Ron Baker

Report: Ron Baker will return for his junior season

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The development of Fred VanVleet and continued improvement of Cleanthony Early were two crucial elements of Wichita State’s record-setting season, but the driving component was arguably the emergence of Ron Baker. A redshirt sophomore, Baker’s shooting and torrid offensive showings propelled Wichita State to an top ten offensive efficiency rating, and the guard’s three-point touch was much needed for a squad that truly lacked consistent outside shooting in 2013. Jeff Goodman of ESPN reports that Baker will continue to develop in Wichita, and plans to return for his junior season.

That is not to say that Baker didn’t think about leaving college early: the guard requested a draft evaluation from the NBA. However, reports indicate that Baker would have likely been selected in the second round, and since that advice could have possibly been in his returned evaluation, he decided to return to the Missouri Valley program for another year.

Even without Early and Chadwick Lufile, the Shockers will be the cream of the conference. Though he isn’t recognized enough for his player development, Gregg Marshall is one of the best at building ex-juco players, and Darius Carter could be due for a senior year jump. VanVleet will likely be back for his junior season, as will Tekele Cotton (a guard who deserves much more credit for his shooting as well as defensive ferociousness) and Marshall will blend the returning Shockers with a deep recruiting class.

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: