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The Morning Mix

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This week has been relatively light on hardwood action. There were only a small sampling of solid games on last night, and even fewer tonight. That being said, the flow of news and information has been as steady as ever, and with the unearthing of a bizarre idea to hold four college basketball games at the same time at “Jerry World”, well, we’ve got a lot to get to before the weekend gets here.

Lets hit the links.
 
Friday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Harvard @ Connecticut
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Iowa
9:00 p.m. – Virginia Commonwealth @ Old Dominion (NBC Sports Network)
 
 
Read of the Day:
Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts. Not exactly on the same level as Luke Winn’s Power Rankings. But then again, not very many columns are. Just read it, OK? (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Tweet of the Day:

Nothing says Grant Gibbs like 10 assists, 1 TO, and one scrum where he jumps in a pile and comes out with a loose ball. – @RobDauster

Tweet of the Day:

So this is likely to pick up steam here in the coming days…North Forest beat Lee 76-0 in girls basketball on Wednesday…. – @Ahverdejo

 
 
Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: There were not a bunch of great games on the tube last night. However, Xavier and Vanderbilt put on a spirited battle at the Cintas Center that extended into free basketball, plus Nebraska and Creighton met up and threw down in a non-conference rivalry game.

Mark Hollis has the right idea, but it needs some tweaks: The Michigan State athletic director wants to stage four college basketball games at once at Cowboys Stadium. There are a list of reasons why four games at once doesn’t and won’t work, but the concept itself isn’t that bad.

Christmas lights synced up to Christian Watford’s buzzer beater: Yup. It’s exactly what you think it is. Christmas lights synced up to Christian Watford’s buzzer beater. Priceless.

Pac-12 isn’t very good, but will get two NCAA tournament bids: For what seems like the tenth consecutive year, Pac-12 teams are struggling to meet expectations as a whole. That being said, Arizona and Colorado both appear to be penciled in to the NCAA tournament.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Two former-Detroit coaches claim they were wrongfully terminated in an effort by the university “to cover up the misconduct of others in the athletic department. (USA Today)

– Murray State basketball player Zay Jackson was indicted by a  grand jury yesterday on two charges related to a Sept. 9 incident in which he allegedly struck two people with his car. (WPDS Local)

– Creighton’s Josh Jones was hospitalized prior to last night’s game against Nebraska because he collapsed during pregame warm-ups. The guard had undergone heart surgery in 2007. (Detroit Free-Press)

– Highly touted Providence freshman Kris Dunn is expected to make his college debut before Christmas. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Fairfield head coach Sidney Johnson has agreed to an extension until 2019. (Big Apple Buckets)

– The status of UNLV forward Mike Moser remains day-to-day after MRI results on his injured hip came back negative. (Las Vegas Sun)

– Monmouth head coach King Rice has been issued a one game suspension by the university for his actions and comments critical of the officials during the Hawks game against Navy. (Press & Sun-Bulletin)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– This is good news for us basketball traditionalists: Final Four likely to return to arena venues within five years (SNY.tv)

– The new Big East television deal might actually be worth $40-million less than what the conference originally thought. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– I love this take from Jeff Eisenberg. He agrees that Kevin Ollie has done a great job, but wants to see more before the university commits to him long-term. (The Dagger)

– The great Ken Pomeroy explains why a team’s 3-point defense should not be defined by their opponent’s 3-point percentage. (KenPom Blog)

– A great read on the continued development of Charleston’s Adjehi Baru. Baru has an interesting back story and was a steal for Charleston. Now in his second year, the big man is making great strides to live up to the hype. (King Kresse)

– Michigan’s Trey Burke reminds ESPN recruiting expert Raggie Rankin of Chris Paul. (ESPN)

– Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is not a fan of conference realignment, in case you didn’t already know. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Many of the top recruiting experts in the country expect Jabari Parker, the top recruit in the nation, to choose Duke. (EPSN)

– Glenn Logan explains why point guard play isn’t the reason Kentucky is struggling, despite the popular opinion that it is in fact the issue. (A Sea of Blue)

– With early season success from Illinois-Chicago and Loyola (Ill.), it looks like Horizon League hoops is returning to relevancy in Chi-Town. (The Horizon League)
 
 
Lists & Rankings:
– John Gasaway does a brilliant job breaking down the top-25 best freshman in college hoops thus far. My only complaint is that Marcus Smart should be a bit higher than just No. 14. (ESPN Insider)

– An excellent breakdown of the best mid-major players in the month of November. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Jeff Goodman’s Good N’ Plenty column doesn’t have a lot of direction to it, but it’s a weekly must-read because of the information it provides. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The best and worst of the month from Big East newcomers. (Rush The Court)

– This is bound to create a small midwest frenzy: 10 reasons why Marquette has “Badger Envy” (Madtown Badgers)

– A mid-major power rankings update from Myron Medcalf. (ESPN)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– Sir Charles and Dickie-V calling games together? It could happen. (Awful Announcing)

– An excellent read on the common misconception that everyone who wears BYU gear is Mormon. (Vanquish the Foe)

– A solid Q&A with UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who still sees big things ahead for the Bruins. (Sports Radio Interviews)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Detroit held a “Star Wars” night on Wednesday against Toledo. This is, in short, the single greatest promotional event in the history of collegiate athletics. #Fact. #LandoFTW. (Detroit Titans Athletics)
 
source:
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
This may the only time all season I get to reference the very athletic conference I played in at college. Widener and Albright representin’ The MAC! #D3MACtion. (That’s Mid-Atlantic Conference to you non D-III folks). Watch the fan reactions. Classic.
 

Fun fact about Albright College. In 2009, the Lions were fortunate enough to have the freshman/senior brother combination of Phil and Derek Hall. Phil, the senior, was 6-foot-11. Derek, the freshman, was 6-foot-10. Tell me the last time you saw that at the mid-major D-III level? Answer: NEVER.
 
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Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.