UTEP Basketball Update; Hamilton, Howard, and a Couple More

USA TODAY Sports

As the Isaac Hamilton saga continues to drag on, things around the UTEP basketball program continue to go on as normal. Kind of.

As we near the start of the fall semester, the 2013-14 UTEP men's basketball team is starting to take its final shape. We still don't know the fate of 5 Star SG Isaac Hamilton, but a ruling last night by the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee in the Eddie Vanderdoes case leaves little hope that he'll end up being a Miner.

Still though, technically, until any final ruling is made, the Miners last scholarship is tied up by Hamilton. As it stands today, the Miners currently have 11 scholarship players on board, while the NCAA allows a maximum of 13 full ride scholarships per year; meaning that the Miners still have one available.

Now, news hit Twitter yesterday that 5'9 PG Dulani Robinson out of the City College of San Fransisco had committed to the Miners, possibly meaning that the last and final scholarship will be heading his way. Nothing is his case is official, but he'll reportedly be taking a visit this weekend, and could sign then.

Also, some optimism had returned recently concerning former Miner commit Anthony January, an athletic 6'8 forward, after he made statements on his Twitter account that some big news was on the way. Many fans had hoped that would mean he had qualified academically, and would finally be heading to El Paso, but the more time that passes, the less likely that seems.

So as far as we know, Hamilton is potentially out, Robinson is potentially in, and January is potentially still...well still not a Miner, but that's not the end of the story. Here's a few more interesting twists.

Former Miner Twymond Howard recently took to Twitter himself, talking about the possibility of him returning to the team. Most of this talk came prior to news of Robinson committing, meaning that one would assume Howard was no longer in the picture. Right? Not exactly.

After speaking with a couple of sources who are close to the program, it seems that it is all but official that Howard will be making a return to El Paso. Should that happen, that would be music to Miner fan's ears. The team is already extremely thin at the guard position, and the addition of Howard would certainly help to provide some depth.

However, Howard's return would almost certainly mean that Isaac Hamilton is out of the picture. Or, if somehow he is still in the picture, we'll have quite the situation on our hands regarding the number of available scholarships in comparison to the number of presumable scholarship players on the team.

Add to that the fact that the Miners are also expecting to have Jeremy Hollimon, another JUCO guard, take a visit in the coming days, and a team that a week ago seemed stretched thin may all of the sudden not have enough scholarships to go around.

So all things considered, the Miner coaching staff, who was left scrambling to fill some voids with little time to do so, has made the most of bad situation. Now the only thing left to do is wait for the official ruling in the Hamilton case.

And concerning that, if you haven't had a chance to read the link above regarding the Vanderdoes case, make sure to do so. In short, after losing his first appeal to the NLI Steering Committee, the 5 Star defensive lineman out of California won a second appeal, and was deemed eligible, effective immediately.

That ruling has set a precedent that could be far reaching, and could have great negative effects on the credibility of the National Letter of Intent as a whole. It would have little effect as a binding contract, and could potentially allow players in situations such as Vanderdoes or Hamilton, to simply sign and go as they please.

Of course, the outcome of one appeal doesn't absolutely mean that Hamilton will win his, but it does make it that much more likely. And, despite recent rumors that Hamilton has yet to file an appeal, sources at UTEP confirmed that the Hamilton situation IS currently in the appeals process. For now, all we can do is sit back, and let the process run its course.

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