The Morning Mix

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If you are reading this right now, it means we beat the Mayans last night. If you aren’t reading this right now, then it looks like I spent my last seconds on earth blogging about the daily rundown of college hoops. And you know what? I’m kinda OK with that.

The slate of game was rather light last night. Friday is going to be light as well. I guess today is kinda the prime “Ugly Sweater Party” day of the season, right?

You know what? Lets just hit the links.

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Florida Atlantic @ No. 6 Indiana
7:00 p.m. – Niagara @ No. 22 Notre Dame
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ Northwestern
9:00 p.m. – BYU @ Baylor
9:00 p.m. – Middle Tennessee @ Vanderbilt
9:00 p.m. – UC-Santa Barbara @ Wyoming
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
A fantastic-read from Deadspin original Will Leitch, who believes that college hoops needs to stand up for itself. I couldn’t agree more. I love articles like this one. It’s exactly what I’m thinking, but written in a much better fashion. Read this. (Sports on Earth)

Read(s) of the Day:
High profile college announcements have always felt like movie premieres to me. It’s all flare without real substance. But all the good stuff lies in the inter workings of the production. This behind-the-scenes look at the build up to Jabari Parker’s decision is a must read. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Read(s) of the Day:
Seth Davis looks back at his favorite college hoops stories of 2012. Definitely worth your time. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
With Jabari Parker, will Duke be better next year than this year? The Blue Devils are the best team in the country and have the best resume in the country. What is the possibility that next year’s team, headlined by Jabari Parker, will be better than what we’ve seen froM Duke thus far in 2012.

According to report, NCAA fired lead investigator in Shabazz Muhammad’s case: Abigail Grantstein was the NCAA’s lead investigator on the Shabazz Muhammad case. She was also the women whose boyfriend allegedly was heard bragging about the investigation to a passenger on an airplane. She no longer has a job.

According to a report, Ben Howland’s job is in jeopardy at UCLA: According to Tracy Pierson of BruinsReportOnline.com, who is as dialed in to UCLA sports as they come, Ben Howland is not exactly guaranteed his job next year out in Westwood.

Suspension of Myck Kabongo means Texas needs Javan Felix to make it ‘his team’: If Texas is to entertain any thoughts of staying afloat when Big 12 play rolls around, they will need to rely heavily on the production of standout freshman guard Javan Felix, who has started all 11 games at the point and is averaging nearly 36 minutes per game.

Myck Kabongo’s suspension under expedited appeal: Texas could hear back by Friday, which, depending on the results, means the Longhorn’s top player could be reinstated just two days after being suspended for the entire season.

Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame releases 2013 Cousy Award watch list: The annual award is given to the nation’s best point guard, and the list will be narrowed down to 20 in January. The notable omission is LIU-Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman, who is averaging 11.0 points and 8.2 assists per game, a number that ranks fourth in the country.

MAAC to expand to 20 league games in 2013-2014: With the addition of Quinnipiac and Quinnipiac, the MAAC will now have 11 league members (Loyola is leaving for the Patriot League). This is why the MAAC announced on Thursday their intent to play 20 league games next season.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Marquette reinstated Todd Mayo after missing the first semester due to academics. The Golden Eagles desperately need Mayo’s help, as they have struggled to score both inside and out. (Eye on College Basketball)

– With Jabari Parker making his college decision yesterday, CSN Chicago looks in to just how significant his foot injury could be (CSN Chicago)

– Over 55 scouts and NBA personnel were on hand to see North Texas and Tony Mitchell take on Lehigh and C.J. McCollum. Unfortunately for them, McCollum was ruled out before the game because of a nagging ankle injury. (Lehigh Valley Live)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Seth Davis’ latest edition of “Hoop Thoughts” calls for a change in the way the NCAA operates. He also provides his weekend picks. It’s a weekly must-read. (Sports Illustrated)

– The final verdict on North Carolina’s scandal: It’s academic, not athletic. (ESPN)

– The key to Kansas’ success on Saturday against Ohio State will be how well the are able to slow down Deshaun Thomas (KUSports.com)

– I know it’s not fair to compare Nerlens Noel to Anthony Davis. But well, his stats sorta do. (Courier Journal)

– Duke beat Elon last night, their second win in as many days. In doing so, they logged their non-conference home winning streak to 100 games. (The Dagger)

– Central Florida stud Isaiah Sykes logged himself a solid triple-double last night in the Golden Knights 88-63 win over Stetson. The junior guard scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. (Orlando Sentinel)

– Tony Mitchell is still going to get drafted very high this summer. But we can forget about North Texas winning the Sun Belt and getting an automatic tournament bid. (Mid-Major Madness)

– The Big East is looking to build up the conference’s western edge, wants to add UNLV, Fresno State, and possibly BYU. (New York Daily News)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– Smart move by Maryland assistants to get tournament incentives added into their contracts heading in to this season. As of right now, it looks like the Terps are a lock for the Big Dance. (Washington Post)

– Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb have one of the most entertaining on-going feuds. In the latest installment of the ongoing series, Gottlieb stated that despite the 900 wins, Boeheim is not a great coach. he’s a good coach, but he’s not great. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
Jabari Parker, one of the nation’s most sought-after recruits, reveals his college choice. (Chicago Tribune)

source:
 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Dunno how I missed this one from Wednesday. But man, North Carolina….Woof. BTW, what is my man in the top left doing there post-dunk? Is that “The Zorro”? (H/T @CamHops)

 
 
Video of the Day:
Future-Oregon Duck Jordan Bell broke a rim at the City of Palms tournament. No joke. Dude’s windmill jam actually broke the rim.

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Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.