Isaiah Sykes, Chris Crawford

UCF junior guard Isaiah Sykes declares for NBA Draft but won’t hire agent

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With Keith Clanton graduating the UCF program had one major hole to address in the off-season before it begins play in the American Athletic Conference next season.

But with the school announcing on Thursday that junior guard Isaiah Sykes has decided to go through the NBA Draft process there’s a chance that the Knights may have to take on new opponents such as Cincinnati, UConn and Temple without its most talented player.

“This is a great opportunity for Isaiah and we support his decision,” UCF head coach Donnie Jones said in the statement. “He will be able to learn more about what NBA executives think about his game and we will be there to help him gather information throughout the process.”

Sykes submitted his information to the NBA undergraduate advisory committee, and according to the school he will not hire an agent. Per NCAA rules an underclassman has until April 16 to withdraw from the draft.

Sykes, a 6-5 guard from Detroit, started all 31 games in 2012-13 and posted averages of 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. Sykes tallied two triple-doubles on the season, becoming the first player in the history of Conference USA to post multiple triple-doubles in the same campaign.

For his efforts Sykes was a first team All-Conference USA selection, and he was also named to the league’s All-Defensive Team.

“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine and I am excited to be able to learn more about my draft stock,” Sykes said in the statement. “I am looking forward to going through the process and I appreciate Coach Jones and the entire staff helping me.”

Draft Express ranks Sykes 60th among NCAA juniors and NBADraft.net ranks him 33rd among that class.

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

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: