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The Week In Review (Week of May 23)

With a hat-tip to VUHoops reader, Ramon Usategui, Yahoo.com reports that "Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun and the men's basketball program he took from obscurity to national titles have been accused of eight major NCAA infractions, with investigators citing hundreds of improper calls and texts from UConn coaching staff to recruits. The accusations also include giving recruits improper benefits and improperly distributing free tickets to high school coaches and others. Calhoun is cited for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Recruiting violations can devastate a program. Most recently, Indiana overhauled its famous basketball program — from which it hasn't recovered — after former coach Kelvin Sampson was forced out in February 2008 when more than 100 impermissible calls to recruits came to light. Sampson had already been sanctioned for recruiting violations while he was the coach at Oklahoma.

With a hat tip to VUHoops reader Nick ’09, the New York Times reports that "former Kentucky star point guard, Eric Bledsoe, lacked the grades to meet the NCAA’s minimum standards and needed 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.. But Bledsoe’s academic makeover and the extra benefits he apparently received could be another blow to Kentucky Coach John Calipari, who led teams at Massachusetts and Memphis that had their records and Final Four appearances expunged after rules violations were found under his watch."

The Chicago Tribune reported a couple weeks back that "NBA power broker William Wesley continues to work back channels to sell John Calipari and LeBron James as a package deal to franchises such as the Bulls, Nets and Clippers with coaching vacancies and salary cap room. Another league source confirmed that an unknown Calipari connection contacted Bulls management in mid-May. This once again renders the coach's vows to remain at Kentucky hollow." [Editor’s Note: With the prospect of realizing his dream of coaching LeBron James, and with an NCAA investigation ahead of him, will Calapari leave Kentucky? Zagsblog seems to think so. He quotes an NBA agent saying, "Obviously, if something’s going to go down at Kentucky, that would be the third school that Calipari has impacted. I would think that that would expedite something." P.S.: We still love you, Michael Gilchrist!]

Courier Post  reports that Villanova’s “Matt Szczur may quit football if he is drafted by Major League Baseball.  Szczur led the Big East Conference in batting average (.443) and triples (seven). He led Villanova (29-23) with 77 hits, 39 RBIs, a .667 slugging percentage, a .487 on-base percentage and was second with 40 runs in 39 games this season.  [Editor’s Note:  This despite missing ten games as a bone marrow donor.]  "The right fielder's statistics have caught the attention of MLB scouts, which  means Szczur could be a high pick in the June 7-9 First-Year Player Draft.  Said Szczur, "Scouts are saying that if I focused on baseball the whole year, the sky is the limit.  A lot of guys are looking at a lot of potential in me because I only played baseball four months out of the year. I could get drafted pretty high and maybe say goodbye to football. I love football, but baseball could be a longer career. I could stay a little bit healthier on the baseball field than football. The draft is June 7, and I'm excited for it."

 Baseball Draft Report  picks Szczur as the fifth best catcher prospect in the draft saying “Szczur’s scouting credentials include the following: really impressive hit tool, good speed (not just good for a catcher, either), plus arm, plus athleticism, rapidly emerging power, championship pedigree, worthwhile positional versatility (3B and corner OF collegiate experience, above-average at all three spots), and, as a long-time two-sport star conditioned to split his training two ways since junior high, vast untapped potential on the diamond. I won’t profess to know Szczur’s ultimate upside as a ballplayer, but I have a hard time watching him play and seeing anything but a young man on the cusp of a long big league career.”

ESPN published the “first ever College Basketball Production-Only Mock Draft. It is, quite simply, a list of how NBA teams would draft if they looked only at how a college basketball player played in college. Think of it this way: You're drafting a college basketball player to play college basketball. Who would you take, and why? Under this fantasy-land draft, Scottie Reynolds would be selected 5th in the first round behind Evan Turner, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Wes Johnson.  Of Scottie, they write “[n]ow things get comparatively strange. He's not an NBA prospect, but no player above Reynolds on this list had as good a four-year career. Reynolds led Villanova to deep tournament runs, carried the Wildcats through an impressive early 2009-10 stretch before a late-February fade and was generally everything you want from a point guard -- smart, tough, clutch. Reynolds isn't getting serious draft attention thanks to his lack of size and athleticism. That's probably fair. But he had plenty of both for the college game, not to mention a host of big-time qualities, and he produced accordingly.”

Examiner.com writes, "the 2010-11 college basketball season might feel like an eternity away, but the great people of Las Vegas have already started handicapping how the year might play out. Hardly a surprise, Mike Krzyzewski and his defending Duke Blue Devils are the early favorites to win the 2011 crown with 6:1 odds.  Michigan State has 10:1 odds; Purdue has 12:1 odds, and Kentucky, Ohio State, Kansas and Villanova all have 20:1 odds."

New York Magazine  sees changes in the Big East Tournament next year after “three of the four top seeds — Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Villanova — lost their very first games, and only eventual champion West Virginia advanced to the semifinals. Last year, the top four seeds received double byes to the quarterfinals, while the next four seeds received single byes and the eight lowest seeds played on the first day of the five-day tournament. But, according to Lenn Robbins of the Post, coaches are concerned that the teams with the double byes lose momentum, and he reports that the conference will "almost surely" adopt a system for 2011 in which no teams get a bye. In the new format, the No. 1 seed would play the No. 16 seed, No. 2 would play No. 15, and so on.”

Zagsblog.com reports that “Tyrone Johnson, one of the most sought after point guards in the Class of 2011, is close to trimming his college list. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Johnson out of Plainfield (N.J.) High School is the No. 13 point guard in the rising senior class, according to Rivals. “I’ll probably cut my list down in July,” said Johnson, a two-sport star who had been Plainfield’s quarterback before opting not to play football his senior year. Georgetown and Villanova remain in strong position with Johnson, who has visited both campuses on multiple occasions. “Those are two favorites,” he said.” Villanova has been more of a guard school so they want me,” he said.

Examiner.com reports that first-year Big East Commissioner, John Marinatto, knows that the Big East is sitting on unstable ground, but he is not about to give a sense of urgency to the public just yet. Marinatto has been meeting on a regular basis over the past week with former NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, an advisor to the league.  That seems to indicate the Big East is preparing for the first move made by the Big Ten.  The commissioner of the Big East addressed the media during the Big East spring meetings and offered his take on where the Big East, a likely target to be hurt by expansion in the rival Big Ten, stands moving forward. Marinatto implied that the Big East have their own short list of candidates to replace any teams that could possibly change conference affiliations in the next year or so. But nobody will be privy to that information outside of the close circle within the Big East's higher powers at this time.”  The Examiner speculates the Big East may be targeting Notre Dame (football), Temple, East Carolina, Central Florida and Buffalo.  [Editor's Note:  Don't expect Mr. Marinatto to win any Best Dressed Commissioner awards.]

SBNation reports that “monstrous Villanova offensive tackle, Ben Ijalana, could be the next early round NFL Draft pick from the FCS.  Ijalana was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press last season. He was the leader of an offensive line that paved the way for more than 3,000 rushing yards last season by the team's top four rushers.  Coach Andy Talley said Ijalana has great feet, is quick and agile. "He's a very athletic offensive lineman," Talley said. "I think in college football and pro football, that's what you're looking for because you end up playing against real fast, speed guys on the edge. It's real hard to get around Ben because he's very quick and he's a big strong guy as well."  Wes Bunting of National Football Post rates Ijalana as the 47th best senior prospect in the nation.

An Atlanta Falcon’s blog reports that picks Villanova’s Brandyn Harvey as one of the rookie free agents with the best chance of making the team after a great mini-camp.  Of Harvey, the wrote, “the Villanova receiver was a rarely heard name that had good size (6’4, 205), but no one probably thought too much of the signing. That all changed when Harvey came in and impressed the coaches and fans alike with his speed and excellent ability to get wide open in the Falcons mini-camp. Harvey created some of the biggest buzz the mini-camp and seemingly vaulted up the boards. It is true that most receivers look good in shorts and shirts, but Harvey was seen getting completely wide open many times and even taking Dunta Robinson to task a couple of times. Harvey recorded 131 career receptions, 1,845 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Not insanely large stats, but Harvey might be hitting his prime at the right time.”

An article in The Palm Beach Post discussed the success of Miami coach “Frank Haith attracting transfers from other basketball programs, including Malcolm Grant, who “led Miami in assists and averaged 9.6 points last season after transferring from Villanova.” 

Bleacher Report writes that “the Seattle Sounders blanked highly regarded Boca Juniors 3-0 before 40,122, the largest crowd of the season at the Xbox pitch of Qwest Field.  At the 70th minute came the surprise of the night.  Michael Seamon, an unsigned second round draft pick from Villanova, did something that few players ever achieve.  In his first shot as a Sounder he delivered a right-footed shot at long range that surged past Boca defender Javier Garcia at the left post, closing out the evening’s scoring.