Jim Phillips, Chris Collins

2014 wing Vic Law becomes Chris Collins’ first commitment

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The Northwestern Wildcats have never reached the NCAA tournament. Losing Drew Crawford ten games into the 2012-13 season to a shoulder injury didn’t help matters, and in the end the school decided that it needed to make a coaching change.

With former Duke assistant Chris Collins replacing Bill Carmody, many wondered when (or if) the Illinois native would be able to turn the program around and make history. Well, an important step in that direction was taken Thursday as 2014 small forward Vic Law announced his decision to commit to Northwestern.

Law, who attends St. Rita High School in Chicago, is a four-star prospect rated in the Top 100 by many of the major scouting services. Law’s decision to commit to Northwestern is a big one for coach Collins and his staff, not only because of his talent (Law also boasts a 3.8 GPA according to the Chicago Tribune) but also because of the possibility of landing other area prospects down the line.

Law said it was incredibly meaningful to be this first commit under Collins. This is one step, and Law wants to be the catalyst in attracting other top recruits. That list includes but is not limited to Tyler Ulis, who he identified as his current top target. (Both played together on the AAU circuit.)

“I won’t be the only top player going to Northwestern,” Law said. “I can tell you that. I’ll pull some other guys.”

How many players Collins and his staff can ultimately get to commit in their first recruiting class remains to be seen. But in landing Law, there’s no doubt that the first-year head coach’s tenure is off to a good start.

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: