NCAA investigating former Kentucky player Eric Bledsoe

Per the NY Times

Two years ago, Eric Bledsoe was a star point guard without the grades to meet the N.C.A.A.’s minimum standards and needing to find a new high school. He solved both problems by moving to A. H. Parker High School and now, after one season at the University of Kentucky, he is awaiting a lucrative payday in next month’s N.B.A. draft.

The changes in Bledsoe’s academic and athletic prospects have attracted the attention of the N.C.A.A., which has sent investigators to at least three places in Alabama to ask about him. The N.C.A.A. does not talk about its investigations, and the scope of this one is unknown.

The report goes on to discuss interviews with people in Bledsoe’s life that may reveal potential violations:

Brenda Axle, the landlord for the house where Bledsoe and his mother moved for his senior year of high school, said that Bledsoe’s high school coach [Maurice Ford] paid her at least three months’ rent, or $1,200.

A copy of Bledsoe’s high school transcript from his first three years reveals that it would have taken an improbable academic makeover — a jump from about a 1.9 grade point average in core courses to just under a 2.5 during his senior year — for Bledsoe to achieve minimum N.C.A.A. standards to qualify for a scholarship.

A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother.

Uh-oh. If the coach’s assertions are true, and Ford did indeed demand money to “let Bledsoe sign with the university,” and Bledsoe eventually signed with John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats…well, then, you can connect the dots.

Trouble just follows Calipari around. I’m starting to think that it’s partly due to the kind of player he recruits. Calipari clearly doesn’t care about academics, so sometimes shady things go on to get his recruits eligible to play. In Bledsoe’s case, his GPA shot up after enrolling at A.H. Parker High School. Of course, this comes on the heels of the NCAA vacating Memphis’s trip to the 2008 Final Four because someone else actually took Derrick Rose’s SAT test during his senior year of high school.

This is party the NBA’s fault. The league’s age-limit rule forces kids that have no business going to college to enroll for a season, and that can lead to all sorts of shenanigans in trying to get a player eligible. We’re talking about a handful of players every year, but Rose and Bledsoe fall into that category. Both players would have been NBA draftees had they turned pro straight out of high school.


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Jon Stewart puts Duke’s win into perspective [video]

I like his reasoning…

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College basketball rules that (don’t) need to change

Sparty & Friends listed five rules in college basketball that need to change. I don’t have a problem with #2 (6-fouls to disqualification) or #3 (no passing the ball in the half court on out of bounds plays), so let’s focus on the other three:

1. Change to 48 minute games, divided up in quarters, with a 24 second shot clock – At first I wasn’t sure about this one, as most will usually complain that most sporting events are already too long in the first place. However, I reconsidered based on what my second rule change should be. An additional 8 minutes will not significantly impact the length of the game, especially if they were to eliminate stoppage timeouts every 4 minutes of playing time. They will have the two extra tv timeouts at the end of the quarters, which would help alleviate the advertising concern. A need for a 24 second clock would be needed to force teams to not milk the clock anymore than they already do. The cons of this would put teams with lack of depth, especially smaller schools in the tournament, at a disadvantage. To that I say tough noogies.

I object more to the 24-second shot clock than the four quarters idea, but I’d rather not see any of this happen. First, going to a 24-shot clock would only serve to make teams depend even more on the good ol’ on-ball screen that is already so prevalent in college hoops. In the NBA, the short shot clock leads to a lot of bad attempts — can you imagine what would happen in college with players that aren’t nearly as good? No, the 35-second shot clock is just fine. It allows offenses and plays to develop and generally results in good attempts. Plus, it rewards the best defenses that are able to defend for that duration.

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Will Brad Stevens stay put?

ESPN rumors reports on the possibility of Brad Stevens taking a job elsewhere.

Given that the school can’t afford to pay Stevens a top salary, it probably can’t make his buyout price high enough to faze a BCS-level school either.

One thing that’s working in the school’s favor is time. The run to the championship game means many schools that had Stevens in mind have already filled their positions. With Oliver Purnell going to DePaul and BC looking ready to hire Cornell’s Steve Donahue, Oregon and now Clemson are the only schools that can offer a world-beating financial package.

The Register-Guard reports that Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny was in Indianapolis this weekend and reportedly has his eye on Stevens:

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Coach K on why he told Zoubek to miss the second free throw

In his post game press conference, Mike Krzyzewski was asked about why he told Brian Zoubek to intentionally miss the second free throw, giving Butler an opportunity to win the game with a half-court shot. Here’s his response, via NewsObserver.com:

On the last thing, they didn’t have any timeouts left. And if he missed, I thought it would take a miracle shot, you know. Well, it almost did. But we were set up to guard it. And Pat made a good point. Really, they’re not gonna call it at that time. But Kyle got killed at halfcourt, you know. So they wouldn’t have got it without that, ’cause Kyle was on Hayward, which is pretty good for a press guy to see that stuff.

But they would have to take a halfcourt shot. And we were set up to guard that. And, you know, what the hell, it worked. You know, there are many things that you do during a ballgame. Whatever the consequences are, you take it.

The general consensus is that Zoubek should have made the free throw, giving his team a three-point lead. That way, the worst-case scenario is overtime. Butler was out of timeouts, so there wasn’t an opportunity for Brad Stevens to draw up a play — they would have to go with whatever play they ran in practice. With 3.5 seconds on the clock, there was enough time for Gordon Hayward to get off a decent attempt.

But hey — it worked. If Zoubek hits the free throw, it’s possible that Butler completes a long pass and someone gets a good look at a game-tying three. Now the game is in overtime and Duke could very well lose.


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