The Morning Mix

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Another full day of hoops is on tap. The preseason tournaments are in full swing, which means plenty of quality non-conference games taking place throughout the day. If you have saved up your “sick days”, today would be a good time to use one.
 
 
Friday’s Top Games:
10:30 a.m. – Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
12:30 p.m. – Colorado vs. No. 16 Baylor
1:30 p.m. – Mercer vs. George Mason
2:30 p.m. – Dayton vs. Boston College
4:00 p.m. – Illinois-Chicago @ New Mexico
5:00 p.m. – Massachusetts vs. No. 6 North Carolina State
5:30 p.m. – St. John’s vs. Murray State
6:30 p.m. – Wake Forest vs. No.23 UConn
7:00 p.m. – BYU vs. Florida State
7:00 p.m. – LIU-Brooklyn @ Maryland
7:00 p.m. – UNC-Wilmington @ Ohio
7:30 p.m. – Manhattan @ Harvard
8:00 p.m. – California @ Denver
9:30 p.m. – No. 20 Notre Dame vs. St. Joseph’s
11:00 p.m. – No. 11 North Carolina @ Long Beach State
11:00 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Oregon
12:30 a.m. – Illinois @ Hawaii
 
 
Read of the Day: Gary Parrish details why the six minutes Luke Cothron played while a member of New Orleans basketball program will haunt him forever. Read it. No seriously. This is one you have to read. (Eye on College Basketball)
 
 
Top Stories:
It’s time the NCAA addresses the rising number of transfer in college basketball: Brian A. Shactman, host of CNBC’s SportsBiz is among the many who believe the NCAA needs to step in an control the increasing number of college basketball players who transfer to different programs.

The Alabama Trevors (Lacy and Releford) led the Crimson Tide to semifinal win over Oregon State: Anthony Grant saw a significant amount of his team’s production walk out of the door at the end of last season. But if Trevor Lacy and Trevor Releford can do on a nightly basis what they did on Thursday, the Crimson Tide should be fine this season.

Oklahoma State wins despite losing J.P. Olukemi to knee injury: Not many teams have been plagued by the injury bug as bad as Oklahoma State the last few months. Senior forward J.P. Olukemi is the latest Cowboy to go down to an injury, which took place during their Thursday win over Akron. Olukemi had already been granted a fifth year of eligibility because of an injury he sustained last season.

Freshman guard Ryan Archidiacono comes up big in Villanova’s overtime win over Purdue: The freshman guard missed his entire senior season of high school because of a back injury and despite making several freshman mistakes, came up huge against Purdue on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden

Drexel now 0-2 following home loss to Illinois State: The Dragons were favored to win the CAA this season but have struggled early on, dropping the first two games of the season. The two losses however, have both come against strong opponents is both Kent State and Illinois State.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– An arrest warrant has been issued for former Tennessee women’s basketball star Chamique Holdsclaw. The 3-time national champion is being cited for aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and reckless conduct (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

– Karl Towns, the top center in the class of 2013, may reclassify to 2014, but will still likely end up at Kentucky (Kentucky Kernel)

– Oregon received word from the NCAA that Rice-transfer Arsalan Kazemi is eligible to play for the Ducks this season (The Oregonian)

– Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow is still dealing with flu-like symptoms and he is unlikely to play against Lafayette today (The Sporting News)

– Clemson freshman Jaron Blossomgame will take a redshirt season due to a leg injury he suffered in the Spring (Greenfield Daily Reporter)

– Evansville’s Colt Ryan, the teams go-to player in all regards, suffered a hip injury during the Aces’ 56-50 loss against Buffalo last night. Ryan’s status for their Friday night game against Yale is up in the air (Mid-Major Madness)

– Dantiel Daniels will return to action for Southern Illinois tonight, after sitting out the last few days with a groin injury (Mid-Major Madness)

– Gus Leeper of Arkansas-Little Rock will miss the next four weeks because of a reoccurring knee injury (Burn The Horse)
 
 
Observations & Analysis:
– UMass has now won two games this season, and both have come via the buzzer-beater variety (ESPN)

– Eight months after engaging in one of the more memorable games of the NCAA tournament, Baylor and Colorado meet again in tournament-play (The Dagger)

– Kansas needed a strong second half effort in order to get past a tough Chattanooga team, and Billy Self’s halftime speech may have made the difference (KUsports.com)

– One of Kansas’ best weapons against Chattanooga was Ben McLemore, who put on a highlight reel performance featuring five huge dunks (KUsports.com)

– Michigan State freshman Denzel Valentine has all the makings of a home-runner hitter, similar to former-Spartan Durrell Summers (Digital Sports)

– With so much size in the frontcourt, Louisville is going to have to get away from being a perimeter-oriented team (Rush The Court)

– Ryan Fagan put together an excellent weekend planner for all the preseason tournament games taking place (The Sporting News)

– American University forward Stephen Lumpkins is glad to be back on the court after spending last season on the diamond (College Chalk Talk)

– Indiana guard Jordy Hulls eclipsed the 1,000-carrer points mark in the Hoosier’s blowout victory over Sam Houston State, but needed some help from Tom Crean in order to get the ovation he deserved (Inside the Hall)

– The Bradley Braves are still a work in progress, but the team is much better than what the early home attendance numbers indicate (Peoria Journal-Star)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
The Drexel Dragons have now dropped their first two games of the season after being named the preseason favorites to win the CAA. Last night the Dragons lost to a underatted Illinois State Redbirds squad in overtime at home, 86-84(CSN Philly)

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
You should probably get familiar with High Point freshman John Brown. I have a feeling we will be seeing him again sometime soon (Ballin’ is a Habit)


 
 
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Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.

Svi Mykhailiuk drops 20 pounds, makes weird Kansas roster even weirder

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Kansas is a weird team this season.

They’re talented, they’re probably going to win the Big 12 again and I fully expect them to be in the national title picture come March, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re … weird.

25 percent of their scholarship players are transfers sitting out the year. That doesn’t include Sam Cunliffe, who won’t be eligible until December. So that’s unusual, as is the fact that Bill Self, a coach that had steadfastly remained dedicated to playing two big men together despite the gradual shift to small-ball, has three big men on his roster in total.

One of those three is Mitch Lightfoot, which means that there are just two big men on the roster that a potential Final Four team should feel comfortable having as a major part of their rotation. That would be sophomore Udoka Azubuike and freshman Billy Preston.

That makes it seem pretty clear that the Jayhawks will be going with another small-ball look, just as they did last season, right? But they don’t really have a piece to replace Josh Jackson, who was a perfect fit as a college four in a small-ball lineup. He was a natural wing that was athletic enough to block shots and tough enough to battle bigs on the glass.

So who plays that role this season?

Some thought it could be Svi Mykhailiuk, the 20-year old Ukranian senior, but he’s never really been that guy. Oh, and he just so happened to lose 20 pounds this offseason.

“I’m trying to stay light-weight this year, so it’s going to help me a lot,” Mykhailiuk told the Kansas City Star. “I feel like I’m faster with the light weight. I’m more athletic. It just helps me overall in the game.”

Which means … what, exactly?

Losing 20 pounds isn’t exactly going to help a player that has some question marks about his toughness and physicality battle with college fours in the paint. Does it mean he’ll be playing more on the wing? If so, who plays at the four? Will LaGerald Vick — all six feet, five inches and 175 pounds — be playing in the Josh Jackson role?

Or is Self going to use Preston as his new Perry Ellis, hoping that this five-star freshman becomes what his last five-star four-man — Carlton Bragg — never could?

My guess is that it will likely end up being all of the above, depending on matchups.

But it doesn’t make the Jayhawks’ weird roster any clearer.

Four-star forward commits to Wake Forest

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Danny Manning added another four-star recruit to his 2018 recruiting class.

Isaiah Mucius, a 6-foot-7 forward, committed to Wake Forest on Monday evening, giving the Demon Deacons another top-rated prospect alongside top-25 prospect Jaylen Hoard in 2018.

“I’d like to thank my family and my friends for having my back throughout all the tough times and good times,” Mucius said in a social media post. “I’d like to thank all the college coaches that recruited me through this process and believed in me and my talents.

“I’ll be attending Wake Forest University.”

Mucius, a consensus top-100 recruit, visited Wake Forest, which he visited this past weekend, over Xavier, which he visited earlier this month. The Brewster Academy product also had offers from the likes of Connecticut, Minnesota and LSU, among others.

Manning’s 2018 class now includes Mucius, three-star guard Sharone White and Hoard, a 6-foot-8 four-star forward who committed to the Demon Deacons last month.

“I am trying to win an NCAA Championship,” Mucius told Scout.com, “and I think having Jaylen (Hoard) on the wing with me, and we are trying to help get a point guard, and I think we can win a championship.”