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Friday, Aug. 7, 2015: Diallo in limbo, awaiting NCAA clearance

   Leading off today: Cheick Diallo, the two-time New York boys basketball player of the year as selected by Gatorade, is in limbo at the moment because the Kansas-bound, 6-foot-9 forward has not yet been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

   The Kansas City Star reported Tuesday that the McDonald's All-American is caught up in NCAA concerns about his former school, Our Savior New American in Cenetereach.

   "I don't anticipate this being cleared up in the near future," Kansas coach Bill Self said, rather ominously.

   Diallo, a native of Mali, attended OSNA after coming to the United States to pursue a basketball career. The NCAA Eligibility Center is characterizing OSNA as being "under an extended evaluation period" while college sports' governing body determine if the school "meets the academic requirements for NCAA cleared status."

   The paper reported Diallo arrived in Lawrence, Kan., last month and enrolled in Kansas' second summer-school session. He has completed six credit hours, Self said.

   OSNA Principal Dolores Reade did not respond to voicemails and emails from the paper.

.    Our Savior New American routinely sends players to Division I programs, including center Chris Obekpa, who left St. John's this spring and announced Wednesday he will transfer to UNLV. Obekpa was suspended for the NCAA Tournament after reportedly failing a drug test.

   And then there were four: Conrad Brake has become the fourth rising senior football player at Aquinas to make his college decision, and his route to Division I is both somewhat unconventional and impressive.

   Brake said this week he will enroll at the University of Pittsburgh in September 2016, at which time his status will be that of preferred walk-on, which is generally all that a long-snapper can hope for in college. However, the Panthers have told Brake that he will be put on full scholarship beginning with the spring semester of his freshman year.

   "I've been in contact with a lot of schools through the recruiting process," Brake said, adding that South Alabama, Oklahoma State and Louisville were among the other schools involved early.

   Everything athletically and academically, though, was nudging him to Pitt as the recruiting process heated up. Brake cited his relationship with special-teams coach Andre Powell, hired away from Maryland by new Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi, the former defensive coordinator at Michigan State.

   "I had been to Pitt four times and have a great relationship with coach Powell as we have talked once a week since February," said Brake, who's been working with Adam Tanalski of the Hammer Kicking Academy. "I had other scholarship opportunities but the chance to be a preferred walk on with Pittsburgh and take over their senior's scholarship In January was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

   "My relationship with Coach Powell At Pittsburgh was second to none and I trust my future with that staff.

    Besides Brake heading to Pitt, Aquinas has quarterback Jake Zembiec (Penn State) and linebackers Jamir Jones (Notre Dame) and Taylor Riggins (Syracuse) already committed. In addition, cornerback/receiver Earnest Edwards already holds at least one Division I offer.

   More football: I've actually seen almost as much griping about this as I've seen praise, but a vote at last week's NYSPHSAA Central Committee meeting made it easier for football teams not qualifying for their sectional final to play 10 games in a season.

   Most NYSPHSAA teams play a seven-game regular season. Those losing in the sectional quarterfinals were typically done after Week 8, and non-playoff teams usually picked up one or two games in the past.

   Section 3 football chairman Keith Kempney told

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  Overall top 10 schools each year opinions differ within the coaching community and that circumstances -- such as injuries -- can impact schools decisions.

   One thing that really needs to be worked out is figuring our how to manage pairings is sections opt to go down the consolation bowls path. Some coaches subscribe to the theory that they should be playing to win, while others prefer to try getting by with as few seniors as possible so that they can get a longer look at sophomores and juniors under game conditions.

   And, naturally, winter sports coaches want their prospective players available as soon as possible -- and as healthy as possible. ADs and principals find themselves getting caught in the middle far more often than they'd like.

   Opinion: Unless there are injury issues, any coach who passes up a chance at playing at least a ninth game should seriously consider turning in his whistle, his Hudl password and his clipboard. If you're not making it to your sectional semifinals on a regular basis, voluntarily packing up the equipment before Halloween is a little lame.

   Kearney star to Temple: Section 5 basketball standout Quinton Rose announced Thursday he has committed to Temple University.

   The rising senior, a 6-foot-6 wing with strong enough ball skills to log some Division I minutes at point guard, scored 15.4 points and averaged 7 rebounds with 7 assists last winter en route to fourth-team all-state honors in Class AA.

   "(Temple) was everything that I wanted from a school since Day 1," he told the Democrat and Chronicle. "Nice campus. Great coaching. Great academics. And I wanted to play and develop. I like Philly. I actually love it. I just feel comfortable there. I've been down there twice."

   Binghamton-bound: Shenendehowa forward Carly Boland, a second-team all-state forward last winter as a junior, verbally committed to accept a basketball scholarship with Division I Binghamton University.

   Boland averaged 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.8 steals for the Plainsmen last season. She shot 53 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range.

   "I definitely wanted to go into senior year stress-free focusing on the season rather than what college I was going to go to. I can focus on winning for Shen basketball," Boland told The Saratogian.

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