The Morning Mix

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The big news of the day is that Frank Martin is leaving Kansas State in order to become the new head coach at South Carolina. The decision to leave has a lot to do with his rocky relationship with K-State Athletic Director John Currie. He may not realize it now, but letting Martin walk was a huge mistake. The coaching search at K-State should get interesting.

– Vincent Council has announced that he will return to Providence for his senior season. With the addition of Chris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo, the Friars look to be much better in 2012-2013

– The All-American teams were released today, and Anthony Davis wasn’t a unanimous vote thanks to two voters. They would be smart to never step foot into the state of Kentucky. The first team was void of any backcourt players

– Harrison Barnes was a preseason All-American before his freshman season, but for the second straight year, he was nowhere near the A-A selections

– A quick yet informative primer on the Final Four

– Speaking of interesting  coaching searches, the one at Illinois is turning into a debacle, so sayeth Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh. Illini fans are upset, and they probably should be. Ohio head coach John Groce is the clubhouse leader at the moment, but no there have been no offers yet

– Steve Prohm has agreed to a one-year extension with Murray State. if Prohm can replicate the success his team had this year, he will be a top candidate for every opening in the country

– Random Craigslist offerings are becoming a disturbing trend when championship games roll around. First it was the Philadelphia fan who was offering sex for Phillies’ World Series tickets. Now there’s a Kentucky fan that is will sell his wife for Final Four tickets

– Syracuse guard Dion Waiters will leave school in order to declare for the NBA draft. Waiters had a tremendous sophomore season, and was named Sixth man of the Year, but he did threaten to trasnfer at the end of last season.

– Mississippi State should have an interesting off-season. Rick Stansbury retired at the end of the season. Arnett Moultrie should get drafted in the first round of June’s NBA draft. Renardo Sidney has decided to declare for the draft after two drama-filled seasons, and freshman Deville Smith has decided to leave school. Will anybody actually draft Sidney? I certainly hope not

– With Tim Miles leaving Colorado State in order to take over at Nebraska, are a few Big Sky coaches in the mix for the vacancy?

– Bruiser Flint has been given a contract extension at Drexel. The Dragons had one of their best season in recent history and were the top Selection Sunday snub.

– North Carolina assistant Jerod Haase has been hired at UAB  as the new head basketball coach

A running list of the NBA draft early entrants

– Austin Rivers is officially declaring for the NBA draft. The Duke freshman had a decent season, capped by his buzzer-beating game-winner against UNC. But he did get removed from the starting lineup at one point. That being said, he’s still going to get drafted in the first round

– After early reports indicated he would enter the draft, Texas freshman Myck Kabongo has decided to return to Austin for his sophomore season

Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham will reportedly test the NBA draft waters

– Rice freshman point guard Dylan Ennis and forward Jarelle Reischel have decided to transfer from the university

– Steve Alford’s son Bryce will attend New Mexico in order to play for his dad

– Paul Biancardi breaks down a list of one-on-one matchups he can’t wait to see at the McDonald’s All-American game

– If you want to read a 4,000 word post recapping four of the  one-bid leagues, this post is for you

– Now, this is a conference recap I can focus on. Hustle Belt details the peaks and valleys of all the MAC teams

The merger between Conference-USA and the Mountain West Conference has  been put on hold

– The CAA is vehemently denying that VCU and George Mason will leave in order to join the Atlantic-10

– St. Joseph’s had a good year. They faded down the stretch, but if they can make some improvements, next season could be special

– Of course Kentucky is going to bring the heat on Louisville fans. If you love a good back-and-forth insult-fest, strap in for the next four days. This argument might be different if UNC hadn’t lost to Kansas, but well, they did. Is Louisville-Kentucky the best rivalry in the country? Card Chronicle certainly thinks so.

If you didn’t do this at least once as a child, you aren’t a college basketball fan

Top 2018 recruit R.J. Barrett names final five schools

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A top player in 2018 is down to five schools.

R.J. Barrett, a 6-foot-6 guard out of Monteverde Academy in Florida, announced Wednesday he’ll consider Arizona, Duke, Michigan, Oregon and Kentucky as his college destination.

Barrett is among those in the mix for the top spot in his class now with Marvin Bagley III reclassifying to 2017 this week and committing to Duke. He starred in Canada’s run to a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships this summer, dropping 38 points on Team USA in a shocking semifinals win for the Canadians, who went on to defeat Italy in the finals. He averaged 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 rebounds per game during the event.

The schools to make the cut for certainly are of little surprise. They’re among the biggest brands in basketball and have been among the recruiting elites for years.

Barrett was originally part of the 2019 class, but decided to reclassify earlier this summer.”Really, it’s been a thought of mine for the last year,” Barrett wrote for USA TODAY, “but I wanted to wait and see how the season would go and how school would go and when everything went well it became more and more real so I made the decision to go ahead and do it.

“I’m right on track to graduate in 2018 and academically everything is great.”

 

Big Ten reveals conference schedule with early-December games

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We knew it was coming, but seeing it in black-and-white is still plenty jarring.
The Big Ten is going to play conference games in early December.

The league announced its full conference schedule Wednesday, unveiling 14 first-week-of-December games ahead of nearly a month-long hiatus before Big Ten play picks up again in January.

It’s a move that was forced after the Big Ten decided it needed to expand its east coast presence after its expansion to Rutgers and Maryland, and will be playing its conference tournament on the eastern seaboard for the second-consecutive year, this time at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The problem with MSG is that the Big East hosts its annual conference tournament there, meaning the B1G will have to play its tournament a week early, March 1-4. That means a week less of January, February and March for the conference to play its 18 league games. Thus the early December start. NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster broke down the situation in even more detail – and bite – last spring here.

Every team in the league will play both a home and a road game during that league’s first week, a soft opening if you will. Whether teams like the change or not will likely come down to circumstance  – what players they have injured or suspended, what players their opponents have injured or suspended and any other host of issues, but it’s hard to believe with all things being equal, Big Ten coaches will like this move. They’re playing extremely meaningful league games less than three weeks into the season with other conferences getting nearly 2 months of preparation before facing their toughest slate of games.

The B1G, though, will have more favorable and interesting games – even if they’re programmed against college football championship games (including their own) – that week than any other conference can boast, which likely means some nice TV ratings. Given why this change is being made, that’s probably the priority anyway.

South Carolina adds Maine grad-transfer Myers

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South Carolina is adding some immediate help in its follow-up season to a Final Four run.

Wesley Myers, a graduate transfer from Maine, is joining the Gamecocks’ program, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

The 6-foot-2 guard gives Frank Martin’s team an instant infusion of scoring as they look to replace SEC player of the year Sindarius Thornwell and PJ Dozier. Myers 16.9 points per game last year on 43.7 percent shooting, including a 34.3 percent mark from 3-point range.

He’s the second grad-transfer Martin has picked up this offseason, joining Florida Atlantic’s Frank Booker. The pair should help ease the transition from last year’s success to a much less experienced team that returns just a pair of starters.

Myers, though, doesn’t arrive in Columbia without some notable history.

Last year, after transferring to Maine from Niagara, was suspended after an altercation with a teammate, according to reports. He and teammate Marko Pirovic argued over locker room music, and the alleged ensuing altercation left Pirovic with a broken jaw, according to reports. Three other Maine players were suspended after telling a team athletic trainer that Pirovic had injured himself in a fall in the shower. Pirovic declined to press charges.

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett: ‘We believe in diversity and unity to its fullest extent’

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Virginia’s Tony Bennett finally spoke out on last weekend’s clash between white supremacists protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and counter-protesters that resulted in the deaths of a 32-year old woman named Heather Heyer and two police officers involved in a helicopter crash:

Bennett does not exactly take a hard-line stance — the message is more about healing within the community and how much he loves his current hometown than it is about condemning what happened — but he does say “we believe in diversity and unity to its fullest extent.”

Kyle Guy, a sophomore on the Virginia roster, had this to say on Sunday:

UNC academic case finally reaches NCAA infractions hearing

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — It has taken more than two years for North Carolina to appear before an NCAA infractions committee panel since initially being charged with five top-level violations amid its long-running academic scandal.

The two-day hearing begins Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. The panel will ultimately determine whether the school faces penalties that could include fines, probation or vacated wins and championships, making this a major step toward resolution in an oft-delayed case filled with starts, stops and twice-rewritten charges.

“The hearing stage, no matter what size of a case, it’s a big deal to any university,” said Michael L. Buckner, a Florida-based attorney who has worked on infractions cases. “I’ve been a part of what you’d consider small cases, I’ve been a part of one of the largest cases. And trust me: The client feels the same anxiousness and apprehension no matter what size of a case it is.

“But I can definitely imagine with North Carolina, this is definitely a momentous occasion.”

The charges include lack of institutional control in a case tied to irregular courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department. The case is an offshoot of a 2010 football probe, with the NCAA reopening an investigation in summer 2014, filing charges in May 2015, revising them in April 2016 and then again in December.

The panel, which would typically issue a ruling weeks to months later, is chaired by Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and includes former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

UNC’s representatives were seen arriving for the closed-door hearing at a Nashville hotel Wednesday morning. The contingent included athletic director Bubba Cunningham, men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, football coach Larry Fedora and women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell. Jan Boxill and Deborah Crowder, two former UNC employees charged individually in the case, were also seen with their attorneys.

None of the coaches are charged with a violation. But football and men’s basketball are referenced in a broad-based improper benefits charge tied to athlete access to the irregular courses, while women’s basketball is tied to a charge focused on a former professor and academic counselor providing improper assistance on assignments.

Fedora wasn’t working at UNC during the time in question.

“There’s nothing that I can add to what happened before I ever got here,” Fedora said last week. “But I’m there for support. I think me being there is important — not only for the NCAA but the university — that it shows compliance is important to me and our program.”

The focus is independent study-style courses misidentified as lecture classes that didn’t meet and required a research paper or two for typically high grades. In a 2014 investigation, former U.S. Justice Department official Keorneth Wainstein estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes making up roughly half the enrollments.

The NCAA has said UNC used those courses to help keep athletes eligible.

UNC has challenged the NCAA’s jurisdiction, saying its accreditation agency — which sanctioned the school with a year of probation — was the proper authority. In a May filing , the school stated it “fundamentally believes that the matters at issue here were of an academic nature” and don’t involve NCAA bylaws.

The NCAA enforcement staff countered in a July filing: “The issues at the heart of this case are clearly the NCAA’s business.”

UNC has argued non-athletes had access to the courses and athletes didn’t receive special treatment. It has also challenged Wainstein’s estimate of athlete enrollments, saying Wainstein counted athletes who were no longer team members and putting the figure at less than 30 percent.

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