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August 20, 2009

Memphis penalty not impacting recruiting

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NEW YORK - The University of Memphis may have to forfeit its 2008 Final Four appearance, but the penalty doesn't seem to be having a negative impact on recruiting - at least not with a couple of highly touted players at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event slated for Harlem's Rucker Park on Friday night.

"I kind of figured some kind of penalty was going to happen ... I didn't know what," said Will Barton, a 6-foot-6 senior shooting guard from Wolfeboro, N.H. Brewster Academy. "Vacating the season, they had a pretty good year that year. They lost in the championship [to Kansas], so I'm sad to see that go. But it's a new era and we've got to move on and build some new success."

Barton and his brother, Antonio, a point guard who will play at Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep, both verbally committed to Memphis coach Josh Pastner over the summer.

Will Barton is ranked the No. 11 overall prospect in the 2010 class by Rivals.com.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal, citing a source close to the situation, reported late Wednesday that Memphis will vacate its 2008 Final Four appearance. The NCAA is expected to release the findings of its investigation into violations committed by the program Thursday afternoon.

The NCAA investigated whether someone took the SAT for former Memphis guard Derrick Rose, now with the Chicago Bulls. That made Rose retroactively ineligible. His older brother, Reggie Rose, was also found to have accumulated $2,260 in travel expenses. Memphis was notified of potential violations in January and met with the NCAA in June.

It would be the second time both Memphis and former head coach John Calipari, who left Memphis after the season to coach Kentucky, had to vacate Final Four seasons. The Tigers were stripped of their 1985 appearance under Dana Kirk. Calipari's Massachusetts team lost its 1996 berth because Marcus Camby took money from an agent.

Only Memphis' 1973 Final Four appearance will remain on the books.

Will Barton said because no penalties would be imposed on the current or future team, he wasn't "too worried about it."

"Really, no other penalties happened," he added. "We didn't get any bans for the NCAA Tournament and postseason play, so I think everything will be good."

Barton said he would try and communicate that message to other Memphis targets, including 5-11 Memphis (Tenn.) White Station point guard Joe Jackson, who is considering Memphis, Kansas and Tennessee. Power forward Tobias Harris, of Dix Hills (N.Y.) Half Hollow Hills West, has a long list of schools - but Barton will talk with him as well.

"I kind of knew about it before," said Jackson, who lists Memphis as his favorite. "I already knew what went down so I was just waiting on them to get rid of that season because I knew there was a lot of funny stuff going on."

Like Barton, Jackson said the penalty wouldn't impact his decision.

"As long as it don't got to do with the current players, and the players in the future, I'm good," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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