Victor Oladipo, Kyle Vinales

Kyle Vinales won’t leave Central Connecticut State after all

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When it was announced just over a month ago that Central Connecticut State leading scorer Kyle Vinales would look to transfer, the biggest factor in his decision was a desire to reach postseason play.

Vinales, who averaged nearly 22 points per game as a sophomore, at one point tweeted his decision to transfer to Toledo only to reconsider that move the following day.

Toledo was certainly an interesting destination given the fact that they haven’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1980. But to be fair, Tod Kowalczyk and his staff have things headed in the right direction after being ineligible for postseason play in 2012-13 due to APR issues.

The “where will Vinales attend school next year” saga reached its end on Friday, as it was reported by Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant that Vinales will return to Howie Dickenman’s program for his junior season.

“I called Coach Dickenman on Thursday to ask if my scholarship was still available.  He said that it was,” Vinales said on Friday in a statement released by the school.

“I made a mistake and this process has taught me what is really important.  I learned that my teammates are my brothers and that this coaching staff and school truly care about my future and about me.  You don’t find that everywhere and I realize that now.”

To say the least this is big news for CCSU, which lost small forward Adonis Burbage (10.3 ppg; transfer) at the end of the 2012-13 season. With Vinales back in the fold the Blue Devils will return their top two scorers from a season ago, as 6-5 forward Matt Hunter will look to build upon a season in which he averaged 15.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

But for as positive as this change of heart is from a skill standpoint, Vinales may have some work to do in the locker room when it comes to regaining the trust of a group he decided to leave a month ago.

“Kyle knows that he has some work to do to earn back some of the trust of his teammates, but I believe he is sincere in doing that,” Dickenman said in the statement.

“He is committed to what he needs to do to make this right. We didn’t have any ill will towards Kyle when he decided to leave, and now that he has been through that process we are happy that he will be a Blue Devil for the rest of his career.  He’s a hard worker, and now the work continues for next season.”

Does CCSU have enough firepower to challenge the likes of LIU Brooklyn, Robert Morris and Wagner in the Northeast Conference next season? That remains to be seen, but the return of Vinales won’t hurt their chances.

Raphielle 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: