Seton Hall's Academic Gamble

It's taken Mike Davis a couple extra years and 4 prep schools to get to the point where he might be able to go to college on a basketball scholarship. The 6' 9" center/power forward initially committed to Pitt as a sophomore (2003), but was kicked out his high school prior to his junior year (2004), then has attended 3 other prep schools trying to graduate and become eligible.

Davis has potential, and with two extra years, extra physical maturity. It's part of why Seton Hall and Rutgers were both vying for his services. Even as schools like Pitt and Louisville backed away out of concern for his academics. The academic issues eventually scared off Rutgers. With the NCAA emphasis on academic progress reports, many schools will be unwilling to take a chance on a talented but clearly questionable student.

Seton Hall decided he was worth the risk, in part because they were desperate for help in their frontcourt. Seton Hall still has to wait and see if the NCAA Clearinghouse approves his transcript. The Pirates, are in acceptable shape with their APR number (PDF), but this is a risk if Davis can't make it out of his first season. If he does get his credits approved, he will join five other Seton Hall recruits. The recruiting class includes Chris Smith, the brother of Denver Nuggets guard, J.R. Smith.

The chance Seton Hall is taking on Mike Davis, is one that many major college basketball programs will increasingly decline to take, if the NCAA actually takes away scholarships for poor performance with the Academic Progress Reports (APR). Programs will increasingly have to weigh the risks and rewards to scholarship numbers with what the players actually offer.

It's one thing to take a player who will likely go pro after only a year or two -- and leave before the end of the semester. The rewards are obvious -- wins and NCAA Tournament money. It's another to take a reasonably talented player but marginal student who could easily become an academic casualty.

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