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.

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.

 

NEXT ONE? Hoops phenom at 13 has college offer, NBA height

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Emoni Bates walks out a front door of Clague Middle School with just inches to spare.

A wide smile tops his 6-foot-7, extra-lean frame. He’s holding a seventh-grade honor society certificate in his right hand. His braces gleam in the afternoon sun.

Meet the best 13-year-old basketball player in America, according to some recruiting services. One of his highlight reels on YouTube has been viewed about 1 million times.

“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Emoni insists in a voice just louder than a whisper, “because if I pay attention to it, it’s just going to get to my head.

“And I don’t want it to get to my head. I just want to play basketball.”

He’s got the pedigree.

Emoni’s father, E.J. Bates, has been around the game most of his life. He picked greens and baled hay as a kid in nearby Milan, Michigan, then developed into a smooth-shooting guard. But he didn’t take school seriously until it was too late. Instead of playing for a basketball power like Kansas and maybe even in the NBA, E.J. wound up going to Kentucky Wesleyan and settling for pro hoops in Switzerland.

E.J. is determined to make sure his son doesn’t make the same mistake. The academics are a sign of that. House rules bar Emoni from picking up a basketball until his homework is done.

Yet E.J. knows when kids are this good this early, distractions roll in like waves. Already, it seems, lots of people want a piece of Emoni. Prep, private and public high school coaches are lining up. Colleges have him on their radar. DePaul took it a step further, offering Emoni a scholarship in late August. Two other much-touted players in the Class of 2022 — Amari Bailey of Illinois and Skyy Clark of California — also have offers from DePaul.

E.J. knows the shoe company bird dogs and other hustlers looking to buy favors are lurking, too. So he and wife Edith, who works for the Red Cross, keep their inner circle very tight.

“I’m his coach to keep the snakes away,” Bates says, sitting on one of Clague’s concrete benches. “We’re not for sale.”

The Bates family has agreed to provide The Associated Press with a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the most coveted basketball prospects in the country for at least the next five years. The periodic series will include video, photos, audio and text updates to track his progress.

Will Emoni stay near his current home to attend a public high school? Or will he take his next step at a private school like Detroit Country Day, like Michigan native Chris Webber?

Will he follow the footsteps of Marvin Bagley III and other five-star prospects, reclassifying to finish high school in three years? Bagley did to play college ball at Duke this coming season — and potentially to get a jump on a pro future.

Will E.J. and Emoni emulate the father-son team of LaVar and Lonzo Ball, grabbing headlines while hawking their own brand at every turn?

No one knows.

E.J. says all options are on the table. But he won’t be loud, unlike LaVar Ball in the lead-up to his son Lonzo being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I don’t have to brag about what we’re doing,” E.J. says. “I let other people do all the talking about how good Emoni is because word of mouth is the best advertising there is.”

A POTENTIAL STAR IS BORN

Emoni James-Wayne Bates was born Jan. 28, 2004, at the University of Michigan hospital. He was on the light side — 6 pounds, 7 ounces — and a little long at 21 inches. Just over a year later, Emoni slept with his head cradled in his left arm and his right wrapped around a black and red basketball. A cherished photo was made.

“He would always sleep with the ball,” his father recalls, holding a framed picture in his Ypsilanti, Michigan, home. “If the ball wasn’t around, he would cry about the ball. Even to this day, he has a mini-ball he keeps with him, which is crazy to me.”

There were more hints. During a second visit to the doctor, E.J., who is 6-foot-4, and Edith, 5-9, asked how tall their son might grow.

“He was off the charts,” E.J. laughs, “so they couldn’t tell us.”

Emoni has shot up 7 inches in the last two years. He’s tall enough right now to play shooting guard at any level. He handles the ball like a point guard and launches 3-pointers like a savvy veteran. He can create his own shot like a wing or drive the lane and dish off to a teammate like another rail-thin former prodigy, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant.

But adding weight and muscle is an ongoing challenge. He weighs just 155 pounds — not heavy or strong enough to play a dominating inside game that would complement his fluid perimeter skills.

“We try to stuff him full of food at night and hope it sticks,” E.J. sighs.

TEEN CELEBRITY

The Adidas Invitational in Fishers, Indiana, attracts some of the Midwest’s top seventh-grade AAU teams. Inside Best Choice Fieldhouse, talk centers on whether the Bates Fundamentals squad starring Emoni and coached by E.J. can live up to the hype.

“They’ve been hearing a lot about him,” says Bernetta Kelly, watching her son’s Peoria Area Elite team take its shot.

Bates Fundamentals wins 95-44 and Kelly understands why. She approaches Emoni and asks for a photo with her son and his team.

“I’ve seen the best players from Pittsburgh to Vegas the last four years, and he’s been the best in his class,” Peoria coach Zach Martin says. “I told the guys, ‘There are not many times you will be able to say you played an NBA player, but you just did.'”

After another lopsided victory in the two-day tournament won easily by Bates Fundamentals, Emoni walks off the court. A younger competitor darts out of his team’s pregame layup line to slap his hand. Moments later, the excitement follows Emoni out the door.

“Hey, that’s him,” a young boy entering the facility says to teammates.

How does a 10-year-old from Fort Wayne, Indiana, know who Bates is?

“YouTube,” he says.

Duh.

The highlight reel posted last summer had nearly 1 million views before Emoni walked into the doors at Clague for the first time as an eighth-grader. Several other videos have racked up 500,000-plus views in less than one year.

By the spring of 2018, the suspense about where he plans to attend high school may be its own mini-drama. Then a few years later: Which college?

E.J. and Edith hardly need reminding that’s still a long way off. As good as the recruiting services have become at projecting stars, it’s easy to forget the object of all that attention is still just 13. At times, the recruiting experts simply miss.

“It’s always a crap shoot,” E.J. says. “You don’t know what life will deal you. You never know what can happen with injuries, the loss of motivation or pressure getting to be too much.”

Yet fans of two college basketball powers with the inside track can already start thinking about the fall of 2021, when Bates can officially sign a scholarship offer. In quiet moments, Emoni sometimes does, too.

Asked about his favorite programs, the soft-spoken kid doesn’t hesitate to name the early front-runners.

“Michigan State and Kentucky,” Emoni says.

___

Follow the series: https://www.apnews.com/tag/TheKid

___

Follow Larry Lage at http://twitter.com/larrylage

NCAA punishes Pacific men’s basketball for violations

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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — The men’s basketball team at Pacific has been punished by the NCAA for academic and recruiting violations under former coach Ron Verlin.

The NCAA said Wednesday that Verlin failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he violated academic misconduct and recruiting rules to get prospects eligible. He also failed to monitor his coaches and violated NCAA ethics rules when he encouraged others to give false information during the investigation.

The baseball program was also cited because former coach Ed Sprague impermissibly provided an athletic training student with a $16,000 scholarship to help with the housing costs of two baseball student-athletes, including her brother.

Penalties for the school include two years of probation, recruiting and scholarship reductions, a $5,000 fine and a vacation of all games in which ineligible athletes participated.

Memphis lands commitment from 2018 center Connor Vanover

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Memphis picked up its first commitment in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night as unique center prospect Connor Vanover announced his decision on Twitter.

At 7-foot-2, Vanover brings elite size to the interior for the Tigers and he’s also skilled enough that he was a 43 percent three-point shooter during his stint playing with Pro Skills in the Nike EYBL this spring. Although Vanover needs to add strength and athleticism to adapt to the college level, he simply has size that you can’t teach. Pair that size with an intriguing perimeter jumper and it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Tubby Smith is able to develop Vanover the next few years.

A three-star prospect according to Rivals, Vanover averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game during the spring. Originally from Arkansas, Vanover is spending his senior season of high school ball at prep school powerhouse Findlay Prep.