Andre Iguodala, Jim Tooley

USA Basketball looks to put its stamp on youth sports

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There are a lot of skill development camps for young basketball players. It can be tough to know which ones are legit, and which ones are just a good way to make a quick buck. USA Basketball, the governing body that assembles the national team and all of the youth versions of it, would like to get a hand in regulating the general quality of instruction. The organization is establishing a youth division, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“Basketball is very popular in this country, which is good,” USA Basketball executive director Jim Tooley (pictured, with Andre Iguodala) told the newspaper. “It can also be a challenge because there are so many camps. We want to provide some guidance.”

Right now, the youth division of USA Basketball exists on paper only. Tooley expects to spend some time over the next year or so figuring out how to structure the new division, including hiring a director and deciding how many employees the new division will need.

The youth division’s primary goal will be to establish acceptable standards and practices for the profusion of youth basketball camps across the United States, primarily those focused on advanced skills and officiating.

Tooley said the many camps focused on fundamentals would not be affected.

Accreditation will help parents make the right choices, he added, and let them know they are sending their child to a safe environment.

“If the coaches are certified, it adds a comfort level,” he said. “If they are not, hopefully parents weigh that in their decision.”

It will be interesting to see what becomes of this idea. Other nations exert a fair amount of control over their national basketball development pipelines, while the U.S. relies on a hodgepodge of high school programs, summer camps, AAU super teams and prep schools. Those of us familiar with the NCAA may be rightfully wary of any sort of governing body that proclaims to guide and protect the sport and its players, but perhaps a little scrutiny and reinvention could improve the whole youth skills development process.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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: