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Arizona commit Ray Smith calls ACL tear ‘a blessing’

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Two weeks ago, Ray Smith, a top 10 player in the Class of 2015, committed to Arizona. He originally planned to make that announcement on Sunday evening, telling Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star that he believed his team, Dream Vision, would be in the adidas Super 64 final. And what better way to cap off your summer than a live college announcement on ESPNU?

Unfortunately, Smith’s summer came to a sudden end when he torn his ACL. The 6-foot-7 wing has taken everything in stride since the injury, he told Pascoe.

“I go through days. Things happen. People die. People get hurt. You look every week, and there’s a kid who tore his ACL,” he said. “A lot of people say ‘Why me?’ But my question is, why not me? What have I done that’s so special to not get this to happen to myself? I look at it as a blessing. Once I get through it, I’ll have a story of how I dealt with the obstacle of a torn ACL, how I stayed positive and how I can be a role model for people who tore their ACL or might tear their ACL.”

Pretty impressive statements from a 17-year-old, and a positive sign for the Wildcats.

Smith is one of two five-star recruits Sean Miller has in his Class of 2015, along with shooting guard Justin Simon. Smith, who shot up the recruiting boards with his play on the grassroots circuit, could play a big role in the 2015-2016 season for the Wildcats. Forwards Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could both end up being first round picks in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Smith had surgery on his knee last week, according to Pascoe.

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: