, was scheduled to attend Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness later this month, but that is not the case any longer, according to his blog post on ESPN.com.

“As far as more visits, I don’t think I’ll be making any. I’m not gonna go to Kentucky’s Midnight Madness, I feel like I have all the information that I need to start to think about a decision,” he wrote. “Within the next month I hope to have a decision made.”

Most recruiting analysts believe Michigan is in the lead for the big man, but he said he has no leaders at this point.

“I know there are a lot of rumors out there that I’ve already committed to certain schools, but I can honestly tell you guys that I don’t know where I want to go. I have not committed anywhere so that’s just not true.”

While he mostly discussed what he like about Duke, Michigan, and North Carolina extensively, McGary did say he like what Florida coach Billy Donovan was saying.

“Also, Coach (Billy) Donovan was up here a couple weeks ago and he’s done a really good job showing me what he’s done in the last few years developing talent. I really like what he’s been saying.”

Inside the SEC: Sept. 20

20 Sep

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

Calipari Commits Violation Unheralded Recruit

Other than conference realignment, it has been a relatively quiet few months on the college hoops scene, and a least one college coach has an explanation  telling  Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com that Kentucky coach John Calipari was out of the country.

 http://twitter.com/#!/GoodmanCBS/status/114136832752619521

Calipari, who spent spent several weeks in Argentina coaching the Dominican Republic’s national team, is back in the United States and once again creating news.

Late last week, Yahoo!’s Prep Rally reported that Calipari had committed a “bump” violation on July 15th when he shook hands with Austin Kyles after a game at the ScoutsFocus Super 60 Sowcase.

A “bump” which characterized by any face-to-face contact between a Division 1 coach and player during the non-contact period, is considered a seconday violation by the NCAA and rarely has sever ramifications.

“After the game, Calipari shook his hand and said, ‘Great game,'” Dr. Kyles told Prep Rally. “I think he was just acknowledging, ‘Hey, this kid is holding down my senior.’”

The act is not all that of an uncommon occurrence in July, what makes this interaction between Kyles and Calipari interesting is the fact Kentucky is not recruiting the 6-foot-7 forward, who attends high school in South Carolina. Calipari was at the game to watch Devonta Pollard, who the Wildcats are heavily involved with.

Calipari declined comment Friday night to ESPN’s Andy Katz.

Arkansas, Kentucky Recruit Changes Mind Not Once But Twice

Super shooting guard Archie Goodwin caught both college coaches and recruiting analysts off guard last Wednesday, when he tweeted his decision may come in the next week or so.

http://twitter.com/#!/A1Laflare10/status/114119856453992448

But after just a several hours the 6-foot-4 Little Rock native tweeted that he had decided he was going to go with original plan of signing in the spring.

http://twitter.com/#!/A1Laflare10/status/114190979917029377

In an interview with National Hoops Report in mid-June, Goodwin’s AAU coach Ron Crawford said the plan for the number 12 overall player by Rivals.com was to sign in the late period.

Goodwin announced on Twitter Monday that he will not consider Kansas or Connecticut as college options, and while Memphis is still in the mix most believe it will come down to either Arkansas or Kentucky. Goodwin played this summer with the Arkansas Wings, a program that produced three member Mike Anderson’s first recruiting class in Fayetteville. Although, Hunter said that will not play into Goodwin’s decision.

“He told us even though he has played with current Razorback signees Aaron Ross, Hunter Mickelson, and Ky Madden with our Arkansas Wings Elite Team that will not be a part of the decision making process, he respected their decision and knows they will respect his.”

The timing of the tweets has led some to believe that they have been in reaction to Kentucky’s in-home visit with consensus number Shabazz Muhammed. After the visit, Muhammed said the Calipari had told him he was the Wildcats number one priority and they wanted him to play shooting guard, his preferred position, in college.

Could the tide be shifting be shifting once again with Mr. Goodwin, Monday night he tweeted “It’s getting close to decision time.”

Florida’s Larson Makes Plea Deal

Florida’s Cody Larson now knows the outcome form his criminal trespassing charges, however his status on the Gators basketball team is still to be determined.

According to the Florida Time-Union part of the 6-foot-9 forward’s agreement will be to complete 200 hours of community service, attend any recommended drug treatment and go through drug evaluation program, pay the victim $240 and write them a letter of apology, pay an addition $200 in prosecution and other charges, and not consume alcohol of any other drug.

Larson may still have to server jail time however, for violating his probation of a previous arrest in South Dakota.

Erik Murphy, who was arrested with Larson on April 2, was reinstated to the men’s basketball team last week, but Billy Donovan has not spoken about Larson’s status since suspending him indefinitely following the arrest.

Ellis Set to Make Decision

One of the most sought after prospects in the county, Perry Ellis, will be making his college decision this week.

Ellis, a 6-foot-8 forward from Wichita, Kansas will be making his decision at 3:45 eastern time on Wednesday.

The three-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas has his list narrowed down to Kentucky and three in-state schools: Kansas, Kansas State, and Wichita State.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was the last coach to conduct an in-home visit with Ellis last week.

Both Kentucky and Kansas both were in attendance for nearly every single game Ellis played in during July.

He is rated #24 by Rivals, #33 by Scout, and #37 by ESPN.

Inside the SEC: September 6

6 Sep

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

Hart Named UT Athletic Director

After nearly a three month search, Tennessee has a new Athletic Director. Chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced that the school had hired Dave Hart to replace Mike Hamilton, Monday afternoon.

“I am very pleased to have Dave as our new vice chancellor and director of athletics,” Cheek said. “He has extensive experience as an athletics director, and he has the passion and drive to lead our great athletics program”

Hart, who worked under Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore the past several years, was the AD at Florida State from 1995 to 2007, a time when the Seminoles athletic budget more than doubled.

“I want to thank Chancellor Cheek, and all of those involved in this process for their confidence and commitment” Hart said. “I am anxious to demonstrate my passion for Tennessee and the Volunteer Nation.”

Not only will Hart inherit a basketball team on probation and a football team still recovering from the Lane Kiffin era, but he will also be the first AD to be over both men’s and women’s sports at UT.

Interim AD Joan Cronan was over the women’s department before taking over for Hamilton, but is stepping away from those duties next June to become an advisor to the chancellor for two years before retiring.

Hopson Signs with to Play in Greece

Ever since not being taken in the NBA Draft, Scotty Hopson has been waiting on the right opportunity to continue his basketball career.

The former All-SEC selection from Tennessee thinks he has found just that with Kolossos Rhodes, a top level Greek team.

“This deal gives me an opportunity to jump-start my career in a great place,” Hopson said in an interview with GoVolsXtra. “I’ve had a few offers over the past month, but I wanted to wait for the right one. I’ve been getting feedback from my agent and other guys who have played overseas, as far as what would be good for me.”

Hopson averaged 17 points and 3.3 rebounds in his final year with the Volunteers.

Tennessee Gets First Commitment of 2012

Some recruits fear competition, some look at it as an opportunity to get better. Derek Reese is definitely the latter.

The 6-foot-7 forward from Orlando, Florida verbally committed to play for the Volunteers last week, saying he wanted to be play at the highest level.

“Every kid when they first start playing basketball wants to play at the best level. That’s what Tennessee does,” Reese told the Orlando-Sentinel last week. . “They play against the best teams.”

The fact that Tennessee was not facing any other penalties than those self-imposed by the University eased Reese’s mind about the decision.

“That bothered me a little bit because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” the Olympia senior said. “As I found out, they’re just going to be on probation, they’re going to be okay. It was the other coaching staff that was really in trouble, not this coaching staff. It doesn’t bother me at all now.”

While the Volunteers were the only SEC school to have offered Reese a scholarship, his AAU teammate Reggie Tucker has no doubts he will succeed.

“He’ll blossom in the SEC under Coach (Cuonzo) Martin; he fits into that philosophy and system well,” Tucker told GoVolsXtra.com.

Rated a 3-star prospect by Rivals.com, Reese had trimmed his list to the Volunteers, Georgia Southern, James Madison, and UCF.

Kentucky Has BIG Recruiting Weekend on Tap

Coach John Calipari and the Wildcats have no verbal commitments for the 2012 class or any class for that matter, but don’t think Kentucky’s recruiting prowess has diminished just yet.

When college basketball officially kicks off on October 15th , Coach Cal and staff will have quite the list of visitors on Lexington for Big Blue Madness.

As of now there are 10 confirmed visitors, but Scout.com’s Evan Daniels thinks a few more names might join the group, that already includes: Shabazz Mohammed (2012), Dejuan Coleman (2012), Archie Goodwin (2012), Willie Cauley (2012), T.J. Warren (2012), Alex Poythress (2012), Andrew Harrison (2013), Aaron Harrison (2013), Chris Walker (2013), and Dakari Johnson (2014).

“They’re not done yet, either,” Daniels told Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal. “There’s a couple names that I’m not allowed to put out there yet, but I’ve talked to some AAU coaches for guys who want to be there.”

None of the ten players listed are ranked lower than 28th in their respective class, leading Daniels to call the gathering of the best he can remember for a Madness event.

“It’s shaping up to be arguably the best list of Midnight Madness visitors that I’ve ever seen. Anybody that they’re recruiting, it appears they’re getting in for Midnight Madness,” he said “Kentucky fans are going to sell (Madness) out and it’s always a big-time atmosphere. Calipari seems to do everything big, and this is huge. This is classic Calipari.”

Inside the SEC: August 30

30 Aug

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

Mississippi State Freshman Gardner Dismissed

While some coaches are banning their teams from using Twitter, others are bypassing that step all together and just kicking off players for popping off on the social media site.

It was just six months ago that Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury banned his players from using Twitter after Ravern Johnson fired off tweet criticizing the coaching staff, but the Bulldog head man decided to lift the ban after the season ended.

However, after last Thursday night on thing is almost guaranteed, the Twitter ban is back in full effect.

Incoming freshman D.J. Gardner sent out this rated-R tweet after feeling that the coaching staff lied to him during the recruiting process, leading to him being red-shirted.

“These b***es tried to f**k me over.. That’s y I red shirted .. But I wish my homies a great as* season.. I don’t even know y I’m still here”

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard did have to wonder about his future much longer, as Stansbury made that decision for the former four-star recruit deciding to dismiss him from the Bulldog program for what was termed “repeated action deemed detrimental to the team”

Gardner had talked to the coaching staff about possibly wanting to red-shirt the upcoming season before the teams trip to Europe, after learning he was not likely to play as much as the coach had promised during his recruitment.

“It’s like they sold him a dream,” said Angela Gardner, D.J.’s mother said.

Gardner’s mother was not exactly thrilled with the timing of the decision, since she had planned to talk to the coaching staff this week about her son’s future.

“I was told no decision would be made until November about D.J. being redshirted,” she told Brandon Marcello of The Clarion-Ledger “Imagine my surprise when I saw it come across Channel 9 news.”

Thursday night’s tweet was not the first time that Gardner lashed out on the social site, back in June he tweeted the following:

“Call em and tell more… I can’t stand liars and that’s all they did since I started being recruited.. R.I.p. To that contract I signed.”

From day one in Starkville, Gardner was not happy and was considering a transfer after his freshman season according to his mother.

“He got there and realized what he was told was a lie,” she said. “I told him to tough it out, play hard and we had entertained the idea of staying there his freshman year and transferring. We had entertained the idea because he was not happy at State.”

While a final destination is not known at this time, Angela did say that her son would enroll at another school this fall.

NCAA Lenient on Tennessee; Hammers Pearl

The Tennessee Basketball program escaped any further punishment from the NCAA last Wednesday, but former Volunteer coach Bruce Pearl was not so lucky.

New coach Cuonzo Martin will only have to deal with the schools self-imposed penalties of two years probation, set to start Wednesday, and some minor recruiting restrictions.

Pearl, on the other hand, was handed a stiff 3 year show-cause penalty. The show-cause does not make it impossible for Pearl to get a job with another NCAA institution during the three year period, but it hinders his chances severely.

During the three year period, Pearl is banned from recruiting, and if another institution wanted to hire him they would have to go before the NCAA and tell them what their reasoning for wanting to hire the embattled coach.

While pleased that Tennessee would not face any further punishment, Pearl wasn’t as happy about his own fate.

“I am pleased and relieved the University of Tennessee received no further penalties,” he said. “I accept responsibility for my actions, but I am disappointed with the length of the show-cause penalty.”

Tony Jones, Steve Forbes, and Jason Shay, Pearl’s assistants, were also hit with a show-cause penalty, but theirs is much less severe lasting only one year.

One thing that remained out of the 21 page infraction report was the supposed major violation committed by Pearl and Tony Jones, when they were accused of having  incidental contact, known as a bump, with a recruit at Oak Hill Academy. The accusation, which was in the Letter of Allegations sent to the school, played a key role in the staff being fired.

“The final straw for our coaching staff, according to UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek, was the alleged bump (violation) heard around the world, and it wasn’t even in the report and the Committee on Infractions deemed it not to be a violation at all,” said an unhappy Jones, who is now the head coach at Alcoa High School. “I’m sure that makes the Vol Nation have a lot of confidence in Chancellor Cheek, who never even bothered to meet with our coaching staff.”

Kentucky’s Vargas Cut From Dominican National Team

New Dominican National Team coach John Calipari said it is never easy to cut players from a roster, but his latest decision must have been one of the toughest for the coach.

Calipari was forced to cut one of his players from the University of Kentucky, Eloy Vargas, last week when the Dominican roster had to be trimmed from 15 to 12.

“I’ve talked with Eloy and he fully understands the decision. He will be coming home this weekend to prepare for his senior season with his teammates at Kentucky. Eloy has enjoyed a great experience with this Dominican team. He was a really a great teammate and gained valuable experience during his three weeks,”  Calipari said in a statement released on his website CoachCal.com “Eloy was going against veterans like Al Horford and Charlie Villanueva and Jack Michael Martinez. He held his own, but these guys have been playing in the pro leagues for years. When everybody is so close, you’ve got to look at it as we need three big men, we need three point guards and we need to fill out the roster from there. Eloy understands the decision, and what I think he’s done and what I told him is he’s probably cemented his spot on the national team for years to come.”

Vargas averaged 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds a contest in his junior campaign at Kentucky.

Gamecocks Score Florida Pair

Ian Baker and Carlos “Squirrel” Morris have already played together on two different teams, Wednesday night they decided to make it three.

The pair who attend Arlington County Day in Jacksonville, Florida and run with the Dwight Howard Warriors AAU program committed to play for coach Darrin Horn and South Carolina in 2012.

While the two made the call to the Gamecock coaching staff together, it was Baker that pulled the trigger first.

“It was down to Providence and South Carolina — and Kris Dunn committed to Providence this morning — and I felt like I was South Carolina’s guy,” Baker told GamecockAnthem.com “So I just went ahead and did it.

The news that Baker, a 6-foot-1 point guard, had decided on South Carolina, was all the convincing that Morris needed.

“It just felt like it was time for it so I called Squirrel and asked him if he was ready to do this and he said he was and the rest was history,” Baker told the BigSpur.com

Morris is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who has a knack for getting to the rim and scoring the ball, while Baker thinks brings toughness to the table.

“I think I do a great job of scoring the ball,” Morris said. “I will do whatever they want me to do though. If they want me to rebound, that is what I will do, if they want me scorer, I can do that. I will be a team player and do what it takes to make this a winning program.”

“My winning ways,” Baker said. “I just want to win so I am going to do my best to bring that attitude to the program. I also think my toughness takes me a long way. You can’t teach toughness so that is an area that can benefit the program.”

Graham Goes with Gators

Dillion Graham has always dreamed of donning the blue and orange and playing for Florida, Tuesday the 6-foot-4 guard made his dream a reality.

“I told Coach Donovan it’s my dream school,” Graham told The Orlando Sentinel “It’s the place where I’ve always wanted to play college basketball.”

The Orlando native, who held offers from the likes of SMU, Liberty, and Jacksonville as well as others, exploded on the national scene this summer due to his play on the Florida Rams. It was not long after the summer evaluation period began that the high-major offers began to roll in, and by the end of the summer Graham had quite the list of suitors, including Louisville, Florida State, Kansas State, as well as the Gators.

All it took for Graham to make his decision was a trip to Gainesville, which occurred last Thursday.

“I wanted to see them work out and get to know the players a little bit,” he said. “I pretty much committed that day. I just needed to come back home and talk it over with my parents.”

Florida, Kentucky Recruit Shatters Backboard

Mitch McGary didn’t walk away from the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game with the MVP trophy, in fact he didn’t even play in the game, but he didn’t walk away from the game empty handed.

The 6-foot-10 power forward, rated the number three prospect in the 2012 class by Rivals.com, displayed some of his raw power Saturday night, destroying one the backboards. The show of strength not only earned McGary a spot on almost every college basketball website in the country, but a new nickname and a trip to the hospital.

In an interview with ESPN’s Dave Telep following the incident, McGary said the rest of the players at the event had given him the nickname “White Chocolate” because “I’m the only white kid here” but changed it to “White Thunder” after breaking the backboard.

After delaying his trip to the hospital so he could watch the game, the Brewster Academy senior received 37 stitches to close a cut in his left shoulder.

McGary recently cut his list to six which includes Kentucky and Florida. Michigan, Maryland, Duke, and North Carolina round out the list.  He already visited Florida, and plans to take a trip to Lexington in the near future.