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The Morning Mix

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This is your final regular season Morning Mix of the 2012-2013 season. We’ll be back next week, but man, what a regular season it has been. Here’s to hoping Saturday lives up to the hype.

Let’s hit the links.

Thursday’s Top games:
3:30 p.m. – Indiana State vs. Evansville
7 p.m. – Tennessee State vs. Belmont
8 p.m. – Stetson vs. Florida Gulf Coast
9 p.m. – Eastern Kentucky vs. Murray State
9:30 p.m. – Illinois State vs. Northern Iowa
 
 
Read of the Day:
Last night, Eagle Landing HS (GA) won the Class AAAA State title last night. MTSU recruit Eric Wortham Jr. finished with 12 points and four assists. Just a year ago, he was on the brink of death. This is his story. Read it. (Henry Daily Herald)
 
 
Top Stories:
Believe it or not, Kentucky’s tournament hopes aren’t dead yet: Kentucky lost to Georgia last night, but if they can beat Florida and not lose early in the SEC tournament, the Wildcats could still end up dancing.

Butler doesn’t look for real, not yet at least: The Bulldogs got the bounce back win they desperately needed, but didn’t look like world-beaters doing so. Butler’s three biggest wins of the season have all been won on buzzer-beaters. While entertaining, it’s not exactly how you want to make you living.

Virginia’s NCAA hopes in jeopardy as Michael Snaer hits another game-winner (VIDEO): Michael Snaer hit his sixth game-winner of his career and sent Virginia back to the wrong side of the bubble in the process.

Louisiana Tech is now autobid or bust after losing to New Mexico State: The Bulldogs entered the night hanging onto their bubble hopes by the slimmest of margins, but is now the latest in a long line of bubble teams that suffered painful losses over the last week, as New Mexico State trounced them by 18 points in Las Cruces on Thursday night.

No Roberson, no problem as Colorado blows out No. 19 Oregon: Andre Roberson sat out because of mononucleosis, but that didn’t slow down the Buffs against No. 19 Oregon. Colorado still has work to do, but a win over a ranked team certainly helps.

Wisconsin plays role of slump-buster for Michigan State’s Keith Appling: The Spartans had lost three in a row, and desperately needed a good performance against a quality opponent. That’s exactly what they got from Keith Appling and company.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Akron suspended staring point guard Alvin Abreu after he was arrested on drug trafficking charges on Thursday. (Akron Beacon Journal)

– UConn center Tyler Olander fractured his foot on Wednesday during the Huskies loss to South Florida and will miss the final game of the season. (Hartford Courant)

– Mississippi State junior guard Jalen Steele suffered a torn ACL on Wednesday and will miss the remainder of the season. (Clarion Ledger)

– The game between San Jose State and UT-San Antonio was cancelled because of a roof leak. (ESPN)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Dan Wetzel on the death of the Big East Tournament. He thinks the new Big East/Catholic-7 Tournament could be just as good. (Yahoo Sports)

– A nice, quick read on Jay Bilas, the social media maven who follows nobody. (USA Today)

– Jeff Bzdelik is not very liked in Winston-Salem. Angry Wake Forest fans have now resorted to newspaper advertisements in order to voice their opinion about the Demon Deacon’s head coach. (The Dagger)

– This one of the better and easier-to-read breakdowns of NCAA tournament math I’ve seen in quite some time. (Waiting for Next Year)

– Wichita State head coach Greg Marshall was awarded MVC Coach of the Year for the effort he has put in to excelling in a year when not much was expected from the Shockers. (Peoria Journal Star)

– Rutgers and Seton Hall will play each other next year, despite being in different conferences. (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski has cut his trademark locks and is inching towards a historic block party. (AZcentral.com)

– Villanova has the best “bench mob” in the country, and I don’t think the race is all that close. (VU Hoops)
 
 
Video of the Day:
Take 15 minutes to reflect on the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry. Great stuff. (Washington Post)


 
 
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Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.