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Clemson QB Tajh Boyd returning for senior season

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Clemson QB Tajh Boyd returning for senior season

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Tajh Boyd will return to Clemson for his senior season.

The junior quarterback announced his intention to hold off on the NFL. His return will help keep the Tigers record-setting, fast-paced attack moving forward in 2013.

``As explosive as we've been, there's more to attain,'' Boyd said Wednesday. ``There's more out there for us.''

Boyd has led the Tigers to a 21-6 record the past two seasons. He broke his own school records this past season with 3,896 passing yards and 36 touchdowns. He was also second on the team in rushing with 514 yards and led Clemson with 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Clemson defeated LSU 25-24 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve to finish with at 11-2, its best mark since the program's 12-0, national championship season in 1981.

Boyd was the star of the bowl win, accounting for 368 yards of offense and three touchdowns. He said his strong showing had him pointed toward the pros. Then Boyd began talking with friends, including Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen - a former Clemson teammate - and Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick. Both urged him to be 100 percent with his decision if he chose to leave college. Boyd discovered he wasn't fully done at Clemson.

``I thought it was pretty clear at first,'' Boyd said. ``Then it got pretty cloudy the past five days.''

Boyd was told by NFL draft advisors he'd go anywhere from the second to the fourth rounds. Allen, who attended Boyd's announcement, was given a first-round grade last season when he decided to forego his senior season.

``I still wasn't picked until the third round,'' Allen said. ``Which turned out to be a blessing. You just have to aware of the business.''

Boyd was also buoyed by offensive coordinator Chad Morris remaining at Clemson. Boyd's improvement as a quarterback began with Morris' hire by Tigers coach Dabo Swinney after the 2010 season. Boyd was the perfect triggerman for Morris' high-flying attack. Morris, though, was the focus of several schools for head coaching openings and was interviewed by Texas Tech before Red Raiders selected Kliff Kingsbury.

Boyd said he and Morris have similar aspirations for the Tigers and hope to make those happen in 2013. It won't be easy. Clemson opens the season against Georgia and another quarterback in Aaron Murray who passed on the NFL for a final year of college ball.

Swinney said he was happy to have the player he nicknamed the ``Tajh Mahal of Football'' back for a final season.

``This is great for our program because I think he is the best quarterback in the country,'' Swinney said. ``He is not only the leader of the offense, he is the leader of this team.

Boyd holds 39 Clemson records.

Boyd acknowledged he has plenty of room to grow. He says he needs to improve his footwork and decision making to make himself into a first-round player. He believes one more year at Clemson is the best way to make that happen.

``We've got a lot of things left on the schedule'' to accomplish, Boyd said. ``I hope to see that out.''

By coming back, Boyd has a chance to be the first to win consecutive ACC player of the year awards since Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward accomplished the feat in 1992 and 1993. Boyd will also no doubt be talked about for the game's highest individual honor, the Heisman Trophy.

``It's great to be mentioned in that category,'' Boyd said. ``But those things rarely happen if a team isn't successful.''

Boyd hopes to increase his totals in all categories to keep the Tigers on track. When told he rushed for over 500 yards this season, Boyd answered, ``Why not go for 800?''

Clemson offense certainly loses some key pieces next season. Center Dalton Freeman, who's played more snaps than anyone in Clemson history, and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Andre Ellington both finished their eligibility.

The Tigers are also waiting to see if Boyd's favorite target in junior receiver DeAndre Hopkins returns. Hopkins set school records this past season with 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns receiving.

Boyd said there's lot of returning players with big-play ability to make his senior year his best yet with the Tigers. ``I'm just not ready to drop this right now,'' he said.

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Bradley Beal still feels 'disrespected' by referees

Bradley Beal still feels 'disrespected' by referees

Back in December following a tough loss to the Clippers, Bradley Beal's frustration with the referees boiled over. 

"Honestly, [my frustration] is out the roof," Beal said that night. "It really is. It's really unfair and unacceptable that they allow a lot of stuff to go on with me out there and I do not calls. Period. It's just unacceptable."

Everything for the Wizards' offense this season starts and ends with Beal, and while he's averaging career-best scoring numbers, he remains frustrated at how he doesn't get to the foul line enough. 

In a 134-129 loss to the Heat Wednesday night, Beal went off for 38 points on 16-24 shooting to go with nine rebounds and four assists. He only had four free throw attempts, resulting in another postgame riff about how he and his team aren't officiated the same as others. 

“It’s kind of sad the way we get disrespected," he said. "Especially myself getting disrespected like I do because I attack the basket.”

Among 32 players who average at least 20 points, Beal ranks ninth in free throw attempts per game. The Wizards themselves are 14th in the NBA in free throw attempts per game. 

What had Beal particularly upset was not getting the whistle when he aggressively attacked the basket in the game's final moments.

"You can look at my last three drives and I got fouled on all three of them," he said. 

The NBA doesn't typically tolerate players and coaches openly criticizing referees after games. Beal knows he could be fined for his comments, so it shows just how frustrated the two-time All-Star is with how he's being called this season. 

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Former Washington Mystics All-Star Alana Beard retires after 14 seasons

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Former Washington Mystics All-Star Alana Beard retires after 14 seasons

One of the Washington Mystics' first stars is hanging up her shoes.

Alana Beard, who spent the first seven seasons of her professional career with the Mystics after Washington drafted her No. 2 overall in 2004, announced her retirement from the sport on Wednesday.

During her time in Washington, Beard made the All-Star team four times. Her best season with the Mystics was in 2006, where she averaged a career-high 19.1 points per game and won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

After missing nearly two years with multiple injuries, Beard signed with the Los Angeles Sparks during free agency in 2012, and spent the rest of her career out west. She won her first WNBA championship in 2016 with the Sparks, highlighted by her game-winning three-pointer in Game 1 of the Finals.

Congratulations on a great career, Alana!

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