The Morning Mix

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Hope you’re ready for a fully loaded edition of The Morning Mix. So forget about the bizzaro ending to Monday Night Football and hold all your calls for the next 45 minutes. It will be worth it.

Time to hit the links:

– ESPN released their Midnight Madness coverage information. The World Wide Leader will be heading to Baylor, Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Murray State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh,  and Syracuse

Will an increase in academic standards cause a decrease in on-court play? Wait, are you insinuating that the best college basketball players are necessarily smart enough to get into Division-1 universities? I’m shocked.

– Washington State senior guard Reggie Moore has been dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules. Moore was suspended for a portion of last seaon due to an arrest on two marijuana charges. As Jeff Eisenberg explain, Washington State is not going to be very good next season

– Southern Illinois guard Diamond Taylor has been suspended indefinitely after being charged with driving under the influence over the weekend

– Sam Cassell Jr. was denied eligibility at Maryland earlier in the month, so the Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) star will attend Chipola Community College, a school that hast hosted a bevy of Division-I players

– Long time college coach Jim Platt has joined the staff at Saint Louis and will aide interm head coach Jim Crews. Remember, Crews was named the interim coach not too long ago after Rick Majerus had to step down do to his frequent battles with serious health issues

– Nebraska assistant coach Ronald Coleman was officially named assistant coach at Bradley yesterday

– A great-read on Jim Calhoun: The most misunderstood man in the country

– Tom Izzo is preaching leadership to his team in advance of the 2012-2013 season. Speaking of Izzo, it seems that the Spartan big-man Derrick Nix is back in the good graces of the head coach after he was arrested over the summer

– God Bless Mick Cronin. We might not agree with his statement, but god bless him for saying it

Andy Katz is rolling with Iowa this year, thinks they can be the sleeper pick out of the Big-Ten

– A nice opinionated take from David Whitley on the double standards being set  by the NCAA

– Matt Norlander is really buying NC-State over Duke and UNC

– It’s not too often that you see people writing about the Seattle Redhawks. So take this opportunity to study up on the new WCC member

– VCU gave their home court a face lift. Nothing to out of the ordinary, but a good job nonetheless

The X-factors on three title contenders

– Top-10 recruit Noah Vonleh is reclassifying from 2014 to 2013. Indiana is among the favorites for his services

– ESPN asks Florida’s Kenny Boyton five questions. Boynton thinks Tennessee, not Kentucky, will be the toughest opponents in the SEC

– Tennessee forward Jarnell stoke is a big boy. But the 6-foot-8 sophomore may not be the biggest member of his family. Have a look at his younger brother. This will end up being the funniest picture you see all week

Remember, if you find an article that is worthy of being in The Morning Mix, be sure to use the #ReadoftheDay hashtag on Twitter. 

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

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

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.