The Morning Mix

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– How many times on Friday will we read some of sort variation of the following: Is Louisville this year’s UConn?

– An awesome list of the 21 most interesting Final Four fields in tournament history

– According to Forbes Magazine, John Calipari is the most overpaid coach in college basketball

– Six, count ’em SIX players have decided to transfer from San Francisco. That must be some sort of record

– Ohio guard D.J Cooper took back what he said last week about Tennessee and Baylor contacting him after his freshman year. Wait, what? He released a statement indicating he was lying? Or is he just covering up? The post-game press conference following the Ohio-UNC game tonight should be

– Speaking of Ohio-UNC, you should probably get to know Stillman White and Justin Watts, who look to fill in for Kendall Marshall as UNC’s point guard

– Michigan State was the first No.1-seed to get bounced from the tournament. Was this the biggest upset loss of  Tom Izzo’s career?

– It was reported yesterday that Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe was granted a sixth year of eligibility. But the report has yet to be confirmed. Mbawke’s season ended abruptly when he tore his ACL back in November

A look at the top NBA prospect from each Sweet-16 team

– Creighton star Doug McDermott will return to school for his Junior season

– Duke junior forward Mason Plumlee will forgo his senior year in order to enter the NBA draft. If Austin Rivers decides to leave early too, Duke could be in a lot of trouble next year

– Andy Katz is reporting that Memphis guard Will Barton will leave the school in order to enter the NBA draft. Barton finished the season on a hot streak, and looks to cash in while his stock is high.

– Yet another Wake Forest player has decided to transfer. Last week it was Tony Chennault, and this week it’s sophomore center Carson Desrosiers. Next week could be Anthony Fields

Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody will return for next season. The coach is a perennial member of the coaching hot seat, but another tournament snub didn’t deter the school from bringing him back

– Oregon head coach Dana Altman will not pursue any job openings, specifically the Nebraska one. Before arriving in Eugene, Altman spent seven seasons as head coach at Creighton

Jonathan Givony provides a must-read article on everything you need to know about “testing the waters in 2012”

– Villanova guard Maalik Wayns is not going to test the NBA draft waters. He is going to navigate them at full-steam. The junior will not be returning to the Main-Line for his final season

– Charlotte 49er’s guard Jamar Briscoe has decided to leave the program and will transfer to a different school

–  It is being reported that J’Covan Brown, the leading scorer for the Texas Longhorns, will leave school in order to enter the NBA draft. Along with Myck Kabongo, the Longhorns will lose their two best scoring threats to the NBA draft

– Iowa State freshman Tavon Sledge has decided to transfer in hopes of getting more playing time

– Just to be clear, Alex Oriakhi’s decision to transfer from UConn had nothing to do with Jim Calhoun

– Speaking of Oriakhi, there was speculation that Alex may look at Vanderbilt as a potential landing spot. However this would not be possible because the SEC does not allow players with one year of eligibility left to join teams if they are immediately able to participate

– Back in February, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist stated that he was staying at Kentucky for his sophomore season. But on Thursday, reports surfaced that he would enter the NBA draft at the end of the season. But since then has released a statement that hasn’t exactly refuted the report but hasn’t backed up the statement he made in February

– Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore, the 2012 CAA Defensive Player of the Year, was arrested just minutes before the tip-off of his team’s CITgame on Wednesday. The arrest was stemming from a DUI arrest last summer

– An awesome infographic on how fans consume March Madness

– Shabazz Muhammad will finally make his college decision on April 11th, the first day of the spring signing period

– Dan Harrell, the legendary custodian who presides over The Palestra, is set to retire after 23 years of service. While this might be seen as a goofy headline, know that Harrell is the primary caretaker for the most historical basketball court in the country. that’s nothing to scoff at

– What is the better championship bet: Kentucky or the field?

– Gatorade announced their high school Player of the Year awards for each state

– Marquette might have lost, but Darius Johnson-Odom hit a shot that will never be duplicated again

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.