WCC Basketball Tournament - Championship

Late Night Snacks: Five more tickets punched to the NCAAs

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Five more teams took their tickets to the Big Dance and the respective conference tournament titles that came with it on Monday night. Gonzaga fulfilled the prophecy, Western Kentucky came out of nowhere for the second straight season, James Madison knocked off the top seed and a number of others made their way to the NCAA Tournament. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the Night

No. 1 Gonzaga 65, St. Mary’s 51 – The Bulldogs made it a clean sweep of the Gaels this season. Kelly Olynyk owned the paint and Matthew Dellavedova was limited offensively by the stout perimeter defense of Kevin Pangos and David Stockton. Gonzaga shot 52.1-percent overall and held St. Mary’s to 35.7-percent shooting.

Games of Note

Western Kentucky 65, Florida International 63 – Ray Harper does it again. The Hilltoppers came out of nowhere last season with a losing record to win the Sun Belt Conference, and this year they got their 20th win and won their second straight Sun Belt title as a six seed, holding off the Golden Panthers down the stretch.

James Madison 70, Northeastern 57 – A.J. Davis scored a game-high 26 points to help the Dukes get past the Huskies for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1994 with the CAA Tournament championship.

Iona 60, Manhattan 57 – The Jaspers were looking for a Cinderella story of their own with a 14-17 record, but a big game from Tre Bowman and 14 points from Lamont ‘Momo’ Jones were enough to push the Gaels past Manhattan in the MAAC title game.

Davidson 74, Charleston 55 – It’s a tale we’ve learned to live by. It’s a risk to bet against Bob McKillop and the Wildcats. Four starters finished in double-figures, led by 24 points from De’Mon Brooks, who briefly left the game with an injury.

Starred

Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga – The WCC Player of the Year finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs in the WCC title game win over St. Mary’s.

George Fant, Western Kentucky – The homegrown product from Bowling Green finished with a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds in the Hilltoppers win.

Tre Bowman, Iona – The biggest sixth man performance of the night came from Bowman, who scored 20 points to go with five rebounds and three steals off the bench in the MAAC title game for the Gaels.

A.J. Davis, James Madison – Davis was the clutch performer for the Dukes with 26 points in their win over Northeastern.

Struggled

Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary’s – The former WCC Player of the Year keeps struggling against the Zags. He finished with two points on 1-for-8 shooting. He averages 16.2 per game.

Quincy Ford, Northeastern – The Huskies sophomore forward averages 12.8 points per game and was held scoreless in Northeastern’s loss to James Madison.

Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State – I’ve been waiting to put him here. In the victory over Fort Wayne in the first round of the Summit League Tournament, the do-it-all senior had 18 points, 12 assists and five rebounds in 40 minutes.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

Mike White
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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”

Rose’s transfer to BYU becomes official

Ge'Lawn Guyn, L.J. Rose
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His commitment came more than a month ago, but L.J. Rose’s transfer to BYU became official Tuesday.

The former Houston guard was officially announced as an immediately-eligible graduate transfer by BYU on Tuesday. He’ll bring much needed help to a Cougars backcourt that lost Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer to graduation and Jordan Chatman and Jack Toolson to transfers.

“L.J. will add great experience and talent to our guard line,” BYU coach Dave Rose said in a statement released by BYU. “We’re excited about the leadership he will bring on the court and in the locker room. He will make us a deeper and more versatile team.”

As a junior, L.J. Rose averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 assists, but a foot injury limited him to just two games last season and allowed him to receive a medical redshirt and the opportunity to be a graduate transfer for his final collegiate season. He’ll be a big part of BYU’s attempt to build on last year’s 26-11 season as a former top-100 recruit, who began his career at Baylor, on a team in need of an infusion of talent after absorbing the losses from last year’s roster.

His father, Lynden, Sr., was a teammate of BYU coach Dave Rose at Houston during the program’s Phi Slama Jama era.

UCLA loses key forward to professional ranks

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks steals the ball from Jonah Bolden #43 of the UCLA Bruins during a 76-68 Ducks win at Pauley Pavilion on March 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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UCLA announced on Tuesday afternoon that Jonah Bolden will be forgoing his college eligibility to turn professional.

“Jonah Bolden has informed the coaching staff that he has opted to play professionally this season,” the release said.

Bolden is a versatile, 6-foot-10 forward with some NBA potential. In his only season playing with the Bruins, he averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 boards while starting 11 games. His ability on the defensive end of the floor was something the UCLA staff was counting on this season.

A sophomore this past season, Bolden was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA as a freshman, meaning that he was allowed to be on scholarship and in class but could not play during the 2014-15 season.

He had two seasons of eligibility remaining. Without Bolden, T.J Leaf will likely be counted on to play more minutes at the four.