College Basketball Nation: Josh Crittle

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.

UCF sidelines Michael Jordan's sons

November, 7, 2011
University of Central Florida guards Marcus Jordan and Jeff Jordan, the sons of Michael Jordan, were among five players held out of Saturday's exhibition game. Junior Marcus Jordan, the team's leading scorer, was suspended with two other players for violations of team rules, according to the school. The school also reported that senior Jeff Jordan and starting point guard A.J. Rompza were withheld pending resolution of NCAA eligibility matters.

"(The suspended players) will continue to practice each day and we'll get better as a team," coach Donnie Jones told the team's website.

The preseason has come in stark contrast to the hot start at the beginning of last season that landed the Knights a spot in the national rankings. But since then, they struggled to a 6-10 record in Conference USA and also were hit with an official notice of inquiry by the NCAA in August regarding potential recruiting violations committed by the football and men's basketball programs. Top recruit Michael Chandler also failed to qualify to become a member of this year's team.

The latest batch of bad news for UCF involves the team's high-profile players both in name and in on-court production. Marcus Jordan, who is trying to make his own name, averaged 15.2 points and led the team in assists as a sophomore. Rompza and P.J. Gaynor, one of the players suspended for team rules violations, were key contributors. Jeff Jordan is eligible this season after transferring from Illinois, as is Oregon transfer Josh Crittle, who was suspended for team rules violations.

It's the eligibility concerns of Jeff Jordan and Rompza that are most intriguing at a time when UCF is already in the process of defending itself in the NCAA case. It was already going to be tough going up against Memphis in Conference USA. If more hurdles emerge, things could get difficult for UCF.

UCF brings in impressive recruiting class

April, 19, 2011
The University of Central Florida struggled in Conference USA play and settled for the CBI after losing in the first round of the conference tournament this season. The finish was a bit disappointing given all the hype generated by the Knights' 14-0 start and resulting national ranking.

But the future appears to be very, very bright coming off a 21-win season. UCF has the No. 16 recruiting class in the nation according to ESPNU, the best of any team outside the power conferences. Second-year coach Donnie Jones has put together the best class in the program's history, bringing in two top-100 players.

Jones signed 6-foot-10 Michael Chandler, the nation's fifth-ranked center, and also secured a commitment on Monday from 6-foot-5 shooting guard Kevin Ware, who was granted a release from his signed national letter of intent following the departure of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.

They're part of a five-player recruiting class that should help bolster a team that returns top scorers Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton along with point guard A.J. Rompza. The Knights also welcome transfers Josh Crittle (Oregon), Jeff Jordan (Illinois) and Tristan Spurlock (Virginia).

"This team showed some character and I thought we finished pretty strong down the stretch," Jones, whose team went to the CBI semifinals, told the Orlando Sentinel. "We did get some postseason experience and finished with 2 1 wins. We are starting workouts with great energy. We return a group that I’m really excited about because of the steps this team went through. We got ranked in the Top 25 for the first time for close to three weeks or four weeks of our season. We brought some notoriety to the program, people got to see us and we created expectations for what this program can do in the future."

Oregon could take an APR hit, too

September, 22, 2010
Oregon already has a shortage of scholarship players, and on top of that, the four transferring players who led to it could cause the program to face APR penalties including a reduction in scholarships, according to The Oregonian.
"We're not anticipating this will do us any favors," said Bill Clever, Oregon's director of compliance. "It's not going to raise our APR, certainly, and I don't know that we've started to project what it will be yet."

Oregon's current APR (Academic Progress Rate) for men’s basketball is 944. That's a four-year average, by which the NCAA enforces academic progress, and it contains the 870 score the program earned in 2008-09.

Another score of 870 or below for 2009-10 would drop the team's APR below 925.

Aside from Josh Crittle, Drew Wiley, Matthew Humphrey, Jamil Wilson leaving the program after Oregon fired Ernie Kent, it doesn't help that the academic eligibility of guard LeKendric Longmire is in question as well.

Oregon is also currently looking into whether or not at least one former member of the team accepted extra benefits, and if anything is found, scholarships could be docked from that as well.

So yes, add maintaining a good APR score as another thing the Ducks should concern themselves with while they struggle to stay sane from suffering through one of the worst offseasons in college basketball.

Oregon hangs onto Malcolm Armstead

August, 4, 2010
New Oregon coach Dana Altman recently gave a scholarship release to guard Malcolm Armstead, but the team's leading returning scorer has decided to remain with the Ducks for his junior season.

"Malcolm wanted to make sure the University of Oregon is the best situation for him, but after studying it, he really likes his teammates and likes the university," Altman said. "After going through all that with his parents, they analyzed everything and decided the University of Oregon was still the best."

Armstead's return was important given that Josh Crittle, Matthew Humphrey, Drew Wiley and Jamil Wilson had already transferred out in wake of Ernie Kent getting fired.

Armstead as a sophomore broke the school record for steals in a single season, led the team in assists and scored 10.3 points per game.

It couldn't have hurt that Altman had a previous relationship with Armstead, having recruited him as a junior college transfer while at Creighton.

"We’re glad he’s back," Altman said.

Academics cause Washington State transfer

June, 8, 2010
James Watson had quite a life story to tell during his time at Washington State, and unfortunately for the freshman, his basketball career will now be taking a detour because of academics.

Watson, a 6-foot-7 forward who appeared in 29 of the Cougars' 31 games this season, was declared academically ineligible for the fall semester and will transfer to a junior college rather than sit out during that time.

"We wish James nothing but the best," Wazzu coach Ken Bone said in a statement.

Here's the updated list to all the West Coast transfers from this offseason.

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Arizona State: Demetrius Walker, Taylor Rohde, Brandon Thompson, Victor Rudd

Boise State: Tyler Young

BYU: Michael Loyd Jr.

Cal: D.J. Seeley , Omondi Amoke (dismissed)

Cal State Bakersfield: Marcus Hall

Fresno State: Brandon Sperling, Taylor Kelly, Mychal Ladd

Gonzaga: Grant Gibbs, G.J. Vilarino

Hawaii: Jeremy Lay, Aleksandar Milovic

Loyola Marymount: Kevin Young

Montana State: Austin Brown, Colt Idol

Nevada: London Giles

New Mexico: Nate Garth, Will Brown (dismissed)

Oregon: Drew Wiley, Matthew Humphrey, Josh Crittle

Pacific: Royal Edwards, Sterling Carter, Everson Lacerda

Pepperdine: Andy Shannon

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn , Nikola Stojiljkovic

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UC Davis: Julian Welch, Adam Malik

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed), Mike Moser

UC Riverside: Lateef McMullan, Konner Veteto

USC: Leonard Washington (dismissed), Davis Rozitis

Utah: Carlon Brown, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read

Utah State: Anthony DiLoreto (dismissed), Modou Niang, Tyrone White, Jaxon Myaer

Washington: Elston Turner, Clarence Trent

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen, James Watson

Weber State: Franklin Session

Altman performing feats of strength

May, 18, 2010
It seems like a long time ago now that Oregon was conducting a prolonged search for its head coach, and a lot of that has to do with Dana Altman's hiring calming down the masses.

It hasn't yet been a month on the job for Altman, but bits and pieces have been trickling out about him getting acquainted with the program. For example, sophomore guard Teondre Williams mentioned to Justin Young of ESPN Radio The Score that Altman works out in the weight room right alongside the players.
"He doesn’t bench heavy, heavy stuff," Williams said. "He does a lot of stretching and benches medium weights."

OK, so the 51-year-old Altman isn't Hercules. But brick by brick, he's begun rebuilding a program that's set to move into Matthew Knight Arena with high expectations.

First comes first: you need players. Three of them transferred after Ernie Kent was fired and the search dragged on, with the latest news being sophomore forward Josh Crittle's decision to leave for Central Florida.

Altman was late to the recruiting games and didn't have a legitimate shot at Terrence Jones, but managed to sign point guard Johnathan Loyd and junior college forward Tyrone Nared -- two players who the coach had a previous relationship with from recruiting them to Creighton.

"I had a chance to see the new arena we're moving into -- that really drew my attention," Nared said in a statement.

So the buzz right now around Oregon is good, and it's going to be Altman's job in the coming months to build upon that.

Some of the heavy lifting has already begun.

Coaching search might cost Oregon another player

April, 22, 2010
In the absence of a head coach, Oregon has granted sophomore forward Josh Crittle a scholarship release so he can explore other options.

"I wanted to be able to contact other schools," Crittle said in a statement. "I haven’t made any decisions on where I will be next year."

Crittle averaged seven minutes in 20 games this season.