The Morning Mix

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– UNC-Wilmington is not going to appear on anybody’s radar. They were tabbed to finish in last place in this season’s CAA preseason poll, and aren’t likely to be a factor in late March. But what UNC-Wilmington does have is Keith Rendlemen, one of the most productive yet unheralded players in the country. He’s got a great story too. This is #ReadoftheDay stuff

– Matt Kavanaugh was set to start at center for the Dayton Flyers this season. But as of Wednesday, the senior big-man has been suspended for the entire season for violating the university’s Standards of  Behavior and Code of Conduct. This is a huge loss for a talented Flyers team that will be vying for a top spot in the extremely deep Atlantic-10 Conference

– Shabazz Muhammad is still waiting to hear back from the NCAA about his eligibility. On Wednesday the freshman phenom injured his right shoulder in practice. The injury does not look to be too severe, but extra precaution will be taken

– BYU has now lost two players this off-season to career-ending injuries. In September, versatile wing Chris Collinsworth called it a career after re-aggravating a severe ankle injury. Now comes word that a recurring knee injury will end the career of senior forward Stephen Rogers

– UConn center Enosch Wolf will miss the next week of practice due to a concussion he sustained this week. The German center has been a reserve for the past two seasons, but should see an increase in playing time this season

– Indiana back-up forward Derek Elston suffered a torn meniscus in practice this week and it will require surgery. The senior is expected to miss the first few games of the season

– It’s official: Zay Jackson will not be playing for Murray State this season as he waits for his assault trial to finish

– Former-Butler guard Crishawn Hopkins is staying in the Horizon League, and will transfer to Wright State. The junior was dismissed from the team over the summer, and will join a Raiders squad looking for star power since the departure of  current-Kentucky forward Julius Mays. Are you wondering why Brad Stevens is throwing up Bo Ryan-esque inter-conference sanctions? The Bulldogs have left the Horizon League and will be playing in the Atlantic-10 this season

– If I was 6-foot-6 or taller, I would be terrified of getting trapped in an elevator. Members of the Virginia Cavaliers squad lived to tell their heroic tale about getting stuck in an elevator while on an exhibition trip in Paris

Emails detailing the last days of Billy Gilispie’s reign as Texas Tech head coach have been released. BCG once he a practice that lasted for over seven hours. That’s just cruel and unusual

– This is kinda funny: New assistant coach at Washington was asked as his first assignment to scout the school he had just come from

– Dana O’Neil fills us in on what she wants to see from Conference-USA. John Gasaway answers fiv burning questions regarding C-USA

– Yup, I agree. Roy Devyn Marble is going to have a breakout season, and the Iowa Hawkeyes are going to be much better than we expect

– Did any of you know this, because I certainly didn’t: Rick Pitino almost became the head coach at Michigan instead of Louisville

– Michael Litos of CAA Hoops provides his list of the top-10 seniors in the conference

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.