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The Morning Mix

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The Jets and Titans played on Monday Night Football last night. What does this have to do with hoops? it means there were probably more eyes on ESPN2 to watch Jim Boeheim earn his 900th career win.

There are 51 games on the docket tonight. Want to know how bad “Exam Week” was? The most games played on a single weekday night was 20. If there is one game you must watch tonight, it’s Stanford at No. 25 North Carolina State. Josh Huestis is having a breakout year and the Wolfpack are loaded with talent.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Winthrop @ No. 7 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ No.9 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – No. 20 Michigan State @ Bowling Green
7:00 p.m. – Western Kentucky @ Virginia Commonwealth (NBC Sports Network)
7:30 p.m. – Old Dominion @ Charleston
8:00 p.m. – Miami (FL) @ Central Florida
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ No. 25 North Carolina State
9:00 p.m. – Oral Roberts @ No. 4 Arizona
9:00 p.m. – SMU @ Utah
10:00 p.m. – Holy Cross @ San Francisco
11:00 p.m. – UC Santa Barbara @ California
11:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ UCLA
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
Brendan Prunty did a lot of great work detailing just how the seven Catholic members of the Big East decided to and executed their departure from the conference. Make sure you read it. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)
 
 
Top Stories:
Jim Boeheim gets win No. 900: Syracuse held of a late Titans run in order to seal up the 900th victory of Jim Boeheim’s lengthy career. All 900 of his wins have come at the same institution. He sits by just Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Night on the all-time wins list.

Following his 900th win, Jim Boeheim addresses gun control: During the press conference following his 900th career win, Jim Boeheim spoke about gun control issues that have risen in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

December needs to be less “cupcake heavy”:Every team needs to pad their schedules during the non-conference portion of the season. But the trickle down effect that forms causes the entire non conference landscape to get saturated with way too many uneventful basketball games.

Providence’s Ed Cooley sounds off on the Big East exit: The second year Friars head coach is excited about the prospects of a new league where basketball is the primary focus.

Villanova’s Jay Wright believes “Catholic-7” could be best hoops conference in the country: The head coach of the Wildcats believes the new conference would be, “from top to bottom” the best. Does he forget that the bottom includes the likes of DePaul, Providence, South Florida, etc.?

UConn honors Newtown tragedy victims in pregame ceremony: On Monday night, UConn got their opportunity to honor their fallen in-state citizens as the men’s basketball team held a heart-felt memorial before their game with Maryland-Eastern Shore.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Wichita State big-man Carl Hall will miss the next month because of surgery he had to fix a broken thumb (Wichita Eagle)

– UConn scholarship honoring Newtown shooting victims gets $80,000 boost from Geno Auriemma (New Haven Register)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Jim Boeheim got his 900th career win last night as Syracuse defeated Detroit 72-68. But as Jeff Goodman reminds us, it was just over a year ago when we weren’t exactly sure if Boeheim would make it to No. 900. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Former coach Bruce Pearl provides his thoughts on Jim Boeheim’s 900 wins at Syracuse (ESPN)

– A phenomenal-read about the dwindling hoops culture at Wake Forest and the athletic department’s willingness to allow it to happen. (Blogger so Dear)

– Conference-USA is so bad (How bad are they?) that Jeff Goodman doesn’t even think the conference deserves to have any representatives in March Madness. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Forde discuss the top-10 draft picks as of right now. (ESPN Insider)

– Former-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said that he should take the blame for the conference’s implosion. (ESPN)

– The media practice of critiquing weekly poll voters has become over saturated. I only read one a week, and it’s always Gary Parrish. I recommend you do the same. The “Poll Attacks” is the snarkiest weekly-read in college hoops. But that’s why it’s also one of the best. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Notre Dame seems to be weighing their options following the Big East fallout. The Irish announced their move to the ACC earlier in the Fall, but with the departure of the Catholic-7, Notre Dame could find a home for their basketball program and independent football program. (Sports Illustrated)

– Evansville’s athletic director reiterated that there has been no discussions with the Horizon League (Evansville Courier-Press)

– This has been said before, but it does need to be reiterated: Kyle Wiltjer needs to evolved past just a spot-up shooter (Rush The Court)

– LIU-Brookyln lost their best player, Julian Boyd, to a season-ending ACL injury. But despite the loss,l the Blackbirds are still the favorites to win the NEC. (Big Apple Buckets)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Eastern Washington does their best Jack Taylor impression, attempts twice as many 3-pointers as they did field goals. (Big Sky BBall)

Only Casual Hoya could and would document all the crimes and misdemeanors that have taken place under Jim Boeheim’s watch at Syracuse (Casual Hoya)

– A litany of Kentucky-related dunk .gifs. The one at the top is the best. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– Duke-transfer Michael Gbinijie might be the only person in the history of NCAA basketball to play for two 900-game winners. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
UTEP fans show their support for the families involved in the elementary school shootings in Newtown, CT during the Miners 62-60 loss at home against No.21 UNLV. (UTEP Athletics)

source:
UTEP Miner fans show support for those involved in the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT.

 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Doug Anderson finished with 18 points in Detroit’s 62-60 loss to Syracuse last night. 12 of his 18 points came on dunks. Enjoy.
 

 
 
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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.