Local college hoops 2016-17 preview: Southern Illinois


Local college hoops 2016-17 preview: Southern Illinois

2015-16 Results: The Salukis had a breakthrough in 2015-16, recording the program's first winning season since 2008. Southern Illinois did have a weak non-conference schedule, but they still finished 22-10 and 11-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Players to Watch: Senior Anthony Beane graduated and center Bola Olaniyan transferred but the Salukis do have some experience back. Junior Sean O'Brien is a former Mundelein star who was productive last season, averaging 12.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Senior guards Tyler Smithpeters, Leo Vincent and Mike Rodriguez all played 32 games last season and are capable players who could all start.

Key Storylines: Withstanding the loss of two key players and rebuilding a bit will be key for Southern Illinois. With the Valley not having as much star power as in year's past, it's an interesting time for the league and Southern Illinois has to try to take advantage. With Rodriguez dealing with a knee injury, the senior becoming healthy is also important in the early part of the season. But finding someone to be the go-to guy after the loss of Beane is probably the most important thing for Southern Illinois to figure out.

Newcomers to Track: Point guard Aaron Cook has a chance for immediate minutes despite the Salukis having an experienced perimeter. Cook is an offensive playmaker who can also defend. Junior college forward Thik Bol led the NJCAA in blocked shots as a freshman and was fourth last season. The 6-foot-8 forward should help with rim protection and defense as well.

Season Outlook: With potentially four senior starters, Southern Illinois is an intriguing team in the Valley that could make a move if someone steps up to become a team leader. Replacing Beane's scoring is going to be tough, but the Salukis are experienced and balanced enough to be a tough out. Defending will also be a key for Southern Illinois and some of the new pieces could help in that department. 

NCAA is taking steps to allow student-athletes to make money off their likeness


NCAA is taking steps to allow student-athletes to make money off their likeness

Bulls rookie guard Coby White has talent, an infectious smile and an afro that makes him stand out on the court. It’s a fair bet he could have made some money off his likeness while he played at North Carolina if the rules allowed it.

The NCAA is taking steps towards allowing its athletes to do so, but there’s still a long way to go in the process. The organization’s Board of Governors unanimously voted to start the process. That vote moves things to the NCAA’s three divisions “to consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies,” as it was worded in the NCAA's press release.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael V. Drake, the chair of the board and president of Ohio State. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”

The board asked each division (Division I, Division II, Division III) to make any new rules immediately and no later than January 2021.

It’s important to note that none of the changes are final, or even imminent. It’s still relevant that the NCAA is going through the process at all, after being so strongly in favor of amateurism across the board for its student-athletes.

The potential changes would not allow for compensation based on performance or participation in a sport. Of course, the natural grey area is that higher performing athletes will be more marketable so they would be compensated on performance indirectly.

This comes after California passed legislation to allow college athletes to receive endorsement/sponsorship money and other states are pursuing similar.

This is still far from being official or finalized, but it will continue to be a major story in college sports over the next couple years.

Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation


Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

The DePaul men's basketball team has been placed on three-year probation and head coach Dave Leitao has been suspended three games for the 2019-20 season, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

The program was found guilty of "failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance while Leitao did not "prevent violations from occurring in his program."

A Division I Committee on Infractions panel concluded that a "former DePaul associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he knowingly directed the former assistant director of basketball operations to provide impermissible recruiting benefits to a recruit."

The NCAA found that three coaches knew about the situation but failed to report the infractions. DePaul will vacate all wins earned while the ineligible player competed and suffer recruiting restrictions. They were also fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men's basketball program budget.

In 2019, DePaul had their first winning season since 2007 by going 19-17.