College Basketball Nation: Jake O'Brien

1. Temple coach Fran Dunphy said Thursday that Boston University transfer Jake O'Brien will be a significant contributor for the Owls after he went through an injury-riddled career with the Terriers. O’Brien exited BU once the Terriers opted to move to the Patriot League and thus weren’t allowed to participate in the America East tournament. O’Brien is on his third coach in four seasons in college. Dunphy also said West Virginia transfer Dalton Pepper has been impressive so far in workouts and will play a key role. “We’re deep,’’ said Dunphy. “As deep as we’ve been since we’ve been here.’’

2. Butler coach Brad Stevens said he hasn’t let freshman star guard Kellen Dunham off the hook for nearly breaking his streak of getting to the first day of practice without a major injury. Dunham sprained his ankle last week when he was at an open gym for students and a 10th was needed for a five-on-five game. Dunham gladly joined in the run and then promptly sprained his ankle. But Stevens said Dunham will be good to go, despite the minor scare. Stevens said Dunham thought nothing of getting in a game with the rest of the student body since he simply loves being on the floor.

3. Central Florida’s Keith Clanton decided to stay home and finish his career with the Knights in front of his family in Orlando despite the lure of transferring for his final season since the Knights are banned for NCAA violations. Clanton was rewarded for his loyalty by being tabbed as the preseason C-USA player of the year. The Knights were a reach to make the NCAA so Clanton made a wise choice. Finish his career and college where he started and still potentially accomplish personal goals of being a POY and an NBA draft pick.
1. Former Boston University forward Jake O'Brien was on Virginia’s campus Wednesday as he debates where to play his final season of college basketball. The Cavaliers desperately could use depth inside after Mike Scott finished his eligibility. But Providence, Temple and Boston College are still in the hunt for O’Brien. O’Brien hasn’t played in over a season and a half due to injury. But a healthy O’Brien with his skill set can help the Cavaliers become a potential NCAA team. The Friars are trying to sell immediate playing time, as well. Meanwhile, PC coach Ed Cooley is dealing with a more pressing matter. He’s hoping that star recruit Ricky Ledo can get a waiver to play or at least be on campus this season as his academic reports go through the Eligibility Center. Cooley would take Ledo on campus, even if he’s not eligible. Kansas had a similar situation with a stud recruit last season when Ben McLemore didn’t get eligible but was at least on campus and around the team last season to learn the system and adapt to the program. Ledo, who has lacked stability during his career, would benefit from being in one place for a few seasons.

2. NC State coach Mark Gottfried said Wednesday that Lorenzo Brown has been cleared to participate in practice after offseason knee surgery. But Gottfried still hasn’t decided if he’ll play him on the trip to Spain in a few weeks. Gottfried said he doesn’t want to jeopardize the season just to get Brown some run in Europe. A year ago, USC’s season changed when Jio Fontan suffered a season-ending injury on an August trip to Brazil. Gottfried said the Wolfpack can’t reach their potential if Brown isn’t on the floor. Incoming freshman Tyler Lewis isn’t ready to take over in a starring role yet. Lewis is much better prepared to be an apprentice for year one with Brown as the headline act. All of that is factoring into Gotffried’s thinking of playing him on the trip. The Wolfpack are an ACC regular-season title contender.

3. A Central Florida spokesperson said the school is awaiting word from the NCAA for more clarification on head coach Donnie Jones' and assistant coach Darren Tillis' July recruiting status for 2013 and maybe for 2014. The NCAA handed down a penalty that Jones and Tillis weren’t supposed to be on the road for two of three weekends last month and all three evaluation weekends in ’13. But Jones and Tillis were on the road for at least two of the three weekends in July. An NCAA spokesperson said Central Florida would have to answer as to what will happen next to Jones and Tillis in this matter, but UCF said it doesn’t have an answer yet from the NCAA. If Jones can’t go on the road in July in 2013 and again in ’14 as a replacement for ’12 then that would be a serious hit in entering the Big East. Not going on the road in July ’13 is a sting by itself.
1. UNLV has not filed an appeal to get a waiver for the immediate eligibility of UConn sophomore transfer forward Roscoe Smith. UNLV coach Dave Rice said the school needed additional information, but they plan to send as the appeal this week. Smith, who is in summer school at UNLV, wanted out of UConn to play small forward and attempt to play in the 2013 postseason after the Huskies were banned for poor APR scores. But the NCAA rule is clear on this issue: If a postseason ban equals the length of the remaining eligibility then the transfer can get a waiver and play immediately without sitting out a year (see Alex Oriakhi at Missouri). UConn will be watching this case closely. UConn athletic director Warde Manuel said in the spring that this wouldn't be interpreting the rule differently but rather changing it. He is right. This would be a precedent-setting decision.

2. St. John's head coach Steve Lavin said he expects all eight newcomers will be eligible in the fall. The Red Storm will have five returning players for a full load of 13. Lavin, who is cancer free and ready to resume coaching after taking most of last season off from the sideline, said he has signed 18 players in 28 months on the job. The Red Storm lost two players to transfers and one to the NBA draft and two players didn't qualify during Lavin's two years. In response to the 18 he has signed, Lavin said, "I believe I signed 20 or so kids in seven years as head coach at UCLA. It was seven years worth of recruiting in 28 months (at St. John's). It is so rewarding to walk into the weight room or gym and see 13 of our kids. It's hard to articulate." Lavin is convinced with 11 underclassmen he will have one of the youngest teams in the country and in St. John's history.

3. Keep an eye on an intriguing free agent. reported that Boston University forward Jake O'Brien is leaving the Terriers after the America East decided against allowing BU to play for the NCAA automatic berth in the conference tournament. The Terriers are departing for the Patriot League in 2013. Sources told Sunday that O'Brien is looking at Providence, Boston College, Clemson, Purdue, Temple and a few others. O'Brien can play immediately by getting a waiver since he graduated. He would just have to be a grad student. O'Brien broke his foot and missed the last year-plus. The 6-foot-8 forward was the America East rookie of the year and a 13-point scorer as a sophomore before injuries befell him as a junior. O'Brien has the chance to be a scoring pop off the bench for any of these teams mentioned.