The Morning Mix

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– Myron Medcalf provides a fantastic analysis on the new era of collegiate big men, especially the ones on display in the Sweet-16

– Critically-acclaimed journalist Bob Ryan put together a fantastic (and lengthy) article on this year in New England college basketball

– If Florida beats Marquette, and Louisville beats Michigan State, the West region finals would pit former-Providence star Billy Donovan against his former-Providence coach Rick Pitino. Jeff Eisenberg wrote a compelling article on the subject matter

– Andy Glockner breaks down which Sweet-16 coaches are under the greatest amount of pressure

– Here’s a rather interesting opinion from the Washington Post on late game refereeing. Should refs adjust the implementation of the rules during the final few minutes of the game? Sally Jenkins has some suggestions.

– A lengthy tournament stay can provide a lot of financial support to a mid-major program, but it still pays to be in a BCS-conference

– With everybody paying attention to the status of Kendall Marshall’s right wrist, this would be the perfect time for Harrison Barnes to steal the spotlight

– Jeff Goodman provides an excellent-read on Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and the debilitating disease that he doesn’t let hinder his coaching performance

– The best individual match-up of the Sweet-16 might just be the battle on the block between Yancy Gates and Jared Sullinger

– Eamonn Brennan tries to determine what the ideal Final Four team would look like

– An-awesome read from the Florida Times-Union on the tremendous leadership skills of freshman guard Bradley Beal

A position-by-position breakdown of the Indiana-Kentucky rematch. Will the Georgia Dome play a factor in the postseason rematch?

Iowa State star Royce White has decided to enter the NBA draft. His stock is at an all-time high, and has the talent and physical tools to become a great NBA player. The one issue that could arise is his anxiety disorder and his rather larger fear of flying, which is, as you know, the only way NBA teams travel

– It looks like Texas freshman Myck Kabongo is going to enter the NBA draft, becoming yet another Longhorn to exit Austin early in his career. Since 2003, nine underclassmen have left Texas for the NBA draft. Of those nine, seven have been guards

Rutgers big-man Gilvydas Biruta has decided to transfer.The Lithuanian-born sophomore was plagued by consistent foul trouble throughout the season. While no potential landing spots have been announced, Rhode Island seems to be a logical fit, as Biruta played for new Rams head coach Dan Hurley in high school.

– As we mentioned yesterday, three players, including leading scorer T.J. McConnell, are transferring from Duquesne. What does McConnell’s loss mean for the Dukes? We know for a fact that McConnell will not be heading to Pittsburgh or Robert Morris. McConnell, who is one of the most unheralded guards in the country, wants to play for a bigger school

UConn junior forward Alex Oriakhi has decided to transfer. The big-man had a difficult year due to the arrival of Andre Drummond. Because of the APR sanctions against UConn, Oriakhi would be able to play at his new school right away. This factor will make him a hot commodity on the transfer market

– Maryland got some good news yesterday. All-conference guard Terrell Stoglin announced his intentions to return to College Park for his junior season

– Michigan’s standout freshman guard Trey Burke is going to inquire about his NBA draft status. This comes just a day after it was announced that three Wolverines had decided to transfer

– Trey Zeigler’s face value is going to get him to a bigger school than he might be worthy of. The former-four star recruit decided to attend Central Michigan in order to play for his father Ernie. But when the school fired his dad last week, the shooting guard decided to transfer

– Bobby Hurley, the older brother of new Rhode Island head coach Danny Hurley, has decided to bypass the Wagner opening to follow his brother to Kingston. But, as Adam Zagoria explains, Hurley still longs to be a head coach eventually

– VCU head coach Shaka Smart has turned down Illinois’ $2.5-million offer to become the Illini’s next head coach

– Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall has no interest in the vacancy at Nebraska. As of now, Nebraska has yet to make any formal offers

– Shaka Smart and Frank Martin will serve as guest in-studio analysts for CBS’ coverage of the NCAA tournament this weekend

– What does Missouri need to focus on in the off-season? Rock M Nation provides a detailed report

– Butler lost to Pittsburgh last night in the College Basketball Invitational. Brad Stevens hopes his team can make it back to the Big dance next year, because sitting out has been excruciatingly difficult

– A pretty-awesome story about a guy who found a basketball signed by the entire 1962 Cincinnati team that won the National Championship. Where did he find the autographed basketball? At a storage auction, of course!

– The Washington Post has selected their Elite Eight in the “Most Hate College Teams” bracket

– The TD Banknorth GArden will be the only regional site to have a unique hardwood floor. The home of the Celtics will have the NCAA tournament layout, but with its signature parquet pattern. But the various Boston championship banners belonging to the Celtics and the Bruins will not be hanging in the rafters

Yet another reason why Marquette head coach Buzz Williams is the most interesting and entertaining coach in the country

Bob Knight finally said the word “Kentucky”, which undoubtedly made The Big Lead very happy

– Speaking of Bobby Knight and his refusal to say the word “Kentucky”, KSR broke down how coach Knight might interact in society without using the word

– This is the greatest and most hilarious basketball flop you will ever see

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.

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.