The Morning Mix

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We’re only just 72 hours away from the beginning of college basketball season. The anticipation is palpable.

 

#ReadoftheDay: ESPN’s Jason King on the landscape of college hoops in 2012 and how it looks similar to the landscape in the 1980s. Read it. (ESPN)

 

Top Stories:

What top-25 team will miss the NCAA Tournament?: Our tremendous crew of @CBTonNBC writers explain their thoughts on which preseason top-25 team has the best chance of missing the NCAA tournament. Check  the homepage later for Today’s installment.

What team outside the top-25 has the best chance to make the Final Four?: Everybody has penciled in Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville. But this season’s Final Four, maybe more than ever, could feature a team well outside the preseason top-25.

Kentucky guard Julius Mays survived an injury scare in Wildcat’s’ exhibition win over Transylvania: The fifth-year senior transfer from Wright State knocked knees with a Pioneer’s player midway through the second half. Mays left the game and did not return, but no significant damage was done. You may remember back to a month ago when Nerlens Noel nearly rolled his ankle during a Big Blue Madness pep rally. Seems like Calipari dodged yet another bullet.

Is Georges Niang the next Doug McDermott?: Iowa State freshman forward Georges Niang spent last season battling Nerlens Noel during practice at The Tilton School in New Hampshire. While Niang is undersized at 6-foot-7, has the elite game-IQ and superior skills that will remind Cyclone fans of Ames’ native son Doug McDermott.

 

Hoops Housekeeping:

– Marquette got terrible, horrible, no good, very bad news on Monday. Turns out that potential breakout star Todd Mayo, the younger brother of Dallas Maverick’s star O.J. Mayo, was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA and will have to sit out the entire season. That’s a major loss for a team already looking to replace both Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. (Paint Touches)

– Michigan recruit Austin Hatch, who was seriously injured in a 2011 plane crash that killed his father and stepmother has been cleared by doctors to participate in high school practice. It is still uncertain if he will be able to participate in games. Awesome news nonetheless. (MLive.com)

– Arkansas’ sophomore guard B.J Young is expected by many (As you will read later) to be one of the nation’s top guards this season. But he will have to sit out the first two games of the season (Arkansas Democrat-Republic)

– Syracuse added their first recruit from the class of 2014 in 6-foot-8 Chris McCullough (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– During a Q&A session on Monday, Rick Pitino revealed that Louisville freshman center Mangok Mathiang was denied eligibility by the NCAA and will redshirt the season (Cardinal Authority)

– Highly touted class of 2014 forward Dakari Johnson has decided to reclassify to 2013, joining the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Seldon and Noah Vonleh (SNY.tv)

 

Observations & Analysis:

– Missouri’s Phil “Flip” Pressey was the preseason pick for SEC Player of the Year, but could a much less heralded guard end up hoisting the award at the end of the season? (Sports Illustrated)

– Jeff “Two Scoops” Goodman provides a 2013 NBA mock draft. Clearly Goodman and the CBS guys have run the well dry of season preview posts (CBS Sports)

– Northwestern gets all the publicity, but William & Mary has made the NCAA tournament just as many times as the Wildcats. Zero. But will the tide change for the Tribe in 2012-13? (College Chalktalk)

– In case you forgot, the Loyola Greyhounds represented the MAAC in the NCAA tournament last season and find themselves as league favorites, a position the program has been held in nearly 20 years (Baltimore Sun)

– Much of North Carolina State’s success will depend on the production provided by the team’s star players. But in order for guys like C.J. Leslie and Rodney Purvis to be productive, they will need to master Mark Gottfried’s variation of “the UCLA high post offense”. (Backing the Pack)

– The season has not even begun yet, but it’s pretty evident that Minnesota’s Tubby Smith and Northwestern’s Bill Carmody appear to be on the coaching hot seat. Depending on what happens between November and April, Jon Beilein, Tom Crean and John Groce could join them (Rush The Court)

– With Moe Harkless in the NBA, St. John’s must rely heavily on the performance of sophomore guard D’Angelo Harrison (New York Daily News)

– I guarantee this will be the most you read about Youngstown State all season. But since this is a season preview, this will last you until April. Well, more like early March since the Penguins have never made the postseason as a Division-I member (Horizon League Hoops)

 

Odds & Ends:

– This is the longest Q&A session you will ever read. But since it’s in the words of Marquette head coach Buzz Williams, I highly recommend you read it. Buzz is never not entertaining. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

– Somebody actually values Rob Dauster’s opinion of the Florida State Seminoles. I’m shocked. I only value Rob’s opinion when it comes to bar food and the best formations to use in FIFA ’12 (Tomahawk Nation)

– A rather entertaining season preview for the Atlantic-10. Language somewhat NSFW. (Blackburn Review)

– A quick preview of the favorites to win each of the 13 major conferences (The Back Iron)

– Here is close to 9,000 words previewing the Big Sky Conference. Make sure you give some of it a read. Eastern Washington and Montana should be fun to watch this season. (Big Sky Basketball)

– In case you forgot how the Colorado Buffaloes won the Pac-12 last year, here’s a very solid review of 2011-2012 (The Ralphie Report)

– Eight teams will unveil special camouflage uniforms on Friday as part of the four military appreciation games (The Dagger)

– Tonight’s exhibition game between St. John’s and Concordia is being endorsed by the Johnnies student section as “Dress like Lavin night”. Phenomenal. (Sweet, Sweet Lavin)

 

Video(s) of the Day:

Doug Wojcik enters his first season as head coach at College of Charleston and will lean heavily on senior Andrew Lawrence and talented big-man Adjehi Baru. Here’s what went down at the school’s “Maroon Madness” event over the weekend. (College of Charleston Hoops)

 

Players from Arkansas-Little Rock are not happy about their 2011-2012 Sun Belt Tournament exit against Western Kentucky. Can you say “Bulletin board material”? (Burn The Horse)

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.