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Tom Izzo on the NBA rumors: ‘If I was leaving, I wouldn’t be recruiting’

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Tom Izzo has dealt with rumors about his desire to leave the friendly confines of East Lansing for the NBA for the majority of his tenure at Michigan State, which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his name springs up again this summer.

This time around, the rumors are being fueled by the fact that Izzo is close friends with Flip Saunders, the President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They just so happen to have an opening at head coach. It’s not a difficult connection to make, and plenty of people have made it.

Izzo made clear to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz on a podcast released on Wednesday afternoon that he planned on returning to Michigan State next season. But he also avoided speaking in certainties.

“First of all, I’m gonna be at Michigan State, but even you can’t trick me into that anymore,” Izzo said, mentioning how he still hears Nick Saban getting criticized for saying that he would never leave the Miami Dolphins to take the Alabama job. “Nobody knows where any of us are going to be. You have to look at your track record and, over all these years, is this what he’s done?”

“If somebody made me an offer, the Los Angeles Lakers, that was so good that it would impress everybody, does that mean I would never say never? I’m not doing that anymore because I’ve seen too many people get stung that way. But put it this way: I’ve got a big-time recruit coming in right now, in about an hour. If I was leaving, I wouldn’t be recruiting.”

This is the right way for Izzo to play it.

Essentially, he’s saying that if the right offer came along, he’d consider a move to the NBA the same way any other person in any other profession would consider a job change if the right job was available.

But he’s been in the rumor mill for NBA jobs for 13 years, and he still hasn’t left.

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: