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Monday / February 6.
  • Here are a couple of quick Big East men’s basketball notes:

    **Seton Hall sophomore forward Herb Pope has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft and is eligible to return to the team next season, health permitting.

    The 6-foot-8 Pope collapsed April 28 during a workout at Seton Hall’s Recreation Center and remains hospitalized at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J.

    He averaged 11.5 points and a Big East-best 10.7 boards last season.

    Junior guard Jeremy Hazell and junior forward Jeff Robinson also pulled out of the draft. Should Pope recover and return to the court, Seton Hall would have a very skilled and experienced team under first-year coach Kevin Willard. Guards Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence are also expected to return.

    Kadeem Jack is a hot commodity right now, so hot that the North Carolina Tar Heels have come calling and Jack is interested.

    The 6-foot-9 senior forward out of Manhattan Rice High School is planning a visit to North Carolina sometime soon although no date has been set.

    “They called me a few times,” said Rice High School coach Maurice Hicks, who will soon become the Director of Basketball Operations at St. John’s. “[Assistant] coach [Steve] Robinson has called.

    “Kadeem has contacted them. I think there could be a visit coming up in the near future.”

    Hicks didn’t rule out the possibility that Jack could even end up committing to the Heels if he were to visit.

    Khem Birch is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2012 by the New England Recruiting Report.

    After taking an unofficial visit to Providence Thursday, Birch lists the Friars as his leader.

    “Yeah,” he told ZAGSBLOG contributor Alex Kline. “It’s so beautiful. The facilities are amazing. I like how small the campus is.”

    Siena, Virginia, UConn, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Pitt, Purdue and Notre Dame are among the other schools involved with Birch, who recently left The Winchendon (Mass.) School for Notre Dame Prep.  (LIST WAS UPDATED)

    One year after fellow Canadian Tristan Thompson departed Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict’s Prep for Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, Myck Kabongo is going the same route.

    Kabongo, a 6-foot-2 rising senior point guard who has committed to Texas, will transfer to Findlay for his senior season.

    Findlay is the two-time National High School Invitational (NHSI) champion.

    The program has gone 97-3 over the past three seasons.

    Mike Rice isn’t wasting any time on the recruiting trail.

    Having offically taken over the Rutgers head coaching job on Thursday, Rice will host a pair of Baltimore natives who are postgraduates at Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep next week.

    Cleveland Melvin, a 6-foot-8 wing forward who initially committed to UConn, and Antoine Myers, a 6-3 point guard, will visit Rutgers May 11-13.

    “Yes, that’s the plan,” said Anthony Lewis, head coach of the Baltimore-based Cecil Kirk AAU program that features both players. “It’s been in fruition for some time but Coach Rice had some obligations with his new position in terms of the media. He’d been trying to set it up ever since he was confirmed for the job.”

    UConn will hold a press conference at 10:45 Friday morning to announce a contract extension for head coach Jim Calhoun.

    His current contract pays him more than $1.6 million per season and expires in June.

    The new five-year contract will be retroactive for one year at a new salary of about $1 million more annually, a source close to Calhoun said. He will have four more years running through the 2013-14 season.

    “I feel very comfortable signing a new contract and I think the university feels very comfortable signing a new contract,” Calhoun recently told The Wall Street Journal.