NCAA

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

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From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”

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.