The Morning Mix

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Grantland’s Chuck Klosterman explains that if Kentucky wins the National Championship, it might be the undoing of college basketball. It’s a good-read and is well-written, but the argument at the heart of piece is kinda, well, shortsighted.

– The four participating teams in new Orleans are chalk-full of former four and five star recruits

Gregg Doyel fears this super-mega rivalry game might just be too much for us to handle

Andrew McCarthy wrote a fabulous article about the rambunctious nature of basketball-savvy Kentuckians in comparison to the rest of the state

– There are ten things you need to do before watching the Kentucky-Louisville game this weekend

– Drew Franklin provides a list of ten things that Kentucky fans need to know about the Final Four weekend

– Speaking of the game, if you are a Wildcats fan and live in Louisville, you will not be welcomed at Zanzabar

– Rick Reilly did a solid job on his most recent column on the new perspective on life that Rick Pitino has received from his team

– A pretty cool read on the history and design behind the Final Four flooring

– Kansas was not supposed to be this good. That’s partially why people are lauding the coaching efforts of Bill Self this season. But Self isn’t sure this has been the best coaching job he’s done in his career

– The USA Today put together a wealthy database of salaries for NCAA tournament coaches. Wave good-bye to your Thursday morning

Great-read from the Indy Star on why top-tier mid majors are a better fit than most BCS-conference schools. Places like VCU and Butler expect quality hoops now, but don’t demand it. Ask somebody like Keno Davis just how much pressure there is at BCS-conference schools

– Did you know that Christian Laettner’s “shot” was made exactly 20 years ago yesterday. Most of us can’t remember what we had for dinner on Monday night, but we all can probably remember where we were when Laettner caught the ball, put it on the deck, pivoted, and sank the most famous shot in college basketball history

The Michigan AD would prefer if the Michigan State AD didn’t tweet about Trey Burke’s NBA draft decision

– Pacific University will join the West Coast Conference beginning in 2013-2014. The school was a charter member of the WCC forty years ago

– It’s being reported that Larry Brown has emerged as a candidate for the SMU head coaching vacancy

– The Illinois coaching search is finally over. Ohio head coach John Groce will be named the new head coach of Illinois. Groce’s stock soared in March, thanks to the Bobcat’s sensational run to the Sweet-16

– Now that the Illinois vacancy has been filled, Kansas State becomes the most major program with a head coaching opening

– Danny Manning, former-Final Four hero and current Kansas assistant coach, will become the new head coach at Tulsa

– Bryce Drew was interviewed for the job at Mississippi State, but has decided to return to the sidelines at Valparaiso

– Speaking of Mississippi State, Arnett Moultrie has decided to leave school in order to enter the NBA draft. the UTEP-transfer had a sensational season and is a lock to be selected in the first round

– The list of suitors for former-UConn center Alex Oriakhi keeps growing. We can add Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to that list as well

– Memphis forward Adonis Thomas has announced his decision to return to school for his sophomore season

– A solid list of seven transfers who will make an impact no matter where they land

Kansas State recruit Robert Upshaw will not be joining Frank Martin at South Carolina, nor will heading to “The Little Apple”

– Vermont sophomore Ryan McKeaney has decided to transfer

– North Carolina freshman James Michael McAdoo will return to Chapel Hill for his sophomore year

– A nice article from Ken Cross summing up Quincy Acy’s college career

– Numerous sources are apparently indicating that both Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad will end up at Kentucky

– Richmond head coach Chris Mooney likes the idea of VCU and George Mason joining the Atlantic-10

– Gary Williams thinks Kentucky could beat the Washington Wizards. Stan Van Gundy thinks that Williams’ statement is asinine

– Bernie Fine put his Syracuse house up for sale. Breaking news, I know….

Ray Lewis gave Stanford a pre-game speech before their N.I.T. semifinal. Ray-Ray could fire up a recreational Ultimate Frisbee team

Cyclones add big man for 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15:  Head coach Steve Prohm of the Murray State Racers shouts from the sidelines against the Colorado State Rams  during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Iowa State secured its first commitment Wednesday of what will be a pivotal class of forwards in 2017.

KeyShawn Faezell of Mississippi committed to Steve Prohm and the Cyclones, he announced Wednesday.

“After praying to God to lead me in the right path and talking with my dad,” Faezell wrote, “I’ve decided to further my education and basketball career under coach Prohm at Iowa State University.”

Faezell, a 6-foot-9 consensus top-150 forward in the 2017 class, joins wing Terrence Lewis as the first two members of a class that figures to number at least six for ISU. The addition of Faezell is key because ISU will be losing three members of its frontcourt it will likely be leaning on heavily in 2015-16 in Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. A 2016 big man, Cameron Lard, has also yet to enroll in classes this fall due to academic issues, making Faezell’s commitment even more important should Lard be unable to get clearance.

“They need some people to come in and compete,” Feazell told the Ames Tribune. “I think I fit in the program.”

Prohm’s teams dating back to his Murray State days have always been guard-oriented and guard-heavy, but beginning to stack the roster with quality big men will be key as he looks to continue the Cyclones’ success in the Big 12, which includes a school-record five-straight NCAA tournament appearances.

BYU adds commit for 2019

Dave Rose
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BYU added a commitment from a high school senior this week, but the Cougars won’t be seeing him on campus until 2019.

Kolby Lee, a 6-foot-9 forward from Idaho, pledged to BYU on Monday evening, but won’t suit up until after serving a two-year mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints, according to the Deseret News.

“I had a great feeling about BYU, and I prayed about it,” Lee told the paper. “I just feel like it’s the right fit for me. It just seems right. It feels right.”

Lee chose BYU over offers from  Utah State, Boise State and UC Davis. He was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and three by Scout.

His decision to forego immediately joining BYU certainly isn’t a new wrinkle for the Cougars, who routinely see their players either delay their initial eligibility or pause it mid-career while serving on missions.

Self pays freshman Jackson a major compliment

Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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Freshman phenom production under Bill Self has been something of a contentious topic. Many fault the coach, who has won one national title and 12-straight Big 12 championships, for not developing one-and-done talent to their fullest potential during their single-season stays in Lawrence. Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo are Exhibit 1-A and 1-B for this argument in recent years.

Whatever outside criticism there is (Andrew Wiggins did go No. 1 overall just 2 years ago, after all), Self isn’t shying away from hyping the latest freshman with big expectations to come to KU. When asked who the greatest athlete of all-time is at the school’s annual Tradition Night last week, Self had a simple, if tongue-and-cheek, response.

“I’ll say Josh Jackson,” Self said of the the 6-foot-8 shooting guard ranked No. 1 in his class, according to Lawrence Journal-World.

With others answering with the likes of Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, it’s pretty fair to say Self was playing to the crowd with the answer, but it’s still telling that he was willing to deliver such a sound bite, even if it was before a welcoming audience. Self didn’t try to seriously depress expectations for Wiggins, a player Jackson is often compared to, and it looks like he won’t for Jackson as well.

Jackson, though, won’t have the burden Wiggins had as there’s one of the country’s best backcourts in Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham to help shoulder the workload for the Jayhawks.

 

ACC non-commital on HB2 stance

John Swofford
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With North Carolina unwilling to rescind their controversial so-called bathroom bill, the NBA has withdrawn its All-Star Game from the state this year and numerous high-profile music acts have canceled performances as a result.

The ACC is declining to join them with a hard-line, or really any, position.

“We don’t want to damage our league with any premature decisions,” commissioner John Swofford said on The David Glenn Show. “We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The ACC, of course, has quite the presence in the state with North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke and Wake Forest all in the Tar Heel State. Swofford’s comments are sure to draw the interest of the LGBT community, which has roundly been critical of the bill, which requires people to use the bathroom which corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, and has recently been active in college athletics, opposing the Big 12’s potential inclusion of BYU in its expansion plans over concerns of the Church of Latter Day Saints school’s honor code.

North Carolina’s bill has also drawn the eye of the NCAA, which is requiring potential championship sights to provide information on local anti-discrimination laws.

One of the loudest voices in the ACC, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, has come out against the law.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Coach K said last month.

The Champions Classic renewed through 2019

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 27: Bill Self head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks claps for his team as they celebrate winning the Big 12 Conference Championship after they defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58 at Allen Fieldhouse on February 27, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. With the win, Kansas clinched its 12th straight conference championship. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Champions Classic is back, baby!!!

On Wednesday, the four schools that participate in the event — Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State — announced that they have signed deals to extend the life of the doubleheader for another three years.

This is terrific news. The Champions Classic is always the best early-season event of the season, an annual double-header that always ends up putting together two of the best non-conference games in packed NBA arenas. This year, it features Duke, the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country, squaring off with Kansas, who is a consensus top three team with the No. 1 freshman in the class, Josh Jackson, on their roster, in one game.

The other game? Kentucky, the third consensus top three team nationally, going up against Tom Izzo and Michigan State, who will be, at worst, a top 15 team in the preseason polls.

So yeah, we’re going to get a pair of sensational basketball games in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15th. MSG also just so happens to be the best arena to watch a great neutral site basketball game.

It’s going to be awesome.

There’s only one possible way to make it better: turn it into a two-day event, with the winners squaring off for the Champions Classic title the following night.

Make it happen.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Nov. 14, 2017 (United Center, Chicago)
Kansas vs. Kentucky
Duke vs. Michigan State

Nov. 13, 2018 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)
Michigan State vs. Kansas
Duke vs. Kentucky

Nov. 12, 2019 (Madison Square Garden, New York)
Kansas vs. Duke
Michigan State vs. Kentucky