Afternoon Links: College vs. D-League

What we’re reading while we stop being bubble-polite, and start getting bubble-real. Submit links via Twitter.

  • "Dean Smith doesn't watch the games anymore. The motion on the screen is too hard to follow. Now he thumbs through golf magazines and picture books. Most of the books are about North Carolina basketball. They seem to make him happy. He turns the pages past photo after photo of himself. Nobody knows if he knows who he is. Music seems to make him happy, too. About a year and a half ago, a friend named Billy Barnes came over to the house to play guitar and sing a few songs. Barnes played old Baptist hymns and barbershop quartet tunes -- Daisy Daisy, give me your answer true. Music he knew Dean liked. But nothing seemed to get through. Dean was getting restless. Barnes asked if he could play one more song. After every basketball game, win or lose, the UNC band plays the alma mater and fight song. The Carolina people stand and sing. Barnes knew Dean had heard the song thousands of times. He started to play. Dean jumped to his feet. He waved at his wife, Linnea, to stand with him. He put his hand over his heart and sang from memory ..." Tommy Tomlinson's special-to-ESPN.com feature on UNC legend Dean Smith's battle with dementia is the one thing you need to read today.

  • "SMU's Larry Brown, a Hall of Famer with 1,198 NBA coaching wins, strongly disagreed with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's suggestion that elite prospects would be better prepared for the NBA by playing in the D-League instead of spending one season in college. 'I admire him and I think he's one of the bright guys we have in our profession, but that was the worst thing I heard,' Brown, who has won titles in college and the NBA, said during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. 'They don't teach guys how to play, in my mind,' Brown said of the D-League. 'The head coaches in the NBA and a lot of the assistants do, but [college basketball] is the greatest minor league system in the world. If you didn't go to one class and just live in a college environment, then you're way ahead. And I think most coaches are responsible enough to make them go to class, make them go to study hall, give them life lessons. How about being around [SMU assistants] Eric Snow and George Lynch? Those two guys played 13, 14 years in the league, have families, are successful. In all honesty, I love Mark, but [college basketball] is pretty good. Now, it's our job to make [players] realize getting an education is something that's important, because here's the deal: Life after basketball is a real long time.'"

  • VCU unveiled its new branding, logos and signage on Wednesday. Looks good, right?

  • SI.com's Seth Davis offers up some conference POY nominations.

  • Maryland forward Charles Mitchell's status is unclear after he got into a heated exchange with the Terrapins' coaching staff in Tuesday night's game against Virginia Tech. Mark Turgeon asked Mitchell to leave the bench just before halftime, and Mitchell spent most of the second half in the locker room with assistant coach Juan Dixon before returning to the sideline late in the game wearing warmups. Turgeon told Washington Post reporter Alex Prewitt that he met with Mitchell and would "sleep on it." A banner season in College Park marches on.