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MAC Freshman of the Year Darius Paul transferring from Western Michigan

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Western Michigan coaches got quite a shock on Tuesday when Darius Paul, a 6-foot-8 freshman that averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 boards en route to the MAC Freshman of the Year award, told the staff that he was transferring out of the program.

“I had no idea this was coming. Darius came to me (Monday) afternoon and we sat down and had a long visit, then he told me what was on my mind,” Broncos coach Steve Hawkins told MLive.com. Paul had even signed a lease for an apartment in Kalamazoo for the 2013-2014 school year.

Paul, an Illinois native and the younger brother of former Illini star Brandon Paul, hinted at “recent events” convincing him to transfer in that MLive.com story, and a follow-up may bring to light exactly what the motivating factor was.

“There are four Illinois schools that have reached out this morning. I’m going to leave it at that,” his mother, Lynda, told MLive.com. She continued:

“What if ESPN calls you? You get your resume ready and based on your production, based on your preparation, you feel like you’re ready.”

[…]

“I’m just telling all the people who call, we’re looking for a high-major program where Darius can be an elite player; where he’ll have an opportunity to be an elite player,” Lynda Paul said. “He’s 6-9, 225 (pounds); he’s got 4 or 5 percent body fat. He’s already got an elite body. He’s just looking for a place to be an elite player.”

Darius looks like he’s heading to a bigger program.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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: