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AM Rumble: Duval’s recruitment, Villanova arena improvements

Plus: Christian Jones finding a comfort zone; Baylor struggling with compliance; St. John’s as a sleeper; an NCAA rules fail?

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Championship Game Scenes Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Could St. John’s be a sleeper in the Big East? Our friend (and first guest if the Rumble podcast) Joseph Nardone thinks so.

All the unknowns, variables, and negatives are very real, which puts the Red Storm in a position of dealing with tempered — if not low — expectations. That remains true, but so too does the potential for them to become something special.

It is expected to happen at some point. Whether or not that happens this season remains to be seen, but don’t sleep on this sleeping giant, because who knows — maybe this is the year the giant actually hears the alarm go off.

Villanova is making moves to renovate the on-campus Pavilion. Why?

The 6,500-seat venue is more of a super-sized YMCA rather than a state-of-the art arena. There are sparse concession stands and restrooms and no true suites and other high-end amenities. Courtside seats are filled with aging, deep-pocketed alumni instead of passionate students that would create a big-game atmosphere.

It's not a great venue to watch basketball.

"It's not," Wright said, laughing. "We've got to gut it and we've got to make everything better. The fan experience, the sightlines, amenities, suites. It's got to be a major project. And it's got to be an all-basketball arena."

For the arena, naming rights are on the table. Our friends at VU Hoops go further into detail on the ideas being bounced about with the Villanova administration and monied boosters.

Former St. John’s forward Christian Jones continues to make an impact, even if he will have to play center for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels this season.

Outside the Big East

This year's great anti-NCAA rules cause will be the case of Isaiah Brock. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports has the story, and it's a good one.

To summarize: Isaiah Brock is a military man who graduated in 2011 and served in the Army in Kuwait and Afghanistan after high school, and was discharged this spring. While playing in Hardwood Classic event, where college coaches travel to the MIddle East and work with military personnel for fun - Steve Lavin had a player on his team whose skills attracted (unconventional) Oakland coach Greg Kampe.

But because of his transcript back in (a substandard) high school, the NCAA will not rule him eligible - despite the fact that he has taken two online college courses (where he earned B's) and two courses at Oakland already (where he earned an A and a B).

Parrish's story is a good read, and it would be cool to see Brock get to play under a scholarship for the Oakland Grizzlies, even if he is (as projected) not a difference-maker on the court for them.


Trevon Duval, who was down to nine schools (including St. John’s), has opened up his recruitment. We will guess that he is hoping for a Duke or Kentucky offer, now that he is at IMG Academy. IMG Academy can, most likely, get his high school class situation to a point where he won’t be an eligibility risk.

Duval is one of the top point guards in the 2017 class. He previously played at Advanced Prep in Dallas, where Terrance Ferguson went last year - and had enough eligibility issues that he chose to play a year in Australia before becoming eligible for the NBA Draft.

In recruiting news, Cincinnati landed a 6’5” player from Brooklyn’s Bishop Loughlin named Keith Williams. He’s a 6’5” shooting guard in the 2017 class and is ranked 169th in 247 Sports composite.

Oh, Baylor

On the side of "maybe the NCAA rules have merit", Baylor's Title IX coordinator stepped down and is publicly talking about how Baylor's leadership sabotaged her job.

Patty Crawford's job was to oversee sexual assault and domestic violence claims. And, as you likely know, Baylor's administration came under public scrutiny for shoveling allegations of sexual assault by football players under the table. After the firing of coach Art Briles and school president Ken Starr, the school was, one assumed, looking to turn a new leaf and be more above board in dealing with its cultural problem.

Or not.

Crawford said:

...senior leadership effectively sabotaged her efforts to do her job because they were "protecting the brand, I believe, instead of the students."... it was "clear" that the 700 percent bump in reporting "was not something the university wanted." When she put the school on written notice about concerns she had that Title IX was being violated, her "environment got worse."