The Morning Mix

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No more college basketball for another seven months. Has it sunk in yet? The game breakdowns and team story lines have been moved to the back-burner, but the off-season news cycle is always busy. The Early Entry deadline is 26 days away and the coaching carousel is always spinning. The Morning Mix will remain your daily destination for the pulse of the college basketball world during the off-season.

– Our very-own Nick Fasulo previews some of the more intriguing teams to keep an eye out for in 2012-2013

– Jeff Eisenberg ranks the eight best games of the 2011-2012 season. No complaints here, well maybe No.5, oh and the fact that we can’t run all these games back again

– Myron Medcalf provides an excellent list of his 2012 All-Tournament Team. Again, no complaints here

– This is the funniest “End-of-Season Awards” list you will read all week. It’s also surprisingly informative

– This summer’s NBA draft might be “one-and-done” because after Anthony Davis, there are a lot of good players, but no elite, great, transcendent players

– Will Kentucky repeat as National Champions? It might be tough if all five starter declare for the draft. Yes, its true, Calipari can reload in a heartbeat, but in 2012-2013 Kyle Wiltjer and Eloy Vargas figure to be the returning players with the most experience. That’s not exactly Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller

Your daily “John Calipari to the Knicks” article. But this one, written by the great Adrian Wojnarowski, has an interesting twist

Lexington nearly went up in flames on Monday night, following the Wildcats National Championship victory. But Jayhawk fans weren”t too far behind, as 14 people were arrested in downtown Lawrence following the heartbreaking loss

– Reserve forward Griffin McKenzie has decided to transfer out of Xavier in hopes of garnering more playing time. The 6-8 sophomore played in just 11 games for the Musketeers this season

– Nebraska center Jorge Brian Diaz will not be returning to Nebraska for his senior season. the oft-injured big-man will instead return home to Puerto Rico

– Weber State’s Damian Lillard, the nation’s top scorer, is forgoing his final year of eligibility in order to enter the NBA Draft. Despite playing in the seldom-seen Big Sky Conference, Lillard is likely to be selected in the mid-to-late first round

– Washington freshman Tony Wroten Jr. has decided to leave school in order to enter the NBA draft. He is the second Husky to enter the draft this off-season, joining fellow underclassmen Terrence Ross

– Off-season arrests continue to pile up. This time, it’s Michigan State behemoth center Derrick Nix, who was arrested  on Monday night for marijuana possession and operating a vehicle in the pressence of drugs. He has been suspended from the team and his future with the program is up in the air

– Georgia State is often considered the odd man out in the CAA. GSU is located seven hours from its closest conference opponent (UNC-Wilmington) and a move to the Sun Belt Conference could be beneficial

– It was just last week that sources indicated that Georgetown would meet San Diego State in the Battle on the Midway aboard the USS Midway next season. Well it looks like the Hoya’s arch-rivals Syracuse have poached their spot on board the aircraft carrier

– With new coach Jim Baron on the way in, and a handful of transfers eligible to play next year, the Canisius Golden Griffins look to be significantly better in 2012-2013

– Word on the street is that a Lebanese basketball player dropped 113 points in a Lebanese Division-A game on Tuesday. The player, Mohammad El-Akkari — also known as Mustpha El-Akkari, played college hoops at BYU-Hawaii until 2007. BYU-Hawaii was the NCAA Division-II runners-up in 2011. They probably could have used a few of El-Akkari’s 113 points in that one

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

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.