By Jon Rothstein
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– St. John’s Steve Lavin is strongly considering elevating former Purdue coach Gene Keady from special adviser to assistant coach to replace Mike Dunlap, multiple sources confirmed. Dunlap’s ascension to head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats was a major coup for the Red Storm program but it left a huge void on the St. John’s staff. Promoting Keady would allow Lavin to work hands on with his mentor and also give the former Boilermakers’ coach a chance to get on the floor with the Red Storm’s players. In his current role, Keady couldn’t be directly involved with practice and didn’t have the same dialogue with players during games as other assistants.

– Iona and DePaul are in the best shape to land former St. John’s recruit Norvel Pelle, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. Pelle, who originally committed to the Red Storm as part of their 2011 class was ruled academically ineligible last fall and reopened his recruitment. The Blue Demons received a visit this past week from Central Florida big man Josh Crittle, who would be eligible to play immediately next season due to NCAA violations that make the Knights ineligible for postseason play. Should Crittle, a 6-9 red shirt senior who averaged 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last season opt to play for DePaul, it would open the door for Pelle to land at Iona.

– The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center could be the hidden gem among the early season tournaments in college basketball. BYU will play Florida State and St. Joseph’s will play Notre Dame on November 16th with the winners and losers playing the following day in Brooklyn. All four teams in the field have a legitimate chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

– Whomever Villanova coach Jay Wright hires as an assistant coach following Doug Martin’s resignation last week will be beyond pivotal for the Wildcats. Martin, who came from the AAU program Team Takeover was supposed to strengthen Villanova’s ties in the DC area but he was forced to step down after it was revealed that he had inaccuracies in his bio that was posted on the Wildcats’ web site. There’s no way to dance around this — the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes are critical for Villanova. Wright still has some solid talent in the program but the Wildcats need to reload with some new blood following a 13 win season. Villanova will also have to adjust to two new starters in the back court next year following the departures of Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek.

– Coty Clarke is going to be a factor for Arkansas. The 6-7 JUCO import is a perfect fit for Mike Anderson’s frenetic system and should give the Razorbacks instant bounce as soon as he steps on the floor. There’s no reason why this team can’t be the SEC’s sleeper and compete for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. All of Anderson’s guards — Mardracus Wade, BJ Young, Rickey Scott, and Rashad Madden are capable of scoring in double figures and the Razorbacks should get a big boost from the return of veteran forward Marshawn Powell, who missed last season with injury. A good barometer for Arkansas will be on November 30th when they host Syracuse at Bud Walton Arena as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge. Set the DVR now.

– Manhattan coach Steve Masiello is confident forward Roberto Colonette will be accepted to graduate school so he can return next season for the Jaspers. The 6-7 Colonette was a valuable role player last year, leading Manhattan in charges taken while averaging 6.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Colonette still has one year of eligibility left because he missed the entire season two years ago with an achilles injury. Masiello also said there is no word on the waiver for Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey, whom the Jaspers are also hopeful will play next season.

– DePaul freshman point guard Durrell McDonald is going to have an impact. “He’s a really good player who will allow us to do some different things,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “Durrell is a tremendous athlete that will excel in our system. He should allow us to move Brandon Young off the ball a bit which we’d like to do.” The Blue Demons have only won four Big East games in Purnell’s first two seasons in Chicago but something tells me this year will be different. DePaul has some experience with Young, Moses Morgan, and talented forward Cleveland Melvin as well as some big time athleticism with sophomores Charles McKinney and Jamee Crockett. “We’ve brought in three recruiting classes now,” Purnell said. “Our junior class is legitimate. That’s a real big deal.”

– Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie is going to be one of the better players in the PAC-12. The 6-5 guard was terrific in big minutes as a freshman for the Buffaloes but he really should have an expanded role as a sophomore. With Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson, Tad Boyle’s team should be a middle of the pack PAC-12 team that has a chance to play their way up the standings as the season progresses. Last year as a freshman, Dinwiddie averaged 10 points and 3.6 rebounds a game while shooting an impressive 43.8% from three point range.

– Rider is still awaiting word on a waiver for St. John’s transfer Nurideen Lindsey. The Broncs are hopeful that Lindsey, who played nine games last season for the Red Storm will be able to play for the full duration of next season rather than just the second semester. The talented combo guard transferred to the southern New Jersey school last December to be closer to his native Philadelphia and has a viable case to be cleared due to a difficult family situation. With waivers being handed out left and right for kids transferring back to their home areas, Lindsey has a more than reasonable chance of getting the benefit of the doubt. During his nine game stint at St. John’s last season, Lindsey averaged 12.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.

– Howard Garfinkel’s “The Clinic To End All Clinics VI” is Saturday October 6th at Iona College. Clinicians include Temple’s Fran Dunphy, Michigan’s John Beilein, UCONN women’s coach Geno Auriemma, and Bob Knight. For more information call 212-246-3063.

Do you think Steve Lavin and St. John’s will take the basketball program to the next step? Let us know below in the comments section.

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