Tag:George Mason
Posted on: July 14, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 5:40 pm

Paul Hewitt disappointed by NCAA's decision

By Jeff Goodman

Former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt was not thrilled after learning of the NCAA’s decision to hit the Yellow Jackets basketball program with a major violation on Thursday.

Hewitt, who was fired shortly after the season and recently hired by George Mason, told CBSSports.com that he was disappointed.

``My staff and I have always had a record of compliance with the rules,” Hewitt said. ``And we’re proud of that record.”

While the football program was the one that received the brunt of the damage, having its 2009 ACC title stripped, having to pay a $100,000 fine and also going on probation for four years, the basketball program took a minor hit.

New coach Brian Gregory and his staff will lose two days of recruiting on the road this July and will also be without two official visits in each of the next two years.

It stems from a graduate assistant and an academic advisor being present at an AAU event run by the Atlanta Celtics program in 2009 and 2010 that was held on the Georgia Tech campus for a decade.

Hewitt, who was not named in the report, told CBSSports.com that graduate assistant Donovan Williams was present to help with the event after there had been a water mane break and an altercation with a high school player in the previous couple of years. Hewitt also said the event ran until 1:30 a.m. one year and he felt that Williams would help in case anything went wrong.

The NCAA also deemed it a recruiting advantage for Hewitt, who didn’t land a single player who played in the 2009 or 2010 event – and has had just four players in his 10-year career at Georgia Tech from the Atlanta Celtics program.

Posted on: June 6, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 4:52 pm

Andrew White looking to prove himself on circuit


Posted by Jeff Borzello

RALEIGH, N.C. – Some players rest on their laurels after rising up rankings and becoming high-major recruits.

Andrew White is not one of them.

“I now have to prove I’m as good as advertised,” White said last weekend at the Tournament of Champions.

White parlayed an impressive winter and spring into a top-100 ranking by many services, and the 6-foot-6 small forward from The Miller School (Va.) is making sure it stays that way.

He put his reputation on the line against fellow 2012 prospect T.J. Warren at the Ravenscroft School (N.C.) last week.

“I heard he played the same position as me, so I was looking forward to it,” White said. “It’s good to have the top players. It’s good to matchup with someone as good or better than you.”

While White struggled to defend Warren and also faded somewhat in the second half, his complete skill-set was on display.

His size and athleticism makes him a difficult matchup on the offensive end, as he runs the floor extremely well and attacks the basket with a purpose. White is improving his outside jumper, and is highly-effective with his mid-range game.

Since reclassifying to 2012, White has seen his recruitment skyrocket from mostly mid-majors to a smattering of schools at a variety of levels. He mentioned George Mason, Old Dominion, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Boston College, Providence, Utah, BYU and South Florida.

“I’m wide open,” White said.

While he holds at least 15 offers, he is still very motivated to make sure everyone knows he can compete at the highest level.

“Some schools passed up on me in 2011,” White said. “I’ve got to show I’m worthy of a place like that.”

Photo: Charlottesville Daily Progress

Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:42 pm

Commitment Catch-up: Copes follows uncle to Mason

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Paul Hewitt has not wasted any time since become George Mason’s new head coach.

After hiring Roland Houston as an assistant coach last week, Hewitt received a commitment from Houston’s nephew, former George Washington commit Erik Copes.

Copes was released from his letter-of-intent on Friday, shortly after Houston was hired at George Mason. Houston was an assistant at GW under Karl Hobbs for the past seven seasons.

“I love Coach Hewitt and the campus,” Copes told Jeff Goodman. “It’s a perfect situation for me. This team is good with or without me, but I’m going to try and make them better.”

Copes is a 6-foot-8 power forward from Imhotep Charter (Pa.) who rose rapidly in the 2011 rankings over the past year. He is outstanding defensively, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots at a high rate. Copes also runs the floor and finishes around the basket.

His uncle’s decision to join Hewitt’s staff was clearly the primary factor in his decision.

“This was a tough situation for me because I grew up around GW. I had my mind set on going there and those guys are like family,” Copes said. “I really wanted to be coached by my uncle.”

Memphis nabs top-50 2012 prospect

Despite having plenty of young players on the roster, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is still stockpiling talent for the future. On Saturday night, Pastner picked up a commitment from junior Damien Wilson.

Wilson, a 6-foot-5 wing from Oak Hill Academy (Va.), chose the Tigers over UCLA, Tennessee and Florida.

“It was just today that I had to get it out of the way,” Wilson told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I’ve been watching them since Chris Douglas-Roberts. That’s when I first fell in love with Memphis basketball.”

The Atlanta native is an athletic lefty who can drive to the basket and finish or knock down shots from the perimeter. Wilson has a variety of skills and loves to attack the rim and create matchup problems.

“I feel like wherever coach Pastner wants me to play, I’ll play,” Wilson said.

Turgeon gets first recruit at Maryland

After seeing his 2011 recruiting class disintegrate over the last week, new Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon went to work on 2012.

On a visit to College Park on Saturday, Seth Allen committed to the Terrapins.

“I think he was really impressed with the campus today on the visit,” Seth’s father, Joe Allen, told Evan Daniels of Scout.com.

Allen is a 6-foot-2 guard from Fredricksburg Christian School (Va.) who can score the ball at the rim or from behind the arc. He has deep range on his jumper.

Texas A&M was the first school to offer Allen, when Turgeon was in College Station.

“They stayed in touch,” Allen said. “We were getting ready to make a trip out there, but luckily he stayed in touch. He came down and saw our son and they built a relationship and it went from there.”

Posted on: May 14, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 1:35 pm

Recruiting Notebook: Griffin is a two-sport star

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Watching Derrick Griffin run the floor and grab alley-oops – over and over and over – you would think he doesn’t even hesitate when going up for a dunk.

Interestingly, the 6-foot-6 forward from Terry (Tex.) does have second thoughts the split-second before he skies over defenders.

“Sometimes, I do get nerves,” Griffin said.

Of course, those thoughts quickly dissipate, turning into a confidence where he knows he can out-leap nearly any opponent.

“Then I just jump,” Griffin said. “If it’s there, I’m going to get it.”

Teamed with two top-10 prospects in twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Griffin was the one who stole the show at last weekend’s Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational. He wowed the crowd with one-handed finishes, alley-oops when he rose high above the rim and big-time blocks on the defensive end.

Although he can certainly make an impact at the next level in basketball, Griffin is also a stud football player. As a wide receiver, Griffin reportedly caught 18 touchdown passes, proving to be an impossible match-up with his athleticism and strength.

Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Oregon, Kansas and USC have already reached out to the sophomore for both sports.

He has not made up his mind as to which sport he will play in the future, but Griffin knows his development might be better suited for the hardwood.

“If I get taller, I’m going to play basketball,” he said.

Lee to take it to the next level

Britton Lee understands.

The Roman Catholic (Pa.) sophomore knows he’s 5-foot-10 and isn’t yet a pure point guard or a big-time shooter. He knows he has room to improve and has a lot of work to do in order to reach his goals.

“I need to work on my jump shot, need to work on my handle,” Lee said.

With that said, Lee also envisions himself as a major conference player.

“I think I can go high-major,” he said.

For now, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Xavier and Niagara are showing varying levels of interest.

Other Notes:

- The U-16 group of the Team Final AAU program is one of the top groups in the country, although they also play up an age group in a few tournaments. In addition to Lee and high-major prospects Austin Colbert, Rondae Jefferson and Davon Reed, head coach Rob Brown also has plenty of other players at his disposal.

Yosef Yacob, a 6-foot point guard from Archbishop Carroll (Pa.), is hearing from Canisius, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s and Drexel. Yacob is long and an effective facilitator.

Johnnie Davis might be undersized at 6-foot-4, but the Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) forward is productive. Davis is hearing from schools like Niagara and George Mason, but also has high-majors like Pittsburgh tracking him.

- At the Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational last weekend, the New Jersey Playaz should have run roughshod over Threat 220. One player wouldn’t let that happen, though: Junius Thomas.

Thomas, a 6-foot-5 forward from Anacostia (D.C.), was outstanding. He blocked shots, finished above the rim, dominated the glass and single-handedly kept an undermanned Threat team in the game. While they eventually lost, Thomas might have been the most impressive player all game.

If he can get his academics in order, he has the potential to be at least a mid-level player. Thomas did mention hearing from St. Bonaventure and Clemson

Photo: iHigh.com 

Posted on: May 13, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:39 pm

Recruiting Notebook: Thornwell on the rise

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The class of 2013 is going to be known for its depth at the wing position, and one player making his way up the rankings is Sindarius Thornwell.

Thornwell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Lancaster (S.C.), makes an immediate impact because of his length and athleticism. He handles the ball and distributes well for someone his size, and is also adept at finishing.

“I’m quick and I can handle the ball,” Thornwell said. “I’m always attacking and I play defense.”

Plenty of colleges have taken notice of the versatile 2013 prospect.

Thornwell currently holds offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee State, Georgia Southern and Charlotte. He also has interest from Louisville, UCF and the entire ACC besides North Carolina and Duke.

Thornwell, who has visited Clemson and South Carolina, knows exactly what he needs in a school.

“I’m looking for playing style, good academics and playing time,” he said. “That’s it.”

2013 big man looking to improve

Most 6-foot-10 sophomores can get by on size and length alone. Andre Walker, on the other hand, is constantly looking to get better.

As it stands, he is a talented but raw big man who can run the floor and finish after he catches it.

“I need to make strong moves and play better defense,” Walker said. “I need to get better, get stronger. I also want to work on my perimeter game. I’m working hard.”

The Clarksburg (Md.) native is hearing from DePaul, Washington State, VCU, Northwestern, George Mason and Maryland.

Whitfield transfers to team with Tyler Lewis

North Carolina is loaded with prospects in the class of 2012. One player flying under the radar is Shane Whitfield, a 6-foot-5 forward.

In an attempt to make a name for himself, Whitfield is transferring next year to Forsyth Country Day School (N.C.). There, he will team up with North Carolina State commit Tyler Lewis in hopes of increasing his recruitment.

“It’s better competition,” Whitfield said. “I want to get better everyday.”

Right now, Whitfield has offers from Delaware, American, Campbell and Holy Cross, with interest from Richmond, Charlotte and East Carolina.

Other notes:

- A Texas team in need of impact players could pick up one this weekend. Recently available Sterling Gibbs and North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow are both visiting Austin this weekend.

- Unsigned 2011 center Daouda Soumaoro is currently on an official visit to Washington. Soumaoro took a trip to St. John’s recently, and said he enjoyed it.

- Top-50 2012 forward Ricardo Gathers is taking an unofficial visit to St. John’s this weekend. The Louisiana native also wants to take a trip to Florida.

Photo: 6manbasketball.com 

Posted on: May 9, 2011 9:21 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:49 am

Will George Mason ever play on Larranaga Court?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Wake up, hoops junkies. It's a long time until our season starts up again, but our fellow basketball fanatics can always be counted on to find interesting ways to keep our thoughts on hoops all summer long.

One such project that just started this May is Halcyon Hoops, the latest brainchild of writer Corey Schmidt. Just three posts into this new joint, Corey has already hit on an interesting question, following on the heels of Gary Williams' retirement at Maryland. To wit, "what does it take for a coach to get a court named after him?"

It varies more than you'd think. Length of tenure would be the first thing most of us would guess, and that holds true for the likes of Jim Phelan, who had the court named for him after a half-century at Mount St. Mary's. The median tenure for a coach with a court named after him is right around 20 years, right where I would have pegged it if I had to guess. But if that's the average, there must be several below that line, right?

Right. Of the 22 coaches Schmidt looked at, 12 fell below the mark. Billy Tubbs had seven years at Lamar, in a most unusual fashion: four years in the 1970s as he began his career, and then three more in the new millennium as he wound it down. The absolute shortest was Lefty Driesell's 5 1/3 seasons at Georgia State, which nevertheless earned him court-naming priveleges.

Here's Corey's full chart, which is a beautiful thing:

Coach's Court graphic courtesy of Halcyon Hoops
(Image courtesy of Halcyon Hoops. Don't credit me, I do not have these skills.)

The main question Halcyon Hoops aims to explore is this: will George Mason University ever name a floor after Jim Larranaga? 14 years falls short of the average, but that's obviously not the crux of the issue. If Larranaga were retiring instead of heading to Miami, he'd pretty much be a lock. Schmidt put it this way:

On merits alone, Larranaga would seem to fit the bill. He won games, had postseason success, and took the George Mason program to another level. However, the biggest challenge when evaluating whether to honor him with “Coach Larranaga Court” will be the way his tenure in Fairfax ended. The vast majority of coaches with courts bearing their names retired while still with that program. A few more years with the Patriots, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But right now, Coach Larranaga is a Hurricane. He left Geroge Mason for somewhere else, and in the present, that still stings just a bit.

Indeed. It's actually kind of hard to imagine how this might play out in Larranaga's favor. If time heals all wounds, and a sizable chunk of the school's alumni are behind the honor, it could happen, but that might also depend on what happens to the program now that he's gone. If Paul Hewitt stinks it up and the team falters, does that make Masonites more or less likely to want to pay homage to the man who took them to such heights? What if Hewitt wins a bunch of games? Do his accomplishments overshadow the man who will then look like he left to play in a sandbox in the middle of the team's heyday?

The fact is, Larranaga deserves recognition for making George Mason University a household name amongst the hoops-savvy. Let's be honest. Right now, more people could accurately identify Jim Larranaga and tell you why he's famous than could do the same for the school's namesake, semi-obscure founding father George Mason. Larranaga's legacy may not be an eponymous basketball court. Maybe it will be a scholarship fund or a conference room or something less visible that bears his name. It's worth noting that the only thing named after Joe Paterno at Penn State (so far) is a library. But Larranaga should be honored in some way, and it really should be something visible and meaningful, even if the sting has to fade a bit in the interim.

**Update** @GMUHoops makes a cogent point via Twitter: "A lot of people bring this up each year. Don't know if school would actually do it, they don't even retire player jerseys"

Photo: Halcyon Hoops
Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 12:41 pm

Hancock, Coombs-McDaniel request releases

Posted by Jeff Borzello

In the span of two hours on Thursday, the transfer population picked up two more sought-after players.

First, Brian Mull of the Wilmington Star-News reported that George Mason guard Luke Hancock was expected to transfer. Mull said sources told him Hancock was looking at Virginia and other high-majors.

“I’ve spoken to multiple people in the last two days who have told me Hancock wants out,” Mull wrote on Twitter. “Doesn’t feel he fits in new system.”

Hancock apparently won’t be following former head coach Jim Larranaga to his new school, either.

On the subject of his transfer, a source simply told CBSSports.com: “Not Miami.”

A George Mason spokesman told Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times that Hancock had not officially left the program yet.

“He requested permission to explore his options and it was granted to him,” the spokesman said. “At this point, all he is doing is looking. In no way shape or form has he decided to leave.”

Hancock, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 10.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists during his sophomore season at Mason. He scored 18 points against Villanova in the NCAA tournament before missing the loss to Ohio State due to illness.

The second player to request his release was Connecticut sophomore Jamal Coombs-McDaniel.

As first reported by Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com and confirmed by a press release from the school, Coombs-McDaniel will leave the Huskies and go elsewhere.

“Jamal and I met recently and, although he loves the program, he would like more playing time,” head coach Jim Calhoun said. “He and I both agree that he may have more opportunity for that playing time in another program.”

Coombs-McDaniel was arrested two weeks ago on drug charges, as he and two other individuals were in possession of marijuana, a marijuana grinder and a package of cigars used to smoke marijuana.

The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in helping Connecticut to a national championship.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 2, 2011 9:40 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 3:08 pm

Hewitt must win now to please Mason fans

Will this be a

Posted by Eric Angevine

I'll tell you what I think of George Mason's hire of deposed former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt in a minute. First, I want to take a look at how this news has hit the internet (hint: not as hard as the news of Osama bin Ladin's death).

John Feinstein at the Washington Post offered this assessment:

Hewitt is never going to become the kind of cult figure Larranaga became at GMU because his personality is entirely different from Larranaga’s. He’s not going to high-five cheerleaders during player introductions or come up with sayings about being Kryptonite or being from the CAA — Connecticut Assassins Association.

That’s not him. But he’s a respected leader in the coaching community — a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors — and someone who will have the instant respect of his new players because of the players he’s sent to the NBA (among them Chris Bosh) and because of his demeanor. Hewitt will never be as cuddly as Larranaga, but he will be well-liked.

That NBA connection is going to be huge for some players. I'd be very surprised if Hewitt doesn't have some of those former Tech stars drop by Fairfax to give pep talks and fire up the fan base. Hewitt may not have the personal magnetism Larranaga exudes, but knowing guys who appear on the front of cereal boxes will go a long ways toward ameliorating that deficiency.

Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner thinks Hewitt's experience may be cut to fit the situation:

At George Mason, Hewitt inherits a loaded team that will be favored to win the conference and is likely to be ranked in the preseason top 25. Pressure will be on from the start. Our guess here is that George Mason found the man best equipped to deal with it and take the Patriots onward -- and perhaps even upward.

Fan reaction has been rather more divided. A thread titled "Welcome Coach Hewitt!" at CAAZone.com offers a wide range of opinions:

Just the guy I had hoped we would land....dude can flat out recruit! - dawgs99

I love what Coach L did for our program, but I feel like we just traded in an older used car for a much younger model with better gas mileage. It's a great day to be a Patriot! - TomGMU

Terrible coach (being realized by NBA Scouts who notice how raw the bigs are and underutilized good guards are) - DontYouMeanACC

I feel like this is a pretty good hire, but not a great hire. Like (Tom O'Connor) was swinging to get on base and not strike out, but had no intention of trying to knock it over the fence. - Hugh Akston

My opinion of the hire falls in that 'wait and see' middle ground. Hewitt's record gives us plenty of positives and negatives to extrapolate from, but George Mason is not Siena (where Hewitt went 66-27 and led the Saints to the NCAA tournament), nor is it Georgia Tech (where Hewitt's best season was 9-7 in the ACC, the year he went to the NCAA title game). If anything, fans of the program must hope that Hewitt's mixture of experience garnered at the mid-major and BCS-team levels form a perfect storm at Mason.

We know Hewitt can recruit. He brought a parade of superstar athletes to Georgia Tech, but was never able to really match up with Duke or North Carolina. That's no crime, but a major red flag was appended to Hewitt's resume in 2008-9, when his 'Jackets fell to 2-14 in league play despite the presence of Gani Lawal, Alade Aminu and Iman Shumpert on that team. Last year's squad, though not nearly as loaded, lost to Kennesaw State (8-23 on the season) as well as severely depleted Siena (13-18) and Charlotte (10-20). Kennesaw fired coach Tony Ingle at the end of the season, and the Saints and 49ers outfoxed Hewitt under first-year head coaches.

Related links
Something about this hire reminds me of St. John's decision to hire Steve Lavin last season. The former UCLA head coach had a reputation as a super-smooth recruiter who wasn't the sharpest Xs and Os guy. So what made his first season in New York a success? In my opinion, it was Lavin's decision to tacitly admit his shortcomings, leading to the hire of Gene Keady as an assistant coach. If Lavin is the face and Keady the brains at SJU, it's working. Perhaps Paul Hewitt can find a similar, if cheaper and more low-profile, complementary piece for himself.

Hewitt won't have the luxury of a rebuilding job next season. He is expected to win the CAA and compete for a top-25 national ranking with the loaded team Larranaga left behind. As such, my tempered 'wait and see' is not particularly far-sighted. Mason fans will know what they got by this time next season. Only then will they know if this was a good move.

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