The Morning Mix

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Anybody else starting to get the itch?

Midnight Madness is just around the corner and we’re just a week or so out from “preview madness”. With September practices underway, the season tip-off is finally starting to come into view. Heck, I was actually fired up for weeknight #MACtion college football last week. Seriously.

Speaking of which, this is a great place to start The Morning Mix:

– KSR’s Ally Tucker provides some great stats to prove that it is really difficult for a university to harbor both an elite football and basketball program.In fact, Ohio State and Florida are the only schools that have come close in the past decade. In fact, thru three weeks: Kansas is 1-3, Kentucky is 1-3, Memphis is 0-4, Syracuse is 1-3, UNLV is 1-3 and Vanderbilt is 1-3.

Is anybody else opposed to scrapping the rest of the college football season right now and start the hoops season next week? I know I’m not.

– Mike Rutherford of SB Nation drops the first Top 100 Players of 2012-2013 list. Mid-Major Madness references the “little guys” who show up in the Top-100

– The ACC will not be able to hold its postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden. Matt Norlander makes some preposterous statement about Madison Square Garden not wanting the Big East tournament. Pppfffff. That guy. Sometimes I just don’t know about Norlander, man

– Horrible news for Montana: Star guard Will Cherry is expected to miss 6-8 weeks due to an unspecified injury

– Jason King of ESPN explains why expectations are high at Colorado State, where former-Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Eustachy is set to keep the Rams steady on an incline

– UNC head coach Roy Williams had a tumor removed from his kidney last week. As it turns out, the tumor was benign and will not spread 

– BYU is heading in to their second season as members of the West Coast Conference. Andy Katz briefs us on how Dave Rose and the Cougars plan to approach their sophomore campaign

Another good read on the much improved Michigan State big man Derrick Nix

– Maryland big-man Alex Len has been improving on and off the court this off-season. the Ukrainian seven-footer cites communication as on of the key improvements

– Speaking of Maryland, star guard Pe’Shon Howard should be able to practice at full speed starting this week. The junior missed much of last season due to both foot and ACL injuries. With the departure of Terrell Stoglin, Howard is expected to be the Terrapins offensive leader

– Wayne Seldon, the 23rd ranked playe in the class of 2013, will visit Kansas during their “Late Night at The Phogg” Midnight Madness event

Rob Dauster provides a list of impact players who will be returning from injury

– Ed Isaacson’s latest “Road to the 2013 NBA Draft” entry profiles what guys like Murray State’s Ed Daniel and Creighton’s Gregory Echinique can do during the 2012-2013 season to improve their draft stock

– Memphis landed yet another top-100 recruit this week. Kuran Iverson, the cousin of former Georgetown star Allen Iverson, is a highly touted 6-foot-8 forward from Hartford, CT and was a serious “get” for the Tigers

– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin landed his first commit from the class of 2013

– Sure why not? The top-20 UConn players of the Calhoun-era

– Jason Groves provides a solid Q&A session with New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies. In six seasons at NMSU, Menzies has amassed a 102-68 record and guided the Aggies to two NCAA tournament appearances

A final note:

There must be something we can do to help the good people at Unranked America East. You see, UnrankedAE was the best location on the web for any and all news pertaining to the America East Conference and it’s member institutions. But they’ve run into quite the dilemma.

The SB Nation blog network just launched a whole new interface, SB Nation United yesterday. You probably noticed the layout change in some of the above links. But UnrankedAE was left out of the new SB Nation United model. There must be something we can do to make sure these good people get the backing they need.

You gotta just trust me on this one.

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.

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.