Mick Cronin

Five-star forward Jermaine Lawrence commits to Cincinnati

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Jermaine Lawrence, a 6-9, 190-pound native of Queens, N.Y., has committed to coach Mick Cronin and the Cincinnati Bearcats, he announced via a series of pictures on his Tumblr page Sunday.

Lawrence chose Cincinnati over St. John’s and UNLV. He becomes the fifth commit in Cincinnati’s 2013 class, joining Kevin Johnson, Troy Caupain, DeShaun Morman, and Jaramee Strickland.

Over the past year, Lawrence has expanded his game out toward the perimeter and become a legitimate threat out to the three-point line. He is long and athletic, which allows him to get to the basket, rebound, and be an active defender. His performance on the spring AAU circuit turned heads and showed the expansion of his offensive game.

The last Top 100 recruit from New York City that Cronin was able to pull to Cincinnati was Lance Stephenson, who played one year with the Bearcats before jumping to the NBA.

Both St. John’s and UNLV had bothed keyed in on Lawrence, who was to be the centerpiece of each’s programs transition-style offense. UNLV has three commits in the Class of 2013, while St. John’s has still yet to secure any commitments.

To see video highlights of Lawrence, 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)
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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)
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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: