Thursday was a day of good news for the Butler program.
First there was the announcement that senior guard Rotnei Clarke was cleared for full contact practices, which opens the door for him possibly being able to play on Saturday when the Bulldogs host Temple.
And in the evening Brad Stevens’ program received good news in the form of Mater Dei (CA) senior guard Elijah Brown verbally committing to attend Butler (subscription required).
Brown, a left-handed guard who plays along side highly regarded 2014 prospect Stanley Johnson, is averaging 18 points per game this season.
He’s also the son of former Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown.
Adding Brown gives Butler four commitments in the 2013 class, as he joins guard Rene Castro and forwards Andrew Chrabascz and Nolan Berry. Brown’s a versatile guard who can play either on or off the ball, an attribute that will help the Butler program given the fact that Rotnei Clarke is a senior.
The Bulldogs will also lose shooting guard Chase Stigall, forward Andrew Smith and center Emerson Kampen at the end of the season.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
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.
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: