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The Morning Mix

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Mike Rice was fired at Rutgers. Richard Pitino is the new head coach at Minnesota. The best high school players in the country played very little defense last night at the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago. That and more in today’s T.M.M.

let’s hit the links.

Read of the Day:
Kevin Ware has become a national story. Prior to the grizzly injury, Ware was soft-spoken and often reserved. But under adverse circumstances the young guard is flourishing in the spotlight. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The Big East will now be known as The American Athletic Conference. Original stuff right there. (CBS Sports)

– Dunk City is not relocating to Southern California. It’s staying in Dunk City, Fla. (ESPN LA)

– Marshall Henderson wrote an apology letter to Ole Miss fans for some of his outlandish behavior. (Clarion Ledger)

– Did Old Dominion whiff on their head coaching hire? Bob Molinaro certainly thinks so. (Virginian-Pilot)

– Arizona-bound Aaron Gordon captured the MVP award last night at the McDonald’s All-American Game. (AZ Desert Swarm)

– Maxim’s historical list of the top-7 players to break out during March Madness. I’ll contest Kemba Walker being on this list. He didn’t “break out” during the NCAA tournament. He hit four game-winners during the regular season, won five-straight Big East tournament games, and broke Gary McGee’s ankles. (Maxim)

– George Mason defeated Santa Clara last night, setting up a decisive game three for the C.B.I championship. (Washington Post)

– Siena made a great hire in Jimmy Patsos. If they were looking for somebody who will win the press conference, they certainly got their guy. (Keepin’ Track of the MAAC)

– Louisville is selling t-shirts that honor Kevin Ware, and following negative press regarding the profit of t-shirts, the school announced that they will not be profiting from the production and sale of t-shirts. (WDRB.com)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Marshall Henderson is a good dude at heart. If he was actually the jerk he portrays himself as, would he really subject himself to a public dunk tank? (Busted Coverage)

– Andy Enfield, his supermodel wife, and USC song girls. Of course. (USA Today)
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Minnesota made a bold hire yesterday with the selection of Florida International’s Richard Pitino. While he only has one year of head coaching experience, he does have the pedigree for success. (Fox Sports North)

– Syracuse police will monitor the activity on Marshall Street during the Final Four games. The police want to take a proactive approach against couch fires. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– The basketball gods have rewarded us with another season of Marshall Henderson. (Sports Illustrated)

– A list of ten potential candidates for the Rutgers head coaching spot. Danny Hurley, Tommy Amaker and John Giannini are just several of the potential candidates that the school reaches out to. (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– NC-State got a dose a good news yesterday. T.J. Warren announced that he will return to Raleigh. This is a sigh of relief for Wolfpack fans, who already saw C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Rodney Purvis leave school. Leslie and Brown are declaring for the draft and Purvis is transferring. (ACC Insider)

– Cal guard Allen Crabbe has decided to enter the NBA draft. (CBS SF Bay Area)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Oh it’s nothing really, just Tom Izzo and 2Chainz. (h/t @2chainz)

source:
 
 
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Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

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.