New Mexico State suspends senior forward Tyrone Watson indefinitely

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Trailing first-place Louisiana Tech in the WAC standings by two games, the New Mexico State Aggies have some work to do if they’re to grab their first WAC regular season title since 2008 (sharing the title with three other teams).

And the task became tougher on Thursday as head coach Marvin Menzies announced the indefinite suspension of 6-5 senior forward Tyrone Watson. Watson, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, started each of the Aggies’ 21 games prior to the announcement and averaged 10.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Watson’s suspension comes a couple days after reports surfaced that he was the lone suspect in the beating of a 19-year old New Mexico State student (warning: link includes graphic images of the victim). According to a report from Local 4 News the altercation occurred because Watson thought that the student, Miguel Rascon, was flirting with a woman who was with Watson.

One of those witnesses tells L4N Watson grabbed Rascon by the neck and threw him on the ground and “stomped on his head multiple times” after Watson thought Rascon was flirting with a girl he was with. A family member tells L4N Rascon has facial fractures, 10 stitches, and a broken nose.

The allegations led to the school making the decision to sit Watson until the situation is resolved. Menzies issued the following statement on Thursday regarding the decision to suspend Watson:

“Our team rules are strict and they exist for the betterment of the university, the basketball team and the players,” said head men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies.  “Tyrone Watson has been a phenomenal student-athlete in our program for four years, so obviously these allegations are extremely shocking and disturbing.  Our investigation is ongoing.  At the same time, we take allegations seriously and we are sensitive to the nature of the injuries sustained by the individual in this matter.”

The question now is whether or not New Mexico State becomes the second team to see its WAC title hopes dashed due to personnel issues. Utah State was hit hard by the injury bug earlier this month, as they lost leading scorer Preston Medlin for 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist and forward Kyisean Reed is done for the year after tearing his ACL.

Leading scorer Daniel Mullings (14.5 ppg) remains the focal point for New Mexico State and forward Bandja Sy is averaging double figures (10.5 ppg) while also leading the team with an average of 7.0 rebounds per game.

But with Watson sidelined who steps up to give Menzies that third offensive option? Yes, Sim Bhullar is averaging 9.8 points per game but the 7-5 center isn’t a player the Aggies are going to ask to be an offensive force at this stage in his career.

If point guard K.C. Ross-Miller can bounce back from a hamstring injury that kept him out of last week’s win over Denver he may be the best bet to step up in Watson’s absence.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.