The Morning Mix

Leave a comment

The Jets and Titans played on Monday Night Football last night. What does this have to do with hoops? it means there were probably more eyes on ESPN2 to watch Jim Boeheim earn his 900th career win.

There are 51 games on the docket tonight. Want to know how bad “Exam Week” was? The most games played on a single weekday night was 20. If there is one game you must watch tonight, it’s Stanford at No. 25 North Carolina State. Josh Huestis is having a breakout year and the Wolfpack are loaded with talent.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Winthrop @ No. 7 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ No.9 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – No. 20 Michigan State @ Bowling Green
7:00 p.m. – Western Kentucky @ Virginia Commonwealth (NBC Sports Network)
7:30 p.m. – Old Dominion @ Charleston
8:00 p.m. – Miami (FL) @ Central Florida
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ No. 25 North Carolina State
9:00 p.m. – Oral Roberts @ No. 4 Arizona
9:00 p.m. – SMU @ Utah
10:00 p.m. – Holy Cross @ San Francisco
11:00 p.m. – UC Santa Barbara @ California
11:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ UCLA
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
Brendan Prunty did a lot of great work detailing just how the seven Catholic members of the Big East decided to and executed their departure from the conference. Make sure you read it. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)
 
 
Top Stories:
Jim Boeheim gets win No. 900: Syracuse held of a late Titans run in order to seal up the 900th victory of Jim Boeheim’s lengthy career. All 900 of his wins have come at the same institution. He sits by just Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Night on the all-time wins list.

Following his 900th win, Jim Boeheim addresses gun control: During the press conference following his 900th career win, Jim Boeheim spoke about gun control issues that have risen in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

December needs to be less “cupcake heavy”:Every team needs to pad their schedules during the non-conference portion of the season. But the trickle down effect that forms causes the entire non conference landscape to get saturated with way too many uneventful basketball games.

Providence’s Ed Cooley sounds off on the Big East exit: The second year Friars head coach is excited about the prospects of a new league where basketball is the primary focus.

Villanova’s Jay Wright believes “Catholic-7” could be best hoops conference in the country: The head coach of the Wildcats believes the new conference would be, “from top to bottom” the best. Does he forget that the bottom includes the likes of DePaul, Providence, South Florida, etc.?

UConn honors Newtown tragedy victims in pregame ceremony: On Monday night, UConn got their opportunity to honor their fallen in-state citizens as the men’s basketball team held a heart-felt memorial before their game with Maryland-Eastern Shore.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Wichita State big-man Carl Hall will miss the next month because of surgery he had to fix a broken thumb (Wichita Eagle)

– UConn scholarship honoring Newtown shooting victims gets $80,000 boost from Geno Auriemma (New Haven Register)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Jim Boeheim got his 900th career win last night as Syracuse defeated Detroit 72-68. But as Jeff Goodman reminds us, it was just over a year ago when we weren’t exactly sure if Boeheim would make it to No. 900. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Former coach Bruce Pearl provides his thoughts on Jim Boeheim’s 900 wins at Syracuse (ESPN)

– A phenomenal-read about the dwindling hoops culture at Wake Forest and the athletic department’s willingness to allow it to happen. (Blogger so Dear)

– Conference-USA is so bad (How bad are they?) that Jeff Goodman doesn’t even think the conference deserves to have any representatives in March Madness. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Forde discuss the top-10 draft picks as of right now. (ESPN Insider)

– Former-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said that he should take the blame for the conference’s implosion. (ESPN)

– The media practice of critiquing weekly poll voters has become over saturated. I only read one a week, and it’s always Gary Parrish. I recommend you do the same. The “Poll Attacks” is the snarkiest weekly-read in college hoops. But that’s why it’s also one of the best. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Notre Dame seems to be weighing their options following the Big East fallout. The Irish announced their move to the ACC earlier in the Fall, but with the departure of the Catholic-7, Notre Dame could find a home for their basketball program and independent football program. (Sports Illustrated)

– Evansville’s athletic director reiterated that there has been no discussions with the Horizon League (Evansville Courier-Press)

– This has been said before, but it does need to be reiterated: Kyle Wiltjer needs to evolved past just a spot-up shooter (Rush The Court)

– LIU-Brookyln lost their best player, Julian Boyd, to a season-ending ACL injury. But despite the loss,l the Blackbirds are still the favorites to win the NEC. (Big Apple Buckets)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Eastern Washington does their best Jack Taylor impression, attempts twice as many 3-pointers as they did field goals. (Big Sky BBall)

Only Casual Hoya could and would document all the crimes and misdemeanors that have taken place under Jim Boeheim’s watch at Syracuse (Casual Hoya)

– A litany of Kentucky-related dunk .gifs. The one at the top is the best. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– Duke-transfer Michael Gbinijie might be the only person in the history of NCAA basketball to play for two 900-game winners. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
UTEP fans show their support for the families involved in the elementary school shootings in Newtown, CT during the Miners 62-60 loss at home against No.21 UNLV. (UTEP Athletics)

source:
UTEP Miner fans show support for those involved in the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT.

 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Doug Anderson finished with 18 points in Detroit’s 62-60 loss to Syracuse last night. 12 of his 18 points came on dunks. Enjoy.
 

 
 
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
2 Comments

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.