The Morning Mix

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As is the case every Monday, The Morning Mix is here to get you caught up to speed on everything that took place this weekend in the college hoops world. In case you spent your weekend under a rock, there are no more undefeated teams in the country. On the flip side, Grambling and Maryland-Eastern Shore remain the only two winless teams in the country.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 3 Louisville @ UConn
9:00 p.m. – Baylor @ No. 6 Kansas

Read of the Day:
Everybody, but especially the stats-geeks will love this article about Central Connecticut State head coach Howie Dickenman and his fascination with statistics and crunching numbers. Read it. (Hartford Courant)

Top Stories:
NC State beats Duke, storms floor, knocks over kid in wheelchair? Following North Carolina State’ 82-76 win over No. 1 Duke, the students stormed the court in celebration. A student in a wheelchair was knocked out of his chair at the center of the courtstorming. Luckily C.J. Leslie was there to pick him up and save him from the stampede.

Kwame Vaughn buzzer beater lifts Cal State Fullerton over UC Riverside: Titans’ senior Kwame Vaughn was just 2-of-11 from the floor Saturday against UC Riverside, but his second make won his team the game. Vaughn drilled a step-back fallaway jumper to beat the Highlanders 71-69.

Delaware now 3-0 in the CAA thanks to Devon Saddler’s buzzer-beater: The Blue Hens moved to 3-0 in the CAA thanks to a 3-point buzzer-beater from Devon Saddler against Georgia State. Delaware has now won six straight after losing eight of their first ten games.

Still no timetable for Butler guard Rotnei Clarke’s return: Butler guard Rotnei Clarke took a horrific fall against Dayton on Saturday and was taken off the court on a stretcher. Clarke was able to leave with the team and was even seen in the gym on Sunday. But due to precautionary measures, he will be held out until further notice.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State give No. 2 Michigan first loss of season in Big Ten thriller: The Buckeyes fought off a furious rally from their hated rivals, and after 40 minutes of play, were able to hand the Michigan Wolverines their first loss of the season. The Buckeyes got out to a hot start, leading by as many as 21. But led by Trey Burke, the maize and blue fought back. Their efforts came up short, as Burke’s game-winning 3-pointer was off the mark.

No. 12 Illinois gets embarrassed at Wisconsin: The Illini, who are currently ranked No. 12 in the country, fell to 1-3 in Big Ten play on Saturday afternoon after losing at Wisconsin 74-51.

Ole Miss 2-0 in SEC after 15-point dismantling of No. 10 Missouri: The Missouri Tigers look like a different team without Laurence Bowers, and an upstart Ole Miss team took full advantage. Led by gun-slinging Marshall Henderson and physical specimen Murphy Holloway, the Rebels smacked the No. 10 Tigers 64-49, and now sit at 2-0 in the SEC.

Elston Turner scores 40, A&M beats Kentucky at Rupp: Elston Turner became the first player in 23 years to score 40 points against Kentucky in Rupp Arena. The senior guard had never even scored 30 points in a single game before, and went off on the Wildcats on 14-of-19 shooting.

Temple hands St. Louis first loss since death of Rick Majerus: The Temple Owls snapped the Saint Louis Billikens nine-game winning streak which dated back to the passing of legendary coach Rick Majerus.

Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander power Connecticut to road win over No. 17 Notre Dame: The Connecticut backcourt duo of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined for 34 points and nine assists as the un-ranked Huskies upset No. 17 Notre Dame Saturday in South Bend, Ind., 65-58.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery ducks flying shoe in win over Northwestern: With the Hawkeyes leading 51-37 Alex Marcotullio lost his shoe while defending Roy Devyn Marble, and instead of simply allowing the wayward shoe to remain on the court and become a possible injury risk Aaron White picked it up and tossed it off the court. Unfortunately White nearly hit his head coach in the head.

Hoops Housekeeping
– Syracuse forward James Southerland has been suspended until further notice due to an eligibility issue stemming from academics. Syracuse dealt with a very similar issue last year with Fab Melo. (The Dagger)

– Former-Michigan State guard Brandon Kearney will transfer to Arizona State. (MLive.com)

– Seton Hall sophomore forward Brandon Mobley suffered a dislocated shoulder on Sunday against Providence and could be sidelined for the remainder of the season. (My Central New Jersey)

– Three of the four Boise State players who were suspended for the Wyoming game due to a violation of team rules have been reinstated. (The Dagger)

– Casey Prather left Florida’s game against LSU early because of an apparent ankle injury. The x-rays were negative and it is likely that the Florida forward suffered a high ankle sprain. (Alligator Army)

– Seth Curry sustained an ankle injury in the late stages of Duke’s loss to North Carolina State on Saturday. His status for this week is unknown. (Devils In Durham)

Observations & Insight:
– With two undefeated teams going down this weekend, it shows that it may be impossible for a team to have an undefeated season in the modern era. (Yahoo Sports)

– Here is what Mike DeCourcy learned from Ohio State’s victory over Michigan. (The Sporting News)

– Jeff Eisenberg provides your stock report after a strong slate of Saturday games. (The Dagger)

– After being called out by head coach Rick Pitino for being soft, the Louisville defense has responded. The Cardinals will be put to the test tonight against UConn’s high-flying backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

– Nerlens Noel was upstaged by Elston Turner’s 40-point performance on Saturday. The Kentucky center finished with a robust state line of 15 points, 11 rebounds, 7 blocks, 6 assists and 4 steals. (Kentucky.com)

– Kentucky has only two wins against teams ranked inside the RPI top-215. With those numbers, is it possible that Cal’s cats are N.I.T.-bound and not NCAA-bound? (I Sports Web)

– Remember back when UCLA was an absolute train wreck? Well, not any more. The Bruins are 4-0 in the Pac-12. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Charlotte has yet to be really tested in A-10 play, but the 49ers are still 14-3 overall and should be a tough out in a very competitive league. (Hoopville)

– Sam Grooms is turning into Oklahoma’s glue-guy. The senior guard played a season-high 27 minutes on Saturday in the Sooners’ 77-68 win over Oklahoma State. (Rush The Court)

– Dick Vitale has selected as the newest member of the Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. This is the 12th Hall of Fame that Vitale has been inducted in to. (ESPN)

Video(s) of the Night:
First-person view of the North Carolina State courtstorming from Will Privette, the wheelchair-bound fan that was nearly trampled during the celebratory stampede.

Dunk(s) of the Day:
Best non-Jamaal Franklin ally-oop of the year. Shannon Scott to Sam Thompson.

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Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.