The Morning Mix

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Marshall Henderson got his first real taste of the big time last night, and while he finished with 21 points, his Ole Miss squad dropped their first SEC game of the season to a Kentucky team that actually looked pretty good. But I guess that will happen when Nerlens Noel blocks 12 shots.

We got a lot to discuss and a lot on tap for today.

This is January basketball for ya, folks.

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
6:00 p.m. – Villanova @ Notre Dame
6:30 p.m. – Northwestern @ No. 1 Michigan
7:00 p.m. – Rutgers @ No. 24 Cincinnati
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ Temple
7:00 p.m. – Oklahoma @ Baylor
8:00 p.m. – No. 17 Missouri @ LSU
8:00 p.m. – No. 5 Duke @ Wake Forest
8:00 p.m. – Texas @ No. 18 Kansas State
8:00 p.m. – Maryland @ Florida State
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Oklahoma State
8:00 p.m. – South Carolina @ No. 4 Florida
8:00 p.m. – Missouri State @ No. 21 Creighton
8:30 p.m. – No. 3 Indiana @ Purdue
9:00 p.m. – No. 14 Miami @ Virginia Tech
9:00 p.m. – No. 20 New Mexico @ Wyoming
9:00 p.m. – Boise State @ Colorado State
9:00 p.m. – Dayton @ Xavier
10:00 p.m. – USC @ UCLA
11:00 p.m. – No. 10 Oregon @ Stanford
 
 
Read of the Day:
Some excellent points are made here about the talent drain in college hoops and the lack of shooting acumen. Read it. (Basketball Predictions)

Read of the Day:
Andy Glockner’s “Bubble Watch”, ya’ll. Git some. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Kentucky quites Marshall Henderson, beats No. 16 Ole Miss: We all expected the Ole Miss sharpshooter to put on a performance for the ages, instead we got a glimpse of what Kentucky could look like if they decide to click. Kyle Wiltjer logged a career-high 26 points and Nerlens Noel set the Kentucky single-game record for blocked shots.

Poor shooting sinks No. 15 Wichita State in loss to Indiana State: The Shockers shot 27 percent from the floor and did not score a field goal in the nearly the final nine minutes of the second half, on their way to a 68-55 loss to Indiana State on Tuesday night. This ISU win moves the Sycamores to 7-3 in league play, one game behind Wichita State and half a game behind Creighton.

Road struggles continue for No. 19 NC State, Wolfpack fall to Joe Harris and Virginia: The Virginia Cavaliers, by focusing on a slow half-court offense, outlasted No. 19 NC State late to secure a big 58-55 win. NC State had four straight opportunities in the final three minutes to tie or take the lead and could not capitalize, culminating in a final three-point heave from guard Scott Wood in the final seconds that was off the mark to give Virginia the win.

New Mexico State’s Tyrone Watson lone suspect in gruesome assault case: New Mexico State senior Tyrone Watson is at the center of a police investigation after allegedly beating fellow 19-year-old NMSU student Miguel Rascon, leaving him with facials fractures, a broken nose, and 10 stitches.

Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey reportedly removed from basketball arena after incident with campus police: All-American Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey was ejected from last week’s UCLA-Arizona game after a confrontation with campus police. Amid the confrontation with campus police, the running back dropped the “Do you know who I am” line. Classic.

UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad ‘day-to-day’ with illness: UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad did not practice Tuesday and is listed as “day-to-day” as he battles a gastrointestinal illness. His status for the Bruin’s game tonight against USC is undecided.

Jordan Morgan is somehow not seriously injured: Look at this picture and tell me that you wouldn’t be on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. But some how, some way, Michigan big-man Jordan Morgan is not seriously injured following this ghastly ankle injury.

Erick Green doesn’t need your lousy scoring title: The Virginia Tech wing is one of the top scorers in the country yet gets very little credit or recognition. But that seems to be just fine with him.

Florida grabs No. 1 seed in East in latest bracket: Dave Ommen, College Basketball Talk’s resident bracketologist, is back with another bracket breakdown. He’s got Kansas as the top No.1-seed and Kentucky, Saint Louis, Iowa State, Indiana State, and Arizona State as the last five in.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston was taken off the court on a stretcher last night against Boston College after suffering a pretty nasty concussion. (Sporting News)

– Missouri’s Laurence Bowers is expected to return tonight against LSU. Bowers hasn’t played since injuring his knee against Alabama on January 6. (Eye on College Basketball)

– New Mexico State center Tshilidzi Nephawe was cleared to practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing surgery in December. (Las Cruces Sun-News)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Nerlens Noel finished with just two points last night against Ole Miss, but was pivotal in the Wildcats’ signature road win, as he set the Wildcats’ single-game record for blocked shots. Murphy Holloway said after the game that Noel was the best shot blocker he has ever played against. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– A fan at the Ole Miss-Kentucky game threw ice on to the court. As he is one to do, Marshall Henderson picked up the ice and threw it back. This.Guy.Is.Awesome. (The Big Lead)

– Indiana’s use of the 2-3 zone against Michigan State this weekend, a game they won 75-70, was heavily scrutinized by the media. But Dustin Dopriak explains why the zone wasn’t actually that bad. (Hoosier Scoop)

– Virginia’s win over North Carolina State last night will certainly help people forget about the Cavaliers’ loss to 2-17. The Cavaliers are going to be one of the more interesting teams come Selection Sunday. (The Dagger)

– I for one though Washington State’s Brock Motum was going to have a Pac-12 PoY-type year. But the Australia-native has struggled to regain his 2012 form. That has, however, opened up the door for Mike Ladd to emerge as a scoring option. (Coug Center)

– Minnesota got back on track following a four-game losing streak by drubbing Nebraska. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

– Federal Judge Claudia Wilken made a ruling on Tuesday that may allow NCAA athletes to legally pursue TV money. (ESPN)

– Joe Lunardi is starting to pop up more frequently, which means March Madness is just around the corner. The world-class bracketologist provides his list of teams that may or may not be in good shape come Selection Sunday. (ESPN Insider)

– Some good press on Oklahoma State freshman Phil Forte, who is often overshadowed by his high school teammate and current Cowboy teammate Marcus Smart. (The Oklahoman)

– Deshaun Thomas scored 25 points last night in the Buckeye’s 58-49 win over Wisconsin and is playing as well as anybody in the country. (Columbus Dispatch)

– With Indiana State beating Wichita State, a team who beat Creighton, is the Missouri Valley Conference a three-team race? (Catch and Shoot Blog)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
Just one of the many faces of Marshall Henderson. (The Big Lead)

source:
 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Ra’Shad James from Northwood University (D-II) needs to be in the NCAA Dunk Contest. Dude can soar. Somebody book this kid a trip to Atlanta.


 
 
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Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.

Oakland’s Greg Kampe hosting charity golf event with big-name coaches

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Oakland head coach Greg Kampe hosted a successful charity event for cancer research two years ago by allowing people to bid online to play a round of golf with some of college basketball’s best coaches.

Kampe is back again this year as he’s hoping to eventually raise $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

According to a report from Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Kampe has 11 high-profile names that fans can play with this year.

  • Tom Izzo, Michigan State
  • Frank Martin, South Carolina
  • Rick Barnes, Tennessee
  • Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
  • Chris Holtmann, Butler
  • Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
  • Greg Kampe, Oakland
  • Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
  • Steve Lavin
  • Fran Fraschilla
  • Bill Raftery

Fans can find more details about the auctions and all of the details here.

The minimum bid is $15,000 per coach. A “buy now” bid of $24,000 is also available.

Each round includes the following, according to the event’s website:

Up for auction will be 11 spectacular packages, featuring a private dinner with elite basketball coaches and VIPs, a one night stay at MotorCity Casino Hotel on Sunday, June 4, and an afternoon of golf on Monday, June 5 at Oakland Hills Country Club on the South Course. The winning bidders and their two guests will round out the foursomes with their selected VIP: Rick Barnes, Mick Cronin, Fran Fraschilla, Chris Holtmann, Tom Izzo, Greg Kampe, Steve Lavin, Frank Martin, Bill Raftery, Stan Van Gundy, or Kevin Willard.

There are a lot of great selections to choose from for this sort of thing, but I can’t imagine a better afternoon than playing golf with Bill Raftery and a few friends. There are some other tempting choices on this list, but that’s the one I would have to jump at.

If you think 137 players declaring for the draft is stupid, you’re probably stupid

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The NBA Draft’s full early entry list came out on Tuesday afternoon, and there were 137 underclassmen listed on it.

137.

For 60 spots in the NBA Draft, only 30 of which guarantee you a contract in the NBA.

And that’s before you factor in the 45 international players that also declared for the NBA Draft, as well as the crop of seniors — Josh Hart, Monte’ Morris, Jaron Blossomgame, Alec Peters — that are going to end up hearing their names called. All told, there are going to be roughly 200 players competing to be one of the 60 people that end up getting drafted on June 22nd, and you don’t have to be any good at math to realize that 200 is a much, much bigger number than 60.

This unleashed a torrent of bad takes on the decision of these players.

And bad may not be doing those takes justice.

Because the bottom-line is this: You cannot paint the decision on whether or not to go pro with a broad brush.

For some players, making money of any kind is something they need to do to support their family, whether it’s what they’ll get with a first round guarantee, the $75-100,000 they’ll get for making a training camp roster to subsidize their time in the D-League while teams develop them or the money they can make in the D-League or overseas. You don’t know what their financial situation is. Maximizing their ability to capitalize on every available dollar they can make off of their athletic gifts may be more important than working towards a degree.

And it’s worth noting here that a guaranteed contract isn’t the only way to make a living in professional basketball. To say nothing of the money that can be made overseas or the number of second round picks and undrafted players that make guaranteed money — which is more than you probably realize — it needs to be noted that D-League salaries are getting a bump this year with the new CBA.

The NBA has also instituted something new called a “two-way contract”. Without getting into the legalese, it’s essentially a retainer worth well into the six figures that they will be able to give to two players that will allow them to retain that player under contract while sending them between the D-League and the NBA roster. In a sense, it creates an extra 60 NBA roster spots for players that have 0-3 years worth of professional basketball on their résumé.

Some players are simply declaring without signing with an agent because they want to get feedback directly from NBA personnel on what their professional prospects. Some will hear that they need to return to school to work on their body, or work on their jumper, or mature as a person to be able to handle everything that comes with being a professional. Others will be told they’re going to make a lot of money by staying in the draft, or that they need to go back to school because, frankly, they are not professional basketball players. Not getting invited to the NBA combine is a pretty good indication of where you stand in the eyes of NBA teams.

Still other players are putting their name into the draft to leave their options open should they be recruited over by the program they are a part of. Take Frank Jackson, for example. If he can return to school and thrive as Duke’s point guard, maybe he turns into a top 20 pick. But what happens if Trevon Duval, the best point guard in the Class of 2017 and a top five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, picks Duke? Would it be in Jackson’s best interest to come back to Duke when he won’t be playing the position that he needs to learn to play to turn himself into a lasting NBA player?

Jackson, like the roughly 100 underclassmen that have declared without an agent, has until May 24th to make his decision on whether or not he will keep his name in the draft. Until then, he can return to school without damaging his eligibility.

The entire reason that the NCAA changed their rules to allow players to test the waters is so that they can make the most important decision of their lives with as much information as humanly possible. This thing exists for the sole purpose of allowing the kids to have as much knowledge about their options as possible.

And that is exactly what these kids are doing.

So the idea that this rule, or players taking advantage of that rule, however high that number may be, is a bad thing is stupid.