The Morning Mix

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Another full day of hoops is on tap. The preseason tournaments are in full swing, which means plenty of quality non-conference games taking place throughout the day. If you have saved up your “sick days”, today would be a good time to use one.
 
 
Friday’s Top Games:
10:30 a.m. – Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
12:30 p.m. – Colorado vs. No. 16 Baylor
1:30 p.m. – Mercer vs. George Mason
2:30 p.m. – Dayton vs. Boston College
4:00 p.m. – Illinois-Chicago @ New Mexico
5:00 p.m. – Massachusetts vs. No. 6 North Carolina State
5:30 p.m. – St. John’s vs. Murray State
6:30 p.m. – Wake Forest vs. No.23 UConn
7:00 p.m. – BYU vs. Florida State
7:00 p.m. – LIU-Brooklyn @ Maryland
7:00 p.m. – UNC-Wilmington @ Ohio
7:30 p.m. – Manhattan @ Harvard
8:00 p.m. – California @ Denver
9:30 p.m. – No. 20 Notre Dame vs. St. Joseph’s
11:00 p.m. – No. 11 North Carolina @ Long Beach State
11:00 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Oregon
12:30 a.m. – Illinois @ Hawaii
 
 
Read of the Day: Gary Parrish details why the six minutes Luke Cothron played while a member of New Orleans basketball program will haunt him forever. Read it. No seriously. This is one you have to read. (Eye on College Basketball)
 
 
Top Stories:
It’s time the NCAA addresses the rising number of transfer in college basketball: Brian A. Shactman, host of CNBC’s SportsBiz is among the many who believe the NCAA needs to step in an control the increasing number of college basketball players who transfer to different programs.

The Alabama Trevors (Lacy and Releford) led the Crimson Tide to semifinal win over Oregon State: Anthony Grant saw a significant amount of his team’s production walk out of the door at the end of last season. But if Trevor Lacy and Trevor Releford can do on a nightly basis what they did on Thursday, the Crimson Tide should be fine this season.

Oklahoma State wins despite losing J.P. Olukemi to knee injury: Not many teams have been plagued by the injury bug as bad as Oklahoma State the last few months. Senior forward J.P. Olukemi is the latest Cowboy to go down to an injury, which took place during their Thursday win over Akron. Olukemi had already been granted a fifth year of eligibility because of an injury he sustained last season.

Freshman guard Ryan Archidiacono comes up big in Villanova’s overtime win over Purdue: The freshman guard missed his entire senior season of high school because of a back injury and despite making several freshman mistakes, came up huge against Purdue on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden

Drexel now 0-2 following home loss to Illinois State: The Dragons were favored to win the CAA this season but have struggled early on, dropping the first two games of the season. The two losses however, have both come against strong opponents is both Kent State and Illinois State.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– An arrest warrant has been issued for former Tennessee women’s basketball star Chamique Holdsclaw. The 3-time national champion is being cited for aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and reckless conduct (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

– Karl Towns, the top center in the class of 2013, may reclassify to 2014, but will still likely end up at Kentucky (Kentucky Kernel)

– Oregon received word from the NCAA that Rice-transfer Arsalan Kazemi is eligible to play for the Ducks this season (The Oregonian)

– Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow is still dealing with flu-like symptoms and he is unlikely to play against Lafayette today (The Sporting News)

– Clemson freshman Jaron Blossomgame will take a redshirt season due to a leg injury he suffered in the Spring (Greenfield Daily Reporter)

– Evansville’s Colt Ryan, the teams go-to player in all regards, suffered a hip injury during the Aces’ 56-50 loss against Buffalo last night. Ryan’s status for their Friday night game against Yale is up in the air (Mid-Major Madness)

– Dantiel Daniels will return to action for Southern Illinois tonight, after sitting out the last few days with a groin injury (Mid-Major Madness)

– Gus Leeper of Arkansas-Little Rock will miss the next four weeks because of a reoccurring knee injury (Burn The Horse)
 
 
Observations & Analysis:
– UMass has now won two games this season, and both have come via the buzzer-beater variety (ESPN)

– Eight months after engaging in one of the more memorable games of the NCAA tournament, Baylor and Colorado meet again in tournament-play (The Dagger)

– Kansas needed a strong second half effort in order to get past a tough Chattanooga team, and Billy Self’s halftime speech may have made the difference (KUsports.com)

– One of Kansas’ best weapons against Chattanooga was Ben McLemore, who put on a highlight reel performance featuring five huge dunks (KUsports.com)

– Michigan State freshman Denzel Valentine has all the makings of a home-runner hitter, similar to former-Spartan Durrell Summers (Digital Sports)

– With so much size in the frontcourt, Louisville is going to have to get away from being a perimeter-oriented team (Rush The Court)

– Ryan Fagan put together an excellent weekend planner for all the preseason tournament games taking place (The Sporting News)

– American University forward Stephen Lumpkins is glad to be back on the court after spending last season on the diamond (College Chalk Talk)

– Indiana guard Jordy Hulls eclipsed the 1,000-carrer points mark in the Hoosier’s blowout victory over Sam Houston State, but needed some help from Tom Crean in order to get the ovation he deserved (Inside the Hall)

– The Bradley Braves are still a work in progress, but the team is much better than what the early home attendance numbers indicate (Peoria Journal-Star)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
The Drexel Dragons have now dropped their first two games of the season after being named the preseason favorites to win the CAA. Last night the Dragons lost to a underatted Illinois State Redbirds squad in overtime at home, 86-84(CSN Philly)

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
You should probably get familiar with High Point freshman John Brown. I have a feeling we will be seeing him again sometime soon (Ballin’ is a Habit)


 
 
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Kyle Guy says he’s staying in the draft, will not return to Virginia

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Kyle Guy is off to the professional ranks.

The Virginia junior had already declared for the NBA draft, but announced Monday that he plans to stay in the draft and not return to the Cavaliers next season, as he would be allowed to under NCAA rules.

“I am officially keeping my name in the draft. I know it’s the right step after much prayer and thought with my family,” Guy wrote on social media.

Players retain the option to return to school up until the end of next month, but Guy’s announcement makes it clear he has no intention of utilizing that avenue as he plows ahead toward a professional career after being named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player as Virginia won its first-ever national championship earlier this month in Minneapolis.

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in Virginia’s slow-paced offense while shooting 49.5 percent from 3-point range. Right now, Guy’s draft ceiling would appear to be in the second round with going undrafted a possibility as well. If he does make it at the next level, it’s pretty clear it’ll be the 3-point shooting that gets and keeps him there in a league that covets that skill now more than ever.

For Virginia, Guy’s decision simply crystalizes what was likely the reality already – they’re going to have a completely remade roster, which certainly isn’t uncommon for national championship winners. There’s a reason no one since Florida in 2006 and 2007 has repeated as champions. With Guy gone and Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite all having declared, Tony Bennett and Co. could be looking at more modest expectations following the greatest season in program history.

Duke adds to 2019 class with top-30 guard Cassius Stanley

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Duke’s already monster 2019 class got even stronger Monday.

Cassius Stanley, a four-star guard from California, pledged to the Blue Devils to give them their fifth recruit rated in the top-35 nationally in the class.

“I’ll be joining the brotherhood. Go Duke,” Stanley said in his announcement video posted to social media.

“He wants to come in and start or contribute as a starter on a highly competitive team,” Jerome Stanley, Cassius’ father, told 247Sports. “He’s used to winning and he plans to come in there and win. He doesn’t plan to be a project, he wants to step on the floor immediately and help them win.”

Stanley’s commitment only further reinforces how strong Duke is on the recruiting trail as it now has five-stars Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore signed along with top-40 Boogie Ellis of San Diego.

The Blue Devils may have lost their high-profile trio of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, but with these major additions along with Tre Jones, Marques Bolden and Alex O’Connell slated to return, they’ll be looking at another top-10 (and maybe higher) preseason ranking after a disappointing Elite Eight departure from the NCAA tournament last month.

Udoka Azubuike returning to Kansas for senior season

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Injuries have robbed Kansas center Udoka Azubuike of nearly two full seasons of college basketball. They also likely played a major part on while he’ll be back for his fourth year on campus.

The 7-footer will return to Lawrence and the Jayhawks for his senior season rather than declare for the NBA draft, the school announced Monday.

“We’re all very excited about Udoka making the decision not to enter the draft,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement released by the school. “Unfortunately for him, injury is the reason as he still cannot participate (at) what would be the NBA combine or workouts for the NBA teams. We really anticipated that this would be the year he would enter the draft but that was also based on him having an injury-free year.”

Azubuike was averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 70.5 percent from the field before a wrist injury cut his season short in January after just nine games. He also played just 11 games as a freshman due to injury.

In his lone full healthy season, Azubuike averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds per game as he made 77 percent of his shots from the field, making him nearly an unstoppable force for teams across the Big 12. His return makes Kansas, the 10th-ranked team in our preseason Top 25, an even stronger favorite to regain its Big 12 crown after Texas Tech and Kansas State shared the league title last year to deprive Kansas of its spot atop the league for the first time in 14 years as it battled injuries, suspensions and lackluster play.

The 21 most important ‘stay-or-go’ NBA draft early entry decisions

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This single most important and influential decision when if came to this year’s NBA draft belonged to Cassius Winston.

The Grand Maester of the Michigan State offense, Winston put together an All-American season as he led Michigan State to the 2019 Big Ten regular season title, tournament title and a trip to the Final Four. Over the weekend, the 6-foot point guard announced that he will be returning to school for his senior season, immediately ensuring that the Spartans will be the No. 1 team in the NBC Sports preseason top 25 and locking them in as favorites to win next year’s national title.

But he is far from the only important decision that is left to be made in this year’s NBA draft process. At 11:59 p.m. on April 21st, the deadline to declare for the NBA draft came and went. The players who put there name into the mix — more than 130 that we know of — will have until May 29th to pull their names out of the draft.

Here are 21 decisions that will have the biggest impact on the 2019-2020 college basketball season.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

KERRY BLACKSHEAR

Blackshear might be the single-most influential player in all of college basketball, but to figure out where he is going to have influence, the 6-foot-10, 250 pound forward has a couple of decisions to make. For starters, he has declared for the NBA draft, and given that he is 22 years old and more or less fully developed as a player, now may be the best time for him to make the jump to the professional ranks. If he does decide to return to school, he’s going to have to decide where to play: He’s a redshirt junior and a graduate transfer, which means that the Virginia Tech big man may end up being a former Virginia Tech big man. Every school in college basketball will want to get involved. We’ll see where he ends up.

IGNAS BRAZDEIKIS and JORDAN POOLE, Michigan

Michigan essentially had two players on their roster last season that you could trust to be threats on the offensive end of the floor night in and night out: Poole and Brazdeikis. Now it looks like there is a real chance that both of them to could end following Charles Matthews lead and remain in the NBA draft despite the fact that neither look like they will be a first round pick.

That’s a major concern for John Beilein, because with Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and Isaiah Livers all back, Michigan will have a case to be the preseason No. 1 team in the country if both Iggy and Swaggy Poole return. If both end up gone, the Wolverines may never break 60 points in a game next year.

DEVON DOTSON, QUENTIN GRIMES and UDOKA AZUBUIKE, Kansas

This one is tricky because we have yet to get official word on whether or not Azubuike has actually declared for the draft*; he did last season and ultimately opted to return to school. Of the three, I think Dotson is probably the most important, as the Jayhawks don’t have anyone nearly as good as he is at the point. If Azubuike opts to enter the draft, Bill Self does still have David McCormack on his roster, who will be an adequate replacement. Grimes is the x-factor here. A former top ten recruit, I think he’s probably the most likely to keep his name in the draft this year even if it’s as a second round pick. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily the best plan of action — I do think there is still a chance that he could come back to Kansas and play his way into the first round with a big sophomore year — but I get it. If he’s gone, the Jayhawks do have some perimeter pieces that will be able to fill the void in Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett.

With all three back, we’re talking about Kansas as the surefire best team in the Big 12 and potentially as a top five team. If they’re all gone, then it is going to be a long, long season in Lawrence.

*(Since this posting, Azubuike has announced that he is returning to school.)

Grant Williams (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

GRANT WILLIAMS and JORDAN BONE, Tennessee

This may sound counterintuitive, but I think that it is true: Bone is the more likely of the two to leave school this year, but Williams would have a much bigger impact on the Tennessee program if he opts to return. Bone was a bit inconsistent as a junior, but when he was at his best, he was the best guard in the SEC. Losing that hurts, but the truth is that with Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden and Josiah James in the mix, there is enough backcourt talent in Knoxville to withstand his departure.

I’m not sure that is true with Williams. Tennessee does have some big bodies on their roster, but Williams would be in the conversation with Cassius Winston for preseason National Player of the Year if he opts to come back to Tennessee for another run at a national title. And with Williams back, they would very much be in that conversation. As it stands, Tennessee is No. 22 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

A source close to the situation told NBC Sports that they think there’s a “50-50” chance that Williams is back.

KYLE GUY and MAMADI DIAKITE, Virginia

I fully expect that both Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter will remain in the NBA draft for good. That leaves Guy and Diakite as the players who are up in the air. Everyone should know about Guy by now. The reigning Final Four MOP, Guy led Virginia in scoring last season and is one of the best shooters in all of college basketball. For a program that lacks perimeter depth, Guy’s return would obviously be enormous.

But Diakite’s return is just as impactful. He’s such a monster on the defensive end of the floor, and I’m not sure people realize just how good he is. His offensive game is coming along, but the value is that he would be a perfect pairing next to Jay Huff if Virginia wants to play big and that he is versatile enough to defend on the perimeter if needed when Virginia plays small. It’s not a coincidence that the most productive six-game stretch of Diakite’s career came during the run to the NCAA title, when he averaged 10.5 points, 8.2 boards and 2.7 blocks.

Kyle Guy (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

JORDAN NWORA, Louisville

There are a few Louisville players that have declared for the NBA draft, but for my money, Nwora is the one that matters the most, and it is not close. One of college basketball’s most improved players, Nwora is will be a first-team All-ACC player and a potential All-American if he comes back. He will be the veteran scorer that the Cardinals need as Chris Mack brings in a loaded, six-man recruiting class. With Nwora back, the Cards will be a top ten team.

KILLIAN TILLIE and ZACH NORVELL, Gonzaga

Assuming that Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are both gone, Tillie becomes the most important player on Gonzaga’s frontcourt if he opts to return to school. And Norvell slides right in as the projected leading scorer. Frankly, with those two and Corey Kispert on the roster, I think the Zags will have more than enough scoring to keep things rolling as their talented six-man recruiting class gets some experience.

The reason they are as low on this list as they are is that I still think there is a ceiling to what Gonzaga can be because of their point guard situation. Right now, they are in a position where they’ll have to decide between freshman Brock Ravet and sophomores Greg Foster Jr. and Joel Ayayi. I would not be surprised if there was a grad transfer that was in the mix here at some point.

ANTHONY COWAN, Maryland

The Terps already got word that they are getting Jalen Smith back for his sophomore season. With the rest of last year’s promising recruiting class in the mix — Aaron Wiggins, Eric Ayala, Ricky Lindo — the only thing they need to ensure that they are a preseason top ten team is their star point guard. Cowan, if he returns, will be in the mix for preseason All-American honors.

MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall

This one isn’t difficult. Seton Hall returns basically everyone from last season if Powell comes back. They should still be relevant in the Big East if he doesn’t, but he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in college basketball this side of Markus Howard last year, and assuming he’s back in the fold, we have the Pirates at No. 12 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

Myles Powell (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

PAYTON PRITCHARD and KENNY WOOTEN, Oregon

Assuming that Louis King ends up staying in the draft, Pritchard and Wooten are the two guys that will matter for Oregon next season. They are the two pieces that allow Dana Altman’s system to work the way that it is supposed to work — a high-scoring lead guard and an uber-athletic five that can protect the rim and finish lobs. With both of them back, I think Oregon is a top 10-15 team and the best team in the Pac-12.

E.J. MONTGOMERY, Kentucky

Montgomery is interesting here. He’s super-talented, and he plays a position for Kentucky where the Wildcats are going to really lack some depth this season, but we’ve yet to see him prove that he is anything more than ‘loaded with potential’ at the SEC level. I think Kentucky needs him because they need to keep bodies in their frontcourt, but I’m on a wait-and-see mode before I decide just how much of an impact I think that he is going to make.

CHUMA OKEKE and JARED HARPER, Auburn

I would make the argument that these two were the two most important players on Auburn’s team this past season. If I had to guess, I would say that Okeke is probably gone. He proved just how good he is this past season, and his recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in the NCAA tournament likely won’t be complete until December. If he returns to school, it might end up being a two-year decision, but if he comes back and is fully healthy, he is miles better than Danjel Purifoy, Anfernee McLemore and the other options the Tigers have in their frontcourt.

Harper is a bit more up in the air, and while he was terrific this past season, especially in March, I do think that J’Von McCormick’s emergence has given Bruce Pearl some breathing room. He can do a lot of the things that Harper does, just not quite as well.

NEEMIAS QUETA, Utah State

Utah State is currently the No. 16 team in the NBC Sports preseason top 25, and much of that has to do with the fact that we are assuming Queta ends up returning to school. His size, his ability to protect the rim and how well he finishes makes him extremely valuable in the Mountain West and helps the Aggies matchup with teams from bigger conferences.

Lawsuit filed after two casinos couldn’t take March Madness bets

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A casino operator is suing a tech company after a contract dispute shuttered its sports betting platform at two West Virginia casinos ahead of the NCAA Tournament.

A Friday news release from Delaware North says it’s filed a civil suit seeking monetary damages against United Kingdom-based Miomni Gaming and its CEO, Michael P. Venner.

Miomni’s contract dispute with a third-party technology supplier has prevented Delaware North’s Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro and the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack from taking new sports wagers since March 6.

The casino operator’s lawsuit says Miomni misrepresented its ownership of a key part of the sports betting platform.

A voicemail left with Miomni was not immediately returned.

The suit was filed late Thursday in Delaware.