NCAA

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.

Coronavirus: NCAA cancels men's and women's March Madness tournaments

Coronavirus: NCAA cancels men's and women's March Madness tournaments

There will be no NCAA Tournament games at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento or anywhere else. 

Amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the NCAA announced Thursday it was canceling the men's and women's basketball tournaments as well as all other winter and spring championships. 

Golden 1 Center was slated to host the first and second-rounds of the tournament. On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it would hold games without fans in attendance, but as the number of cases continues to rise, Emmert made the prudent choice to cancel the tournament Thursday.

This comes a day after the NBA suspended its season for the foreseeable future after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. On Thursday, the NHL, MLB and MLS suspended or delayed their seasons for varying lengths of time. 

Major college conference tournaments began Tuesday and were set to go through the week until selection Sunday. Most conferences canceled their tournaments early Thursday morning prior to the NCAA's decision to cancel the tournaments. 

This will be the first year since 1938 without a Final Four. 

[RELATED: NBA, G League suspend season amid coronavirus outbreak]

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus as a pandemic. As of Thursday, over 1,300 people in the United States had contracted the virus and 39 had died, according to the Centers or Disease Control, state health officials and NBC News. 

Katie Ledecky was face of USA swimming before starring at Stanford

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USATSI

Katie Ledecky was face of USA swimming before starring at Stanford

In 2012, Katie Ledecky burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old swimming phenom at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Ledecky won gold by blowing away the field in the 800-meter freestyle.

She returned to Olympic glory in 2016, winning four gold medals and a silver in Rio.

Already an established swimming star, Ledecky went Stanford to swim for one of the nation's premier programs. During her freshman season, she set 12 NCAA records and nine American records while leading Stanford to its first team title since 1998. She followed that up a year by setting three more NCAA records, two more American records and helping the Cardinal win another crown. She decided to forgo her final two years at Stanford to turn pro because well ... she's Katie Ledecky.

Learn more about one of the world's best swimmers in this piece from NBC Sports Washington:

Ledecky took the mantle from Michael Phelps as the face of American swimming and has been a dominant force in the pool ever since. She swept gold medals in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle in 2016, setting world records in both the 400 and 800.

In the 2014 and 2015 Pan Pacific Championships, Ledecky won the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle races. Winning all four now is known as the "Ledecky Slam." The 1500 wasn't on the docket at the 2016 Rio games, but it will be this summer in Tokyo, where the American star can try and add an Olympic "Ledecky Slam" to her belt.