Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 3:06 pm

Momo Jones cleared to play at Iona immediately

By Jeff Borzello

Former Arizona transfer Momo Jones has been cleared to play this season for Iona, sources told CBSSports.com.

There were questions whether Jones would eligible immediately, but the NCAA granted him a hardship waiver.

Jones left Arizona in May, announcing he wanted to move closer to home to be close to his ailing grandmother in Harlem, N.Y. There were rumors that he was planning to transfer to St. John’s, but NCAA regulations prevented it.

Once he chose Iona, questions still surfaced regarding whether he would be eligible to play this season. We received an answer on Thursday.

With Jones in the fold, Iona is clearly the best team in the New York City area heading into the season. Michael Glover is one of the best big men in the country, while Scott Machado ranked third in the nation in assists.

Jones averaged 9.7 points and 2.4 assists for Arizona last season. 

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 20, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 1:50 pm

J.T. Terrell goes from Wake Forest to USC

By Jeff Borzello

USC has found an interesting pipeline for new players: Wake Forest.

First, it was former Demon Deacons forward Ari Stewart deciding to transfer to the Trojans. Now, it’s J.T. Terrell.

“4 everyone that wants 2 kno my nxt move…I’m now officially a USC Trojan!” Terrell tweeted on Wednesday night.

Terrell, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, averaged 11.1 points per game last season, starting 18 games and knocking down nearly 36 percent from 3-point land. He has tremendous range on his jumper, and will join an experienced Trojans team next season.

Wake Forest announced on September 5 that Terrell was leaving the school after being arrested for DWI.

“Due to circumstances surrounding his arrest, along with other recent indicators, it is obvious to J.T. and his family that J.T. suffers from a serious medical condition which requires immediate attention,” Mike Grace, Terrell’s attorney, said in a statement at the time.

With Stewart, Terrell and starting point guard Jio Fontan all sitting out the upcoming season, expect USC to make a move towards the top of the Pac-12 standings in 2012-13.

Photo:  US Presswire
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 19, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 9:40 am

For Big East, realignment overshadows basketball

By Jeff Borzello

NEW YORK – This year’s Big East Media Day featured the likes of Jim Boeheim, Jamie Dixon and others.

Once the conference shakeup is over, what will it look like? Will we have Donnie Jones, James Dickey and Matt Doherty instead?

The overarching theme of the 2011 Big East media day was, unsurprisingly, realignment. Boeheim, Dixon, Mike Brey, Jim Calhoun, Rick Pitino, Jay Wright, Bob Huggins and the other nine coaches in the conference were each peppered with countless questions about who is going where, when it’s happening and what they think of it.

Many of the coaches clearly were getting tired of the same questions, over and over.

“I think it sucks like everyone else does,” Huggins told a group of reporters. “Yeah, [it’s a shame]. I think it was a shame the first time. It’s got to stop somewhere.”

The only thing set in stone right now is that Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be leaving the conference at some point, but the timeline is still indefinite. Technically, they’re not allowed to leave for more than two years, but that could be an awkward 27 months.

Dixon said the goal of Pittsburgh is not to leave the Big East without a plan for its future as a conference.

“When it’s in the best interest of the Big East for us to move, that’s when we’ll leave,” he said. “Whether it’s 27 months, 12 months or five months.”

The fate of several teams is also still undecided, with West Virginia and Louisville being linked to the Big 12, Connecticut to the ACC, Notre Dame to the ACC (and Big Ten, as always), with Rutgers also thrown around as a potential Big Ten or ACC target.

While the realignment mess could hinder some of the schools, Pitino and Brey are confident their institutions will handle it well.

“Unlike some others, we’re going to land on our feet,” Brey said. “I like the Big East, but we’ll land on our feet.”

“We’ll be fine in the Big East or in the other place,” Pitino said.

Connecticut was expected to follow suit to the ACC after Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and while that’s still a possibility, the Big 12 has also opened up as a potential landing spot for the Huskies.

Calhoun made it clear he is not sitting still and hoping everything just stays the same. He is being proactive as a result of all the changes around him.

Season tips Nov. 7

“The Big East is special, I am proud to be a member of it. But sometimes what you want is not where you end up being. We are seeing the start of change,” he said. “My obligation to UConn is to be in an advisory capacity and reach out to my friends, particularly in the ACC and Big 12 and see what’s [happening].”

When the realignment carousel eventually stops spinning – whenever that may be – it’s not a stretch to say that the Big East will look very different. There could be a 20-team football conference and a 12-team basketball conference, with some variation of Navy, Air Force, UCF, Houston, SMU and a host of other schools in the mix.

Huggins said the new faces wouldn’t change the way he views his opponents in the conference.

“They were these guys at one time,” he said of younger coaches potentially replacing the Boeheims, Dixons and Calhouns of the league. “Somebody is going to finish last and someone is going to finish first. Whether it’s someone in the league now, or someone new.

“We had 11 teams reach the NCAA tournament last year, and nine of them will still be around. That would still have been a record.”

Not everyone feels that way – Pitino thinks certain intra-conference matchups won’t carry the same juice and luster as they previously did.

“Syracuse is playing Clemson on TV tonight!” he said. “It’s not Syracuse-Georgetown.”

Conference commissioner John Marinatto opened up the media day by saying he was glad that he finally could talk about basketball – but soon was bombarded with questions about realignment. This wasn’t what Marinatto signed up for, he said. It’s not what he wanted.

His comments beg the question – if Marinatto didn’t see it coming, how did we get here?

Dixon pointed to the lack of cohesion between the basketball and football sides of the conference. A 16-team basketball conference and an eight-team football conference clearly don’t align perfectly.

“If that is the best situation, more conferences would do it,” he said. “And we’re the only one that does it.”

When it boils down to it, though, money is the biggest factor in the entire proceedings. Pitino put some of the blame on the greed of the school presidents.

“The big is eating up the small,” he said. “The presidents have always said to put the athletes first. The last thing they’ve talked about is the athletes. So there’s a bit of hypocrisy in the presidents and their answer today.”

With so many questions still waiting to be answered, no one is sure about what is next – not the coaches, athletic directors, presidents, commissioners. The future of several conferences is completely up in the air.

What’s next? Brey summed it best.

“Leagues are listed as day-to-day now.”

Photo: AP

Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 5:13 pm

Update: Cezar Guerrero released from hospital

By Jeff Borzello

Oklahoma State freshman Cezar Guerrero has been released from an Oklahoma City hospital after being taken there as a precautionary measure, a source told CBSSports.com.

Guerrero was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Oklahoma City after suffering an undisclosed injury in practice on Monday. 

"He bumped into a big and fell down," the source said. "He might have suffered a stinger, but he'll be fine."

Guerrero was released on Tuesday, and will wear a neck brace as a precaution. In high school, Guerrero broke his collarbone and had to sit out an extended period of time. The source said Oklahoma State expects him back to practice next Monday; he will not miss any game time. 

It's been a rough last month for Guerrero, who had his apartment broken into a couple of weeks ago, per a source. He shares the apartment with redshirt freshman Michael Cobbins, and they had some electronics taken. Police have not charged anyone in the crime.

Guerrero is a point guard from St. John Bosco (Calif.). The 6-foot prospect is flashy but effective. He was ranked as a four-star prospect by most outlets, and was expected to fight for minutes in the Cowboys’ backcourt.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:12 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 12:14 pm

Lehigh's McCollum on verge of national attention

By Jeff Borzello

Quick: how many players are both the top returning scorer and rebounder in their conference? Just two.

And a follow-up: how many are 6-foot-3 or shorter? Only one: Lehigh junior guard C.J. McCollum, who posted 21.8 points and 7.8 rebounds last season.

“As his coach and someone who sees him day in and day out, I think he can play with anyone,” head coach Brett Reed said by phone.

While some are quick to discount his numbers because of the competition in the Patriot, McCollum is filling it up against some of the better opponents on the Mountain Hawks’ schedule.

He scored 42 against Kent State, dropped 32 on American, put up 29 on Bucknell his freshman year and had a stretch of 11 consecutive games when he did score below 20 points.

“He is just a very talented individual with unique attributes,” Reed said. “Those have been able to come to the forefront. His confidence his high, and he demonstrates it night in and night out, against top-flight competition.”

Interestingly, McCollum was vastly underrecruited in high school. He was only 5-foot-5 during his freshman campaign at GlenOak (Ohio), not really coming into his own until his junior and season seasons, when he led the county in scoring back-to-back years. During his senior season, he scored fewer than 20 points only one time.

Despite the prolific scoring numbers, many of the top mid-majors in the Midwest did not come calling. Bowling Green offered, St. Francis (Pa.) offered, as did some other Patriot and MAC colleges.

“I thought he was a mid-major player who could score but was inconsistent,” said Scout.com’s Brian Snow, who was based out of Ohio at the time.

To Reed, though, McCollum is the same player he was in high school – just better and more mature.

“Upon watching him the first time, I used the word ‘enamored’,” he said. “He had exceptional feel for a player his game, and he demonstrated the ability to score with some craftiness. Those two characteristics allowed him to make a transition to college quickly.”

Season tips Nov. 7

It wasn’t hard to tell how good McCollum was once his career began at Lehigh. He scored 22 points in his third game against Quinnipiac, and also had a six-game stretch where he averaged 27.9 points per game en route to an NCAA tournament berth for the Mountain Hawks. He scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the first-round loss to Kansas.

After two years in the program, McCollum has already established himself as one of the best players in Lehigh history.

“If I saw it coming, he wouldn’t be at Lehigh,” Snow said. “A kid with good grades, he would have been hyped to the point where some high-major definitely would have come forward with an offer, and probably numerous high-majors.”

This season, Lehigh heads into the year as the No. 2 team in the Patriot League, behind defending champion Bucknell. Moreover, McCollum – despite his numbers a year ago – was not the Player of the Year, losing out to Bucknell’s Mike Muscala.

If McCollum continues to improve his all-around game, though, he could put the Mountain Hawks on his back for three days in March and carry them to an NCAA tournament bid.

“In only the way C.J. could, he steps up where he is needed,” Reed said. “He recognizes the significant level of influence he has on our team.”

It’s about time everyone else does, too.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:55 pm

Fab Melo looks to keep focus on basketball

By Jeff Borzello

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – By all accounts, Fab Melo was one of the most disappointing freshmen in the country last season.

However, when one considers the limited basketball experience of the 7-foot Brazilian native, it’s tough to justify the original hype placed on the Syracuse center.

“People had expectations for last year,” Melo said. “But I had only played basketball for four years.”

Melo played fewer than 10 minutes per game, averaging 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds for the Orange. He showed flashes of his potential down the stretch, though, going for 10 points and six rebounds against DePaul, and then getting 12 points and four rebounds in the next game against St. John’s.

In shootarounds and scrimmages, Melo looked a lot more mobile and agile than last season. He was running the floor effectively, blocking shots and making plays around the rim.

With double-double machine Rick Jackson no longer around, Melo knows it is his time to step up in the paint.

“I don’t know if I’m ready [to replace Jackson],” he said. “But I’m definitely ready to bounce back.”

His basketball ability is not the only question surrounding Melo. He was suspended for two games in February last season, and was also arrested on a domestic violence charge. The court hearing for the charge has been delayed five times and is now scheduled for November 30.

Sources told CBSSports.com that Melo would not miss any games due to the case, but his concentration could be a factor.

“When he’s on the court, he doesn’t worry about anything else,” guard Mike Carter-Williams said. “The problems are in the past. Even now, he’s just trying to move on.”

“He got his head back into it,” forward C.J. Fair added. “He has the skills. He just needs the right mindset.”

If Melo can stay focused and motivated on the court, he could be the key for Syracuse’s season – again.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 8:34 pm

Waiters hungry for redemption this season

By Jeff Borzello

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Dion Waiters entered his freshman season at Syracuse with plenty of hype, ranked as a top-25 recruit by many outlets.

However, much of the news surrounding him during the season was negative. There were reports of him being dismissed from the team in January and rampant rumors regarding him potentially transferring after the season.

Going into his sophomore campaign, though, Waiters is still in an Orange uniform and could be one of the keys to the season for a top-five Syracuse team.

“Dion has his head right,” senior guard Scoop Jardine said.

Although Waiters denied most of the rumors during the offseason, he admitted to CBSSports.com last week that the idea of leaving Syracuse did cross his mind.

“I was thinking about it,” he said. “I’m a competitor and I wanted to start. That’s what it was.”

Last season, the 6-foot-4 guard from Philadelphia averaged 6.3 points in 16.3 minutes off the bench. He did not start a single game, and was held out of a late-January loss to Marquette.

With Jardine and Brandon Triche both returning as starters in the backcourt, is Waiters ready to take a back seat to the two veterans again?

“It’s not about me this year,” he said. “Last year, I put myself before the team. I was selfish.”

Waiters said he spent off the season working on his fitness and athleticism; his explosive scoring ability is still there too. Coming out of high school, Waiters was one of the best scoring guards in the country – he has a chance to provide a consistent spark off the Syracuse bench this year.

“I think he can play a bigger role,” freshman guard Mike Carter-Williams said. “He’s a great player.”

Humbled by the events of last spring, Waiters is hungry to help the Orange get to the Final Four.

“I feel like a freshman again,” he said. “Watch out.”

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:52 pm

C.J. Fair ready for breakout season

By Jeff Borzello

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – C.J. Fair was the least heralded of the Syracuse signees in the class of 2010. However, he played the most minutes of any of the newcomers last season and showed flashes of his potential.

This season, his teammates and coaches peg Fair as the one player who could be primed for a breakout season.

“The guy who got better is C.J. Fair,” guard Brandon Triche said earlier in the week. “He’s a guy who was more of a mid-range guy around the basket. Now, he’s knocking the three down consistently, off the dribble, off the catch. I see a lot of different things from him.”

Fair, a 6-foot-8 Baltimore native, averaged 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds last season, coming off the bench and providing a boost in the frontcourt. He didn’t start any games, but did play more than 30 minutes on four occasions. In those four contests, he averaged 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds.

With a starting spot available in the frontcourt, one can expect numbers close to that from Fair during the upcoming campaign.

“I have a year under my belt,” Fair said on Friday. “This is the year for me to have a big breakout year.”

He said he spent the summer working on improving his outside range and expanding his game. If Fair is able to knock down 3-pointers with consistency, he could pose a major matchup problem for most opponents. He already has a deadly mid-range game, and the lefty forward is athletic and long around the basket.

Fair might be an undersized four-man in terms of strength, but his versatility makes up for it.

“He added something new to his game,” senior forward Kris Joseph said. “He put a lot of work into his game this summer. He can make that jump.”

Fair didn't enter Syracuse with much hype, but his impressive play has bestowed higher expecations on him this time around. 

Photo: US Presswire

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com