Mountain West Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Wyoming v UNLV

California native, 2013 guard Kendall Smith commits to UNLV

Leave a comment

UNLV coach Dave Rice secured his third commitment from the Class of 2013 Friday, as California combo guard Kendall Smith pledged his name to the UNLV program. The announcement came in a message posted on Smith’s Twitter page.

Smith, a 6-2 guard, chose UNLV over UCLA and Connecticut. His recruitment had picked up in recent months, getting more looks from high-major schools when he had previously been the focus of a number of mid-majors. For a time he was also considering San Jose State, Long Beach State, and Pacific.

Over the summer, Smith played for the powerhouse Oakland Soldiers AAU program, which won the Nike EYBL championship by beating CIA Bounce, the team that features the nation’s top prospect, Andrew Wiggins.

As with other guards that Rice has recently featured at UNLV, including Anthony Marshall and Katin Reinhardt, Smith is not a true point guard, but could see time handling the ball. His ability to attack off the dribble and control himself around the rim will likely help to find him minutes in the rotation.

“All players will say they can be a player right away,” Smith told the Las Vegas Sun, “but I do feel like I have the skill set, the determination and all the skills to work hard and I can say yes, I feel like I can play coming in as a freshman.”

To see some of Smith’s video highlights, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
Leave a comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: