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Abdul-Malik Abu adding offers along with an improved post-game

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HAMPTON, Va. — When I saw Abdul Malik Abu play at the Hoop Group Summer Classic East last July, you could see that the 6-foot-8, 230 pound power forward had the athleticism and the frame to one day be a valuable piece in a top 25 program.

But at that point in time, the No. 50 recruit in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals, wasn’t much more than an athlete with a motor. He was big and strong and coordinated, and had no problem getting physical on the defensive end or crashing the glass. While that’s a skill that college coaches appreciate and value, Abu’s offensive game left much to be desired.

Nine months later, and it’s clear that Abu has been putting in the work. His post game is still built around his strength and physicality, but he showed off a nice jump-hook going over his left shoulder and a drop-step going over his right shoulder. Abu was patient in the post as well, showing an understanding of where a double-team was coming from and passing out of it.

It’s something that he’s been working on with his coaches.

“I’m just trying to stay as versatile as possible,” he said. “I’ve been working out a lot and my coaches are trying to get me to be more back-to-the-basket savvy. I have the athleticism, but skill is what lasts the longest.”

The next step for Abu is continuing to improve his perimeter shot, which is already coming along nicely. He was 6-10 from three in five games at the Nike EYBL Hampton.

“I’ve been working on that a lot” Abu said. “Not really thinking about it, because I know I can do it. I have the ability, but really working on knocking down the shot as consistently as possible.”

The best of the best have taken notice, as Abu added offers from Kansas, Texas, NC State and Minnesota this weekend. According to Abu, Florida, Kansas State, Iowa State, Maryland, UConn, Providence, Wisconsin and Miami have been coming at him the hardest recently. He holds offers from every one of those programs. Wisconsin is the only school to visit him, as Bo Ryan and his assistants came to his school, Kimball Union Academy (NH).

Abu has not planned any visits yet, but he said with the April live-period now finished, he’s going to start working on developing a list and planning his official visits.

As far as Abu being a package deal with his friend and teammate, Jared Terrell, Abu said he would like to play with him in college, but it’s not a requirement. They aren’t a package deal.

“That’s my boy,” he said, “but we’re not going to force it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, than we gotta go our separate ways.”

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: