The Morning Mix

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GRUESOME INJURY ALERT!

Kentucky’s Nerlen Noel, the likely No.1 draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, suffered a gruesome knee injury last night.

Don’t worry. I made sure everything remains behind a link wall.

But to be honest, it’s not THAT gross. It’s not even close to being as bad as leg injury Texas A&M’s Derrick Roland suffered two years ago. Now THAT was gnarly.

But yeah, it’s still pretty bad.

Anyways, Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 1 Indiana
7:00 p.m. – No. 3 Miami @ Florida State
7:00 p.m. – No. 6 Syracuse @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ No. 11 Butler
7:00 p.m. – No. 17 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ No. 21 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Delaware @ Northeastern
7:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Texas A&M
7:00 p.m. – La Salle @ St. Bonaventure
8:00 p.m. – Central Florida @ No. 22 Memphis
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Texas
8:00 p.m. – Creighton @ Northern Iowa
9:00 p.m. – North Carolina @ No. 2 Duke
9:00 p.m. – West Virginia @ Baylor
9:00 p.m. – UNLV @ Air Force
10:00 p.m. – No. 19 New Mexico @ Fresno State
10:00 p.m. – San Diego State @ No. 24 Colorado State
11:00 p.m. – No. 23 Oregon @ Washington
11:00 p.m. – Cal State Fullerton @ Long Beach State
 
 
Read of the Day:
A powerful story about Chicago basketball icon Larry Butler and the murder that took place following the Simeon vs. Morgan Park high school game back in mid-January. Read this. (Chicago Side)

Read of the Day:
A fantastic profile on Ben McLemore’s older brother, who is serving a 15-year jail sentence for his role in a 2008 armed robbery. (Kansas City Star)
 
 
Top Stories:
VIDEO: Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel injures knee vs. Florida:The future first round draft pick went down in a heap of pain after his knee buckled in the wrong direction halfway through the second half of the Wildcats’ 69-52 loss at Florida.

What does it mean for Kentucky if Noel is out for a long time? 24 hours ago we were talking about a Kentucky team that nobody would want to face as a lower seed at-large NCAA Tournament team. But one knee injury later and the letters N.I.T. start to reappear.

Florida beat Kentucky, but it wasn’t exactly impressive: The Gators have been steamrolling SEC opponents at home this year, which is why you can understand why we might not think a 17-point win against Kentucky is that impressive.

No. 8 Michigan State claims sole possession of Big Ten with blowout win over No. 4 Michigan: The Spartans ran all over their in-state rivals, dismantling the Wolverines 75-72 in front of a raucous crowd at the Breslin Center. This is Tom Izzo doing work. Spartans don’t look like title contenders in November, but they do in February. That’s why Izzo is Izzo.

Is it time to reevaluate how we view Michigan? Nearly every marquee Big-Ten game this season has been decided by ten points or less. So we must at least reevaluate our stance on the Wolverines following their trip to the woodshed at the hands of Michigan State.

Maryland to honor ex-coach Lefty Driesell this month: Maryland will honor former coach Lefty Driesell at the Terrapins’ home game against Clemson on Feb. 23 and will unveil a bronze bas-relief to commemorate his time at the school later this year.

Georgetown’s ‘Stonewalls’ unveil soccer-style banner supporting Catholic 7: There is no denying that the Georgetown student section is sub-par. But the university’s young alumni section is growing in numbers, and showed off this phenomenal Catholic-7 banner on Monday night against Marquette.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Texas sophomore Jonathan Holmes has been cleared to play tonight against Iowa State. The forward has been out of action since January 21st when he suffered a broken bone in his right hand against Oklahoma. (Sporting News)

– St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is questionable to return to the sidelines tonight as he continues to mourn the loss of his father, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 83. (SNY.tv)

– Northwestern forward Jared Swopshire will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury over the weekend. Swopshire missed the entire 2011-2012 season with a groin injury while at Louisville. (Chicago Tribune)

– North Carolina freshman Joel James will miss tonight’s rivalry game against Duke due to a concussion he suffered against Wake Forest last week. (Fayetteville Observer)

– Oregon guard Dominic Artis has already missed five games due to a foot injury, and the dynamic freshman guard isn’t likely to return this week. The Ducks are 2-3 without Artis in the lineup. (Sporting News)

– Matthew White, a member of the 1979 UPenn team that made the Final Four, was stabbed to death by his wife early Monday morning. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Nerlens Noel’s knee injury has people wondering if future NBA players even need to go to college. (Yahoo Sports)

– Michigan State big-man Derrick Nix told Trey Burke that he’s soft. (MLive.com)

– Only seven BCS-conference teams have won six or more road games this season. Miami is the only BCS-conference team to have won more than seven road games. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Copious amounts of sage advice for Golden Gopher fans starting to come around to the idea that maybe Tubby Smith should get fired. P.S. He’s not getting fired. (From The Barn)

– Carrick Felix for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year? I’ll certainly buy it. He’s one of the most underrated players out west and has shut down nearly all the big time stars he has gone up against. (Pitchfork Posts)

– As long as we understand that “Running through March Madness” could mean different things for different teams, yes, this is a pretty solid list of five teams that could run through March Madness. (Sports Blitz)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– I’m not exactly sure why this matters, but Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has never smoked marijuana in his entire life. (Deadspin)

– Jay Williams contract at ESPN is up at the end of March. Will he leave? Does anybody really care? (The Big Lead)

– We want student sections to be creative, right? We all get upset when they chant “overrated” at the end of a big game, correct? Well, I think the Izzone got it right with this one. (The Dagger)

– “The Harlem Shake” is spreading like wildfire. The college basketball world could not avoid it. (ACC Sports Journal)

– I hate giving Jeff Borzello credit for anything, I really do. And while this isn’t exactly critical acclaim, for somebody like Jeff Borzello, this is as big as it gets: Ke$ha liked something he wrote. Yup, that Ke$ha. She approved of the Wisconsin Badgers’ use of her music for their postgame celebration. Borzello wrote about the celebration. In Jeff’s world, he’s now the most popular kid in high school, and that’s a big deal for him. (Madtown Badgers)
 
 
Photo of the Day:
Well done Izzone, Well done. (The Dagger)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Well done Sparty. Well done. (H/T@WorldofIsaac)


 
 
Dunk of the Day:
Nice dunk. Better sequence. (H/T @RunTheFloor)

Dunk of the Day:
Come for the No. 1 dunk, stay for Ernie Kent’s analysis. (Pacific Takes)

 
 
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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith returns to school after withdrawing from NBA Draft

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith will return for his senior season, the school confirmed on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the most intriguing athletes in college basketball as he’s been a double-figure scorer for the Red Raiders the past two seasons. As a junior, Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as he shot 50 percent from the field.

Three-point shooting was something that Smith improved dramatically last season as he increased it to 39 percent in a small sample size. If Smith can continue to show that he’s a perimeter shooting threat then he could be an ideal three-and-d candidate at the pro level.

By returning to Texas Tech, Smith gives head coach Chris Beard a potential all-league candidate who should be counted on to be a double-double threat next season.

 

Missouri lands five-star forward Jontay Porter

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Missouri has another member of the Porter family in the fold as forward Jontay Porter officially committed to the Tigers on Monday night.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Michael Porter Jr., and father Michael Porter Sr., Jontay is currently a member of the Class of 2018 who is rumored to be reclassifying to the Class of 2017.

A 6-foot-10 forward who was recently elevated to five-star status on Rivals.com, Porter is having a monster spring in the Nike EYBL with MoKan Elite. Porter has been one of the best players in the league, as he’s putting up 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

If Jontay is able to join Missouri next season then he gives the Tigers another intriguing piece to play alongside his brother Michael, who is good enough to be a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although Jontay isn’t the go-to player that his brother is, he could be a very effective SEC role player early in his career, as his ability to rebound and stretch the floor makes him an extremely intriguing piece on the floor.

Kevin Stallings is a tone-deaf clown

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Pitt guard Cameron Johnson is the most coveted transfer in college basketball this offseason.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is coming off of a strong campaign with the Panthers in which he put up 11.9 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

Not only is Johnson a proven double-figure scorer in a league like the ACC, but he’s eligible to play right away thanks to his graduation from Pitt. Johnson graduating from school in three years and missing one season due to injury also makes him the rare graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. So, not only can Johnson come in and make an immediate impact, but he’s also able to stay for another year after.

This sort of thing almost never happens, let alone with a 6-foot-8 shooter that could sway the national title race.

It’s why blueblood programs like Kentucky and UCLA are in hot pursuit of Johnson. It’s why another ACC school, reigning national champion North Carolina, is also intrigued by Johnson being on the market.

Except Johnson won’t be allowed to attend North Carolina, or any other school in the ACC, without first sitting out a season and losing one season of eligibility. At least that’s how things currently stand thanks to Pitt’s power over Johnson — despite Johnson graduating from the school and having no more formal educational ties to the school.

Here’s what Pitt said on the matter in a release to the News-Observer.

“Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools; however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference.

If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so.”

Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings had a peculiar interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was published about two weeks ago. During the interview, of which the full transcript was made public, Stallings went in-depth about Johnson’s transfer and the current state of college basketball. Stallings also made remarks about how the media holds programs accountable for trying to bully certain players.

Here’s a small sample of what Stallings had to say.

“But the unexpected departures are the things that are becoming more common than uncommon in college basketball. You have guys constantly trying to transfer up. You have guys going pro that have never played a minute of college basketball after they’ve sat out a year at a school. You have guys asking out of their letters of intent with frequency. We’re dealing in a landscape in college basketball right now that is as probably as difficult and peculiar as it’s ever been. It used to be if a kid signed his letter of intent and he wanted out of it, you had to play a year of junior-college ball to get out of it.

“The media didn’t basically force institutions to let people break a binding agreement. It’s kind of interesting now the media tries to put so much pressure on programs, whether it be athletic directors or coaches, saying ‘Well, the coaches can move.’ Well, hey, guess what? I’ve got a great big buyout in my deal that prevents me from moving. I’ve got something in my contract saying I can’t go to another league school. It’s not as easy for coaches to go. That’s everyone’s rationale — ‘Well, the coaches can leave.’ We’re dealing in an environment right now that is as fluid as it’s ever been. It’s just where we’re at in the whole thing with the unexpected departures.”

Stallings makes some sound points–particularly about coaches having buyouts and the general perception of coaching changes in basketball.

But Kevin Stallings mostly sounds like a tone-deaf clown here.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for a millionaire coach who willingly makes the decision to change jobs.

Nobody.

Especially if that same millionaire is comparing a choice to change jobs to the transfer decisions of unpaid student-athletes. It’s even more laughable now that Stallings is holding power over an unpaid student-athlete from going to play at another school because of purely basketball reasons.

Pitt and Stallings need to do the right thing and release Johnson to play at any school right away because Johnson has already done everything he needs to do to appease the program.

Things changed dramatically for Johnson during his three years at Pitt. He became one of the ACC’s better players and earned his degree. Johnson held up his end of the bargain when he signed his Letter of Intent.  Now Johnson just wants the chance improve his basketball future by playing with one of the nation’s elite programs.

Stallings can blame the current state of college basketball, the media, or whoever he wants for Johnson’s transfer from Pitt.

But Stallings also has to realize that he’s going to be the one who looks stupid if he continues to leave these restrictions in place for Johnson. Stallings already has a history of this sort of thing when he placed transfer restrictions on former player Sheldon Jeter. If Stallings continues to uphold transfer restrictions on Johnson, then he’s going to gain a permanent reputation in recruiting during a time when players continue to gain more freedom over their basketball futures.

If Johnson does happen to go to an ACC school like North Carolina, it’s not as if Pitt has any sort of competitive roster that is going to be fighting the Tar Heels for league supremacy during the next two seasons.

Stallings and Pitt need to just bite the bullet, let Johnson have his freedom, and hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them for one or two seasons in ACC play.

It surely beats the alternative of being labeled a head coach who limits player freedom after six players left Pitt during a single offseason. That type of burn lasts a lot longer than two years.

Presbyterian hires Wofford assistant Dustin Kerns as new head coach

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Presbyterian finally has its new head coach as the program is set to hire Wofford assistant coach Dustin Kerns, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Kerns has been an assistant at Wofford for the past seven years during his second stint with the program. Also spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara, the Tennessee native is getting his first shot at running his own program.

Finishing last in the Big South last season at 5-25 and 1-17 in conference play, Presbyterian is trying to rebuild after head coach Gregg Nibert resigned in April. Nibert was the head coach of the Blue Hens for 28 seasons, so Kerns is going to be a completely fresh start for the program.

Tennessee lands impact graduate transfer James Daniel

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Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes earned a commitment from one of the top graduate transfers on the market on Monday when Howard guard James Daniel pledged to the Volunteers.

The 6-foot-0 Daniel was the nation’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game his junior season in 2015-16. Daniel played in only two games last season as a left ankle injury caused him to have surgery.

With nearly 2,000 career points to his name, Daniel gives Tennessee an additional perimeter scorer who should come in and make an immediate impact right away. While Howard has low shooting percentages and a high usage rate during his time at Howard, it’ll be interesting to see how the year off and more talented teammates will alter his game.

If Howard can be a more efficient scorer in his final season, then he has a chance to be one of the better players for the Volunteers this season.