The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Joe Dean Sr., Mr. String Music and an LSU/college basketball legend, passes away (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
College basketball lost one of its all-time greats on Sunday, as Joe Dean passed away at the age of 83. A member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, Dean was known as “Mr. String Music” and was one of SEC basketball’s biggest proponents.

Michigan welcomes back Mitch McGary, goes hunting for chemistry (MLive.com)
Mitch McGary made his return to the court in Michigan’s 77-70 loss to Iowa State, finishing the game with nine points and seven rebounds. And as Brendan Quinn points out here, it’s going to take the Wolverines a little time to get used to having the big man on the court.

Thompson emerging for the Hokies (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
With their lack of experience, Virginia Tech’s going to need contributions from their newcomers if they’re to hold their own in the ACC. One of those players is Trevor Thompson, who posted a double-double in his second career game. While veteran C.J. Barksdale will be back on the floor after serving a three-game suspension, Thompson’s earned himself a spot in James Johnson’s rotation.

Wildcats and their fans never forgot loss to Robert Morris (Beaver County Times)
Despite the fact that the two teams are drastically different this season, more than a few Kentucky fans saw Sunday’s game against Robert Morris as a shot at payback. And in the aftermath of Kentucky’s 87-49 win, both head coaches are hopeful that the talk about that Postseason NIT game can come to an end.

Illini’s Groce fires back at critics (Chicago Tribune)
To say the least Friday was a tough day for Illinois on the recruiting trail, as Quentin Snider de-committed and signed with Louisville and Cliff Alexander chose Kansas. That led to some stating that John Groce’s program was “put in its place,” and he wasn’t a fan of that talk. Groce spoke on the matter Saturday while announcing the players the program did manage to sign during the early signing period.

After rough childhood, David Laury’s thriving at Iona (New York Post)
In forward David Laury the Iona Gaels have one of the best forwards at the mid-major level, as he’s a threat to post a double-double every night he’s on the floor. But life wasn’t always so “easy” for Laury, as more than 20 moves as a child (living in six different states) had a significant impact on the power forward. He’s been able to take steps in the right direction at Iona, thanks in large part to head coach Tim Cluess.

Yogi Ferrell settling into starting role for Indiana, ahead of New York City trip (Indianapolis Star)
Given how much production the Hoosiers lost from last season’s Big Ten champion team, point guard Yogi Ferrell is a highly important piece to the puzzle for Tom Crean. Thus far the sophomore’s gotten more comfortable as a leader, and with the Hoosiers participating in the 2K Sports Classic this coming week we’ll learn even more about Ferrell.

LaVar Ball selling “Stay In Yo Lane” shirts

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Create controversy. Profit from controversy.

It’s not an especially new or original strategy, but it’s one that LaVar Ball continues to try to exploit.

The infamous basketball dad is at it again, looking to capitalize on the uproar/kerfuffle/news cycle/debate/ickiness he created when he belittled FS1’s Kristine Leahy, telling her to “stay in your lane” on multiple occasions when claiming the Big Baller Brand didn’t need to market to women.

Well, they are now, with a nod to Ball’s proclamation, selling “STAY IN YO LANE” tees, for both men and women.

Marketing misogyny. Isn’t that nice.

It’s clear that LaVar Ball isn’t going to shy away from the public spotlight anytime soon, especially with eldest son Lonzo looking destined for the Lakers and middle son LiAngelo set to join UCLA, and he’s going to do his best to use that light to push the BBB franchise that scared away the world’s biggest apparel companies.

This plan has no mystery, subtlety or taste. Which might as well be the Big Baller Brand slogan.

Mykhailiuk returning to Kansas for senior season

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Kansas’ attempt for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title, and run for Bill Self’s second national title, got a shot in the arm Wednesday.

Svi Mykhailiuk announced that he will return to Lawrence for his final season of eligibility. “Senior year going to be fun,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

Senior year gonna be fun😈👌🏼🤘🏼 #KUCMB

A post shared by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (@sviat_10) on

The Jayhawks were already going to be loaded this season with Devonte Graham, a potential All-American, returning for his senior season and Udoka Azubuike healthy after missing last year due to injury along with Malik Newman becoming eligible after a transfer from Mississippi State and recruits Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett bolstering the ranks. The return of Mykhailiuk, though, only solidifies Kansas’ place not only atop the Big 12, but in the country.

Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 forward, had something of a breakthrough season as a junior, posting career highs nearly across the board, including shooting 39.8 percent on nearly five 3-point shot attempts per game. With his size and shooting ability, Mykhailiuk was sure to garner professional interest, even though it would have been more likely than not he would been drafted in the second round of next month’s draft.

Mykhailiuk’s situation is certainly a unique one for college basketball as the Ukraine native enrolled at Kansas in 2014 just after his 17th birthday. He won’t turn 20 until next month, making him the same age as many sophomores and more likely to be viewed by NBA teams in the future as having upside, rather than a typical 22- or 23-year-old senior who scouts look at as having come close to reaching their ceiling.

Mykhailiuk wasn’t going to be the linchpin of Kansas’ success next season, but his decision to return shouldn’t be underestimated. His size, experience, skill and versatility provide the Jayhawks with a real weapon that will help alleviate pressure and expectations from other players up and down the roster. He’s very much a difference-maker for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Final Four.

Caleb Swanigan to stay in NBA draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.