The Morning Mix

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Let’s see. Louisville lost to Villanova. North Carolina State lost to Wake Forest. Missouri almost lost to South Carolina. Kentucky lost to Alabama. Oh wait, that last one isn’t all that surprising.

Oh, and as usual, Kansas won.

Yeah, it was that kinda night in college hoops.
Lets hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
6:00 p.m. – Lehigh @ Bucknell
7:00 p.m. – No. 1 Duke @ No. 25 Miami
7:00 p.m. – Penn State @ No. 7 Indiana
7:00 p.m. – No. 9 Butler @ La Salle
7:00 p.m. – George Mason @ Towson
7:30 p.m. – Xavier @ Charlotte
8:00 p.m. – No. 8 Florida @ Georgia
8:00 p.m. – Colorado State @ No. 15 New Mexico
8:00 p.m. – Fresno State @ Boise State
8:05 p.m. – No. 17 Creighton @ Drake
8:05 p.m. – No. 20 Wichita State @ Missouri State
8:05 p.m. – Green Bay @ Valparaiso
9:00 p.m. – No. 12 Minnesota @ Northwestern
9:00 p.m. – Georgia Tech @ North Carolina
9:30 p.m. – Washington State @ No. 16 Oregon
10:00 p.m. – San Diego State @ Nevada
11:00 p.m. – Denver @ New Mexico State
11:30 p.m. – Washington @ Oregon State
 
 
Read of the Day:
If it’s Wednesday, you can expect the RotD to be Andy Glockner’s “Bubble Watch”. I still judge Glockner because he was a place kicker and supports Fulham FC, but as far as his “Bubble Watch” goes, it’s the best in town. (Sports Illustrated)

Read of the Day:
Eric Prisbell hits a home run with his story on the difficult past of Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart. Read this. (USA Today)
 
 
Top Stories:
CJ Leslie, NC State’s defense cost No. 18 NC State in upset by Wake Forest: In the Wolfpack’s 86-84 loss to Wake Forest, the most talented player on the NC State roster took just nine shots from the floor. He finished with just 13 points and five boards. This was the third straight court-storming NC State has been a part of. They have been on the wrong end of the most recent two.

Alex Oriakhi and Jabari Brown help No. 22 Missouri escape upset vs. South Carolina: Missouri escaped what would have been a bad loss at home against South Carolina Tuesday, pulling away in the final minute to win, 71-65. Brown finished with 17 points on 5-of-16 shooting and sank a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to put the game on ice.

No. 3 Kansas wins at No. 11 Kansas State, their 16th straight victory: The Jayhawks went on the road to a raucous Bramlage Coliseum and earned a hard-fought 59-55 win over their in-state rivals. But it’s tough to have a game be considered a rivalry when one team is clearly little brother. Kansas has now won 45 of their last 48 games against the Wildcats, including 23 of their last 25 at “The Octagon of Doom”.

No. 5 Louisville struggles with fundamentals in upset loss to JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova: Five players scored in double figures for Villanova as the unranked Wildcats upset No. 5 Louisville, 73-64. The Cardinals struggled in all facets of the game, including a season high 17 turnovers.

Jabari Parker talks about teen killed after Simeon game: Tyrone Lawson, a 17-year-old was shot and killed after Simeon defeated Madison Park 53-51 at Chicago State last week, though a brawl took place during post game handshakes. The Duke-bound phenom spoke about the ordeal and what it’s been like since that game.

Report: DC high schooler, top 150 recruit Junior Etou lied about his age: Junior Etou is a 6-foot-7 forward that plays at Bishop O’Connell in Arlington, VA, after transferring into the program from Arlington Country Day school in Jacksonville, FL. He’s ranked as the 142nd overall player, according to Rivals. But according to Dave McKenna, the native of Congo is actually 20 years old, meaning he’s too old to be playing high school basketball.

Oklahoma freshman James Fraschilla battles Gonzaga’s Rem Bakamus for best air guitar celebration: The son of ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla broke out his best air guitar during the Sooners’ Monday night win over Texas. But is it better than the “3tar” displayed by Gonzaga’s Rem Bakamus?
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Former Providence forward James Still was sentenced to 4 years in prison yesterday for felonious assault. (Providence Journal)

– Texas forward Jonathan Holmes suffered a broken right hand in the Longhorns’ 73-67 loss to Oklahoma on Monday. No timetable has been set for his return. (Dallas Morning News)

– Shabazz Napier continues to rehab his injured shoulder and should be good to go for UConn’s game on Sunday against Rutgers. (New Haven Register)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– More teams are going to wear ugly Nike uniforms similar to what Gonzaga wore on Saturday against Butler. (The Dagger)

– One way to measure the growth of a program is by their method of travel. No longer are the Butler Bulldogs forced to travel by bus. Nowadays the Bulldogs fly in style. (Indianapolis Star)

– Creighton and Wichita State are clearly the favorites in the Missouri Valley Conference, but we should not count out the Sycamores of Indiana State. (Omaha World-Herald)

– It’s no secret that the San Diego State Aztecs are struggling. They scored nine first half points in their game on Saturday against Wyoming. But do we know why they are struggling? It might have to do with the back injury to Xavier Thames. (San Diego Union Tribune)

– “State has no one to blame but itself for stunning loss at Wake.” Yup. Agreed. And ditto. (Wilmington Star News)

– if UConn wants to avoid getting stuck with the pack in the Big East, they will need to avoid any bad losses as they enter the easiest phase of their schedule. (The UConn Blog)

– Last night was not a good one for college basketball fans in the Commonwealth. (College Hoops Digest)

– Some solid NBA draft discussion here from the Big Lead. Where does Michael Carter-Williams go? (The Big Lead)

The NCAA has reached a sponsorship deal with Buffalo Wild Wings to be the ‘official hangout’ of the March Madness men’s basketball tournament. Unless they do couch-side delivery, I want no part in Buffalo Wild Wings come March. (CBS Sports)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Remember this guy? Of course you do. Well he came prepared for Nerlens Noel last night in Tuscaloosa. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Cornell basketball gets into the Ivy League spirit by singing some Neo. Of course they do. (The Big Lead)


 
 
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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.