The Morning Mix

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– Conference expansion just won’t go away. Word on the street is that Boise State is going to stay put in the Mountain West Conference  for  the 2012 season and Temple will join the Big East in their place. The Owl’s move makes sense, at least for college basketball

– Could college basketball benefit from a playoff format similar to the UEFA Champions League? John Infante does a phenomenal job explaining how the CBBL and NCAA Cup would work. Whether or not casual fans would understand or accept it is a totally different story

– The broadcast teams for the NCAA Tournament have been announced. Another year, another NCAA Tournament without Gus Johnson. This needs to change

– San Fransico 49er’s head coach Jim Harbaugh served as a student manager for Indiana’s game against North Carolina Central last night. Harbaugh’s sister Joani is married to Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean, and with the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Harbaugh decided to help fill up his brother-in-law’s water bottle

– There’s no doubt that Syracuse has one of the most  loyal and passionate fan-bases in the country. Here’s what happens when Orange fandom meets interior design

– Delaware AD Bernard Muir and Michigan State AD Mark Hollis have been selected to join the NCAA Division-I men’s basketball committee

Another great-read on Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy, who is making the most out of his second chance

– Jim Calhoun will undergo back surgery and is expected to miss at least two more games. The UConn head coach has already missed nine games this season. He sat out the first three Big East games of the season due to NCAA sanctions, and has missed the last six games with spinal stenosis

– There are many reasons why Gregg Doyel is awesome. But one of the main reasons why is that he’ll say what we’re all thinking, and he’ll do it in entertaining fashion: His take on Jim Calhoun

– Big-XII Commissioner Chuck Neinas plans on leaving his post on July 1st. Neinas was named commissioner after Dan Beebe was forced out during the first wave of conference expansion

– Make sure you get a chance to read this brilliant piece from Shane Ryan of Grantland. He explains all the terrible truths about Kentucky basketball

Glen Logan details all the factual inaccuracies in Thayer Evans’ article about John Calipari

– Really? I though this Twany Beckham/Rick Stansbury beef would simmer when the game ended

– Despite the blessings from both head coaches, Maryland and Georgetown will not be playing each other any time soon. David Elfin says what we’re all thinking

Rush The Court takes a stab at this “16-best college basketball teams of a all-time” idea that CBS Eye on CBball is rolling with

– Jack Blankenship, the “Alabama weird-face guy” is now officially a D-list celebrity

– Despite a 6-21 season plagued by injuries, USC head coach Kevin O’Neil is confident he’ll be back in SoCal next season

– Jeff Goodman explains why the Crosstown Brawl was only the beginning of Xavier’s problems

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.