- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. Howard Moore was an ambassador for UIC during the NBA draft combine. He was greeting NBA personnel and celebrating the practice facility that was getting plenty of air time on ESPNU. Well, Moore can't exactly say the pre-draft camp being housed on his practice floor in early June was the reason, but he is a believer that it helped land Central Florida transfer Josh Crittle. Crittle, who is from Illinois, had one season left to play after transferring from Oregon and playing one season with the Knights. Crittle put up modest numbers last season (4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds), but at 6-9 he gives the Flames necessary size. The postseason ban at Central Florida allowed Crittle to leave and play immediately. His teammate Keith Clanton decided to stay while two other seniors -- CJ Reed (Georgia Southern) and Marcus Jordan (stopped playing) -- opted to leave. The Flames also picked up Eastern Illinois' Joey Miller immediately after his father, Mike, was fired as head coach. That means the Flames suddenly have two veteran players -- one inside and one outside -- to go with returning leading scorer and point guard Gary Talton, 3-point shooter Danny Barnes, four-man Hayden Humes and 7-foot newcomer Matt Gorski. Valparaiso and Detroit are the clear frontrunners. But with Butler gone, the Flames (3-15 in Horizon, 8-22 overall last season) suddenly will be much more competitive. Moore and the Flames beat out DePaul for Crittle. Now the Flames have legit players on the roster and have a real chance.
2. Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski reiterated Tuesday that the decision to expel leading returning scorer Dez Wells was a University Conduct Board and had nothing to do with athletics. Bobinski said that the Wells incident, on the heels of the departure for the enigmatic Mark Lyons, won't change recruiting. Bobinski said, "We'll always do the very best to identify prospects that fit at Xavier as students, people and athletes.'' Meanwhile, Xavier's hold on a top spot in the A-10 is about to end. The timing of Butler and VCU joining the conference doesn't bode well for the Musketeers. Xavier will have a hard time staying in the rear-view mirror of those two teams, front runner Saint Louis and re-surging Saint Joseph's and UMass, let alone traditional title contender Temple for one more season before the Owls leave for the Big East.
3. New Orleans' decision to stay Division I and get into the Southland Conference is tremendous for the Privateers and the city that yearns for competitive, higher level teams. But it's unfortunate for the players who left and head coach Joe Pasternack who moved on to be an assistant at Arizona. The players and staff bolted once the program was headed to Division III and then Division II. The school had legitimate financial concerns because of the move out of the Sun Belt. But the Privateers are now ready to be Division I members again, this time in the Southland. It's a shame that the players and staff, especially Pasternack, a native of the city, weren't given the chance to stay without the odd hiccup of indecisions on what NCAA division the school should compete in.