The Morning Mix

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Tuesday night was a busy one for CBB enthusiasts. The Morning Mix is here to make sure you are adequately educated on all the happenings from the college basketball world.

Let’s hit the links.

 

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 6 Florida @ Florida State
7:00 p.m. – Ohio @ Memphis
7:00 p.m. – Tennessee @ Virginia
7:30 p.m. – West Virginia vs. Marshall
8:00 p.m. – Arkansas-Pine Bluff @ No. 19 Michigan State
8:00 p.m. – North Texas @ Saint Louis
8:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ Davidson
8:05 p.m. – Saint Mary’s @ Drake
8:30 p.m. – Boise State @ Utah
9:00 p.m. – South Florida @ No. 23 Oklahoma State
9:00 p.m. – Penn State vs. La Salle (NBC Sports Network)
9:00 p.m. – Temple @ Villanova
9:00 p.m. – Dayton @ Alabama
10:30 p.m. – Colorado State @ Coloado
10:00 p.m. – USC @ No. 18 New Mexico
11:00 p.m. – No. 10 Gonzaga @ Washington State

Picture of the Day:
UCLA students had no interest in attending the Bruin’s make-up exhibition game against Cal State San Marcos (From @SamStrong)

source:

 

Read of the Day:
Rumors regarding the personal life of Villanova head coach Jay Wright took over twitter yesterday. VUHoops.com dispells all thoughts and notions that Jay Wright will step down as head coach of the Wildcats (VUHoops.com)

 

Hoops Housekeeping
– Highly-touted big-man Karl Towns annouced his intetions to reclasify to 2014 and will attend Kentucky. The St. Joseph’s High School star player for John Calipari on the Dominican national team this summer.(New jersey Hoops Haven)

– Utah State guard Danny Berger collapsed during practice yesterday. He was revived on the court but taken to the hospital in critical condition (Salt Lake Tribune)

– Speaking of Utah State, their game against BYU scheduled for later today has been postponed (Deseret News)

– Tulsa Athletic Director Ross Parmley has been fired becuase of his involvement in a federal gambling probe (The Oklahoman)

 

Observations & Insight:
– Arizona’s Mark Lyons has been struggling recently, and it hit rock bottom last night, as he went 0-7 from the field. Luckily, the Wildcats persevered enough to defeat Southern Mississippi 63-65 (Arizona Daily Star)

– San Francisco moved to 5-1 after defeating St. John’s last night 81-65. The Dons saw seven players leave the program over the off-season. (Rumble in the Garden)

– Minnesota got a strong with over South Dakota State last night and it looks like Tubby Smith has a sqaud that can compete late into March (ESPN)

– Georgetown had serious roster turnove in the off-season thanks to graduation and NBA early entry. But despite an inexperienced starting lineup, the Hoyas have staying power (ESPN)

– San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher is not pleased with the number of technical fouls his team has already recieved (San Diego Union Tribune)

– A week ago, people had concerns about North Carolina State. But after a strong showing in the second half against UConn lsat night, the Wolfpack seem to be headed in the right direction (Sports Illustrated)

– Deandre Daniels was a highly touted recruit out of high school and has shown flashes now that he has a chance to log serious minutes for UConn. But head coach Kevin Ollie still thinks Daniels needs to step up (SNY.tv)

– Northwestern got a huge road victory over a Baylor team that just broke Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak (The Dagger)

– A bunch of good uniform updates here from ESPN’s Uni Watch (ESPN)

 

Dunk of the Day:
Anthony Bennett may only be a freshman, but he knows how to finish a game

 

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith returns to school after withdrawing from NBA Draft

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith will return for his senior season, the school confirmed on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the most intriguing athletes in college basketball as he’s been a double-figure scorer for the Red Raiders the past two seasons. As a junior, Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as he shot 50 percent from the field.

Three-point shooting was something that Smith improved dramatically last season as he increased it to 39 percent in a small sample size. If Smith can continue to show that he’s a perimeter shooting threat then he could be an ideal three-and-d candidate at the pro level.

By returning to Texas Tech, Smith gives head coach Chris Beard a potential all-league candidate who should be counted on to be a double-double threat next season.

 

Missouri lands five-star forward Jontay Porter

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Missouri has another member of the Porter family in the fold as forward Jontay Porter officially committed to the Tigers on Monday night.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Michael Porter Jr., and father Michael Porter Sr., Jontay is currently a member of the Class of 2018 who is rumored to be reclassifying to the Class of 2017.

A 6-foot-10 forward who was recently elevated to five-star status on Rivals.com, Porter is having a monster spring in the Nike EYBL with MoKan Elite. Porter has been one of the best players in the league, as he’s putting up 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

If Jontay is able to join Missouri next season then he gives the Tigers another intriguing piece to play alongside his brother Michael, who is good enough to be a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although Jontay isn’t the go-to player that his brother is, he could be a very effective SEC role player early in his career, as his ability to rebound and stretch the floor makes him an extremely intriguing piece on the floor.

Kevin Stallings is a tone-deaf clown

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Pitt guard Cameron Johnson is the most coveted transfer in college basketball this offseason.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is coming off of a strong campaign with the Panthers in which he put up 11.9 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

Not only is Johnson a proven double-figure scorer in a league like the ACC, but he’s eligible to play right away thanks to his graduation from Pitt. Johnson graduating from school in three years and missing one season due to injury also makes him the rare graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. So, not only can Johnson come in and make an immediate impact, but he’s also able to stay for another year after.

This sort of thing almost never happens, let alone with a 6-foot-8 shooter that could sway the national title race.

It’s why blueblood programs like Kentucky and UCLA are in hot pursuit of Johnson. It’s why another ACC school, reigning national champion North Carolina, is also intrigued by Johnson being on the market.

Except Johnson won’t be allowed to attend North Carolina, or any other school in the ACC, without first sitting out a season and losing one season of eligibility. At least that’s how things currently stand thanks to Pitt’s power over Johnson — despite Johnson graduating from the school and having no more formal educational ties to the school.

Here’s what Pitt said on the matter in a release to the News-Observer.

“Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools; however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference.

If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so.”

Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings had a peculiar interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was published about two weeks ago. During the interview, of which the full transcript was made public, Stallings went in-depth about Johnson’s transfer and the current state of college basketball. Stallings also made remarks about how the media holds programs accountable for trying to bully certain players.

Here’s a small sample of what Stallings had to say.

“But the unexpected departures are the things that are becoming more common than uncommon in college basketball. You have guys constantly trying to transfer up. You have guys going pro that have never played a minute of college basketball after they’ve sat out a year at a school. You have guys asking out of their letters of intent with frequency. We’re dealing in a landscape in college basketball right now that is as probably as difficult and peculiar as it’s ever been. It used to be if a kid signed his letter of intent and he wanted out of it, you had to play a year of junior-college ball to get out of it.

“The media didn’t basically force institutions to let people break a binding agreement. It’s kind of interesting now the media tries to put so much pressure on programs, whether it be athletic directors or coaches, saying ‘Well, the coaches can move.’ Well, hey, guess what? I’ve got a great big buyout in my deal that prevents me from moving. I’ve got something in my contract saying I can’t go to another league school. It’s not as easy for coaches to go. That’s everyone’s rationale — ‘Well, the coaches can leave.’ We’re dealing in an environment right now that is as fluid as it’s ever been. It’s just where we’re at in the whole thing with the unexpected departures.”

Stallings makes some sound points–particularly about coaches having buyouts and the general perception of coaching changes in basketball.

But Kevin Stallings mostly sounds like a tone-deaf clown here.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for a millionaire coach who willingly makes the decision to change jobs.

Nobody.

Especially if that same millionaire is comparing a choice to change jobs to the transfer decisions of unpaid student-athletes. It’s even more laughable now that Stallings is holding power over an unpaid student-athlete from going to play at another school because of purely basketball reasons.

Pitt and Stallings need to do the right thing and release Johnson to play at any school right away because Johnson has already done everything he needs to do to appease the program.

Things changed dramatically for Johnson during his three years at Pitt. He became one of the ACC’s better players and earned his degree. Johnson held up his end of the bargain when he signed his Letter of Intent.  Now Johnson just wants the chance improve his basketball future by playing with one of the nation’s elite programs.

Stallings can blame the current state of college basketball, the media, or whoever he wants for Johnson’s transfer from Pitt.

But Stallings also has to realize that he’s going to be the one who looks stupid if he continues to leave these restrictions in place for Johnson. Stallings already has a history of this sort of thing when he placed transfer restrictions on former player Sheldon Jeter. If Stallings continues to uphold transfer restrictions on Johnson, then he’s going to gain a permanent reputation in recruiting during a time when players continue to gain more freedom over their basketball futures.

If Johnson does happen to go to an ACC school like North Carolina, it’s not as if Pitt has any sort of competitive roster that is going to be fighting the Tar Heels for league supremacy during the next two seasons.

Stallings and Pitt need to just bite the bullet, let Johnson have his freedom, and hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them for one or two seasons in ACC play.

It surely beats the alternative of being labeled a head coach who limits player freedom after six players left Pitt during a single offseason. That type of burn lasts a lot longer than two years.

Presbyterian hires Wofford assistant Dustin Kerns as new head coach

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Presbyterian finally has its new head coach as the program is set to hire Wofford assistant coach Dustin Kerns, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Kerns has been an assistant at Wofford for the past seven years during his second stint with the program. Also spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara, the Tennessee native is getting his first shot at running his own program.

Finishing last in the Big South last season at 5-25 and 1-17 in conference play, Presbyterian is trying to rebuild after head coach Gregg Nibert resigned in April. Nibert was the head coach of the Blue Hens for 28 seasons, so Kerns is going to be a completely fresh start for the program.

Tennessee lands impact graduate transfer James Daniel

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Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes earned a commitment from one of the top graduate transfers on the market on Monday when Howard guard James Daniel pledged to the Volunteers.

The 6-foot-0 Daniel was the nation’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game his junior season in 2015-16. Daniel played in only two games last season as a left ankle injury caused him to have surgery.

With nearly 2,000 career points to his name, Daniel gives Tennessee an additional perimeter scorer who should come in and make an immediate impact right away. While Howard has low shooting percentages and a high usage rate during his time at Howard, it’ll be interesting to see how the year off and more talented teammates will alter his game.

If Howard can be a more efficient scorer in his final season, then he has a chance to be one of the better players for the Volunteers this season.