The Morning Mix

Leave a comment

The big news of the day is that Big East commissioner John Marinatto is stepping down at the request of the school presidents. He was in charge of the conference for just three years, after being voted in by a unanimous decision, yet spent much of his time dealing with conference realignment. While he wasn’t the primary problem the Big East had to deal with, his reign did symbolize a problematic era. The Big Lead puts it best: He was not a good commissioner. A good person, yes, but not a good commissioner

– The Wall Street Journal reacts to the change. As does Pat Forde

– Matt Norlander is right, the next commissioner has to be of the “basketball-first” mindset

The timeline of Marinatto’s reign as Commissioner of the Big East

– +100 to Voodoo Five for their fantastic “Office Space” reference

– We still don’t know if Jim Calhoun will return to the sidelines for UConn next season, but the school is assuming that he will be. The school also refuses to tag anyone as “coach in waiting”

– A cute baby in Louisville posed for a remake of Anthony Davis’ “wingspan portrait”

– Some terrible news out of Southern California. Former-UCLA Bruin Gavin Smith,  the father if current-USC forwaqrd Evan Smith, has gone missing and has not been seen in a week

Andy Glockner provides a succinct recap of the off-season coaching carousel

– Early Monday afternoon, Jeff Goodman wrote that the Illinois State paper The Pantagraph was reporting that the school would name assistant coach Rob Judson as their new head coach, replacing Tim Jankovich, who left to take the “head coach in-waiting” job at SMU. But late Monday night, news broke that Illinois State would in fact hire Vanderbilt assistant Rob Muller, a former redbird player

– Indian’s Matt Roth, a fifth year senior guard who led the Hoosier’s in 3-point shooting, is without a scholarship for next season. Jerod Morris explains why Roth’s scholarship should not be in question

– I always love it when a school rewards a scholarship to a player for hard work and effort. Montana is doing just that with walk-on forward Nick Emerson

– John Calipari addressed the criticism of his nontraditional scheduling that he is imposing for next season. As you may have already heard, the Wildcats won’t be playing Indiana or North Carolina in non-conference affairs. As Andy Katz explains in “The Daily Word”, Calipari is looking to establish more neutral-site games. Despite the lack of big time games, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhardt is confident that Rupp Arena will host at least one marquee non-conference game

– If there is one thing we can be sure of with Calipari’s fresh squad next season, it’s that they will play great defense

– As discussed in the previous weeks and months, it would make sense for CAA schools like VCU and George Mason to make the leap to the Atlantic-10. But in order to do so, they would have to be willing to spend a lot more money

– Anthony Bennett narrowed down his list to just Oregon and UNLV. Eamonn Brennan details the impact he would provide at the two schools

– The Ivy League is looking to improve its public profile, and will sign a major network deal with the NBC Sports Network. John Templon of Big Apple Buckets wonders what the league’s  next step is

– The Big-XII has verbally agreed to a new ESPN/Fox deal

– Former-Marquette commit Aaron Durley has decided to attend TCU. With Trent Johnson at the helm, the Horned Frogs will look to make an improvement both on the court and on the recruiting trail

– Tulsa-transfer Jordan Clarkson, who was initially given stringent transfer-restrictions, has decided to attend Missouri. He will be the fifth transfer to join the program since Frank Haith took over in 2011

– Former-Ohio State guard Jordan Sibert will transfer to Dayton

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

Leave a comment

N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

Leave a comment

LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

Leave a comment

Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

Leave a comment

A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

Leave a comment

With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.