The Morning Mix

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An interesting-read on why the one-and-done rule is making a mess of basketball in general. Speaking of which, Bobby Knight took the time to blast John Calipari’s method. Typical

Eric Crawford has some great suggestions on how the NCAA tournament experience can improve (The last one is crucial)

– remember when Buzz Williams benched a bunch of players during the late regular season for disciplinary reasons. We found out during the NCAA tournament that it had to do with trying to enter a bar underage. Well it turns out that six players were involved in a bar fight in which 11 squad cars were called to the scene. That’s a lot of squad cars

– Anthony Davis will only spend one season at Kentucky, but does he deserve to have his jersey retired at Rupp Arena?

– Speaking of Davis, he was on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday, and he absolutely killed it. We saw very little character or personality from him during the season, but well he was focused on winning a title. But man, he was hysterical on Kimmel. (Make sure you get a chance to watch the whole segment)

– We indicated last week that Georgia State is looking to leave the CAA and join the Sun Belt, and it looks like the move will happen this week

– When a 50/50 NBA recruit decides to stay in school for an extra year, they are often rewarded with greatness, so says Gary Parrish

– The rosters and schedules for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament has been announced

– The Duquesne coaching search is coming to an end, and Jim Ferry, head coach at LIU-Brooklyn, has entered the race as a darkhorse candidate

– Former-Illinois head coach Bruce Weber took out a full-page ad thanking fans for supporting him when he was head coach in Champaign

– New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies is being recruited by Colorado State to be the rams next head coach. But NMSU is looking to sweeten the pot in order to get their head coach to stay

– LSU head coach Trent Johnson is leaving in order to take over the head coaching position at TCU. LSU has now lost two key players from this past seasons team. Where will the tigers go from here?

– Do coaching contracts mean anything to coaches? It seems like coaches are more than willing to opt out of lucrative deals if they see a new situation become available

A solid Q&A with new Illinois head coach John Groce. Make sure you read the part where he talks about trying to recruit in the Chicago-area

– In case you missed it, Florida International fired Isaiah Thomas after three sub-par seasons as the Panthers head coach. Thomas called it “The most surprised he’s ever been in his life regarding a basketball decision”. Dominique Ferguson, the Panther’s star sophomore took to twitter to defend his recently dismissed head coach. A solid-read on why “Zeke” was a failure at FIU

– Kansas’ forward Thomas Robinson will make his NBA decision later today, but it’s being reported that T-Rob will make the leap to the NBA

– Two Houston players, Alandise Harris and Kirk Van Slyke have decided to transfer out of school

– Loyola (MD) sophomore guard Justin Drummond announced that he is transferring. The Greyhounds won the MAAC Tournament and made their first NCAA tournament appearance in over a decade.

– Alabama forward Tony Mitchell, the best dunker in the SEC, is leaving school He was suspended for the two months of the season for disciplinary reasons. But where will T-Mitch land?

– Texas A&M forward Kris Middleton will enter the NBA draft, despite a sub-par season in which he was sidelined with a knee injury. Did the wing forward make the right decision?

– Ohio State got some great news this weekend. Even though Jared Sullinger will leave for the NBA draft, DeShaun Thomas will return for his junior season. The forward played exceptionally well during the tournament and will be the focal point of the Buckeye’s offense next season

– Rodney Hood has decided to transfer out of Mississippi State. This means that new head coach Rick Ray will have to start from scratch, as five of the Bulldog’s top seven scorers are either leaving for the NBA, transferring or graduating

– South Carolina forward Anthony Gill is debating the thought of transferring. Playing for Frank Martin is no easy task, but playing for a hard-nosed coach like Martin is usually good for building mental toughness, discipline and character

– Alex Oriakhi is still trying to decide which school he wants to transfer to. The list is rather long, and if he choses to major in a field of study not offered at UConn, he can enroll at an SEC school. KSR’s Drew Franklin details which majors Oriakhi could get his degree in if he went to Kentucky (This should end up being the funniest thing you read all day). But as the UConn Blog suggests, Oriakhi probably shouldn’t transfer to the same school Nerlens Noel goes to

– Speaking of UConn, we still haven’t heard anything from Jeremy Lamb or Andre Drummond about their NBA early entry statuses

– Connecticut politicians plan on magnifying the” unfair” postseason suspension of UConn’s basketball team next season

– Central Michigan star Trey Zeigler has decided to attend Pittsburgh. The sophomore guard asked for his release after the school fire his father Ernie, the head basketball coach

– it was a bizarre week for the athletic department at Howard, but it seems as though all student-athletes have been reinstated 

The not-top-10 plays from the 2011-2012 college basketball season (How the “Crosstown Brawl” didn’t get a mention is absolutely ridiculous)

4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.