The Morning Mix

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First and foremost, our most heartfelt condolences go out to the Majerus family. College basketball lost one of it’s all-time greats this weekend. If the sheer number of glowing articles written about his life this weekend weren’t enough of an indicator, the reactions that flooded in showed that Rick Majerus may have been as universally liked as anybody in the history of college hoops.

R.I.P. Rick Majerus (2/17/1948 – 12/1/2012)

Let’s hit the links.

 

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Eastern Michigan No. 6 Syracuse
8:00 p.m. – USC @ Nebraska
10:00 p.m. – Texas Southern @ No. 23 San Diego State
10:05 p.m. – Fresno State @ Long Beach State

 

Read of the Day:
I think the general consensus is that this is the best article written from the weekend regarding the life and times of Rick Majerus. Dozens of phenomenal articles were written this weekend about Majerus and the legacy he left, but this is the best. Read it. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Read of the Day:
Seth Davis provides an entertaining and insightful piece about his experiences with coach Majerus. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Read of the Day:
A phenomenal compilation of Rick Majerus quotes. There is something in here for everyone. Read it. (KBrews.com)

 

Top Stories:
Seven angles of Cashmere Wright’s buzzer-beater against Alabama: Cincinnati’s Cashmere Wright hit a fade-away jumper over a 7-footer to beat Alabama on Saturday. A shot like this deserves seven different camera angles.

Dez Wells scores career high; Terrapins headed towards success: Nobody expected Maryland to be this good this soon. Thanks to a career-high 25 points from Dez Wells against George Mason, the Terps won their sixth consecutive game. With other ACC teams struggling, this could be the time for Maryland to make it’s move.

Four Hofstra players arrested for burglary: Get this. They even robbed their head coach. One of the accused was granted a hardship waiver to play at Hofstra immediately. Following the hearing, a parent of one of the players took a swing at a cameraman. You can’t make this stuff up.

College Basketball Talk releases monthly awards for November: Duke near unanimous vote for team of the month, Plumlee and Withey leading candidates for player of the month, everybody knew this was coming for UCLA.

Turnovers and poor shooting cost Florida State in their 61-56 loss to Mercer: The Seminoles seem to have taken a huge step back since last season. Michael Snaer is not playing anywhere near the All-American level we know he is capable of playing at. More importantly, the Seminoles now have two UGLY non-conferences losses on their resume.

Isaiah Armwood is thriving at George Washington: The former-Villanova forward is excelling in his new home, as evidence by his outstanding performance against Manhattan at the BB&T Classic on Sunday.

 

Observations & Insight:
– This is pretty neat. A few top college recruits chime in on their expansionocalypse thoughts. Rarely do we ever hear about conference expansion thoughts from the athletes, let alone ones that aren’t even in college yet. (National Recruiting Spotlight)

– Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash wants to become the NCAA leader in free-throw attempts (The Oklahoman)

– Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak came to an end on Saturday. As Gary Parrish explains, it was because the Wildcats still look like a “November basketball team”. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Thanks to some inopportune fouling, the Washington Huskies were able to escape Cal-State Fullerton with a win (Seattle Times)

– Bucknell senior Mike Muscala doesn’t get nearly the recognition he deserves. Scoring 29 points and grabbing 19 rebounds in a comeback win should he earn him some props. (Big Apple Buckets)

– It hasn’t been easy for Mark Lyons, but after some early-season struggles, the Xavier-transfer is starting to set the tone at Arizona (Arizona Daily Star)

– Off to a 7-1 start, Larry Brown’s SMU Mustangs are exceeding expectations (ESPN)

 

Odds & Ends
– I don’t even know how to tease this for you. WikiLeaks. The Brig. Panties. March Madness. Judge for yourself (NBC News)

– We know Duke is the best team in the ACC. But who is second-best? (College Hoops Haven)

– Rick Majerus coached at Ball State, Marquette, Utah and Saint Louis during his illustrious career. He almost ended up coaching at San Diego State (San Diego Union-Tribune)

– A nice look at how Twitter reacted to UIC’s upset win over Northwestern on Saturday (Horizon League Hoops)

 

Dunk of the Day:
After a month of action, we haven’t seen too many guys throw it down better than Kansas’ Ben McLemore

Video(s) of the Day:
You won’t find a better eye-roller than Mic Cronin (The Mock Session)
source:

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Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.