The Morning Mix

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– An awesome story about what Nerlens Noel did to show his support for a young Kentucky fan battling cancer (We have ourselves a #RefereeGuy Vinny Swope Reference!)

Sign me up for this: Butler is auctioning off a chance to walk the beloved Butler Blue II out to the Hinkle Fieldhouse court for the Bulldog’s two preseason scrimmages

– Is Texas guard Myck Kabongo finally in the clear from NCAA investigations? Rush The Court has the answer

– Maryland senior captain James Padgett will stand trial in a Maryland court today on charges of driving while impaired, stemming from a June arrest. The Terps’ top returning scorer could be in jeopardy of missing Maryland’s first game of the season, against Kentucky at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

– It’s a new week, and UCLA still doesn’t have an answer from the NCAA on the eligibility issues of Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad, so sayeth Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times

– Now that coaches are allowed to contact recruits via unlimited text, they will have to learn how to use text messaging effectively (Sounds easy, right? But if you are a young adult, you should be aware how often our elders struggle with newer forms of technology)

– Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe still isn’t free of all his legal obligations stemming from past probation violations and could cloud his focus heading into the season

– Georgetown and North Carolina are holding another “secret scrimmage”. Last year, the Hoyas traveled to Chapel Hill for a closed scrimmage, and this year the Tar Heels will return the favor and visit the nation’s capital

– Having been spurned by the Harrison twins two weeks ago, Maryland head coach mark Turgeon rebounded nicely by getting a committment from Class of 2013 guard Rodney Peters. The Maryland-native is not as highly touted as the Harrison twins but is another piece to a strong puzzle being put together by Turgeon

UConn will break ground this spring on a new basketball training center, and has raised roughly $24-million towards the $32-million project

Here’s a look at the current Sports Books odds for the 2012-13 National Championship. As expected, Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville are the top contenders

– With Steve Lavin back on the sidelines this year, the St. John’s Red Storm look to continue growth in a “new-look” Big East. Lavin sat out most of last season while he recovered from prostate cancer surgery

Interesting stuff from Glen Logan, who details the possibilities of highly touted forward Julius Randle committing to Kentucky with the Harrison twins already having committed

– Dana O’Neil fills us in on what she can’t wait to see from the programs in the Atlantic-10 Conference

Murray State has been placed in a difficult situation now that the police videos of Zay Jackson’s wanton endangerment (See: hitting people with a moving vehicle) have been released. It will be really interesting to see what direction the university goes in. The video is pretty disturbing

– We brought this up last week, but it needs to be reiterated. The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints is in the process of lowering the age at which members of the church go on their missions from 19 to 18. This change could drastically alter the recruiting processes of schools like BYU

A Horizon League round-up of preseason accolades. Despite Butler’s departure, the Horizon League still boasts a bevy of mid-major talent, and will have a few schools in the discussion for potential at-large bids

– Louisville received all 15 first place votes and was the unanimous pick by Big East media members to win the conference this year

– The Drexel Dragons were chosen by CAA media and coaches as the preseason favorites to win the conference this year

A Mountain West Conference preview from NBC Sports College Basketball Talk. A MAAC and Sun Belt preview from CBS Sports Eye on College Basketball. A Missouri Valley Conference preview from Yahoo Sports The Dagger

– The Eastern Washington basketball blog EWU Eagle Eye provides a solid Q&A session with Eagles head coach Jim Hayford

– He’s no Hauns Brereton, but Florida’s Patric Young goes through some pretty intense workouts

West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate returns to school

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The nation’s most entertaining shot-blocker is back for another season.

Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-9 center from Mali, will return to school for his junior season to anchor West Virginia’s defense for yet another season, according to ESPN.

Konate declared for the draft and went through the combine, and while his shot-blocking and intensity shined through there as it did throughout the season, he’s more of a mid-to-late second round pick than he is a first rounder at this point.

As a sophomore, Konate averaged 10.8 points, 7.6 boards and 3.2 blocks. He also shot 79 percent from the free throw line.

So let’s sit back and enjoy what we get to see for another year:

Luke Maye to return to North Carolina for senior season

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Here’s something I never thought I’d say: Luke Maye is returning to North Carolina for his senior season, meaning that the Tar Heels will have their preseason National Player of the Year candidate back in the fold.

Who saw that coming?

“I have had a great experience learning from the NBA process and growing as a basketball player during the past couple weeks,” Maye wrote on Instagram. “I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches and teammates for all of their support. Through this process, I have decided that I am going to comeback to school to improve as a player and finish my college career. I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that I will face and there is no better group to do it with than my teammates and the Carolina family! Time to finish the right way with two of the best players and leaders that I know! Let’s finish our legacy the right way!”

Maye, who averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 boards as a junior, declared for the draft last month, but he did not get invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. The 6-foot-9 forward is a stretch four that will fit perfectly at the four for the Tar Heels this season, with Nassir Little, Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams on the perimeter and a trio of sophomore bigs to handle the five.

Getting Maye back was key, but expected. UNC reaching their ceiling this season will depend on whether or not their point guard play is up to par. With Jalek Felton gone and Joel Berry II graduated, that is going to come down to whether or not Seventh Woods can handle the lead guard role or if Coby White can step in and start as a freshman.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

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.