The Morning Mix

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– An awesome story about what Nerlens Noel did to show his support for a young Kentucky fan battling cancer (We have ourselves a #RefereeGuy Vinny Swope Reference!)

Sign me up for this: Butler is auctioning off a chance to walk the beloved Butler Blue II out to the Hinkle Fieldhouse court for the Bulldog’s two preseason scrimmages

– Is Texas guard Myck Kabongo finally in the clear from NCAA investigations? Rush The Court has the answer

– Maryland senior captain James Padgett will stand trial in a Maryland court today on charges of driving while impaired, stemming from a June arrest. The Terps’ top returning scorer could be in jeopardy of missing Maryland’s first game of the season, against Kentucky at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

– It’s a new week, and UCLA still doesn’t have an answer from the NCAA on the eligibility issues of Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad, so sayeth Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times

– Now that coaches are allowed to contact recruits via unlimited text, they will have to learn how to use text messaging effectively (Sounds easy, right? But if you are a young adult, you should be aware how often our elders struggle with newer forms of technology)

– Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe still isn’t free of all his legal obligations stemming from past probation violations and could cloud his focus heading into the season

– Georgetown and North Carolina are holding another “secret scrimmage”. Last year, the Hoyas traveled to Chapel Hill for a closed scrimmage, and this year the Tar Heels will return the favor and visit the nation’s capital

– Having been spurned by the Harrison twins two weeks ago, Maryland head coach mark Turgeon rebounded nicely by getting a committment from Class of 2013 guard Rodney Peters. The Maryland-native is not as highly touted as the Harrison twins but is another piece to a strong puzzle being put together by Turgeon

UConn will break ground this spring on a new basketball training center, and has raised roughly $24-million towards the $32-million project

Here’s a look at the current Sports Books odds for the 2012-13 National Championship. As expected, Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville are the top contenders

– With Steve Lavin back on the sidelines this year, the St. John’s Red Storm look to continue growth in a “new-look” Big East. Lavin sat out most of last season while he recovered from prostate cancer surgery

Interesting stuff from Glen Logan, who details the possibilities of highly touted forward Julius Randle committing to Kentucky with the Harrison twins already having committed

– Dana O’Neil fills us in on what she can’t wait to see from the programs in the Atlantic-10 Conference

Murray State has been placed in a difficult situation now that the police videos of Zay Jackson’s wanton endangerment (See: hitting people with a moving vehicle) have been released. It will be really interesting to see what direction the university goes in. The video is pretty disturbing

– We brought this up last week, but it needs to be reiterated. The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints is in the process of lowering the age at which members of the church go on their missions from 19 to 18. This change could drastically alter the recruiting processes of schools like BYU

A Horizon League round-up of preseason accolades. Despite Butler’s departure, the Horizon League still boasts a bevy of mid-major talent, and will have a few schools in the discussion for potential at-large bids

– Louisville received all 15 first place votes and was the unanimous pick by Big East media members to win the conference this year

– The Drexel Dragons were chosen by CAA media and coaches as the preseason favorites to win the conference this year

A Mountain West Conference preview from NBC Sports College Basketball Talk. A MAAC and Sun Belt preview from CBS Sports Eye on College Basketball. A Missouri Valley Conference preview from Yahoo Sports The Dagger

– The Eastern Washington basketball blog EWU Eagle Eye provides a solid Q&A session with Eagles head coach Jim Hayford

– He’s no Hauns Brereton, but Florida’s Patric Young goes through some pretty intense workouts

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.