[Updated July 31 - Barry Bekkedam & Savon Goodman]
As reported by VUH’s Brian Ewart earlier this week, JayVaughn Pinkston’s legal troubles appear to be nearing a resolution. He faces one count of simple assault, a misdemeanor, for his involvement in a fight at an off-campus fraternity house last year. He could find out by as early as Monday if his application for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program has been approved by the Montgomery County District Attorney's office. He still has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that with Pinkston cleared by Villanova's administration to play for the Wildcats this season, "Jay Wright says the Wildcats will be much different than any squad he's coached in recent years, with the team centered more around big men rather than being guard-oriented."
Harry Smaller of CollegeFantasyHoopsInsider, commenting on the expected emergence of the role of the "bigs" in Villanova’s offense next season writes, "With Villanova's lack of proven depth at guard, and their struggles shooting from the perimeter last season, it makes sense that Wright would want his bigs to be more involved. This could be very good news for junior Center, Mouphtaou Yarou, and Pinkston. Pinkston, a 2010 McDonald's All-American, was expected to make a splash last year until the suspension. There is a possibility he still could face trial, but if he can get on the floor, the Wildcats could have a nice 1-2 punch in the paint for a change."
ESPN’s Dana O’Neil takes a quick peek into the Big East, writing, "The league will be good again this season, good enough to earn another hearty number of NCAA tournament spots. In his preseason Bracketology, Joe Lunardi awarded 10 spots to the Big Beast. Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Louisville have Final Four aspirations. Legitimate ones, we might add. Cincinnati and Marquette surprised folks by advancing in the NCAA tournament a year ago. Neither will surprise anyone this season. West Virginia has nine newcomers, but Bob Huggins expects big things from them. St. John's team includes six freshmen ranked in the ESPNU 100. Georgetown and Villanova have holes to fill but, as usual, players to fill them. When the conference season dawns, Jim Calhoun -- owner of the most recent NCAA championship hardware -- will not be on the bench. Calhoun was suspended for the first three Big East games following an NCAA investigation into his program.
Dana concludes by posing the question frequently raised by Big East haters – "Is the league really that good or just really good at marketing how tough it is?" The proof of the conference's brawn, therefore, will have to come in nonconference games, in the head-to-head and toe-to-toe matchups against the best of the rest." Dana lists several non-conference regular season games that will put the Big East to the test, including Villanova vs. Missouri a the Jimmy V Basketball Classic on Dec. 6 at Madison Square Garden. About that game, she writes, "The Wildcats finished the 2010-11 season in a nosedive. Missouri has a strong returning roster but a new coach in Frank Haith."
NBE Basketball.com reports that Allerik Freeman, one of the most highly recruited players in the Class of 2013, has received a scholarship offer from Villanova and plans an official visit in October. Villanova will compete for his talents with a host of other schools, which include Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Miami, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas, Georgetown, Xavier, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, and others. The four schools recruiting him who have yet to offer are Syracuse, Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Freeman has no favorites at this point and said, "Everything is about even right now . . . everything still wide open." We are hoping his official visit to Villanova coincides with Midnight Madness.
ESPN reports that, "twin brothers Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison are considered the best package deal in the Class of 2013, ranked Nos. 8 and 16 overall in the Class of 2013. Andrew is the top-rated point guard. At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he has the perfect size to see the floor and make the right decisions. As with many identical twins, the Harrison brothers often appear as if they are operating as a single unit. Even though their strengths as players are different, their games can also be interchangeable. It's no surprise the brothers are incredibly close and will play together in college. Aaron Harrison said Kentucky, Villanova, Texas, Georgia, Baylor and Maryland are among the schools involved. Kentucky coach John Calipari has been clear with his desire to sign the twins."
Daarel Burnette of the Star Tribune wrote a feature on Theresa Neal, the widow of former Villanova great, Howard Porter, who was murdered five years ago. He writes, "The question Theresa Neal had for one of the men who brutally beat her husband to death wasn't accusatory but self-reflective." How do I resolve that I be a good Christian, a good person and a productive citizen in the community?" she asked then-30-year-old Rashad Raleigh three years ago as he faced sentencing. In the years since, Neal has emphatically and distinctly answered her question by helping teens and adults who are in danger of heading down the wrong path. Neal, 56, runs the St. Paul schools' juvenile detention center -- Boys Totem Town -- and has worked with 15 other social service programs throughout the district. She describes her students, mostly poor and minority, as "dissed" -- "disenfranchised, discouraged and dismissed." She has lowered the recidivism rate and brought innovative programs to the district. "If I can save one soul and instill the sense of self and belonging in one of these students to deter them from harming the community or someone else, then I've done my job," she said. "It's not been an easy journey, but I've had to place service over self."
Long-time readers might remember this letter sent to VUHoops.com by Ms. Neal in March 2009, just before Villanova defeated Pitt in the Elite Eight game. She wrote "I wish that I had the words to adequately express my deepest appreciation for your … efforts to keep the spirit of Howard alive in our thoughts, hearts and prayers. It goes without saying that the absence of Howard in my life (as well as all those whose lives he touched) leaves a void that cannot be completely filled. But, it is those treasured memories that I will always carry that have helped to make the journey of healing a bit easier. Howard felt a deep connection with his Philadelphia and Villanova roots. I had desperately tried to make it to Philadelphia for the UCLA game, but was unable to get a flight out in time for the start of the game. I’ve heard from some of [Howard's] ‘71 team-mates that it was an exciting day for them. So, I was cheering all the way from Minnesota and Howard was cheering from the heavens above. I’m planning on going to Detroit. Go Cats!"
BleacherReport is out there with yet another list. This time it’s their Top 10 College Basketball Coaches in Their 40s. Jay Wright, who is barely eligible with his Big 5-0 coming up on December 24, came in at No. 6. About Jay, they write, "After ten years of serving as an assistant coach (at Rochester, Drexel, Villanova, and UNLV) and seven years as head coach at Hofstra, Wright was hired to be the head coach at Villanova (where he has been for the last ten years). His Wildcat teams have made it to the post-season every year. At 'Nova, Wright has posted a 224-110 record, making it to the Sweet Sixteen twice, the Elite Eight once, and the Final Four once. He has won the Big East Coach of the Year twice (2006, 2009) and the Naismith College Coach of the Year (2006). Other notables on their Top 10 list include Georgetown’s John Thompson III at No. 8, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon at No. 5, Gonzaga’s Mark Few at No. 4, Ohio State’s Thad Matta at No. 3, Kansas’ Bill Self at No. 2 and Florida’s Billy Donovan at No. 1.
Calvin Cordova of the Cebu Daily News reports that "Scottie Reynolds more than doubled his scoring average, leading the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters to a 101-89 win over the short-handed B-Meg Llamados last night in the 36th PBA Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum [in the Philippines]. Averaging just 18 points, Reynolds erupted for 37 markers on an impressive 9-for-14 shooting from the three-point land. With the win, the Texters, who are gunning for a rare grand-slam feat, inched closer to reaching the finals with their eighth win in 11 games.
Philadelphia Business Journal reports that "investors who were lured into the South Florida Ponzi scheme through hedge funds managed by a Radnor, Pa.–based investment firm, Ballamore Capital Investment, managed by former Villanova University basketball star Barry Bekkedam filed suit Thursday against two banks where money was laundered.. The defendants are South Florida lawyer and alleged Ponzi scheme mastermind Scott Rothstein, Bekkedam was a principle of Ballamor Capital. In a video shot in May 2009 at a financial conference in Las Vegas, Bekkedam said he steered $100 million in his investors’ money — which he said came from the "ultra-high net worth world" — to Rothstein’s scheme. Bekkedam is a defendant in the largest investor lawsuit connected to the Rothstein scam. That suit alleges that, Ballamor, through Bekkedam, "knowingly made material false statements and representations, including, but not limited to, claiming that a Big 4 accounting firm performed due diligence and would conduct periodic audits" of the Rothstein accounts.
With a hat-tip to Barney (who always finds what I missed), Zagsblog reports that "Kyle Anderson, Darrick Wood, Savon Goodman and Myles Davis closed out their AAU careers with an 80-72 overtime win over the Mac Irvin Fire Thursday night in the championship game of the Desert Duel in Gilbert, Az. The Playaz trailed by 23 at the break, but roared back for the win.Wood scored 17, the Villanova-bound Goodman had 13, Davis tallied 12 and Anderson 10." [Editor's Note: when was the last time 'Nova had anyone that could elevate that far above the rim? I am reminded of this humorous quote from Raphielle Johnson in an NBEBasketball.com article a few weeks back: "Villanova commit Savon Goodman runs well, and defenders not truly invested in defending him may be best served to get out of his way when he attacks the rim."]
If you missed Brian's post earlier this week, here's the link to the video of Savon's windmill dunk in the desert.