Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon

2014 small forward Stanley Johnson to officially visit Kentucky, four other schools

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One of the best players in the Class of 2014, small forward Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei HS) has been a popular figure on the grassroots scene this offseason. Possessing a high level of skill on both ends of the floor, Johnson is a Top 10 prospect in the eyes of most major scouting services. 

And with graduation less than a year away, it’s time for Johnson to make some decisions in regards to where he’ll take his five official visits as allowed by NCAA rules. On Sunday, Steve Jones of the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Johnson has decided which five schools will host him on official visits this fall

Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 226-pound player ranked as the nation’s No. 7 prospect by 247Sports.com, plans to take official visits to Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas, Florida and Oregon and will take unofficial visits to nearby Southern California and UCLA. Those trips to the Los Angeles schools will include overnight stays at hotels and be treated like official visits in Johnson’s mind; his family is just going to pay for them out of pocket.

In regards to Kentucky, Johnson’s the lone 2014 small forward currently holding an offer from head coach John Calipari. That’s a clear indication of how much of a priority he is to the Kentucky coaching staff, and recent history shows that more times than not the Wildcats end up reeling in high-level prospects that they’ve decided to devote their full attention to. 

Johnson’s official visit to Kentucky will coincide with “Big Blue Madness,” the program’s season-opening event that sells out Rupp Arena on an annual basis, and his other visits will be on the same weekend as those schools’ biggest preseason showcases.

Johnson has tentatively scheduled dates for some of his official visits: Arizona on Oct. 12 for its Red-Blue game, UK on Oct. 18 for Madness and Florida on Oct. 30. He is considering a Kansas visit the weekend of Oct. 4 for Late Night at the Phog – KU’s version of Midnight Madness – and said five-star Chicago power forward Cliff Alexander is planning to see Lawrence then, too. (Alexander is also a UK target.)

Johnson said Oregon’s coaches want him to come the weekend of a big football game, so that visit date is still to be determined.

Johnson isn’t expected to make his decision on a school until January at the earliest according to the story, and from a skill standpoint he has the ability to be a game-changer for whichever program he commits to. 

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: