Monday, April 13, 2015

News and Notes: Monday Edition

Below, news and notes...

  • Dave Bliss (Cornell '65) has returned to college basketball.  See an article and video coverage from News Oklahoma:
Shamed coach Dave Bliss, whose career and reputation collapsed in the Baylor basketball scandal 12 years ago, has been hired to coach men’s basketball at Southwestern Christian University, an NAIA school in Bethany. Bliss, 71, who coached 525 victories at OU, SMU, New Mexico and Baylor in a 28-year head coaching career, resigned from Baylor in 2003. Bliss admitted to making improper tuition payments for Baylor players Patrick Dennehy and Corey Herring, and after Dennehy was murdered by Baylor teammate Carlton Dotson, Bliss attempted to provide cover for his rule-breaking by helping portray Dennehy as a drug dealer. Bliss’ book, “Fall to Grace,” is scheduled to be released later this month, in which he details his descent into scandal and his journey to forgiveness. “I don’t think for a minute any of you would do something as foolish as what I did,” Bliss writes, “but you need to understand something: I didn’t think I would, either. My obedience to what God can do with my story is truly what drives me nowadays. Although there are parts of my story that I am not proud of, I am grateful for God’s faithfulness.” Southwestern Christian athletic consultant Jim Poteet, who coached at then-Bethany Nazarene College when Bliss coached at OU 1975-80, said SCU officials believe in redemption and believe Bliss has been transformed. Southwestern president Reggies Wenyika said, “Coach Bliss fits well within our mission and culture and embraces what a Christian-based education is all about.” Since 2003, Bliss has been a volunteer coach at a Denver-area high school, coached one year for the Dakota Wizards of the Continental Basketball Association and since 2010 has been coach, athletic director and dean of students at Allen Academy, a prep school in Bryan, Texas. Southwestern Christian would be Bliss’ first return to college basketball. Under Bliss, Allen Academy ran afoul of its governing body, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, for allowing players to pay only a fraction of the school’s $10,000 yearly tuition. Allen Academy officials countered that the benefit was available to qualifying non-athletes as well. Allen Academy eventually left the association and joined a different private-school organization. Bliss grew up in upstate New York, went to Cornell, joined Bobby Knight’s staff at the U.S. Military Academy, eventually joined Knight when he was hired at Indiana in 1971 and was hired to be head coach at OU in 1975 at age 31. In 1979, the Sooners won the Big Eight championship, their first conference title in 32 years, and reached the Sweet 16.
  • Per the Knoxville News Sentinel, former Cornell assistant coach, Desmond Oliver has joined the staff at Tennessee and will earn $175,000 per year as an assistant coach.
  • The Cornell Daily Sun questions the Ivy League's eligibility rules and writes in part, "These eligibility rules, which are in place to encourage higher academic involvement for student-athletes, led Columbia forward Alex Rosenberg to withdraw from school so he could play a full senior season. It’s the reason why Cornell forward Shonn Miller, who missed his junior season due to a shoulder injury, is currently being recruited by UConn, Illinois, Boston College and Michigan to play basketball next year as a graduate student. It’s why Cornell senior pitcher Brian McAfee, who missed his junior season to a broken back, is committed to pitch at Duke."
    • SU Juice, a Syracuse blog, writes that a Top 20 caliber team could be assembled with grad school eligible players such as Shonn Miller.

    Shonn Miller, 6-7 Forward From Cornell, To Visit UConn
    As UConn found out last season, the Ivy League has some really good basketball players. Next season, the Huskies could have one of them, Cornell's Shonn Miller, on their side. Miller, who redshirted a year after shoulder surgery, has one year of eligibility remaining, but the Ivy League doesn't allow fifth-year students to play. So Miller is looking for a place to play next season as a grad student and will visit UConn next weekend, a source confirmed. "I think Shonn is a tremendous talent," Yale coach James Jones said. "He's big, strong, athletic, he had some thunderous dunks over his career, you shake your head at how awesome they were. He's a tremendous defensive rebounder. … He can fall in love with the three-pointer. I think he's more effective scoring around the basket and he could be a better offensive rebounder." With his versatility, Miller could be Kevin Ollie's kind of forward. Miller, 6 feet 7 and 215 pounds, averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Big Red, who finished 13-17. He shot 26.9 percent on threes and had 28 offensive rebounds in 30 games. Miller also led his team in blocks (55) and steals (38). "There's no question, people have a misnomer about this," Jones said. "The best players at our level, the Justin Searses of the world, the Wesley Saunderses of the world, can play anywhere. … I don't think there's a coach in our league who likes the rule; it's a perfect situation for the teams that get them, and it hurts us." A number of Ivy players in similar situations have transferred in recent years, such as Jeremiah Kriesberg, who left Yale for Northwestern last season. Aware that Miller would be a fifth-year transfer, UConn began collecting data on him and showed immediate interest after the season. Miller has met with several other schools, including Michigan, Illinois, California and Marquette. UConn has had good experiences with fifth-year transfers, such as R.J. Evans and Lasan Kromah during Ollie's first two years. There are a lot of them available now. Tyler Harris, leaving Providence, has visited UConn and has a long list of schools he is considering.
    • The UConn Blog writes, "In the interest of finding immediate contributors, the Huskies will key in on potential transfers, some of whom are fifth-year seniors who have graduated and still have an extra year of eligibility. One such transfer could be Shonn Miller of Cornell who finds himself in just that scenario thanks to a quirky Ivy League rule that prohibits the participation of graduate students. Miller recently met with UConn, as well as Michigan, Illinois, and Boston College. He was named a finalist for National Defensive Player of the Year and would complement Amida Brimah nicely to create a formidable defensive tandem. Miller also ranked second in the Ivy League in scoring last year at 16.8 points per game." 
    •  Here is another look at Cornell's incoming 8-member freshman class for next season:
        Stone Gettings (Loyola HS) Los Angeles, CA, 6-8, F
        Matt Morgan (Cox Mill HS) Concord, NC, 6-2 G
        Troy Whiteside (Webb School) Knoxville, TN, 6-4, G
        Joel Davis (Wayne Country Day School) Goldsboro, NC, 6-3
        Donovan Wright (Blair Academy) Blairstown, NJ, 6-6, F
        Joseph Ritter (Woodrow Wilson HS) Dallas, TX, 6-8, F
        Xavier Eaglin (Dayton HS) Raymond, TX, 6-7, F
        Jack Gordon (St. Mark's School) Dallas, TX, 6-4, G
        Checking in with the recruits, here are some recent honors and awards to report:  The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that Troy Whiteside was named All State for Division II-A.  The Houston Chronicle notes that Xavier Eaglin was named District 21-5A Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Baytown Sun Super 25 Team.  He also was selected to play in the Houston Area Boys Basketball Coaches Association All Star GameThe Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Donovan Wright was an Honorable Mention selection in the Mid Atlantic Prep League.  The Star Ledger also named Wright Second Team All State for Prep Schools in New Jersey.  Jack Gordon was named by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) First Team All State Private Schools (all regions) and All Southwest Preparatory ConferenceStone Gettings was named First Team All CIF 1A and First Team All Mission League per the LA Times.  Gettings was also selected to play in the Collision All Star Game in a field loaded with high major recruits.  See the story in the LA Daily News and LA SentinelWRAL reports that Matt Morgan was named 2nd Team All District 9 in North Carolina.  He was also named Honorable Mention all area by the Charlotte Observer.  The Independent Tibune also mentions Morgan's recent performance in an all-star event and writes, "Cabarrus County boys basketball standouts Matt Morgan and Jaylen Stowe acquitted themselves quite well while also representing their home state this past weekend.   Morgan, Cox Mill’s career points leader, scored 17 points to help the North Carolina squad defeat South Carolina, 106-93, in the Carolinas All-Star Classic Saturday night at Socastee High School.  Stowe, who is Hickory Ridge’s all-time leading scorer, had 11 points and four rebounds. Stowe has signed with Mercer University (Georgia).  The 6-foot-1 Morgan, who will play at Cornell University, added four rebounds, two assists and two steals."


        Anonymous said...

        It's sad that the most exciting recruiting news for Cornell is a player leaving the program. Stupid Ivy grad student rule.

        Anonymous said...

        It looks like Miller's injury was a blessing in disguise. As much as I'd like to see him play another year at Cornell, he deserves the media exposure that a high-profile program like UConn can provide. Best of luck, Shonn. Knock 'em dead.