The Morning Mix

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Well, last night sure was interesting. Shabazz Muhammad announced his intentions to attend UCLA, and most of Big Blue Nation cursed him out on Twitter. An hour later, Nerlens Noel verbally committed to Kentucky, and shaved “UK” into his head, and Big Blue Nation welcomed him with open arms. According to many college basketball media members and recruiting experts, there has not been a signing day with this much excitement in quite some time.

– Eamonn Brennan explains what both of these commitments mean to the respective programs

– Jeff Eisenberg isn’t sure if Muhammad with restore UCLA to glory or if it will be a quick fix, but it sure will bring some lost enthusiasm back to Pauley Pavilion 

– Shabazz Muhammad is a superstar, no doubt about it. But can even he save Ben Howland?

– This is John Calipari’s fourth recruiting class at Kentucky, and every year they’ve been ranked No.1 by the recruiting experts. This team could be even more scary good in 2012-2013

Andy Katz details the potential impacts provided  by the upperclassmen who are returning to school

Doug Gottlieb hands out his grades to all the ACC teams for the 2011-2012 season (insiders only)

– Following the firing of head coach Isaiah Thomas, several members of the Florida International basketball team requested releases from the scholarship. Apparently the school denied them

– SMU is in fact in talks with Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus about the school’s head coaching vacancy

– LSU is looking for a coach to replace Trent Johnson, who recently bolted for TCU last week. North Texas coach Johnny Jones is in talks with the Tigers about the opening. It seems as though Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon might also be a candidate for the job

– Yesterday it seemed as though former-Oregon coach Ernie Kent would become the new head coach at Colorado State. But apparently Colorado State administrators vetoed the decision. instead it will be Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Eustachy who becomes the Rams new head coach

– Now this is a question I did not expect to see so early in the off-season: What is next for Butler basketball?

– The 2012-2013 season will begin with no less than 35 new head coaches running the sidelines

Ryan Fagan ranks the top-10 forwards of the expanded bracket era

– You too can own one of the sideline chairs sat in by the Ohio Bobcats during their memorable Sweet-16 run in this past season’s NCAA tournament

– Arizona got a point guard for the future in Duquesne-transfer T.J. McConnell, but they just found out they won’t have a point guard of the present. Why? Because troubled-freshman Josiah Turner has decided to transfer

– Arizona also lost another player, as Ukrainian center Kyryl Natyazhko has decided to leave the program in order to pursue a career overseas. He becomes the sixth program defection in three years

– Former-McDonald’s All-American LeBryan Nash struggled in his first season at Oklahoma State. But the athletic forward knows what he needs to do in order to improve

– After a bizarre week in which he was reportedly both staying and going, Bryce Cotton has decided to stay at Providence instead of transferring

– North Carolina State has one of the best incoming recruiting classes in the country, and should be ranked pretty high in the preseason top-25. But DeShawn Painter and JaQawn Raymond have both announced their decisions to transfer from the school

– Cameron Ridley, a five-star center who verbally announced his intention to sign with Texas, finally put pen to paper

– Sources are indicating that Villanova swing-man Maurice Cheek is leaning towards entering the NBA draft

Florida forward Walter Pitchford has decided to transfer. The silver lining is that his departure will open up a scholarship which the program can use to sign highly touted recruit Anthony Bennett

Baylor placed themselves on three years probation for the improper phone calls and texts made by their men’s and women’s basketball programs. They will not face any punishment from the NCAA

– One of Bernie Fine’s accusers has been sentenced to three years in jail for sexual crimes

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
Purdue Athletics
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.