The Morning Mix

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What a weekend. The first weekend is finally in the books, and it’s pretty clear that the craziness we saw during the regular season carried over into March Madness. We were introduced to Dunk City, Florida (Coined by yours truely. Yes I was the first to use it, no I did not receive any credit for it), and saw Gonzaga make a shocking exit in the third round.

Naturally, we’ve got a lot to get to.

So let’s hit the links.

Observations & Insight:
– Aaron Craft hit the biggest shot of the 2013 NCAA tournament, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to defeat Iowa State. Here’s how it happened. (USA Today)

– Ben Howland is out at UCLA. The Bruins need more than what Howland could give them, and that’s OK. (Los Angeles Times)

– Is this the last time we see Jim Boeheim in the NCAA tournament? Will Rhoden of the New York Times certainly thinks so. (New York Times)

– Gonzaga fans had a tough pill to swallow on Saturday night, as the Bulldogs’ dream season came to an abrupt stop against Wichita State. (Slipper Still Fits)

– The best and worst from the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend. (The Dagger)

– More best and worst from the tournament’s first weekend. (Washington Post)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– A transcript of Buzz Williams’ entertaining press conference following Marquette’s third round victory over Butler. (Washington Post)

– Twitter reacts to the controversial ending to Iowa State/Ohio State. (The Dagger)

– A profile on the Colorado State Rams’ superfan Justin Stank. He’s the guy in the funny rams suit. (New York Times)
 
 
.GIFs & Videos:
– Florida Gulf Coast is famous. And this is why. #DunkCity. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Oh yeah, they did this too. (SB Nation)

– Florida Gulf Coast, located in Dunk City, Florida, now has a rap anthem. (College Basketball Talk)

– The best .GIFs from the first weekend. (College Hoops Journal)

– Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall cut loose following his team’s third round victory over Gonzaga. (The Dagger

– Iowa State freshman Georges Niang tried to rattle Aaron Craft with an “inadvertent” shoulder to the chest. (The Big Lead)

Sad UNC bro starts to cry during Tar Heel’s loss to Kansas. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– Allen Crabbe got hit in the junk. Ouch. (The Big Lead)
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– George Mason will move from the CAA to the Atlantic 10, effective July. (The Hatchet)

– Minnesota coach Tubby Smith has been on the hot seat for a long long time. The Golden Gophers defeated UCLA in the second round before falling to Florida in the third round. Was one tournament victory enough to save his job? (College Basketball Talk)

– A fired destroyed the house of Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams on Saturday night. Thankfully none of Carter-Williams’ family members were injured. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– UNLV freshman phenom Anthony Bennett is headed to the NBA. He’s a lottery pick for sure, probably top-5 too. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Oregon State big-man Eric Moreland is declaring for the NBA Draft. (Sporting News)

– Memphis is looking to extend the contract of head coach Josh Pastner. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Arizona beat the teeth out of Harvard on Saturday. Seriously, Siyana Chambers lost a tooth. (Arizona Daily Star)

– UCLA may have or may have not fired Ben Howland. He’s probably fired, but nobody’s exactly sure. (College Basketball Talk)

– According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has emerged as a potential candidate for a heading coach position in the NBA. (Yahoo Sports)

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir

Gonzaga’s Mark Few named AP Coach of the Year

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has added to his program’s banner season with an individual award, being named AP Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

Few led the Bulldogs to their first Final Four. The Zags enter the national semifinal with a 36-1 record. Up until Feb. 25, they were flirting with a perfect season. A loss to BYU is currently the only blemish on their season.

Few also won his 500th career game during the course of the 2016-17 season. Since 2014, two coaches from outside the major conferences have earned his honor. Gregg Marshall was named AP Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the Shockers to a perfect regular season.

This was a very competitive race this season. Sean Miller lost two players expected to be key pieces this season — and had Allonzo Trier miss 19 games — but guided Arizona to the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Jay Wright led Villanova to another Big East title despite two cornerstone pieces — Ryan Arcidiancono and Daniel Ochefu — gone from last season’s national championship team. For a while, Baylor’s Scott Drew seemed to be the favorite. The Bears didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason top-25 poll but went on to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Few’s season continues on Saturday against South Carolina.

Frank Mason is named AP Player of the Year

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Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

The senior floor general for the Jayhawks headlined the AP All-American team, which included UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Villanova Swingman Josh Hart, Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and shot 49 percent from behind the 3-point line during the 2016-17 season. He helped guide Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

He becomes the fourth senior in a row to win the award, preceded by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.

He had previously been named player of the year by NBC Sports.

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

CBT Fancast: Catching up with famous Final Four fans: Adam Morrison, Marcus Paige, Neil Everett

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For today’s episode, I spoke with the famous fans of the programs in the Final Four, from the greatest player in Gonzaga history to the almost-star of last year’s Final Four to the most famous dual Gonzaga and Oregon fan in the world.

Sindarius Thornwell misses practice on Thursday

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Sindarius Thornwell has been the best player in the NCAA tournament to date, yet he was not in the building on Thursday when the South Carolina Gamecocks practiced and he was nowhere to be found during South Carolina’s media availability.

A school spokeswoman told reporters that Thornwell was back at the hotel, that he was sick and resting.

Thornwell is averaging 25.7 points in four games in the NCAA tournament. He’s been sensational. If he’s not at his best this weekend, that’s a massive blow for South Carolina’s chances of getting to a national title game, but South Carolina head coach Frank Martin doesn’t seem too concerned.

“I’ve got a bug myself. Luckily I don’t have to play,” Martin said. “He had a little body temperature last night when we landed. And he was a little better this morning. But I kind of told our trainer, just feed him fluids, do what doctors do and let him rest rather than stress him right now. He’s our most intelligent player. And I don’t mean to say that demeaning the other guys. He understands basketball at a high, high level, he doesn’t need to be on the practice court to understand what we’re doing.”