The Morning Mix

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Last night was the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Michigan got a big home win against North Carolina State thanks to a huge performance from Trey Burke. In Bloomington, Indiana steamrolled over a flat North Carolina squad. Virginia Tech and Maryland were the lone ACC teams to win on night one.

But last night was also the first night of Jimmy-V Week. I was too young to remember Valvano as a coach, but the words he imparted on us during his legendary ESPYs speech has inspired and motivate me my entire life. I imagine that I’m not the only one whole feels the same way.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Virginia @ Wisconsin
7:00 p.m. – William & Mary @ Richmond
7:00 p.m. – American @ St. Joseph’s
7:15 p.m. – Purdue @ Clemson
7:30 p.m. – No. 13 Michigan State @ Miami (FL)
8:00 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Oral Roberts
8:00 p.m. – Tulsa @ Wichita State
8:00 p.m. – Utah @ SMU
8:05 p.m. – Boise State @ No. 11 Creighton
9:00 p.m. – Georgia Tech @ No. 22 Illinois
9:00 p.m. – Mercer @ No. 25 New Mexico
9:00 p.m. – Montana @ BYU
9:15 p.m. – Boston College @ Penn State
9:30 p.m. – No. 4 Ohio State @ No. 2 Duke
10:00 p.m. – Northern Arizona @ No. 9 Arizona
10:00 p.m. – UC-Irvine @ No. 24 UNLV
12:00 a.m. – Saint Louis @ Washington

Read of the Day:
Athlon Sports released their “Off the Record” survey from current college basketball players. Kim Kardashian is the hottest women alive apparently. Personally, I’d pick Upton or Good out of the group, but hey, that’s a debate for a rainy day. But make sure you read this. I do love me a good survey. (Athlon Sports)

Read of the Day:
Casual Hoya details how greed will destroy modern amateur athletics. Read it. (Casual Hoya)

Top Stories:
Former-SDSU forward Tim Shelton makes best music video of the season: The former-Aztec is a talented hip-hop artist and released yet another Aztec anthem. This one, titled “Montezuma 55” is legitimately good. Best music video I’ve seen all year.

North Carolina’s blowout loss at Indiana was far worse than just a blowout: The young Tar Heels looked out-matched. they looked like they had no business being on the same court as the Hoosiers. Marcus Paige is not Kendall Marshall, and James Michael McAdoo is not Tyler Hansbrough. This could be a very long season in Chapel Hill.

Michigan looked like a National Championship night in victory over NC-State: Trey Burke looked like an All-American and the Wolverines’ freshman stepped up large in a dominant win over the Wolfpack. Michigan led early and often, and was able to fight off a late rally to secure a very impressive early season victory.

ACC files lawsuit against Maryland: The Atlantic Coast Conference has filed a lawsuit against member school Maryland in a North Carolina court after the school’s announcement last week that it would leave the ACC for the Big Ten. The lawsuit is in regard to the $50-million exit fee the conference imposed on member schools earlier this year.

Tulane and East Carolina are joining the Big East: The Green Wave will become full-time members while the Pirates will join for football only. If all stays put, the Big East will have 10 former C-USA schools as big East members in 2014.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Missouri’s Michael Dixon remains suspended for “a violation of team rules”. Steve Walentik has the graphic details of the rape accusations that were made against Dixon stemming from an August incident. (Columbia Tribune)

– Former-Washington Husky Doug Wrenn was convicted on Tuesday afternoon of harassing and cyber stalking a former girlfriend. (Seattle Times)

– Tulsa has placed Athletic Director Ross Parmley on paid administrative leave as the university investigates allegations of illegal sports gambling. (CBS Sports)

– Marquette guard Vander Blue is expected to play against Florida on Thursday after missing the Golden Eagles game on Monday against UMBC. (Fox Sports Wisconsin)

– SIU-Edwardsville forward Mark Yelovich is day-to-day with an ankle injury. (OVC Ball)

– After receiving X-rays on his surgically repaired foot, California sophomore Ricky Kreklow should be able to return soon, although he is doubtful for the Bears next game. (Bear Talk)

– Cleveland State’s Anton Grady will miss tonight’s game against Ball State because of a knee injury. (Cleveland State Hoops)

– UNLV freshman phenom Anthony Bennett may miss tonight’s game against UC-Irvine because of a lower back injury. (Las Vegas Sun)

– The NCAA has hired Val Ackerman as a consultant for women’s basketball. (Fox Sports)

Observations & Insight:
– The ACC will vote on expanding the conference later today, and it looks like if the ACC does expand, Louisville is going to get the nod. (ACC Sports Journal)

– North Carolina dispels rumors that it wants to join the Big Ten. (Sporting News)

– A stock report from the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (The Dagger)

– Mike DeCourcy doesn’t think the Tulane/Big East marriage will work, and I totally agree with him. (Sporting News)

– The WAC is desperately trying to stay afloat. After losing Denver on Monday, the conference has added Grand Canyon, a school most of us never knew existed. (Yahoo Sports)

– With Gorgui Dieng sidelined with a broken wrist, back-up center Stephen Van Treese is going to be called on to pick up the slack. Van Treese missed almost all of last season due to injury. (The Cardinal Connect)

– Jeff Borzello updates his Freshman of the Year rankings. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Dave Telep wonders if the hectic travel schedules of AAU basketball players is contributing to the recent outbreak in injuries among some the most elite high school players in the country. (ESPN Insider)

– Luke Winn provides his list of the top-16 best shooters in the country, now w/ more pictures. (Sports Illustrated)

– What is wrong with UCLA coach Ben Howland? An excellent read. (Bruins Nation)

– A quick look at the MAC power rankings. (Hustle Belt)

– I love lists like this: The All-Chicago Team. (Run The Floor)

Odds & Ends
– ICYMI, the lights did breifly go out at Assembly Hall during the Hoosiers rout of North Carolina last night. (The Big Lead)

– What has happened to our beloved Big East Conference? (Big East Hoops)

– Some expansion thoughts from a James Madison perspective. (JMU Sports Blog)

Dunk of the Day:
This dunk from Minnesota’s Rodney Williams is just silly. I wish I could do that. (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Video(s) of the Day:
Vermont got a quality non-conference road-win over a gutsy Harvard squad 85-78.

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Illinois PG expected to be ready for practice

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Illinois point guards and injuries have been an unfortunate trend over the past two seasons with Tracy Abrams, who missed the past two seasons with a torn ACL followed by a torn Achilles the next year.

On Sunday, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported some good news for an incoming Fighting Illini floor general. Te’Jon Lucas, a three-star prospect from the Class of 2016, will be fully cleared for the start of practice, according to Rothstein. In February, Lucas had broke his fibula in his right leg in two places during a game.

Lucas had committed to Illinois the previous September.

Abrams received a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June, and he decided to remain in Champaign for his final season. If healthy, he’ll be the starter. Jaylon Tate is also back for another season. But they are both seniors, which makes Sunday’s report important for John Groce’s program. Lucas will be on the floor Day 1 of practice, being molded for the future by two experienced guards.

The 5-foot-11 Lucas is the only true freshman on the roster.

Illinois begins the 2016-17 season on November 11, hosting Southeast Missouri State.

Xavier adds to class with three-star center

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Xavier added a fourth piece to its 2017 recruiting class on Sunday morning.

Kentravious Jones, a 6-foot-11, three-star recruit, committed to the Musketeers. He announced the decision via Twitter.

Chris Mack’s current recruiting class is headlined by four-star swingman Naji Marshall. The incoming quartet also includes guard Elias Harden and forward Jared Ridder. But Jones’ commitment fits an area that needs to be addressed for the Musketeers moving forward. Xavier isn’t particularly deep when it comes to big men. That frontcourt only gets thinner once RaShid Gaston, a graduate transfer from Norfolk State, exhausts his eligibility after this season.

Jones, along with current freshman forward Tyrique Jones, gives Xavier a young foundation for the future. Jones is an old-school, big-bodied center. He’s got a nice back-to-the-basket game, and had his best stretch of the summer during the UAA Finals. In three games with the Atlanta Xpress, he averaged 15.3 points, shot 59 percent from the field, and grabbed nine boards per game.

Conditioning will be the emphasis for him over the course of the next year. However, we have seen Xavier work well with a big, skilled centers in the past (see: Stainbrook, Matt). According to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jones has dropped 30 pounds.

Sunday morning’s news may not even be Xavier’s last score on the recruiting trail. The Musketeers have one scholarship remaining (two, or three if Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett enter the NBA Draft this spring), and are in play for several coveted prospects like point guards Paul Scruggs, Quade Green and Matt Coleman, as well as forward Kris Wilkes.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.