The Morning Mix

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Remember how I said yesterday that Monday could end up being one of the craziest days of the college hoops season? No? Well that’s what I was thinking. Sure enough, Monday delivered. The Silverswords of Chaminade defended their home turf for the first time since 2007, Maryland makes the move with Rutgers soon to follow. Injuries and upsets were had, Shabazz Muhammad made his NCAA debut and Rotnei Clarke hit the season’s best buzzer-beater.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
1:30 p.m. – Austin Peay vs. Western Carolina
2:30 p.m. – Marquette vs. Mississippi State
4:30 p.m. – James Madison vs. Youngstown State
5:00 p.m. – Texas vs. USC
6:00 p.m. – UC-Irvine vs. Southern Miss
7:00 p.m. – No. 11 UCLA vs. Georgia
7:00 p.m. – Washington State vs. Texas A&M
7:00 p.m. – North Texas @ Virginia
8:00 p.m. – Boise State @ No. 15 Michigan State
8:00 p.m. – No. 9 North Carolina vs. Butler
8:00 p.m. – Harvard @ St. Joseph’s (NBC Sports Network)
9:00 p.m. – USC-Upstate vs. Santa Clara
9:30 p.m. – No. 12 Kansas vs. Saint Louis
10:00 p.m. – No. 1 Indiana vs. Georgetown
10:30 p.m. – Illinois @ Chaminade

Read of the Day: Make sure to read The transcript of Scott Van Pelt’s radio segment today about Maryland’s departure. SVP is a Maryland-native and born-n-bred Terps fan. You don’t find a lot of big time media guys who wear it on their sleeve as much as SVP, and still he  always remains so balanced and impartial while remaining extremely passionate and loyal at the same time. I genuinely feel for him. I completely understand the sorrow he’s feeling, and his explanation is tremendous. When my Georgetown Hoyas eventually depart the Big East, I am positive this is exactly what I will feel like. I hope I’m that lucky. For God’s sake, read this. (Testudo Times)

Read of the Day: 100 thoughts about 100 NCAA teams from the Basketball Prospectus Guide to the 2012-2013 Season. Read it. (Deadspin)

Top Stories:
It’s unfair to rush to judgement about Shabazz Muhammad after just one game: UCLA’s freshman phenom made his debut last night against Georgetown, and if you consider everything (which you should), he didn’t play too bad.

Chaminade upsets Texas; Barnes second loss to Silverswords: Everybody’s favorite Maui Invitational hosts stunned a young Texas squad en route to their first tournament win since defeating Oklahoma in 2007. It just so happens that Texas head coach Rick Barnes was the head coach of the 1991-92 Providence team that lost to the Silverswords.

The Indiana Hoosiers can be effective even when they don’t always go through Cody Zeller: It certainly wasn’t pretty, but with a bevy of alternative weapons to choose from, Indiana was able to grind past a tired Georgia squad at The Barclays Centers.

Sean Woods might not have too friendly of a return in Lexington: The Former-Kentucky “Unforgettable” and current Morehead State head coach voiced his concern for the lack of basketball history displayed by today’s brand of college player, and referenced the current Kentucky roster.

Arizona has options this season, something that hurt them a year ago: Last season the Wildcats had a bunch of potential but not proven help. This season, with another crop of young talent, there is depth on the roster for when situations go awry.

Back from mission, Tyler Haws is the same player but a new man: It’s been a long time since Tyler haws suited up for the Cougars, but the experience gained on the guard’s mormon mission shaped him into the man he is today.

Expanisionocalypse:
– The worst part of it all is that Maryland’s move actually makes sense. Well, no it doesn’t, but this will get the school more money, and the school really (See: REALLY!) needs money. This decision was a no-brainer (CSN Baltimore)

– It really does need rehashing: This is a desperation move by Maryland. It’s a wise move but very desperate (Washington Post)

– Maryland is hoping that change in conferences will help “bail out” the seven varsity programs that were discontinued over the summer (Washington Post)

– Terrapin coaching icon Lefty Driesell chimed in on the move, feels sorry for the players (Sporting News)

– An awesome list (with video) of the five things that Maryland will miss about the ACC (CSN Baltimore)

– Did Rutgers actually “win” conference realignment? It certainly looks like that might be the case (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Despite Rutgers likely departure to the Big-10, the Scarlet Knights rivalry with Seton hall is likely to remain (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– The RAC at Rutgers is one of the more under-appreciated home venues on the east coast. But in order for the Scarlet Knights to compete (See: $$$), they will need a new arena (Statehouse Bureau)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Ryan Harrow could return to practice for Kentucky today after missing most of last week due to illness (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– The NCAA will hear appeals of two suspended Indiana players later today (Sporting News)

– Louisville and North Carolina will headline the 2013 Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament (ESPN)

– Missouri guard Michael Dixon remains suspended foe now, but is travelling with the team to the Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis (College Basketball Talk)

Observations & Insight:
– Make sure Gary Parrish’s “Poll Attacks” are a weekly Monday read. This week, a voter keeps NC-State at No.6, OK-State un-ranked (Eye On College Basketball)

– Drexel has had a tough early stretch. They entered the season with much hype and dropped their first two games of the season. They beat Penn to earn their first win, but lost senior guard Chris Fouchs to a season-ending ankle injury. With Delaware gaining momentum, what does the future hold for the Dragons? (City of Basketball Love)

– Jordy Hulls had a tremendous game for the Hoosiers last night, but he can’t possibly be NBA material, can he? Tom Crean thinks he is (SNY.tv)

News & Notes:
– A quick historical look at the trend of big-time conference realignment (College Hoopedia)

– Some great numbers from Illinois-Chicago’s upset victory over Iona (Horizon League Hoops)

– Amidst all the hype surrounding Shabazz Muhammad’s debut, it was a trio of Hoya stars that shined brightest (SNY.tv)

– The Flames of Illinois-Chicago are down in the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam and spent some of their free time snorkeling in the crystal clear Caribbean waters (UICFlames.com)

– Am I the only one who thinks Rick Pitino is turning in to the “Mercury Morris” of expansionocalypse? (The Card Connect)

Dunk of the Day: Doug “The Freakshow” Anderson. Or for you sports entertainment fans out there: “MMMMMMIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSTTEEERRRR AANNNNNNNNDDEERRSSSSSOOOOOONNNNNN” (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Video of the Day: Say hello to your new gun-slingin’ overlord Rotnei Clarke. That is all. (Sporting News)

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)

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.