In The Dig: UTEP's linebackers coach responds to a report that Mike Price & The Miners "pulled" scholarship offers from two California commits just over a week from signing day; UTEP's Tim Floyd may be chasing a former USC player who was an ESPN Top 100 recruit but who left USC amid some troubling allegations; A Bracketology Roundup; and more news and notes from around the league.
The UTEP Miners
Reason #4,543 why I Love Social Media: Yesterday, I noted that Fred Robledo, of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, reported that UTEP's coaching staff "pulled" their scholarship offers to Baldwin Park commits Demetrius Jackson and Wardell Crutchfield in hopes that the pair would grayshirt and join the Miners in the spring of 2012. UTEP linebacker coach Robert Rodriguez, via his twitter feed, posted this clear response (at around 11:15 pm last night).
I think Coach Rodriguez's comments speak for themself. And, I'll leave it at that.
Anyone who knows Mike Price knows that he would NEVER just pull a kids scholly a week before signing day. NEVER
On To Hoops
The USC Connection? A report in the Los Angeles Times notes that former USC guard Bryce Jones is heavily considering UTEP after being forced to transfer from USC. Jones is a 6'5, 175 lb. shooting guard from Woodland Hills, CA. He was the marquee member of USC coach Kevin O'Neill's 2010 recruiting class. ESPN ratedJones as the #21 shooting guard in the country and he was an ESPN Top 100 prospect.
So, why is he transferring?
According to this report, O'Neill told Jones to transfer from USC or be dismissed after he allegedly punched a teammate in the face and fractured his nose. Jones, and his father K.C. Jones, maintain that O'Neill is transferring because he was "promised" 30 minutes a game by O'Neill who never delivered that much playing time.
According to the L.A. Times, the ultra talented Jones is deciding between three schools: Gonzaga, UTEP, and San Diego State.
California's Gary Franklin Jr., a former Santa Ana Mater Dei star and onetime USC commit, was, like USC's Bryce Jones, a Woodland Hills Taft star, a starter earlier in the season but was moved to the bench and then decided to move on. Franklin chose Baylor, and a source close to Jones said he is deciding among Gonzaga, Texas El Paso and San Diego State.
UTEP has had success with giving players who have had discipline issues a second chance (see Derrick Caracter). I'm assuming that Floyd is very familiar with Jones since he plays for USC and is from California. If Tim Floyd thinks Jones will fit in at UTEP and contribute without being a troublemaker, I say go for it. Jones has immense talent and would be worth the risk.
Chasing Archie: Tim Floyd spoke at an event in Little Rock last week. Various Arkansas reports noted that he was there to recruit a few Arkansas prospects including 5 star guard Archie Goodwin. I guess this confirms it:
"Kids don’t grow up dreaming about coming to play basketball in El Paso,’’ said Floyd, who is now the coach for the University of Texas-El Paso Miners. "Archie does not know that yet, but he will.’’
Some Love from the Dagger: Yahoo Sports! Jason King has his non-AQ basketball rankings. He has UTEP at #7 among the schools from outside the Big 6 conferences. He also has a note note on Randy Culpepper.
Randy Culpepper, UTEP – The Miners are 4-1 in Conference USA play and Culpepper is one of the main reasons. The senior guard is averaging 23.8 points against league opponents compared to a 19.7 mark for the entire season
Completely Random: I stumbled upon this video of Jeremy Williams dunking last year against Memphis. I watched it 5 times. Check it out.
SBNation: SBNation's Chris Dobbertean has his new Bracketology here. He thinks C-USA is a 1 bid league.
ESPN: Andy Katz has Memphis in, with UAB and UCF among those just out of the field.
Memphis (15-4, 4-1; RPI: 45, SOS: 73) The Tigers dug deep to win at Southern Miss and UAB. They still have a trip to Gonzaga ahead, too, so this profile can improve some. UAB and UTEP also remain in the mix atop the conference, but the lack of quality wins across the board could condemn the conference to just one bid. Memphis is the best chance for an at-large right now. GW: Miami (Fla.)?
The UCF Knights
Sophomore guard Marcus Jordan has been battling a sprained ankle he suffered against Miami on Dec. 18. However, Jones said a toe injury has been Jordan's biggest problem. "It took a step off his ability," Jones said of Jordan. "He's still trying to practice and get through it."
Change it Up: Jones is going to shuffle his starting rotation in hopes of turning the season around.
Killing It: UCF is absolutely having a monster recruiting season on the turf and on the hardwood. The Sentinel has the notes.
Jacksonville shooting guard Shawn Smith picks UCF over Florida, Florida State and others
– Orange Park linebacker Terrance Plummer picks UCF over USF and UConn –
Jacksonville safety Jared Henry drops South Carolina, commits to UCF
Well Deserved: Bruce Miller has been invited to the NFL Combine.
Landmines: ESPN's Andy Katz notes that Marshall and UCF have the best C-USA non-conference wins but are merely pests for the other contenders in C-USA play.
Meanwhile, Marshall beat West Virginia earlier in the week in a nonconference rivalry game. Marshall, like UCF, has been nipped in C-USA, losing by one to East Carolina on Saturday to drop to 1-3, but both teams are a tough out for every C-USA opponent. You can expect that Marshall and Central Florida, which have arguably combined for the best nonconference wins in the league, to be pests throughout the conference season.
Agree with Pastner: Memphis coach Josh Pastner thinks this is the best the C-USA has been since the C-USA's last realignment.
Here is tomorrow nights full C-USA schedule (times are CST).
Southern Miss at East Carolina - 6:00p
Marshall at UAB - 7:00p
UCF at Memphis (CBS C) - 7:00p
SMU at Tulsa - 7:00p
Houston at Rice (CSS) - 8:00p
Tulane at UTEP (TW Texas) - 8:05p