The Morning Mix

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– Ken Pomeroy once again provides the #ReadoftheDay. The grandmaster advanced statistician took a long hard look at the 18th most improbable comeback from last season. You should vaguely remember it too. NCAA Tournament Opening Round: Western Kentucky vs. Mississippi Valley State

-Boston College head coach Steve Donahue believes that there is not another conference in the country that can stack up against the ACC in basketball 

– Some solid responses from Eamonn Brennan and Pitt Blather regarding the Sports Illustrated article about schedule-making and the RPI

– Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg has been churning out a bunch of fantastic mid-major conference previews. I highly recommend his Atlantic Sun preview on the heirs to the A-Sun throne now that Belmont has moved to the OVC. In his Big West preview, Jeff explains how western mid-major schools are avoiding being left behind in the ever-changing world of conference expansion. Jeff also details how a “new-look” Long Beach State team will try to defend their Big West title. Seriously, just read as many of Jeff’s conference previews as you can. It will benefit you down the road. Trust me

– According to reports from Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, the NCAA is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Notre Dame Preparatory School (MA). This comes on the heel of two Class of 2012 basketball recruits from the school academically ineligible to play college ball this year. Sam Cassell Jr. (Maryland) and Myles Davis (Xavier) were both recently denied eligibility at their respective  schools

– Nerlens Noel recently admitted that opposing recruiters assumed Kentucky was paying him. In this Sports Illustrated article, other recruit open up about shady recruiting practices

– The SB Nation blog “Tar Heel Fan” has provided some of the best arguments and discussion topics concerning the academic scandal taking place in Chapel Hill. The most recent post questions the purpose of recent reports published by the Raleigh News and Observer

– The Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA is not easy to keep track of. But luckily Matt Norlander fills us in on the latest updates and briefs us on the road ahead for the NCAA

– Sad new out of Baltimore, as former-Maryland walk-on Earl Badu was found dead from an apparent suicide over the weekend.  According to police reports The 33-year old former-Terp jumped to his death from the I-95 overpass onto Interstate 695 outside of Baltimore County

– The Hawaii Warriors got some terrible news on Friday, as All-Conference big-man Vander Joaquim will miss four to six weeks after he tore his MCL on Thursday. Gib Arnold’s squad is joining the Big West in 2012-2013 and Joaquim was supposed to be the team’s impact player

– One of the traditions being formed at Hawaii under third-year head coach Gib Arnold is the annual “King of the Beach” preseason fitness competition. Nebraska-transfer Christian Standhardinger won the early-morning training competition over the weekend on world famous Waikiki Beach

– No team got hit harder by the injury bug last season than the Louisville Cardinals. Mike Marra was one of the players who missed the entire 2011-2012 season. During Marra’s first practice back, he re-injured his ACL and is thus retiring from collegiate basketball

– Matt Glover started 21 games for Penn State last season before transferring out of Happy Valley admit the lengthy Jerry Sandusky scandal. The 6-foot-5 guard wanted to be closer to his family and transferring to San Francisco. Unfortunately, it was announced on Friday that the NCAA has denied Glover a hardship waiver and will have to sit out the 2012-2013 season

– JuCo star Chris Thomas announced over the weekend that he is decommitting from Xavier. This should not come as a shock considering Thomas attended three high schools and a junior college before settling on Xavier. Iowa State, Missouri and Seton Hall could all be in the mix for his services

– Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal put together a great Q&A session with Kentucky head coach John Calipari

According to the Chicago Tribune, DePaul officials are discussing the possibility of moving home games from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont to the United Center in downtown Chicago

– The Ohio State athletic department held a fundraiser in order to support an iPad program for student athletes. Why do student athletes need iPads?

A nice little review of the Athlon Sports 2012-2013 college basketball preview magazine

– It seems as though college basketball is developing another interesting publicity trend. Rutgers head coach Mike Rice rappelled down the face of a 50-story building as part of a charity fundraiser. Not to be outdone, the St. John’s Red Storm mascot did the same

– Colorado continues to haul in class of 2013 recruits thanks to the Buffs Pac-12 Tournament championship last season. The most recent addition to Tad Boyle’s future squad is 6-foot-5 wing Tre’Shaun Lexing from Takoma, WA

– Mike DeCourcy ranks his top-5 candidates for “Breakout Star” in 2012-2013

– Run The Floor ranks the top-5 guards in the Horizon League

– Ohio State President Gordon Gee spends $64,000 a year on bowties, but really likes helping out the football program on the recruiting trails

– The “Oakland Zoo” student section at Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center released their t-shirts for the new season. It’s solid. Not as good as some of the past seasons, but still pretty good

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.