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Utah State Aggies head coach Craig Smith cheers on his team during a Mountain West Conference semifinal game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Friday, March 15, 2019.

While much of the sporting world was focused on the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, with a smattering taking in the San Antonio Spurs Game 6 victory over the Denver Nuggets, CBS Sports took a little time to give college basketball some love.

It was Matt Norlander in particular, in his story College basketball coaching moves: 2018's top five most immediately rewarding hires, an annual exercise in which he details the five best head coaching moves of the previous season.

Utah State head coach Craig Smith made it into that top five, which should come as a surprise to few.

Norlander noted that “Smith and Utah State fared well on the whole, unquestionably, winning the regular-season and conference championships in the Mountain West. USU finished 28-7 and earned a No. 8 seed. Smith (hired away from South Dakota) also turned Sam Merrill into the best player in the Mountain West. Even better: Merrill will be back for his senior season. Smith is 46 years old and seems poised to get Utah State to such a level it only previously hit under former longtime coach Stew Morrill.”

Also making prestigious quintet were Louisville’s Chris Mack, Mississippi’s Kermit Davis, Memphis’ Penny Hardaway and New Mexico State’s Chris Jans.

NBA playoff winners and losers

With the first round of the NBA playoffs largely completed, save for Nuggets-Spurs and Warriors-Clippers — who saw that one coming? — ESPN senior writer Zach Lowe penned the piece NBA playoff winners and losers: Russ, Dame and the Warriors.

Laura Seitz
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) is blocked by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) during Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Houston on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

The Utah Jazz made the cut and Lowe discussed a host of things, such as whether or not the Jazz are a regular season team, built to succeed over the long haul of an 82-game season, as opposed to in the postseason.

Donovan Mitchell’s efficiency, Rudy Gobert’s defensive prowess and Utah’s overall defensive success against Houston, not to mention the team’s shooting woes, warranted discussion as well.

While the Jazz’s 4-1 series defeat to the Rockets wasn’t overly encouraging, Lowe, for the most part, remained upbeat about Utah’s prospects.

"Utah is a really good team that needs a little more top-end scoring and playmaking talent to crack the NBA's most rarefied territory,” he wrote. “The Jazz knew that before this series. More talent allows for more schematic versatility. Beyond that obvious thing, I'm not sure Utah should worry that its best players or fundamental belief systems are somehow at odds with playoff success.”

Patriotic perseverance

Six-year-old Brooklyn Mascarenas was tasked with singing the national anthem ahead of the Salt Lake Bees game Wednesday night, which served as the home opener of their latest homestand — a nine-game one at that.

Mere moments into her rendition the young Mascarenas stopped singing abruptly and then fled home plate in terror, as many a 6-year-old would do with thousands focused solely on them.

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Mascarenas came back, however, with a little help from her father, and was able to complete the anthem.

Needless to say many were touched by her efforts.

Other links

Kings interview Jeff Hornacek for assistant coach position

"Avengers: Endgame," Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC style

Karl Malone volunteers in the aftermath of the storms in Ruston, Louisiana

And finally…

BYU alum and current San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner sat down with 49ers’ media and recapped his first NFL season.