NCAA

Cal men's head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin resigns

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USATSI

Cal men's head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin resigns

UPDATE (3pm on Wednesday) -- The University of Missouri officially introduced Cuonzo Martin as the team's 19th head basketball coach on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

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Cuonzo Martin, who led California’s men’s basketball for the past three seasons, has resigned as head coach, Director of Athletics Mike Williams announced Wednesday.

Martin has stepped down in order to pursue other opportunities. Assistant coach Wyking Jones will serve as interim head coach.

“Cuonzo Martin informed me this morning that he is resigning to accept a position at another school. We put forth our best effort to retain him, but he told me it wasn’t about Cal, rather a strong desire to move closer to home,” Williams said.  “We appreciate all that Cuonzo has done with our men’s basketball program over the past three seasons, creating excitement inside Haas Pavilion, guiding our team to a pair of postseason appearances and improving the academic performance of our student-athletes.”

In his three seasons at Cal, Martin amassed a 62-39 overall record, and 29-25 record in the Pac-12. Most recently, the Bears wrapped up a 21-13 season, tied for fifth in the league and reached the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal before earning a No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament. Cal’s season ended Tuesday evening with a 73-66 loss to CSU Bakersfield in the first round of the NIT.

Martin earned one NCAA Tournament berth and one NIT berth in his three years at the helm, and secured one of the nation’s top recruiting classes in 2015-16, bringing in eventual No. 3 NBA Draft pick Jaylen Brown as well as two-time All-Pac-12 selection Ivan Rabb.

Last season, Cal went a perfect 18-0 at home and tied for third in the Pac-12 with a 23-11 overall record and 12-6 record in conference. The Bears earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament – the highest seed in school history – before falling to Hawai’I in the first round. The end of the season saw both Brown and Bob Cousy Award finalist Tyrone Wallace selected in the NBA Draft.

Martin’s squads also posted high marks in the classroom as well, recording a perfect single-year APR score of 1000 in 2014-15 and demonstrating the highest overall increase in grade point average, from 2.60 to 2.84 in 2015-16. Sam Singer earned Pac-12 All-Academic honors all three seasons under Martin, and Stephen Domingo and Roger Moute a Bidias also collected multiple all-academic awards.

Williams will conduct a nationwide search for the next head coach of the Golden Bears.

“We now turn our full attention to a national search to find a new men’s basketball coach,” Williams said. “The success of the program is of the highest importance to me, our department and our entire Cal Athletics community. It’s important that we continue on our upward trajectory and hire someone again who understands what it takes to recruit and succeed at a top academic institution. We wish Cuonzo and his family the best and thank him for what he’s contributed to Cal basketball and the Cal community.”

Cal media services

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

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USATSI

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

SANTA CLARA -- Quinnen Williams proved Monday night that he can talk a big game, even if he doesn’t play one.

The Alabama defensive tackle, whom many project to be a top-five pick if he leaves school for the 2019 NFL draft, didn’t exactly show out in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi’s Stadium. The redshirt sophomore finished with just four total tackles (three solo, one assist) and 1.5 for loss.

Williams went relatively unnoticed in Clemson’s 44-16 rout, except for this first-quarter stop that showcased his power.

Williams, who entered the game tied for second on the Crimson Tide with eight sacks this season, didn’t register any noticeable pass rush -- to be fair, no one on Alabama did -- as the Tigers handily won the title.

Still, Williams wasn’t that impressed by what he saw from the now-national champions.

“They really didn’t do anything that caught us off guard,” Williams said. “We knew everything that was coming. They ran zone. They ran go routes, 50-50 balls.

“[Clemson QB] Trevor Lawrence threw the ball, and it looked like he put it on the money. He didn’t drop dimes, none of that. He threw it up, and the receivers made plays. All the respect to the receivers.”

While Williams later called Lawrence “good,” his comments were reminiscent of his pre-Orange Bowl words on Kyler Murray, when he smartly stopped himself from criticizing Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Williams showed no such restraint this time, and while you could chalk it up to the hurt of losing a national title game, NFL teams surely will ask him in pre-draft interviews about how he'll handle such situations.

As for his NFL draft status, Williams didn’t want to say much, claiming he really hadn’t thought about the possibility of turning pro after the season.

“I don’t know yet, man,” he said. “I got to go home, watch this film first, get with my teammates and let them know, man, everything.”

New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, whose team has been linked to Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in numerous mock drafts, saw the defensive tackle in person Monday. Whether he liked what he saw or heard remains to be seen over the next three months.

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

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AP

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

SANTA CLARA -- The Clemson Tigers came into Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship with a shorter list of 2019 NFL Draft talents than their counterparts, the Alabama Crimson Tide. But not if you ask some notable alumni.

To Houston Texans All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the next wave of NFL stars are Tigers.

“The way they prepare here at Clemson, the strength and condition program, Joey Batson and Larry Greenlee do a good job of getting those guys ready for the next level," Hopkins told NBC Sports Bay Area after Clemson's stunning 44-16 blowout win in the title game at Levi's Stadium. "I think they’re definitely ready for the next level."

Clemson has produced 29 picks in the last five NFL drafts. The last time the program didn't have one of its players called come April was all the way back in 2002.

Watching with former Clemson stars Deshaun Watson, Vic Beasley Jr., Mike Williams, and Tajh Boyd, Hopkins witnessed one of the greatest teams in college football history. The 2018 Tigers accomplished a feat 121 years in the making, becoming the first FBS football team to go 15-0 or 16-0 since Penn in 1897.

“To me, it means a lot. I’m from Clemson, S.C., so to see this team do what they did … I think they are (the greatest ever)," Hopkins said. "I think they can be one of the best teams ever. Do it again next year, for sure.”

The last statement is what means the most to Hopkins and everyone else who once wore a Clemson Tigers jersey. Coach Dabo Swinney took to the podium immediately after the win and said he'll soak it all up now, but he'll get back to film Friday and start preparing for next season.

“I think this is the next dynasty," Hopkins said. "Deshaun Watson started it by winning a national championship here. I think those guys are going to continue it.

"I think they’re gonna be here next year and the year after.”

That's not hard to imagine, either.

Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence wowed with his precision passing, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His top target, Justyn Ross, made one-handed catches as a recently turned 19-year-old and finished the night with six catches for 148 yards and two TDs.

Clemson made its fourth playoff clash with Alabama look easy. The biggest names in the NFL know, too, that these could be the next stars of not only Saturdays but Sundays before we know it.