The Morning Mix

1 Comment

Remember how I said yesterday that Monday could end up being one of the craziest days of the college hoops season? No? Well that’s what I was thinking. Sure enough, Monday delivered. The Silverswords of Chaminade defended their home turf for the first time since 2007, Maryland makes the move with Rutgers soon to follow. Injuries and upsets were had, Shabazz Muhammad made his NCAA debut and Rotnei Clarke hit the season’s best buzzer-beater.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
1:30 p.m. – Austin Peay vs. Western Carolina
2:30 p.m. – Marquette vs. Mississippi State
4:30 p.m. – James Madison vs. Youngstown State
5:00 p.m. – Texas vs. USC
6:00 p.m. – UC-Irvine vs. Southern Miss
7:00 p.m. – No. 11 UCLA vs. Georgia
7:00 p.m. – Washington State vs. Texas A&M
7:00 p.m. – North Texas @ Virginia
8:00 p.m. – Boise State @ No. 15 Michigan State
8:00 p.m. – No. 9 North Carolina vs. Butler
8:00 p.m. – Harvard @ St. Joseph’s (NBC Sports Network)
9:00 p.m. – USC-Upstate vs. Santa Clara
9:30 p.m. – No. 12 Kansas vs. Saint Louis
10:00 p.m. – No. 1 Indiana vs. Georgetown
10:30 p.m. – Illinois @ Chaminade

Read of the Day: Make sure to read The transcript of Scott Van Pelt’s radio segment today about Maryland’s departure. SVP is a Maryland-native and born-n-bred Terps fan. You don’t find a lot of big time media guys who wear it on their sleeve as much as SVP, and still he  always remains so balanced and impartial while remaining extremely passionate and loyal at the same time. I genuinely feel for him. I completely understand the sorrow he’s feeling, and his explanation is tremendous. When my Georgetown Hoyas eventually depart the Big East, I am positive this is exactly what I will feel like. I hope I’m that lucky. For God’s sake, read this. (Testudo Times)

Read of the Day: 100 thoughts about 100 NCAA teams from the Basketball Prospectus Guide to the 2012-2013 Season. Read it. (Deadspin)

Top Stories:
It’s unfair to rush to judgement about Shabazz Muhammad after just one game: UCLA’s freshman phenom made his debut last night against Georgetown, and if you consider everything (which you should), he didn’t play too bad.

Chaminade upsets Texas; Barnes second loss to Silverswords: Everybody’s favorite Maui Invitational hosts stunned a young Texas squad en route to their first tournament win since defeating Oklahoma in 2007. It just so happens that Texas head coach Rick Barnes was the head coach of the 1991-92 Providence team that lost to the Silverswords.

The Indiana Hoosiers can be effective even when they don’t always go through Cody Zeller: It certainly wasn’t pretty, but with a bevy of alternative weapons to choose from, Indiana was able to grind past a tired Georgia squad at The Barclays Centers.

Sean Woods might not have too friendly of a return in Lexington: The Former-Kentucky “Unforgettable” and current Morehead State head coach voiced his concern for the lack of basketball history displayed by today’s brand of college player, and referenced the current Kentucky roster.

Arizona has options this season, something that hurt them a year ago: Last season the Wildcats had a bunch of potential but not proven help. This season, with another crop of young talent, there is depth on the roster for when situations go awry.

Back from mission, Tyler Haws is the same player but a new man: It’s been a long time since Tyler haws suited up for the Cougars, but the experience gained on the guard’s mormon mission shaped him into the man he is today.

Expanisionocalypse:
– The worst part of it all is that Maryland’s move actually makes sense. Well, no it doesn’t, but this will get the school more money, and the school really (See: REALLY!) needs money. This decision was a no-brainer (CSN Baltimore)

– It really does need rehashing: This is a desperation move by Maryland. It’s a wise move but very desperate (Washington Post)

– Maryland is hoping that change in conferences will help “bail out” the seven varsity programs that were discontinued over the summer (Washington Post)

– Terrapin coaching icon Lefty Driesell chimed in on the move, feels sorry for the players (Sporting News)

– An awesome list (with video) of the five things that Maryland will miss about the ACC (CSN Baltimore)

– Did Rutgers actually “win” conference realignment? It certainly looks like that might be the case (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Despite Rutgers likely departure to the Big-10, the Scarlet Knights rivalry with Seton hall is likely to remain (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– The RAC at Rutgers is one of the more under-appreciated home venues on the east coast. But in order for the Scarlet Knights to compete (See: $$$), they will need a new arena (Statehouse Bureau)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Ryan Harrow could return to practice for Kentucky today after missing most of last week due to illness (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– The NCAA will hear appeals of two suspended Indiana players later today (Sporting News)

– Louisville and North Carolina will headline the 2013 Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament (ESPN)

– Missouri guard Michael Dixon remains suspended foe now, but is travelling with the team to the Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis (College Basketball Talk)

Observations & Insight:
– Make sure Gary Parrish’s “Poll Attacks” are a weekly Monday read. This week, a voter keeps NC-State at No.6, OK-State un-ranked (Eye On College Basketball)

– Drexel has had a tough early stretch. They entered the season with much hype and dropped their first two games of the season. They beat Penn to earn their first win, but lost senior guard Chris Fouchs to a season-ending ankle injury. With Delaware gaining momentum, what does the future hold for the Dragons? (City of Basketball Love)

– Jordy Hulls had a tremendous game for the Hoosiers last night, but he can’t possibly be NBA material, can he? Tom Crean thinks he is (SNY.tv)

News & Notes:
– A quick historical look at the trend of big-time conference realignment (College Hoopedia)

– Some great numbers from Illinois-Chicago’s upset victory over Iona (Horizon League Hoops)

– Amidst all the hype surrounding Shabazz Muhammad’s debut, it was a trio of Hoya stars that shined brightest (SNY.tv)

– The Flames of Illinois-Chicago are down in the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam and spent some of their free time snorkeling in the crystal clear Caribbean waters (UICFlames.com)

– Am I the only one who thinks Rick Pitino is turning in to the “Mercury Morris” of expansionocalypse? (The Card Connect)

Dunk of the Day: Doug “The Freakshow” Anderson. Or for you sports entertainment fans out there: “MMMMMMIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSTTEEERRRR AANNNNNNNNDDEERRSSSSSOOOOOONNNNNN” (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Video of the Day: Say hello to your new gun-slingin’ overlord Rotnei Clarke. That is all. (Sporting News)

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

Report: Western Kentucky’s Lamonte Bearden staying in 2018 NBA Draft

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Western Kentucky guard Lamonte Bearden will stay in the 2018 NBA Draft after hiring an agent, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-3 Bearden just completed his redshirt junior season with the Hilltoppers as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. A slippery guard with good size, Bearden shot 47 percent from the field and 82 percent from the charity stripe while also getting in the passing lanes for 1.7 steals per game.

Although Bearden has good size and athleticism at lead guard, his perimeter jumper has been inconsistent during his college career. He was 31 percent from three-point range (a career high) this past season. Starting his college career at Buffalo, Bearden helped lead the Bulls to the NCAA tournament before opting to play in Conference USA for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers will certainly miss Bearden’s presence in their backcourt as the program has seven new players signed for next season.

USC makes a statement landing Class of 2019 four-star forward Isaiah Mobley

Getty Images
1 Comment

USC ended a strong week of recruiting with another major statement on Friday afternoon as four-star Class of 2019 forward Isaiah Mobley pledged to the Trojans.

The second major Class of 2019 commitment for USC during the week, the 6-foot-9 power forward joins five-star big man Onyeka Okongwu. The Compton Magic teammates should be able to help replace the loss of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, with Mobley playing the skilled, floor-spacing Boatwright’s role and Okongwu providing the interior energy of Metu.

Having two highly-touted big men commit in the same week is huge for USC. And it looks like the start of even bigger things in a continually-evolving SoCal recruiting war against Pac-12 rival UCLA.

Landing both Mobley and Okongwu is significant for the Trojans for a number of reasons. As previously mentioned, both come from the famous Compton Magic grassroots program that runs on the adidas Gauntlet. While landing AAU teammates from a regional program is common for high-major programs of USC’s stature, the commitments signify that the Trojans are the ones with the biggest pull with the Magic at the current moment.

And the Magic used to get raided by UCLA.

In the past few years, the Bruins signed T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Jaylen Hands and Jalen Hill from the Compton Magic. Now, it’s USC who looks to be in the driver’s seat recruiting the program.

The Trojans aren’t done, either.

Newly-hired USC assistant coach Eric Mobley is the father Isaiah Mobley, as well as five-star Class of 2020 big man Evan Mobley. As Rivals national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi noted in his story about Isaiah, “Barring something strange happening, look for the younger Mobley to join his brother and father by committing to USC within the next two weeks.”

That would mean the Trojans would have landed three top-30 caliber big men in the span of a few weeks. That allows the USC coaching staff to recruit other positions extremely hard. Outside of Kentucky, USC has arguably the best future recruiting status of any program in the country.

The Trojans have taken full advantage of UCLA letting go popular assistant coach David Grace. The Bruins are still pulling in top-100 prospects, as evidenced by Grant Sherfield and Jaime Jaquez’s commitments in the Class of 2019, but losing two Magic kids in a week to a rival has to sting.

Considering where USC was last fall with the FBI investigation, who saw this type of recruiting swing coming? Other programs involved in the investigation like Arizona, Auburn and Oklahoma State have landed solid recruits. They also haven’t pulled in nearly the high-level talent that the Trojans currently have committed.

Even amidst the uncertainty surrounding the FBI investigation, USC is still pulling in elite talent while beating local rivals. It’ll be fascinating to see if the Trojans can continue to recruit at this level as they try to fill out the rest of an important recruiting class.

USF signs Oklahoma State transfer Zack Dawson

AP Photo
Leave a comment

USF landed a major addition on Friday as the school announced the signing of Oklahoma State transfer guard Zack Dawson.

The 6-foot-3 Dawson is a former consensus top-100 prospect coming out of high school as he’ll have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules. A native of the region, Dawson will have three years of eligibility remaining once he’s able to play again.

Dismissed from Oklahoma State on Dec. 14 for violating team rules, Dawson averaged 4.4 points and1.6 assists per contest as he only suited up in five games for the Cowboys. Once Dawson is eligible to play for USF, he gives the Bulls a potentially dynamic backcourt along with rising sophomore guard David Collins.

“We are excited to welcome Zack back home to Florida as a member of the Bulls family,” USF head coach Brian Gregory said in a release. “He is a dynamic and versatile guard who can impact the game in a variety of ways. Zack comes from one of the best high school programs in the state, South Miami High School, so he immediately brings a championship attitude here to the University of South Florida.”

This is a really nice pickup for the Bulls, as they utilized a local transfer to help bolster the roster. Landing top-100 kids out of high school is going to be tough until USF boosts its basketball credibility. But getting a former top-100 player on the transfer market is a solid approach to building the Bulls into a respectable threat.

Michael Porter Jr.: ‘I’m the best player in this draft’

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
3 Comments

The more I think about it, the more that Michael Porter Jr. is becoming the most interesting prospect at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft.

As a high school senior, he was considered by many to be the top player in the class, a 6-foot-10 combo-forward with a lethal three-point shot, NBA dunk contest athleticism and the versatility to, one day, be a multi-positional defender that would seamlessly fit into fit into the modern NBA.

But his one and only season at Missouri was derailed by back surgery, and that has allowed the rest of the class of 2017 to shine while we have focused on everything else that comes with drafting Porter. The reputation that he had for the majority of his high school career of being soft. The intel that was coming out of Missouri, that he was cocky and arrogant and something of a bad teammate. Questions about whether or not he is truly a wing or a four, more like a more athletic Lauri Markkanen.

When the only thing that we’ve had a chance to see this season is an out-of-shape Porter struggling in postseason games, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that his hype train has derailed.

“I know without a doubt that I’m the — I played against all these guys, they’re all great players — but I’m the best player in this draft,” Porter told ESPN. “And I just can’t wait to show what I’m capable of.”

And therein lies the conundrum for any team drafting him.

I have little doubt that Porter is going to be able to score and score a lot in the NBA. I think he and Bagley are the safest bets to average 20 points at the NBA level before their rookie contract runs out.

But putting up points and playing on winning basketball teams are not one and the same. For a ten-year stretch after his rookie season, Rudy Gay averaged at least 17.2 points while making the playoffs once during that stretch. Is that what Porter is going to turn into at the next level? Or will be find a way to become the kind of NBA defender his athleticism says he should be and, by the time he signs his first contract extension, end up the player that Paul George is?

The mitigating factor here is that Porter is going to do a fantastic job in every interview he has. He’s an intelligent, charismatic and articulate kid that is going to be able to sell himself. The red flags that he has aren’t going to show when he’s sitting down in front of NBA general managers.

They would have shown up — or been written off — if there was a season’s worth of game-tape available, but there isn’t. What that means is that scouts are going to have to decide whether or not Porter, who by all accounts had a very impressive senior season in high school, is that player or the one that had the reputation for being soft for years before that.

And all of that is going to come after the doctor’s have a chance to examine his back to see if the surgery he underwent fixed what was wrong, or if this is the kind of situation where a recurrence is likely.

The result is the widest range for any player at the top of the draft.

He could sell someone on taking him as a top four pick. He could also slide his way down to the Knicks at No. 9 or the 76ers at No. 10.

Which is what makes him the most interesting prospect at the top of this draft.

P.J. Washington ‘definitely going back to school’ without first round guarantee

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kentucky forward P.J. Washington is one of the handful of players that currently finds themselves in the tenuous position of having their name in the NBA draft pool without having a clear picture of where, exactly, they are going to end up getting picked.

Will they be a late-first round pick? Will he be an early second round pick? Will he even be drafted at all?

Washington told reporters at the NBA combine this week that, if he’s a first round pick, he’ll be heading to the NBA. If he only gets a second round guarantee, he’ll be returning to school.

As we detailed last week, getting selected in the second round does not mean a player is destined to end up being broke his first year out of school. In the last six drafts, only one college player picked in the top ten picks of the second round (31-40) did not receive a guaranteed contract. In the 2017 NBA Draft, every college player selected in the top 50 received a guaranteed deal of at least one year, and Thomas Bryant was the only player whose one-year guaranteed deal was at the league minimum.

That doesn’t mean that Washington should leave Kentucky if he’s going to be a second round pick. If he returns to school, becomes a 42 percent three-point shooter (and can make free throws) and proves that he’s more versatile defensively than he was his year, then he could move up into the first round in a weaker 2019 draft.

It’s a risk for him, financially, to leave after this year if he doesn’t get that first round guarantee. It’s also a risk to return to school, where the best-case scenario isn’t always what happens.

I don’t envy the decision he has to make, but I am glad that Washington will have every chance in the world to be informed about the decision.