Thursday, August 21, 2008

Full-Court Press, August 18-22

Although we had put the daily Full-Court Press updates on hiatus for several months, we had to break it back out for what was an unexpectedly eventful week in the world of college basketball.

Stepheson to USC: Former North Carolina forward Alex Stepheson has announced his decision to transfer to USC, choosing the Trojans over Arizona State and UCLA. Furthermore, Stepheson and his family are trying to obtain a waiver from the NCAA, which would allow Stepheson to play immediately for USC instead of sitting out the mandatory one-year penalty for transfers. Stepheson left the Tar Heels after last season to be closer to his father, who is suffering from undisclosed health issues. He averaged 4.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season.

Cook Denied Sixth Year: Former Pittsburgh wing Mike Cook has been denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. He had requested a medical redshirt after tearing his ACL on Dec. 20, but was turned down two times previously by the NCAA. A player cannot receive a medical redshirt if he played in more than 30 percent of his team's games. Pittsburgh played in 37 games -- but NCAA Tournament games don't count, while just one conference tournament games counts. Cook played in only 11 games, but the Panthers played in just 32 games in the eyes of the NCAA. Cook averaged 10.5 points per game two seasons ago.

Caracter Leaving Louisville For NAIA: Former Louisville forward Derrick Caracter and his saga with the Cardinals could soon be over. Multiple reports indicate that Caracter has decided to play in the NAIA, which would allow him to compete immediately instead of sitting out the one-year transfer penalty he would suffer should he go to another Division-I school. The top school on Caracter's list is Oklahoma City, although he has not made an official decision yet. "Are we recruiting him? Yes,” Oklahoma City coach Tommy Wade told Jeff Goodman of “Is he at Oklahoma City? No. Has he decided to come to Oklahoma City? No. Not today." He is expected to decide in the next couple of days. Caracter was dismissed from the Cardinals, but he said he was going to try and become eligible in 2009-2010.

Virginia Loses One, Gets One Back: Virginia head coach Dave Leitao announced Monday that Laurynas Mikalauskas will not be returning to the Cavaliers for his final season, saying "Laurynas has not lived up to those standards" to be on the team. On the other hand, Leitao also announced that center Tunji Soroye will be back for a fifth year after the NCAA granted him another season of eligibility. Soroye played in just two games last season due to knee and back injuries.

Johnson to Southern Miss: As first reported by Sporting News Today, former USC point guard Angelo Johnson has decided to transfer to Southern Miss. Johnson left the Trojans in July after head coach Tim Floyd told him that he could not guarantee Johnson a starting spot. "I thought that being a freshman and playing behind the number three overall pick, I should have the spot handed to me," Johnson told Jeff Goodman of "I felt like I earned it already." Johnson, who chose the Golden Eagles over Kentucky, Seton Hall and Cincinnati, averaged 4.5 points and 2.1 assists per game last season.

Texas Recruit Doesn't Qualify: Rick Barnes' seach for an heir apparent to the departed D.J. Augustin now has one fewer candidate, as J'Covan Brown did not meet required academic standards and will not be eligible to play this fall. Barnes and Brown hope that he will able to play in the spring. "We do expect J'Covan to earn admission to the University of Texas and join our basketball program at some point," Barnes said in a statement. Brown was expected to provide depth at the point guard position, backing up converted shooting guard A.J. Abrams and sophomore Dogus Balbay.

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