Some news and notes to ponder as fans everywhere wait for the NBA's official list of the underclassmen eligible for the 2012 draft:
• A case can be made that the Atlantic 10 has been the best mid-major conference over the past decade, and the league appears on the verge of becoming even stronger. Butler officials have said the league wants the Bulldogs, and the school appears likely to leave the Horizon League behind for the A-10. Temple is leaving the league, meaning it would have 13 basketball-playing members. The A-10 wouldn't mind expanding to 16, and also reportedly is talking with George Mason and VCU of the Colonial. Among the current A-10 members: Xavier, Dayton, Saint Louis, Richmond and Saint Joseph's. A regularly scheduled Butler board of trustees meeting is scheduled for May 9-10, and official word could come then on a move. Frankly, the move is a no-brainer. The A-10 is a better league, and Butler's addition, not to mention mason and VCU if they come aboard, makes it even better. That leads to more NCAA bids, which leads to more money for every league member.
• New SMU coach Larry Brown could be on the verge of signing his first important recruit. Various outlets are reporting that former Arizona guard Josiah Turner, who played for the Wildcats last season as a freshman before "deciding" to transfer, is scheduled to visit SMU on Wednesday. Turner is a former five-star recruit, but he had some off-court issues and seemingly was in Arizona coach Sean Miller's doghouse from the moment he stepped on campus. Turner continues to have problems, as he was arrested over the weekend on DUI charges in Tucson, Ariz. Turner is a California native who finished high school in Winston-Salem, N.C., at a charter school (North Carolina Quality Education Academy) that drew the attention of the NCAA for its academics.
• Renaldo Woolridge played 93 games in parts of four seasons at Tennessee and averaged 3.2 points per game. So what does it say about the state of USC's program that coach Kevin O'Neill said Woolridge could make a major impact as a Trojan? Woolridge, whose dad, Orlando, played in the NBA, is eligible for a fifth season because of injuries suffered in 2010-11 and will finish up at USC. Heck, maybe Woolridge can make an impact for USC, which won one game in the Pac-12 last season.
• New LSU coach Johnny Jones made an important hire for his staff when he named Robert Kirby as an assistant. Kirby spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Georgetown after spending 12 years as Mississippi State's top assistant. Kirby is a big-time recruiter who obviously knows the Southeast from his time at Mississippi State.
• National champion Kentucky is scheduled to visit the White House on Friday. No word on whether Wildcats freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who could go 1-2 in the NBA draft, will be asked to serve as economic advisers to the President.
• NCAA president Mark Emmert actually has said some intelligent stuff recently about the NBA's age limit for the draft (which has led to one-and-done players), but he nevertheless has taken a ton of heat. Emmert, whose time in office has made Myles Brand's leadership seem like the golden age, said recently that it's up to the NBA to change the minimum age rule. First, he took shots from NBA commissioner David "You know, I am smarter than everyone else in the world, and if you don't get that, well, that just shows you're dumb" Stern, who said, among other things, that the NCAA could, if it wanted, ban players who only wanted to play one year of college ball. Then, Emmert took a shot last week from Kentucky coach John Calipari, who said Emmert's idea that players should be allowed to go to the NBA right out of high school was sending the wrong message. Calipari: "How many ninth-graders will think, 'I'm going right to the NBA?' Five hundred? One thousand? Now those kids will be really focused on academics. How could you make that statement?" Ahh, yes, the idea of academics. I guess if a player goes to college for one year, it shows they truly are focused on academics. Geez.
• Give it up for Purdue F Robbie Hummel, who was named the Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient for the 2011-12 school year. The league endowed a Medal of Honor in 1914 to be awarded annually by each school to the student-athlete demonstrating the greatest proficiency in scholarship and athletics. The league then picks an overall winner. The cool thing about Hummel's recognition: His dad, Glenn, was a tennis player at Illinois and was that school's 1976 recipient of the medal.
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