The Morning Mix

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Exam Week was pretty brutal, but we were rewarded with an excellent weekend of college hoops. We had two phenomenal games, a bevy of upsets, and a bunch of great plays, videos and quotes. In short, we have a lot to get to.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Detroit @ No. 4 Syracuse
7:00 p.m. – Maryland-Eastern Shore @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – IPFW @ No.22 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Valparaiso @ Oakland
8:00 p.m. – USC-Upstate @ Baylor
8:00 p.m. – No. 20 UNLV @ UTEP
8:00 p.m. – South Carolina State @ No. 12 Missouri
9:00 p.m. – Cornell @ Vanderbilt
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
Jay Bilas relates the NCAA to the Kardashians. Yup. Read it. (ESPN Insider)

Read(s) of the Day:
Pat Forde dishes on Butler walk-on Alex Barlow, who hit the biggest shot of his career to beat top-ranked Indiana on Saturday. Read it. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Top Stories:
Contributions both large and small set stage for Mark Lyons’ gamewinner: Mark Lyons might get all the fanfare and press following his game-winning basket against Florida, but the Wildcats got contributions for various players, which ultimately set them up for success.

Florida’s failure to close out halves is what cost them in Tuscon: The No. 5 Gators looked to be in position to vault themselves into the top-3 in the in country. But three turnovers in their final five possessions doomed the Gators, and the Arizona Wildcats capitalized.

From music scholarship to high-major basketball, Andrew Del Piero getting minutes at LSU: The 7-foot-3 walk-on is also a former tuba player in the LSU marching band. But the big-man has put in a lot of hard work and is now a contributing member of the Tigers’ basketball program.

Mick Cronin sounds off on Big East realignment and defection of Catholic 7, says players should get paid: Cincinnati is currently in conference limbo thanks to the implosion of the Big East. Mic Cronin used the post game press conference following his team’s win over Marshall as the perfect time to open up about realignment, along with paying players.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Reigning NEC player of the Year Julian Boyd tore his ACL against Rice on Wednesday and will miss the rest of the year. The injury to the LIU-Brooklyn star forward is the worst case scenario for a Blackbird team already struggling to find it’s groove in the early season. (Blackbirds Hoops Journal)

– Former-UCLA big-man Josh Smith is interested in transferring to Georgetown or Kansas (Casual Hoya)

– Louisville sophomore forward Angel Nunez will be transferring out of school at the end of the semester (WDRB.com)

– Virginia Tech freshman forward Marshall Wood fractured a bone in his foot during the Hokies upset loss to Georgia Southern this weekend. The injury will not require surgery, but the team is now down to just seven scholarship players (The Washington Post)

– Rumors swirled last week about an arrest of Syracuse Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams for an incident at a local mall. Turns out he was busted for shoplifting (a robe and glove) by mall police, and the matter was handled internally. (College Basketball Talk)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Indiana’s loss to Butler just reiterates that there just isn’t a true dominant no. 1 team in the country (Eye on College Basketball)

– Butler’s win over Indiana was as historic as it was well-timed. (Eye on College Basketball)

– the anatomy of Alex Barlow’s game-winning shot against Indiana (Indianapolis Star)
– Memphis blew a first half lead and lost to Louisville in a tightly contested non-conference match-up. But don’t blame the Tigers for falling flat or giving up. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Rhode Island pulled off an upset win over SMU this weekend. But Larry Brown wasn’t all that shocked. (Hoopville)

– Oregon State junior forward Devon Collier continues to emerge as a viable frontcourt threat for the Beavers (NW Sports Beat)

– A big shout out to Rutgers associate head coach David Cox, who coached the Scarlet Knights to victory on Saturday. Cox is filling in for Mike Rice while the head coach serves a three game suspension. I bring up Cox because believe it or not, he was one of the coaches of my freshman basketball team at St. John’s College High School in 2000. He was also the school’s Dean of Students. (Asbury Park Press)

– Dick Weiss does not think that the Rutgers program is headed in the right direction under Mike Rice. (New York Daily News)
 
 
Expansionocalypse:
– Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard had some strong thoughts as well about the Big East break up (My Central New Jersey)

– Now here’s something that doesn’t get discussed too much: Where does South Florida end up in all this mess? (Voodoo Five)

– Cincinnati and UConn want to create their own conference that covers the entire continental United States (Deadspin)

– Creighton is being looked at as a potential member to the new basketball-only Big East Catholic-7 conference. But are the Bluejays the only team from the MVC that could be on the move? (Peoria Journal-Star)

– Jim Boeheim gives the best post-game press conference bar none. Following Syracuse’s win over Canisius on Saturday the head coach gave another gem of a presser. Read the entire transcript which includes his thoughts on the implosion of the Big East and the Michael Carter-Williams shoplifting incident (The Citizen)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
Butler’s Big Blue II flashing a big smile after his team’s huge win over Indiana at the Crossroads Classic.

source:
 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Cincinnati stayed undefeated thanks to their 72-56 win over Marshall. But Elijah Pittman made sure the Bearcats didn’t leave completely unscathed.
 


 
 
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Diallo withdrawing from draft, returning to Kentucky

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It took plenty of time for the news to make its way public, but it was a wait that proved welcome for Kentucky fans.

Wildcat freshman Hamidou Diallo will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Kentucky, the school announced

Diallo’s situation was one of the more interesting in college basketball as he became an incredibly intriguing pro prospect despite being on a college roster and never playing a minute.

The five-star recruit enrolled at Kentucky in January after attending a semester of prep school with the plan to redshirt the season and then play for the Wildcats in 2017-18. There were rumblings and rumors about Diallo potentially playing for John Calipari’s group last year, but ultimately they stuck to the plan to keep him on the bench and preserve his eligibility. Throughout it all, there was always the specter that Diallo could just decide to go the professional route anyway.

That possibility moved fully into the forefront earlier this month when Diallo showed off a 44.5-inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. The 6-foot-5 guard also recorded a wingspan that nearly measured 7-feet. With those types of physical traits, he makes for an awfully interesting professional prospect, regardless of refinement or experience.

Given Diallo’s lack of high-level experience, though, there was no guarantee he’d be a first-round selection as teams would be wary of drafting solely on potential, rather than the mostly they typically do.

“I hope to play in the NBA one day — just not this season,” Diallo said in a statement. “Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it’s in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title.

“I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can’t wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”

Going back to Lexington to play college basketball gives Diallo a chance to showcase his skills against competition the NBA will be able to evaluate him against. It also makes Kentucky – surprise, surprise – extremely formidable this season as they, once again, restock the roster with potential lottery- and first-round picks. With Diallo officially in the fold, Kentucky is a no-doubt top-five team that will be among the favorites to cut down the nets in April 2018.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” Calipari said in a statement. “He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship.
“I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know.  He’s a special player and a special person.”

LaVar Ball selling “Stay In Yo Lane” shirts

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Create controversy. Profit from controversy.

It’s not an especially new or original strategy, but it’s one that LaVar Ball continues to try to exploit.

The infamous basketball dad is at it again, looking to capitalize on the uproar/kerfuffle/news cycle/debate/ickiness he created when he belittled FS1’s Kristine Leahy, telling her to “stay in your lane” on multiple occasions when claiming the Big Baller Brand didn’t need to market to women.

Well, they are now, with a nod to Ball’s proclamation, selling “STAY IN YO LANE” tees, for both men and women.

Marketing misogyny. Isn’t that nice.

It’s clear that LaVar Ball isn’t going to shy away from the public spotlight anytime soon, especially with eldest son Lonzo looking destined for the Lakers and middle son LiAngelo set to join UCLA, and he’s going to do his best to use that light to push the BBB franchise that scared away the world’s biggest apparel companies.

This plan has no mystery, subtlety or taste. Which might as well be the Big Baller Brand slogan.

Mykhailiuk returning to Kansas for senior season

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Kansas’ attempt for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title, and run for Bill Self’s second national title, got a shot in the arm Wednesday.

Svi Mykhailiuk announced that he will return to Lawrence for his final season of eligibility. “Senior year going to be fun,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

Senior year gonna be fun😈👌🏼🤘🏼 #KUCMB

A post shared by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (@sviat_10) on

The Jayhawks were already going to be loaded this season with Devonte Graham, a potential All-American, returning for his senior season and Udoka Azubuike healthy after missing last year due to injury along with Malik Newman becoming eligible after a transfer from Mississippi State and recruits Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett bolstering the ranks. The return of Mykhailiuk, though, only solidifies Kansas’ place not only atop the Big 12, but in the country.

Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 forward, had something of a breakthrough season as a junior, posting career highs nearly across the board, including shooting 39.8 percent on nearly five 3-point shot attempts per game. With his size and shooting ability, Mykhailiuk was sure to garner professional interest, even though it would have been more likely than not he would been drafted in the second round of next month’s draft.

Mykhailiuk’s situation is certainly a unique one for college basketball as the Ukraine native enrolled at Kansas in 2014 just after his 17th birthday. He won’t turn 20 until next month, making him the same age as many sophomores and more likely to be viewed by NBA teams in the future as having upside, rather than a typical 22- or 23-year-old senior who scouts look at as having come close to reaching their ceiling.

Mykhailiuk wasn’t going to be the linchpin of Kansas’ success next season, but his decision to return shouldn’t be underestimated. His size, experience, skill and versatility provide the Jayhawks with a real weapon that will help alleviate pressure and expectations from other players up and down the roster. He’s very much a difference-maker for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Final Four.

Caleb Swanigan to stay in NBA draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.