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The Morning Mix

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Welcome to the postseason, folks. The 2012-2013 regular season is in the books, but it went out with a bang. It’s fitting that the final weekend of regular season hoops was littered with buzzer-beaters, blowouts, upsets and fireworks.

Let’s hit the links.

Top Stories:
Jim Boeheim’s postgame comments fuel retirement speculation: Following Georgetown’;s 61-39 destruction of Syracuse oN Saturday, Jim Boeheim provided some interesting quotes added more speculation to the rumors that the coaching icon may be retiring at the end of the season.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky get crucial victory over No. 11 Florida: Kentucky was running out of chances to position themselves on the right side of the bubble. But the Wildcats got a huge win over No. Florida on Saturday. The ‘Cats looked inspired and hungry, like a team desperate to make the NCAA tournament.

Temple in good NCAA tournament position after win over No. 21 VCU: The Owls played spoiler against VCU, thwarting the “Havoc” defense and squashing the Rams’ regular season A-10 title hopes. But in the process, the Owls may have cemented an at-large bid.

Cody Zeller’s reminder: Victor Oladipo isn’t Indiana’s only all-american: Indiana erased a late deficit to stun Michigan at home on Sunday in the Big Ten season finale. “The Big Handsome” led the way for the Hoosiers, scoring a game-high 25 points which included the game-winner with 13 seconds remaining.

Did Phil Pressey shoot Tennessee into the NCAA tournament? Phil Pressey is one of the nation’s elite point guards But shooting is not his forte. Despite this, Pressey is known for thinking he is a shooting guard. He did this on Saturday, and it may have helped an SEC foe work their way on to the right side of the bubble.

2013 Middle Tennessee = 2012 Drexel? Blue Raiders upset in Sun Belt semis: Middle Tennessee won the regular season Sun Belt title by a five-game margin, but fell to Florida International in the conference tournament semis. The Blue Raiders are a fringe bubble team who probably should not have let it go to “the judge’s decision”.

VIDEO: Wisconsin escapes Penn State with win on Traevon Jackson’s buzzer beater: Penn State nearly pulled off another shocker at home, but thanks to a buzzer-beater from Traevon Jackson (The son of former 2x B1G PoY Jim Jackson), Wisconsin stole a road victory in Happy Valley. Now THAT is how you pose.

VIDEO: Trevor Releford’s halfcourt buzzer-beater saves Alabama: The Crimson tide blew a 17-point first half lead at home to Georgia on Saturday. But Trevor Releford bailed his team out with a beautiful half-court buzzer-beater.

VIDEO: Kerron Johnson’s game-winner earns Belmont an autobid: Kerron Johnson, hit his second huge shot of the game with 1.2 seconds left to give Belmont, the Ohio Valley’s regular season champion, the conference’s automatic bid in their inaugural season as a member.

VIDEO: Todd Fletcher, Air Force down No. 12 New Mexico at buzzer: The Lobos are one of the top defensive teams in the countyr, yet blew a four-point in the final 16-seconds of the game, capped off by this 3-pointer from AFA’s Todd Fletcher.

VIDEO: Buzzer-beating Raiders have the Wright stuff in win over Detroit: Wright State stunned the reigning Horizon League Tournament Champions, thanks to a buzzer-beater from Miles Dixon.

VIDEO: Ryan Broekhoff sends Valpo to the Horizon title game at the buzzer: Another Horizon League semifinal, another buzzer-beater.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The best finish of the weekend came north of the border. Holland College went all “Reggie Miller winning time”. Make sure you watch this. You won’t be disappointed. (Eh Game)

– Both Manhattan and LIU-Brooklyn have a NCAA Tournament berth well within their sights, something that was not even on the radar two months ago. (College Hoops Digest)

– Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin was not happy that CBS cut away from the final minutes of the MVC championship game in order to start the Michigan-Indiana game. (Fox Sports)

– Minnesota is still alive for a NCAA tournament birth and yet people are already starting to pick out potential replacements for Tubby Smith. (From The Barn)

– The Atlantic-10 is gearing up for their first postseason tournament held at the Barclays Center. (New York Daily News)

– A brawl broke out in downtown Spokane on Saturday night, and witnesses say the assailiants were members of the USC basketball team. (Spokesman-Review)

– Shooting contest gaff costs student $50,000. (The Dagger)

– Brad Waldow tried to hand a recently displaced tooth to his head coach Randy Bennett. That’s nasty. (College Basketball Talk)
 
 
Video of the Day:
– Tom Crean to former-IU assistant (and current Michigan assistant) Jeff Mayer: “YOU WRECKED OUR PROGRAM”. (Eye on College Basketball)

Dunk of the Day:
Dez Wells is a freak. He pins a ball against the backboard at one end, and slams home a Dunk of the Year candidate at the other end. Shut it down. Game over.


 
 
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Illinois PG expected to be ready for practice

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Illinois point guards and injuries have been an unfortunate trend over the past two seasons with Tracy Abrams, who missed the past two seasons with a torn ACL followed by a torn Achilles the next year.

On Sunday, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported some good news for an incoming Fighting Illini floor general. Te’Jon Lucas, a three-star prospect from the Class of 2016, will be fully cleared for the start of practice, according to Rothstein. In February, Lucas had broke his fibula in his right leg in two places during a game.

Lucas had committed to Illinois the previous September.

Abrams received a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June, and he decided to remain in Champaign for his final season. If healthy, he’ll be the starter. Jaylon Tate is also back for another season. But they are both seniors, which makes Sunday’s report important for John Groce’s program. Lucas will be on the floor Day 1 of practice, being molded for the future by two experienced guards.

The 5-foot-11 Lucas is the only true freshman on the roster.

Illinois begins the 2016-17 season on November 11, hosting Southeast Missouri State.

Xavier adds to class with three-star center

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Xavier added a fourth piece to its 2017 recruiting class on Sunday morning.

Kentravious Jones, a 6-foot-11, three-star recruit, committed to the Musketeers. He announced the decision via Twitter.

Chris Mack’s current recruiting class is headlined by four-star swingman Naji Marshall. The incoming quartet also includes guard Elias Harden and forward Jared Ridder. But Jones’ commitment fits an area that needs to be addressed for the Musketeers moving forward. Xavier isn’t particularly deep when it comes to big men. That frontcourt only gets thinner once RaShid Gaston, a graduate transfer from Norfolk State, exhausts his eligibility after this season.

Jones, along with current freshman forward Tyrique Jones, gives Xavier a young foundation for the future. Jones is an old-school, big-bodied center. He’s got a nice back-to-the-basket game, and had his best stretch of the summer during the UAA Finals. In three games with the Atlanta Xpress, he averaged 15.3 points, shot 59 percent from the field, and grabbed nine boards per game.

Conditioning will be the emphasis for him over the course of the next year. However, we have seen Xavier work well with a big, skilled centers in the past (see: Stainbrook, Matt). According to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jones has dropped 30 pounds.

Sunday morning’s news may not even be Xavier’s last score on the recruiting trail. The Musketeers have one scholarship remaining (two, or three if Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett enter the NBA Draft this spring), and are in play for several coveted prospects like point guards Paul Scruggs, Quade Green and Matt Coleman, as well as forward Kris Wilkes.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.