The Morning Mix

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Anybody else starting to get the itch?

Midnight Madness is just around the corner and we’re just a week or so out from “preview madness”. With September practices underway, the season tip-off is finally starting to come into view. Heck, I was actually fired up for weeknight #MACtion college football last week. Seriously.

Speaking of which, this is a great place to start The Morning Mix:

– KSR’s Ally Tucker provides some great stats to prove that it is really difficult for a university to harbor both an elite football and basketball program.In fact, Ohio State and Florida are the only schools that have come close in the past decade. In fact, thru three weeks: Kansas is 1-3, Kentucky is 1-3, Memphis is 0-4, Syracuse is 1-3, UNLV is 1-3 and Vanderbilt is 1-3.

Is anybody else opposed to scrapping the rest of the college football season right now and start the hoops season next week? I know I’m not.

– Mike Rutherford of SB Nation drops the first Top 100 Players of 2012-2013 list. Mid-Major Madness references the “little guys” who show up in the Top-100

– The ACC will not be able to hold its postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden. Matt Norlander makes some preposterous statement about Madison Square Garden not wanting the Big East tournament. Pppfffff. That guy. Sometimes I just don’t know about Norlander, man

– Horrible news for Montana: Star guard Will Cherry is expected to miss 6-8 weeks due to an unspecified injury

– Jason King of ESPN explains why expectations are high at Colorado State, where former-Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Eustachy is set to keep the Rams steady on an incline

– UNC head coach Roy Williams had a tumor removed from his kidney last week. As it turns out, the tumor was benign and will not spread 

– BYU is heading in to their second season as members of the West Coast Conference. Andy Katz briefs us on how Dave Rose and the Cougars plan to approach their sophomore campaign

Another good read on the much improved Michigan State big man Derrick Nix

– Maryland big-man Alex Len has been improving on and off the court this off-season. the Ukrainian seven-footer cites communication as on of the key improvements

– Speaking of Maryland, star guard Pe’Shon Howard should be able to practice at full speed starting this week. The junior missed much of last season due to both foot and ACL injuries. With the departure of Terrell Stoglin, Howard is expected to be the Terrapins offensive leader

– Wayne Seldon, the 23rd ranked playe in the class of 2013, will visit Kansas during their “Late Night at The Phogg” Midnight Madness event

Rob Dauster provides a list of impact players who will be returning from injury

– Ed Isaacson’s latest “Road to the 2013 NBA Draft” entry profiles what guys like Murray State’s Ed Daniel and Creighton’s Gregory Echinique can do during the 2012-2013 season to improve their draft stock

– Memphis landed yet another top-100 recruit this week. Kuran Iverson, the cousin of former Georgetown star Allen Iverson, is a highly touted 6-foot-8 forward from Hartford, CT and was a serious “get” for the Tigers

– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin landed his first commit from the class of 2013

– Sure why not? The top-20 UConn players of the Calhoun-era

– Jason Groves provides a solid Q&A session with New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies. In six seasons at NMSU, Menzies has amassed a 102-68 record and guided the Aggies to two NCAA tournament appearances

A final note:

There must be something we can do to help the good people at Unranked America East. You see, UnrankedAE was the best location on the web for any and all news pertaining to the America East Conference and it’s member institutions. But they’ve run into quite the dilemma.

The SB Nation blog network just launched a whole new interface, SB Nation United yesterday. You probably noticed the layout change in some of the above links. But UnrankedAE was left out of the new SB Nation United model. There must be something we can do to make sure these good people get the backing they need.

You gotta just trust me on this one.

Remember, if you find an article that is worthy of being in The Morning Mix, be sure to use the #ReadoftheDay hashtag on Twitter. 

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.

Four-star wing Romeo Weems commits to DePaul

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DePaul landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday afternoon, as four-star small forward Romeo Weems announced that he will be a Blue Demon. Weems, who attends New Haven HS in New Haven, Michigan, picked DePaul over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon and is considered by most major scouting services to be a Top 50 prospect in the 2019 graduating class.

The 6-foot-6 Weems plays his grassroots basketball for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this spring. Weems also has experience playing for USA Basketball, as he was part of the Under-16 team that won the FIBA Americas U16 title last year. Weems will also be part of the training camp from which the Under-17 team will be selected next month in preparation for this summer’s FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

DePaul managing to land a commitment from a prospect of Weems’ caliber, a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions while also being productive offensively, could be the shot in the arm that Dave Leitao’s program so desperately needs if they’re to improve their standing within the Big East.

Since making the move from Conference USA in 2005, DePaul has finished above .500 in a season just once (20-14 in 2006-07) with that also being the only time in which the Blue Demons finished above .500 in Big East play (9-7). Since Leitao, who led DePaul to its most recent NCAA tournament in 2005, returned for his second stint at the school the Blue Demons have gone 29-65.

Getting out of Allstate Arena and moving to the new Wintrust Arena ahead of last season was an important move for the DePaul program, but it’s been clear that the rebuild won’t be a “quick fix.” Bringing in a talent of Weems’ caliber should help DePaul moving forward, with the key now being to recruit well enough to ensure that the talented wing has ample help when he arrives on campus next year.

Among the players currently on the roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019 are guards Devin Gage and Justin Roberts and wing Darious Hall, who will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring to DePaul from Arkansas. Hall appeared in 35 games for the Razorbacks this past season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.