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Nelson ready to take over at Oregon State

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Nelson ready to take over at Oregon State

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Roberto Nelson is looking forward to his chance to guide the Oregon State Beavers now that Jared Cunningham has moved on.

``When Jared was here I had a smaller role because he was so good and doing so much,'' Nelson said. ``But now I have a different role and get to play a little more freely.''

The Beavers went 21-15 last season for their first 20-win season since 1989-90. They led the Pac-12 in scoring with an average of 78.9 points per game, a school record.

A big reason for their offensive success was Cunningham, who was the 24th overall pick in the NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers before he was traded on draft night to the Dallas Mavericks. He was the first Oregon State player to be drafted in 14 years.

Cunningham, who had a year of eligibility remaining, averaged 17.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, and had 91 total steals.

``The fact that Jared went from an unknown to a first-round draft pick was what a lot of people I ran into on the recruiting trail wanted to talk about. It is one of those things that makes people sit up and take notice of a place like Oregon State,'' coach Craig Robinson said of Cunningham's impact on the program. ``You can be a pro coming out of here, even if you come in not being considered one.''

Nelson replaces Cunningham at shooting guard in the starting lineup. The 6-foot-3 junior played primarily off the bench last season, averaging 9.3 points and 2.6 rebounds.

Nelson was a highly touted recruit out of Santa Barbara who made his decision to play for the Beavers after seeing Robinson introduce his sister - First Lady Michelle Obama - at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

``It's definitely going to be tough because Jared did a lot for us, offensively and defensively, as well as being a leader for us out there,'' Nelson said. ``It's going to be tough trying to step up in that role and do it. We have a great team and a great supporting cast.''

Nelson averaged 15 points over a four-game exhibition trip to Spain and France this summer.

He will be joined in Oregon State's starting lineup by 5-foot-9 junior Ahmad Starks at point guard, and forwards Angus Brandt, a 6-foot-10 senior, and Eric Moreland, a 6-foot-10 sophomore. Senior Joe Burton and junior Devon Collier will both vie for the likely third spot up front.

The Beavers have four freshmen who will also see playing time, 6-foot-6 guard Victor Robbins, 6-foot-5 guard Langston Morris-Walker, 6-foot-7 forward Jarmal Reid, and 6-foot-10 forward Olaf Schaftenaar, younger brother of former Beaver Roeland Schaftenaar.

The Beavers went 7-11 last season in the Pac-12 conference. They advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament, defeating both Washington and Washington State before falling to Arizona.

Oregon State played in the College Basketball Invitational tournament last season for the third time in four years, advancing to the semifinals, where the Beavers fell to Washington State.

This season, Oregon State was selected to finish seventh in the league, behind Oregon, in the annual poll of media members who cover the league.

The Beavers open the season at Gill Coliseum with Niagara on Nov. 9. It is a regional game of the 2K Sports Classic, which benefits the Wounded Warrior Project. Oregon State will also host New Mexico State before traveling to New York for the final round of the tournament, where the Beavers will face Alabama and either Purdue or Villanova at Madison Square Garden.

Oregon State will play No. 7 Kansas, which played in the NCAA title game against Kentucky last season, at the Spring Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 30.

The Beavers open the Pac-12 schedule at home on Jan. 6 against the rival Ducks.

``We don't expect to lose the small games and we don't expect to lose even the big games,'' Moreland said. ``We have a nice team and the sky is the limit for us.''

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Kevin Durant commits $10 million to Prince George's County public schools

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USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant commits $10 million to Prince George's County public schools

Kevin Durant continues to give back to the community that raised him. 

Durant, who calls Prince George's County, MD., home, recently announced a partnership with Prince George's County public schools. 

The partnership, which comes with a $10 million dollar commitment from Durant, will help fund a program called College Track. Essentially, it's a 10-year program that provides basic infrastructure — test prep, tutoring, college selection and how to get financial aid — that kids from less-advantaged families often times don’t have.

Durant's money will go towards building College Track's Maryland center. There are nine other College Tracks across California, Colorado, and Louisiana, and the program has helped over 3,000 students get to college and beyond. This Maryland center will be the first of three that are planned to go up in the DC area. 

You can read the entire article about Durant and College Track right here. 

RELATED: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR TOMAS SATORANSKY

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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