Tag Archives: Inside the SEC

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

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. 11

11 Oct

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

“Madness” Festivities Kick-Off Season on Friday

The start of the college basketball season is nearly here, and teams can officially start practice this Friday. Nine teams from the SEC will get straight to work on Friday, while three schools Kentucky, Auburn, and Mississippi State have opted to have one more night of fun before getting down to business.

The three schools will all have some sort of “Madness” event on Friday night, giving their fans of preview of what to expect in the upcoming season.

Kentucky’s annual “Big Blue Madness”, which sold out Rupp Arena in just over ten minutes, will highlight both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Both teams will go throw drills and finish up with an intra-squad scrimmage.

Auburn’s “Tiger Hoops Madness” will include everything from an autograph session to a dunk contest. Both the men’s and women’s teams will also play an intra-squad scrimmage.

“It’s a great way to welcome back the guys and meet the new players,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “Get there early for a seat.”

While Kentucky and Auburn will focus solely on basketball, Mississippi State’s “Maroon Madness” will be an evening long affair.

The first activity will be the annual “Pumkinapalooza,” which is the football’s annual pep rally before playing South Carolina, in downtown Starkville. After the pep rally is over, Bulldog fans will be encouraged to attend the volleyball team’s match against Kentucky, in an attempt to set a new SEC attendance record. At the conclusion of the volleyball game, the basketball teams will get their shot on the floor of Humphrey Coliseum.

“There’s a lot of hype going into the basketball season,” the Director of Athletic Marketing, Chris Thomas said. “It’s the 100th year of basketball, so we really want to do something to kick off the season in true-maroon fashion.”

In an attempt to make sure The Hump is rocking Friday night, Mississippi State is giving away and iPad 2, courtside seats to a non-conference game, and $500 book scholarship.

Alabama’s Grant Talks New Faces; Gueye Injury Update

Not many coaches have the luxury of having JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell playing in the same frontcourt, but it isn’t all going to be easy for Alabama coach Athony Grant, who  will have to bring six newcomers into the mix as well.

Alabama’s high profile recruiting class featured shooting guards Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, and Rodney Cooper, point guard Retin Ojomoh, and centers Nick Jacobs and Moussa Gueye.

“We have got a lot of new faces. We have six new guys that need to learn the system, expectations, and each other,” Grant told Don Kausler Jr. last week before a speaking engagement. “We have to be able to blend the guys, who are returning, with the newcomers in a very quick order. But that is no different than any other college team is facing right now.”

Once practice starts on Friday, the Crimson Tide will have just over three weeks before their first exhibition game against Alabama-Huntsville. The first regular season game will be just four days later against North Florida.

Gueye, a 7-footer from Lake Land College, tore his ACL just after arriving in Tuscaloosa is a pickup game.

“I’m not a doctor, so it is really hard for me to judge where his is at, but I think he is progressing as expected,” Grant said. “And for his sake I hope he is able to continue on that path to a full recovery.”

Grant hope that the Gueye will be able to play later in the season, but he said it is too early to tell if that will be the case.

“It is way premature for me to even talk anything about that,” he said. “The biggest issue is getting him healthy, where he needs to be from a physical standpoint.”

Calipari Thinks Kentucky Is One Program State

Ever since arriving in Lexington, Kentucky coach John Calipari has not wasted a chance to throw a shot at the University of Louisville or Rick Pitino, but his latest jab may be the biggest yet.

While visiting the fans waiting in line for “Big Blue Madness” tickets, Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports TV caught up with Calipari to talk about how unique Kentucky basketball is.

“It’s a unique thing,” Calipari said. “There’s no other state, none, that’s as connected to their basketball program as this one. Because those other states have other programs. Michigan has Michigan State, California has UCLA, North Carolina has Duke. It’s Kentucky throughout this whole state, and that’s what makes us unique.”

Louisville coach Rick Pitino obviously didn’t like the statement and offered a not-so-subtle jab at Calipari in return.

“Four things I have learned about people in my 59 years about people. I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant, and I ignore the paranoid,” Pitino told Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com. “If the shoe fits anyone. Wear it.”

The two sides will play their annual meeting on December 31st at Rupp Arena.

Gamecocks’ Harris Out Four Weeks

South Carolina sophomore forward Demontre Harris is out four weeks after suffering a right big two sprain a little over a week ago.

The 6-foot-9 forward sustained the injury in a pickup game on September 30th.

Like the rest of the college basketball, the Gamecocks will begin practice on Friday, but their first regular season game is not until November 15th against Elon, so it doesn’t appear that Harris will miss any games. He could, however, miss the team’s two exhibition games against Kentucky Wesleyan and Western Carolina.

No Jail For Florida’s Larson

It appears as if Cody Larson is one step closer to rejoining the Florida men’s basketball team.

Larson will not have to serve any jail time for a violating his probation, when he and fellow Gator Erik Murphy were arrested in April. Instead he will face two more years of probation and his license is suspended for 120 days. He is also not allowed to consume alcohol or any other controlled substance.

Murphy was reinstated to the team last month, but Florida coach Billy Donovan refused to comment at that time.

Sina Opens Up recruitment

Jaren Sina, one of the better point guards in the class of 2013, is back on the market after de-committing from Alabama.

“Yes, I de-committed,” the 6-foot-1 guard from New Jersey told Zagsblog.com

According to reports, Sina was just not sure about his decision to join the Crimson Tide and wanted to check out his other options.

“I visited the campus a couple times and I still have a good relationship with the coaches and everything. I want to have the opportunity to get a better look at some other schools and some other options just to compare it to.”

While Alabama is still among his list of suitors, that list now also includes Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. Johns, and Cincinnati, among others.

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.


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.


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.


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: August 24

24 Aug

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

With school starting around the SEC, the National Hoops Report takes a look at some housekeeping notes from around the SEC. Continue reading

Inside the SEC: August 14

14 Aug

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

One SEC team is having continued success in Europe, one school lost a key player, two schools landed important commitments and the world is learning what we already know – John Jenkins can flat out shoot. Continue reading

Inside the SEC: August 9

9 Aug

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

One SEC school is finding success overseas this summer, the league is represented in USA Basketball, one school loses another player to transfer and a ton of summer recruiting news from around the SEC. Continue reading

Inside the SEC: August 2

2 Aug

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

Believe it or not but college basketball is right around the corner. To get you ready for the SEC, we look at the top 10 best non-conference games in the league. Also, news about a huge transfer for the conference and which SEC players are still in the mix for the World University Games.  Continue reading

Inside the SEC: July 12

12 Jul

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

College coaches are bouncing around the country recruiting this month. Where did coaches from the SEC go and who did they watch? We know. A big transfer, a coaching move, a big injury and a new name all highlight this week’s Inside the SEC. Continue reading