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Marshall basketball: New rule gives Herd better call on recruits

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- On one weekend last month, the Marshall basketball program reaped the benefits of two NCAA rule changes that were implemented in October.

While Herd Coach Tom Herrion was in the Henderson Center watching a legal five-player workout that included soon-to-be signee D.D. Scarver, his assistants were taking advantage of the first of two April evaluation weekends.

Herrion was focused on the near future with Scarver, who is an athletic scorer with a shooting touch who should immediately help a team that finished last in Conference USA in free-throw percentage and next-to-last in 3-point percentage last season.

The assistants were looking down the road a bit, trying to unearth two or three frontcourt bodies to headline Marshall's 2013 recruiting class.

Herrion took advantage of one of six rule changes with Scarver's visit. Prospective student-athletes are permitted to participate in a workout on official or unofficial visits, so the Herd's third-year head coach put the junior college transfer through a mutually beneficial on-court evaluation.

"You can have a prospect and no more than four of your other players," Herrion said. "We put (Scarver) through a skill workout.

"I trust (assistant coach) Mark Cline and I had seen the guy on tape and knew he was good enough, but I think it's beneficial for a kid to come here and step on the floor with the head coach and know what the developmental program is going to be like."

Previously, head coaches couldn't so much as watch a prospective recruit play a harmless game of H.O.R.S.E. with, possibly, his future teammates.

The rule change is aimed at curbing the rash of transfers in college basketball.

"It's becoming a bit of an epidemic," Herrion said.

That's why the two weekend evaluation periods in April were implemented, too. In the past, coaches concentrated their evaluation efforts to July and the plethora of AAU tournaments across the country.

"It's always great when you have a chance to see a bunch of kids," Herrion said. "You usually go into July blind and you are going off of a lot of scouting service lists.

"We've laid our eyes on a bunch of guys, but so have other schools. Our emphasis in the Class of 2013 is strictly on the frontcourt, so it's going to be a challenge because those positions are usually at a premium."

The upside, however, is that Herrion and his staff will have more of an opportunity to make the correct call on those players.

"We are going to have more evaluations now," Herrion said. "Hopefully that will minimize the 'mistakes' on both sides and shorten up the transfer list."

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SCARVER SIGNED with Marshall two weeks after his official visit, which makes him the sixth junior college import in Herrion's three recruiting seasons.

Herrion brought in guard Johnny Higgins and Twitter sensation Aundra Williams in 2010 and Dennis Tinnon and Robert Goff before last season.

Scarver, a 6-foot-4 guard, will be joined by 6-8 forward Elijah Pittman as JUCO newcomers this season.

"We've got to try and get the best players we can so we can contend in Conference USA," Herrion said. "I think the blend of high school guys and the guys in junior college has been good for us. Our roster isn't going to be littered totally with junior college guys, but we want to continue to move this thing forward.

"If we have the opportunity to add a guy who has played 60-plus games on the junior college level, we're going to do it."

In addition to Scarver and Pittman, this season's newcomers include two high school recruits - point guard Kareem Canty and guard Tamron Manning - and academic non-qualifier Isaiah Williams, who sat out last season per NCAA rules.

Williams is on track to gain eligibility this summer, and another academic non-qualifier, Kelvin Amayo, should join the program after the conclusion of the fall semester in December.

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IF YOU'RE a savvy numbers guy or gal, you may have noticed that the aforementioned five incoming players outnumber the outgoing four (three seniors and the jettisoned Justin Coleman).

That means Marshall has 14 scholarship players for 13 spots, an annual math riddle that seems to get solved by the time the school year starts every August.

This year's surplus is a welcome issue, especially with Tinnon's case for an extra year of eligibility not yet resolved.

Other issues could crop up too. If you'll recall, Johnny Thomas didn't formally walk away from his final year of collegiate eligibility until the last week of May.  

"I feel really good about the makeup of our roster," Herrion said. "Some of those decisions are going to be made for me. Different things pop up with different guys every year. It'll sort itself out. It always does."

Contact Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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