NCAA

Top HS basketball recruit Jackson down to three schools

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Top HS basketball recruit Jackson down to three schools

Josh Jackson's high school basketball experience isn't like most.

Instead of playing with his hometown friends, Jackson and his mother decided it would be best for him to move from Detroit, Mich. to Napa to further his education and basketball career.

But why Napa of all places?

The move, though unorthodox and not easy, was simple. Jackson would attend Justin Siena High School and play for Prolific Prep, a college-preparatory basketball academy for serious student athletes. 

Flying across country after playing his first two years of high school in Michigan was the right choice, but definitely a hard one, Jackson told CSN Bay Area's Mindi Bach in an exclusive interview on an episode of "SportsTalk Live."

"Yes, it was very difficult for me," Jackson said. "Coming into it in the beginning I wasn't too sure about coming out here and playing and leaving home."

Jackson, 6-foot-8, 195 pounds, is listed as the No. 1 recruit in the 2016 class by Rivals of Yahoo! Sports and No. 3 in ESPN's rankings. He plays both small forward and shooting guard with the length of a big and skills of a guard. 

"I don't really regret anything," Jackson said on moving to Napa. "I actually love that we made this decision for me to come out here."

The real question now is, where will Jackson play his college ball at? With coaches itching to get an answer out of the 19-year-old, Jackson didn't reveal his final decision, but did say who is still in the running. 

"Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas," Jackson says are the only ones left in the race. He has officially visited both Arizona and Kansas.

This Saturday is Senior Night for Jackson and  two others. Like himself, they too have a unique journey in high school basketball and had to put their egos at the door. 

"Not just the seniors, but every guy on the team, we all come from different places and none of us are from Napa, but we all just came together and formed this team," Jackson said on his bond with his teammates.

"Looking at it, it's a real beautiful thing. We all came together to do something amazing, and playing together and win as many games as possible and become a family at the same time. It's real fun, I have a lot of fun with those guys."

Jackson is one of five finalists for the Naismith Trophy Boys High School Player of the Year. The winner will be announced March 10.

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.