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The Morning Mix

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Monday provided very little action on the hardwood. But the news cycle kept on spinning, as two mid-majors are joining the conference realignment fray. Get ready for a full night of hoops with The Morning Mix.

Let’s hit the links.

 

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ Old Dominion (NBC Sports Network)
7:00 p.m. – Kent State @ Bucknell
7:00 p.m. – Georgia @ Georgia Tech
7:00 p.m. – Oklahoma @ Arkansas
7:00 p.m. – Texas vs. No. 15 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Western Carolina @ No. 13 Illinois
8:00 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State @ No. 12 Missouri
8:00 p.m. – South Dakota State @ No. 14 Minnesota
8:00 p.m. – Wyoming @ Illinois State
8:30 p.m. – Western Michigan @ No. 3 Michigan
9:00 p.m. – Siena @ St. Bonaventure (NBC Sports Network)
9:00 p.m. – No. 25 North Carolina State vs. Connecticut
9:00 p.m. – No. 5 Louisville @ Charleston
9:00 p.m. – Northwestern @ Baylor
9:30 p.m. – Southern Mississippi @ No. 8 Arizona
10:00 p.m. – St. John’s @ San Francisco
10:00 p.m. – Nevada @ Pacific
11:00 p.m. – No. 22 UNLV @ Portland

 

Picture of the Day:
I guess this is an accurate depiction of a “Three-headed monster”. (From @LemurFemur)

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/A9P5Tv7CIAAZhCH.jpg:large

 

Read of the Day:
Statistician extraordinaire Dan Hanner drops some stellar knowledge on how the top-80 recruits have fared thus far this season. Make sure you read this. Hanner is always “must-read” material (RealGM.com)

Read of the Day:
Grantland provides an excellent piece on the tradition that Tom Crean is restoring at Indiana. Read it. (Grantland)

 

Top Stories:
Patience needed for South Carolina fans: NBC Sports College Basketball Insider Vin Parise explains why patience will be needed for Gamecock fans, and provides some insight on players he’s watching out for.

Mark Lyons has 12 assists this year and 15 turnovers, is he Arizona answer at the point? The Wildcats sit at -0 and are ranked inside this top ten. They have a young and talented front court, but seem to be lacking an identity in the back court. The Xavier-transfer has struggled to distribute the ball. But maybe distribution by committee will work best for the Wildcats.

Handicapping the national scoring leader race: We may only be one month into the season, but five players have emerged and will likely battle it out to be the nation’s top scorer this season. You’ve heard of C.J. McCollum, Isaiah Canaan, and Doug McDermott, but there are two sleepers to keep an eye on.

Late Night Snacks from Monday night: There was not a lot of action of the college hardwood last night. One 14 games were played. Of those 14, only nine featured Division I vs. Division I match-ups.

Jim Calhoun had cancer removal surgery in May: The former-UConn head coach revealed on Monday that he had surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his lungs during the off-season. His explanation can only be summed up as “Calhoun-like”

 

Hoops Housekeeping
– Highly touted class of 2014 big-man Karl Towns, who played for the Dominican National Team this summer, is schedule to make his college choice today, and is likely to choose Kentucky (Courier Journal)

– Former-Pittsburgh guard John Johnson has decided to transfer to Penn State (Victory Bell Rings)

– Clemson guard T.J. Sapp has announced his intentions to transfer from the Tigers program (Shakin’ The Southland)

– Providence guard Bryce Cotton is doubtful for the Friars game against Rhode Island, while freshman Kris Dunn is unlikely to make his season debut (Friar Blog)

– Massachusetts center Cady Lalanne has been indefinitely suspended after weekend arrest at on-campus function (MassLive.com)

 

Observations & Insight:
– The non-football Big east schools would be thrilled if the bleeding stops soon (SNY.tv)

– Utah will honor the life of former head coach Rick Majerus by hanging his legendary white sweater in the rafters (ESPN)

– Thanks to a loaded field and a successful turnout, the Battle 4 Atlantis wants to remain the top preseason tournament in the country (Sports Illustrated)

– The NEC is getting raided by the MAAC, as Monmouth and Quinnipiac are set to make a move. Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the decision (Run the Floor)

– An excellent profile piece on the development of O.D. Anosike, both on and off the court (Albany Times-Union)

– Eamonn Brennan tells us who he would choose if he had to select one basketball player to stay all four years (ESPN)

– John Gasaway breaks down three unranked and under-appreciated teams that we shouldn’t forget about (ESPN Insider)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Ford debate about the most talented teams in the nation (ESPN Insider)

– Jeff Eisenberg drops a solid list of the teams that have most exceeded expectations so far this season (The Dagger)

– The Memphis Tigers are a work in process. The energy and effort provided by freshman Shaq Goodwin is sure to pay off in the long run (Memphis Commercial-Appeal)

– Syracuse whipped Eastern Michigan last night. Jim Boeheim believes the early progress of Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman are crucial to Syracuse’s chances this season (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– After an anemic showing against Tennessee, the Georgetown Hoyas look to rise above against Texas tonight in Manhattan (Washington Post)

– Is this really a question? I thought it was common knowledge that Florida forward Patric Young is grossly underutilized (Rush The Court)

– Will the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State provide a battle against their Golden Gopher foes from across the border? (From The Barn)

 

Odds & Ends
– Kirk Hanson has won more than 700 games as head coach at Central Bible College (NCCAA), but because of a merger with Evangel University, the three-time National Championship-winning coach will be out of a job (CSN Northwest)

– The LaSalle Explorers will wear slick throwback uniforms against Penn Stat in honor of their 1968-1969 squad that finished 23-1 (Philahoops.com)

– St. John’s will face San Francisco tonight on the west coast. The Johnnies spent some of their free time in San Francisco helping out at a local food bank (Johnny Jungle)

– A look at the total expenses of A-10 basketball programs from last season (Duquesne Sports Blog)

 

Dunk of the Day:
I agree with the description. This angle doesn’t do the dunk proper justice.

 

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)

N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr. fully recovered, ready to go

Kelly Kline/adidas
Kelly Kline/adidas
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Dennis Smith Jr. sure looks ready.

North Carolina State’s prized freshman point guard is pushing through a workout in the practice gym on a hot July afternoon, and there’s no sign of the knee injury that defined his past year.

He’s sprinting along the baseline to bury a catch-and-shoot corner 3-pointer. He’s dribbling between chairs and stutter-stepping his way to a pull-up jumper. He’s launching himself at the rim for a dunk off the dribble.

“I don’t expect to be rusty at all,” Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I was feeling kind of nervous at one point, but I went in and did a workout and then I was thinking, `I’m putting in all this work so all the nervousness should be out of my mind.’ I had no reason to be timid.

“I just have to go out there and perform, no excuses.”

A lot has happened for Smith in 12 months. The Fayetteville native suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in a game during the Adidas Nations event featuring top prospects. He had surgery, picked N.C. State, graduated from high school early and enrolled in college in January to rehab and learn the Wolfpack’s system before his debut later this year.

Tuesday marks one year since the injury for the 6-foot-3 Smith, ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 1 point guard when he signed last fall.

“We’ve tried to be real conservative with him as far as not letting him do too much too fast,” coach Mark Gottfried said. “At his age, he can’t wait. He’s dying to play every day.”

Smith started earning his leadership role as soon as he arrived in Raleigh, pointing out instructions to teammates or calling them to the gym for extra work even though he couldn’t play. He figures that time observing from the sideline has prepared him to replace high-scoring floor leader Anthony “Cat” Barber.

“I feel like I’ve gotten smarter, definitely,” Smith said. “I see the game totally different now. I read pick-and-roll easier. I feel like I’ve gotten more sound on defense because I understand angles better.”

The physical work to get back has been tougher.

Roughly a year ago, Smith was lying in a bed after surgery trying to stay positive. He asked trainer Ja-Rell Bailey to bring him some free weights for upper-body exercises even if he couldn’t do much else, an example of why Bailey described Smith as “a man determined.”

Smith’s father said the rehab emphasized building leg strength to protect and stabilize the injured knee, something his son said he will keep doing in both legs for years to come. Smith’s work has helped him go from 180 pounds to a college-ready 192-pound frame.

“He’s got his bounce back, so he can dunk and everything,” Dennis Smith Sr. said. “But what Junior has got, God gave it to him. . A lot of times you run into kids who are built off of hype because they do a fancy move or have a good game. Junior ain’t hype. He’s the real deal.”

Regardless, Gottfried expects Smith to have “a learning curve.”

“For me,” he said, “I think what you see in November is going to be much different than what you see in January.”

The Wolfpack will look much different, too, after missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five seasons. N.C. State welcomes Scout.com’s No. 6-ranked recruiting class that includes five-star Turkish big man Omer Yurtseven. Senior guard Terry Henderson returns from an ankle injury that sidelined him 7 minutes into last season. Charlotte transfer and former Conference USA freshman of the year Torin Dorn Jr. will play after sitting out last year.

Still, Smith is the guy stirring the most buzz for Wolfpack fans – something he has no trouble embracing.

“I really don’t feel that pressure though,” Smith said. “I feel like if you come in and you expect to play well, then you should have those expectations of people talking. It’s just playing basketball to me. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Washington lands commitment from Mamoudou Diarra

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For the second time this summer, Washington has landed a commitment from a forward in the Class of 2017.

On Friday, it was Mamoudou Diarra that pledged his future to Lorenzo Romar. Diarra is a 6-foot-8 combo-forward that is currently unranked by Rivals but was targeted by a number high major program.

Washington landed a commitment from Michael Porter Jr. earlier this summer, and given Porter’s standing as the potential No. 1 player in the class, the Huskies will be in the mix for the best crop of freshmen in the country in 2017-18. Romar has also landed commitments from four-star guard Jaylen Nowell and three-star guard Blake Harris.

RELATED: How the Michael Porter Package Deal came to fruition

Diarra played his high school basketball in St. Louis.

Xavier lands second top 100 commitment in 2017

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Xavier landed a key commitment on Friday morning in Naji Marshall, one of the Musketeers’ top targets in the Class of 2017.

Marshall is a la 6-foot-5 wing from Washington D.C. that is currently ranked 62nd in the 2017 class by Rivals. He’s a scorer that has shown off a versatile offensive game, averaging better than three assists on the Under Armour Association circuit.

This is the third commitment from head coach Chris Mack in the class and the second top 100 player to pledge to the Musketeers. Marshall picked Xavier over Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia Tech, among other.

Four-star 2018 guard Coby White commits to North Carolina

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, center, reacts with his team behind him after a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament against Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Washington. North Carolina won 88-71. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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With guards Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek having committed in their 2017 recruiting class, North Carolina received a commitment from one of the better guards in the Class of 2018 Thursday night. Four-star guard Coby White, who’s ranked 61st in his class by Rivals.com, made his pledge to Roy Williams’ program. News of White’s commitment was first reported by Scout.com.

The 6-foot-4 White is a native of Wilson, North Carolina, where he attends Greenfield HS, and he played his grassroots basketball for the CP3 16U basketball program this summer. His commitment to UNC comes just a couple days after the ACC school offered him a scholarship.

White took an unofficial visit to UNC in June, and his play in July ultimately led to the program making the aforementioned scholarship offer. By the time White enrolls in Chapel Hill, current veterans such as Joel Berry II and Nate Britt will be out of eligibility. Among the perimeter would could potentially be on campus in 2018 are freshmen Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson, and sophomore Kenny Williams.

White is the second commit in the 2018 class for the Tar Heels, with 6-foot-7 guard Rechon Black being the first.

Point guard Small to transfer from Oregon

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 18:  Kendall Small #21 of the Oregon Ducks shoots over Derek Mountain #40 of the Holy Cross Crusaders in the second half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 18, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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After navigating a lack of depth at the point to win the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles and earn the program’s first-ever one seed in the NCAA tournament, Oregon will have no such issues in 2016-17. Dylan Ennis, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, is back for another season as is returning starter Casey Benson. Add in freshman Payton Pritchard, whose shooting ability can help a team that struggled from three a season ago, and Dana Altman has multiple players to call upon at that spot.

That left Kendall Small, who played just under eight minutes per game as a freshman, in a spot where it would have been tough to earn more playing time as a sophomore. As a result he’s decided to transfer, with the news first being reported by Scout.com.

In addition to the three guards mentioned above, sophomore Tyler Dorsey also has the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. Small will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at whichever school he chooses to transfer to, and he’ll have to sit out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules.

A 6-foot guard from Anaheim, Small’s best outing came in Oregon’s 77-59 win over Savannah State on November 23. In that game Small accounted for nine points, four assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes of action. But he played double-digit minutes in just four games after the Ducks began Pac-12 play in early January, the last of which being Oregon’s win over Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA tournament.