The Morning Mix

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College hoops took a back seat last night.

Alabama destroyed Notre Dame en route to their third BCS National Championship in four years, The hapless Washington Wizards beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on a Bradley Beal game-winner and Carmelo Anthony waited outside the Celtics’s team bus in order to start a ruckus with Kevin Garnett.

Before we hit the links I wanted to make you all aware that the CBT Podcast is now available for iTunes subscription and download.

Speaking of the CBT Podcast, it will be back tomorrow afternoon. We are looking for some excellent podcast/mailbag questions, so drop us a line at @CBTonNBC.

But we do have some college hoops-related things to sort out, so lets hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Clemson @ No. 1 Duke
7:00 p.m. – Alabama @ No. 7 Missouri
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – Baylor @ Texas Tech
8:05 p.m. – Drake @ No. 13 Creighton
9:00 p.m. – Pittsburgh @ No. 19 Georgetown
9:00 p.m. – No. 15 Ohio State @ Purdue
 
 
Read of the Day:
The foot injury suffered by Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum has raised this issue of the value of returning to school. McCollum’s draft stock was at an all-time high following the Mountain Hawks’ NCAA tournament upset victory over Duke. He could have left school and nobody would have blamed him. David Steele puts it best. Read it. (The Sporting News)

Read of the Day:
I don’t really know how to sum this story up, but trust me, it’s great. It has to do with Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, who is one of the most genuine people in college hoops. Read it. (Defiantly Dutch)
 
 
Top Stories:
Trey Burke: National Player of the Year? More likely than you think: Mason Plumlee and Doug McDermott may get all the PoY hype, but Michigan’s Burke is deserving of some love as well. in fact, if you look at the numbers, Burke should be the favorite if the season ended today.

One-on-one with Marcus Paige: how little things hurt the Heels: Our very own Eric Angevine put together a great Q&A session with North Carolina freshman guard Marcus Paige following the Tar Heels tough road loss at Virginia.

Maurice Creek could return soon for Indiana, what could he bring? Prior to Indiana’s road win at Penn State yesterday, the Hoosiers found out that redshirt junior Maurice Creek could return from a right foot injury in just one week. Creek has battled injuries his entire career, and has been on the shelf ever since the 19th of December.

Mountain West Conference catch-up: It’s entirely possible that the MWC is the best conference out west. It’s also entirely possible that the MWC gets four NCAA tournament bids thanks to the hot starts from New Mexico and Wyoming. The battle at the top between San Diego State and UNLV.

Southeastern Conference Catch-up: Outside of Florida, Kentucky and Missouri, the rest of the SEC doesn’t look too hot. Tennessee doesn’t have any firepower, Arkansas is still way too young, Alabama too banged up and Vanderbilt, the reigning SEC Tournament Champions, is just 6-6.

VIDEO: Grinnell gets POSTERIZED!!!: Grinnell College, the home of viral scoring legend Jack Taylor, is back in the news. Unfortunately, it not because somebody scored 138 points. Nope, the Fox Squirrels are back in the news because they were on the wrong end of a nasty posterization. Don’t try to
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Because of the Saturday primetime playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco Giants, UW-Milwaukee has moved up the start time of their game against Illinois-Chicago from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. That’s smart work up in Green Bay. (UICflames.com)

– Marshall guard kelvin Amayo is leaving the program. Apparently the freshman was under the impression that he would be receiving a scholarship although he’s not currently receiving one. (SNY.tv)

– Akron’s Chauncey Gilliam will miss the next two weeks due to a meniscus tear (Hustle Belt)

– Florida forward Eric Murphy fractured a rib during practice last week and may be unable to play in the Gators’ SEC opener against Georgia on Wednesday (USA Today)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– John Gasaway thinks Minnesota, Gonzaga and are darkhorse candidates to win the national championship. (ESPN Insider)

– Remember how good Anthony Davis was at blocking shots? Well according to the numbers, Jeff Withey is doing a better job than Davis through 13 games. (ESPN)

– Tom Izzo would be shocked if this season’s Big-Ten Champion emerges with only “one or two losses”. (Mlive.com)

– Danny Spewak of Rush The Court does a great job getting to the bottom of why Oklahoma senior Sam Grooms isn’t getting more playing time. (Rush The Court)

– It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for Gary Parrish’s “Poll Attacks”. (Eye on College Basketball)

– I really did enjoy this piece on assists and the types of shots that are most frequently assisted. (Run The Floor)

– Some how some way, Sacramento State managed to missed 26 free throws and still defeat Southern Utah. (Big Sky BBall)
 
 
Photo of the Day:
This is a photo of Cincinnati President Santa J. Ono, who got his head shaved after the Bearcats’ home loss to Notre Dame last night. Ono promised to shave his head if the Bearcats won 10 in a row, and they completed this task by defeating Marshall on December 15th. (Fox-19 Cincinnati)

source: AP
 
 

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Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.