Two of the nation's best incoming freshman are still waiting for the NCAA to rule on their respective cases. Kansas' Josh Selby and Kentucky's Enes Kanter have been on the shelf for months hoping the NCAA allows them to play despite various amateurism concerns. Considering the skill of the freshmen and the high-profile nature of their programs, I'm guessing you've heard a thing or two about both.
Apparently, we can now add a third name to this list. So, no, Indiana transfer Guy-Marc Michel is unlikely to have the impact of Selby or Kanter, and, no, the team he will be playing for is not going to be in the Final Four mix by the end of the 2010-11 season. But to Indiana fans, the sudden ineligibility of Michel is a major disappointment, albeit one Tom Crean & Co. were prepared for:
“Prior to attending North Idaho Community College, Guy participated in club basketball in France, where he finished high school and enrolled in some college courses,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said in a prepared statement. “In three years with the French club, Guy participated as a member of an amateur team. In his third year, he was “called up” for limited participation with a team that included professional players.” Indiana anticipated an extended review of Marc-Michel’s status.
Under the NCAA's new rule, Michel can be declared eligible even though he played with professional players so long as he didn't receive financial compensation for doing so. If he did, he will be ineligible, and possibly unable to play at any point during this season. (He might also merely have to repay those funds, serve a suspension or some combination therein.) The case, like Kanter's, is a test of the NCAA's new rule on foreign players and their time with pro club and feeder teams. It might take a while.
Why is that so disappointing to IU fans? Because Michel is a mystery. On the recommendation of new assistant coach Steve McClain, Crean took Michel on as a transfer without ever having seen him play. But the North Idaho Community College player and native of Martinique -- who began his career at age 16 -- has drawn a few intriguing reviews during scrimmages. He also happens to be 7-feet, 277 pounds. Indiana needs size. It's no wonder Hoosier fans are eager to see the big man take the floor.
Again, the time between now and when Michael actually does so might be longer than IU fans are comfortable with. The NCAA does not rush these things. Just ask Josh Selby and Enes Kanter. And while IU's freshman review may not make the difference between an elite team or a very good one, Hoosiers fans will be anxious for an outcome all the same.
In other words, get the "Free Guy-Marc" T-shirts ready. It's not quite as catchy, but it'll do.