The Morning Mix

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– On Thursday, the most highly anticipated college announcement of the Fall will take place when Aaron and Andrew Harrison will decide between Kentucky, Maryland and SMU. The recruitment of the Harrison twins has been played out in public for what feels like the past 36 months. But thankfully, the saga will all be over with on Thursday (…..Until they decommit in 2013….. and transfer in 2014…..) 

Cracked Sidewalks has done it again. This time around the Marquette bloggers have  determined the advanced rankings for the top-150 teams in 2014. Yeah, that’s two years from now,The rankings were made based on roster strength, available scholarships for recruits and NBA placement. It’s really good stuff if you don’t mind all the math lingo

– Several collegiate stars tweeted their reactions to the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary “Broke”, a film highlighting the numerous financial struggles of retried professional athletes. The film debuted last night and is a must-watch

– Speaking of the the film industry, former-VCU stud Larry Sanders is making is acting debut in an upcoming flick loaded with famous people you’ve probably heard of

– While major conferences continue to chase to buckets of college football gold, the Atlantic-10 is quickly building a high-major basketball-centric powerhouse. After adding VCU and Butler during the summer, the conference has reached an eight-year television deal with ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Group for its media and television rights (If I’m any of the basketball-centric Big East schools, I’m working my tail off to get in to the Atlantic-10 before 2014, exit fee or not)

– Speaking of ESPN, it looks like the World Wide Leader has been forced to get involved in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit and must turn over any contracts related to the issue

– Julius Randle, one of the top class of 2013 recruits in the country, has narrowed down his list of colleges. Hint: Duke and UNC didn’t make the cut

– Jabari Parker, the top recruit in Randle’s class, will take official visits to Duke and Michigan this month, and is set to make his announcement in November

– Rush The Court’s Chris Johnson (Not to be confused with Chris Johnson of my 0-4 fantasy football team) provides an interesting piece on the court of public opinion in reference to the situations involving Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel and former-Duke forward Lance Thomas

– Belmont has been the leader of the pack in the Atlantic-Sun for the past decade. So the music-centric Nashville school is taking it’s talents to the Ohio Valley Conference, on the broad shoulders of the Bruins backcourt

– Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is widely considered one of the best, most stand-up guys in the sport. Central Michigan head coach Keno Davis (Formerly of Providence and Drake), is on the opposite end of the spectrum. You’ll need to understand this in order to realize why it’s OK that Brey kinda sorta poached one of Davis’ recruits. But Ben Miraski of Mid-Major Madness does not feel as though Brey should be given “a pass”

– Akron’s Quincy Diggs, the reigning Mid-American Conference Sixth Man of the Year, has been suspended for the season by head coach Keith Dambrot for violating the university’s Code of Student Conduct

– Virginia’s starting point guard Jontel Evans will miss 4-6 weeks because of foot surgery. The senior guard was nagged by foot pain throughout workouts, and was diagnosed with a stress fracture last week. With the departure of Mike Scott, Evans was to be the key cog for the Cavaliers this season

– You could make the case that Florida State guard Michael Snaer has accomplished as much at the collegiate ranks as he possibly can. The preseason All-American won the ACC Tournament, received the tournament Most Outstanding Player award, hit not one but two buzzer-beaters last season, including one at Cameron Indoor stadium. But despite the achievements and accolades, the senior sharpshooter still has some unfinished business

– Mike Montgomery continues to haul in recruits at a premium pace. Florida native Sam Singer is the latest recruit to commit to the Cal Bears program. While Singer isn’t as talented as other 2013 recruits, Jabari Byrd and Jordan Maxwell, he is a quality mid-to-high major recruit. If Montgomery can reel in Marcus Lee, who is set to announce in the near future, the Cal Bears would have pulled off a mammoth-sized recruiting coup

– Many, including myself, believed that North Carolina had slipped through the administrative cracks and would not face NCAA punishment. Luckily for all of us, I was wrong. NCAA President Mark Emmert has stated that the University could still face sanctions for academic fraud

– College players flocked to “Naval Weapon Systems” class at UNC? (Or “Super-Soakers & Water Balloons” as Tyler Hansbrough referred to it)

– Murray State’s Zay Jackson is in discussion with prosecutors to get a plea deal arranged before his preliminary hearing on second degree assault charges

– Mike DeCourcy previews the challenges ahead for several preseason top-25 teams

– Louisville center Gorgui Dieng was the focus of a lecture held by a university-sponsored club. Seriously

– Anybody interested in a La Salle season preview? If so, this is the link for you

– Various Midnight Madness updates: Baylor, Creighton, Kentucky and Mississippi State

– Schedule previews and updates: Eastern Kentucky, Morehead StateSt. John’s,

– Bro in Syracuse jersey keeps stealing beer from Montana liquor stores (Yeah, I thought it was Devendorf too)

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

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.