Terrence Payne

Five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn commits to UNLV

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One of the two top remaining available seniors ended his recruitment on Tuesday evening as Findlay Prep (Nev.) shooting guard Rashad Vaughn announced he had committed to UNLV on CBS Sports Network.

Vaughn, a native of Golden Valley, Minn., selected the Runnin’ Rebels over four other finalists — Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina — though the consensus is that it came down to UNLV and Iowa State.

Last season, Vaughn attended Robbinsdale Cooper High (Minn.) but decided to transfer to basketball powerhouse Findlay for his final prep season. UNLV has reportedly become the favorite since Vaughn’s move to Findlay, given that the UNLV campus is less than 20 minutes from where he takes classes at the Henderson School, and Findlay’s history with the Rebels. The school is named after Cliff Findlay, a UNLV booster, after all.

UNLV ranks dead last in the Mountain West Conference in 3-point shooting, an area the 6-foot-5 Vaughn can help improve in the 2014-2015 season. Vaughn joins St. Frances (Md.) forward Dwayne Morgan and Wilbraham & Monson (Mass.) center Goodluck Okonoboh in the Rebels’ Class of 2014. Morgan and Okonoboh provide Dave Rice with two talented defenders next year.

Vaughn is the highest rated of the three recruits, ranked as the No. 7 overall player in the Class of 2014 by Rivals. Morgan is listed at 15 followed by Okonoboh at 32.

UNLV loses only two seniors this season — one being Kevin Olekaibe — while returning the likes of leading scorer Bryce Dejean-Jones, top rebounder Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch. Couple that with an impressive recruiting class, and Rice and his Rebels should face hefty expectations next season.

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: