The Morning Mix

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– UNC-Wilmington is not going to appear on anybody’s radar. They were tabbed to finish in last place in this season’s CAA preseason poll, and aren’t likely to be a factor in late March. But what UNC-Wilmington does have is Keith Rendlemen, one of the most productive yet unheralded players in the country. He’s got a great story too. This is #ReadoftheDay stuff

– Matt Kavanaugh was set to start at center for the Dayton Flyers this season. But as of Wednesday, the senior big-man has been suspended for the entire season for violating the university’s Standards of  Behavior and Code of Conduct. This is a huge loss for a talented Flyers team that will be vying for a top spot in the extremely deep Atlantic-10 Conference

– Shabazz Muhammad is still waiting to hear back from the NCAA about his eligibility. On Wednesday the freshman phenom injured his right shoulder in practice. The injury does not look to be too severe, but extra precaution will be taken

– BYU has now lost two players this off-season to career-ending injuries. In September, versatile wing Chris Collinsworth called it a career after re-aggravating a severe ankle injury. Now comes word that a recurring knee injury will end the career of senior forward Stephen Rogers

– UConn center Enosch Wolf will miss the next week of practice due to a concussion he sustained this week. The German center has been a reserve for the past two seasons, but should see an increase in playing time this season

– Indiana back-up forward Derek Elston suffered a torn meniscus in practice this week and it will require surgery. The senior is expected to miss the first few games of the season

– It’s official: Zay Jackson will not be playing for Murray State this season as he waits for his assault trial to finish

– Former-Butler guard Crishawn Hopkins is staying in the Horizon League, and will transfer to Wright State. The junior was dismissed from the team over the summer, and will join a Raiders squad looking for star power since the departure of  current-Kentucky forward Julius Mays. Are you wondering why Brad Stevens is throwing up Bo Ryan-esque inter-conference sanctions? The Bulldogs have left the Horizon League and will be playing in the Atlantic-10 this season

– If I was 6-foot-6 or taller, I would be terrified of getting trapped in an elevator. Members of the Virginia Cavaliers squad lived to tell their heroic tale about getting stuck in an elevator while on an exhibition trip in Paris

Emails detailing the last days of Billy Gilispie’s reign as Texas Tech head coach have been released. BCG once he a practice that lasted for over seven hours. That’s just cruel and unusual

– This is kinda funny: New assistant coach at Washington was asked as his first assignment to scout the school he had just come from

– Dana O’Neil fills us in on what she wants to see from Conference-USA. John Gasaway answers fiv burning questions regarding C-USA

– Yup, I agree. Roy Devyn Marble is going to have a breakout season, and the Iowa Hawkeyes are going to be much better than we expect

– Did any of you know this, because I certainly didn’t: Rick Pitino almost became the head coach at Michigan instead of Louisville

– Michael Litos of CAA Hoops provides his list of the top-10 seniors in the conference

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.