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San Diego State picks up first 2014 commit in PG Kevin Zabo

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Steve Fisher received good news on Saturday when highly touted point guard Kevin Zabo made a verbal commitment to play at San Diego State.

Zabo, who is from Sherbrooke, Quebec and represented his native country at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania this summer, will soon become acclimated with a warmer climate after having spent last year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

Prior to spending last season at Brewster, Zabo also spent time at St. Mark’s (Southborough, MA) and Montrose Christian School (Rockville, MD).

On Saturday, Zabo announced his decision via his Twitter account:

Along with San Diego State, Zabo boasted offers from Illinois, Iowa State, and West Virginia.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted out the news of Zabo’s commitment, along with this nugget of information yesterday:

If you don’t know much about Justin Hutson, he is regarded as one of the top recruiters in the game, and was primarily responsible for putting San Diego State basketball on the map several years ago thanks to recruiting Kawhi Leonard and Chase Tapley. Hutson was the associate head coach at UNLV for the past two seasons, but returned to San Diego State in April of 2013. From Hutson’s biography on the San Diego State men’s basketball website:

Hutson played a pivotal part in San Diego State’s recruiting efforts. He was instrumental in securing a pair of nationally recognized recruiting classes, including the No. 15 class leading into the 2009-10 campaign, which included 2011 NBA first-round draft pick Kawhi Leonard and the recently departed and four-year starter Chase Tapley. That class was also rated the top group among non-automatic qualifying BCS schools by a pair of recruiting sites.

It’s easy to see why Goodman has connected Zabo’s verbal pledge with Hutson’s return. Moreover, the connection between the two was ostensibly formed as a result of Hutson’s close relationship with Zabo’s AAU team — CIA Bounce. Hutson recruited both Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett to UNLV from this program.

Kevin Zabo is a quality addition to Steve Fisher’s program, and he should be able to provide meaningful minutes early in his career.

 

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:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons. Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.