The Morning Mix

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– Yesterday marked the one-year “anniversary” of the devastating tornadoes that struck Joplin, Missouri. Rob Dauster and I had the privilege to stop in Joplin during our #BIAHroadtrip in January. Here is our story from the experience of a lifetime. If you read just one thing today, make sure it is this

– No disrespect to our very own Rob Dauster (Yes, the same Rob Dauster I just promoted in the above link), but this is the most unoriginal and regurgitated headline I’ve ever seen. It’s a good read, but the headline leaves much to be desired. Matt Norlander on the other hand, goes wildly out of control with his expansion-related headline

– Andy Katz tries to determine what’s next for the CAA. Apparently the conference is thinking about adding Davidson and College of Charleston, which would be solid additions for the strong mid-major basketball conference

– according to Spencer Hall, the Big East is dead, and here is it’s epitaph

– In case you didn’t already know, Jeff Eisenberg is unquestionably the best blogger in college basketball. Why you ask? because nobody else covers the in’s and out’s like him. Who else has a story on the childhood home of James Naismith going up for sale?

– Former-Marquette and UNLV forward Reggie Smith is on the move once again

Mike Huguenin takes a look at the SEC newcomers that we should all watch out for next season

– Bradley director of basketball operations Patrick Beilein, the son of Michigan head coach Jon Beilein, has been named the head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan (DII)

– Dick Vitale’s most recent Gala raised more than $2-million for pancreatic cancer research. Again, you can dislike Dickie-V for his schtick, or his love for the classic institutions, but there is no denying that he is the best ambassador in the college basketball game

– Eamonn Brennan is wondering if Michigan will ever embrace the Fab Five?

– 6-6 small forward Stephen Domingo, a top-30 recruit in the class of 2013, committed to Georgetown yesterday

– Before his heroic game-four performance against the Indiana Pacers, Dwayne Wade made a visit to Bloomington to meet up with Tom Crean

Notre Dame wants to stay in the Big East, says head coach Mike Brey. But if they don’t, the university has a contingency plan

– CBS has reached a multi-year agreement with ESPN to broadcast ACC, Big-12 and Pac-12 basketball games

– Long-time Pacific head coach Bob Thompson will retire at the end of next season

John Calipari leaked some pictures of Kentucky’s new state-of-the-art basketball complex

Hair gel and house music expert Jeff Borzello takes a look at what the ACC has to offer next season (NOTE: I’ve been informed that Jeff does not use hair gel. It’s  pomade. Whatever that means)

– Stony Brook is making a major step in improve their overall profile by renovating their outdated arena. The Seawolves home court is not even the largest arena on campus, which they were forced to use for the A-East championship game because their home gym did not meet conference regulations

– Thanks to Syracuse’s PR-nightmare of a season, Jim Boeheim’s large raise went unnoticed 

– Speaking of Syracuse, Laurie Fine has officially filed her libel lawsuit against ESPN

Draft Express has all the measurements from the NBA draft combine

– Former-Valpo guard Jay Harris is transfering to Wagner

Seton Hall reserve guard Sean Grennan will transfer to Fairfield

Maryland got a nice backcourt replacement for Terell Stoglin in the form of Albany-transfer Logan Aaronhalt

A nice top-10 list of the best centers in Michigan State basketball history

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

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.