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Creighton's Josh Jones: Giving up basketball hurts

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Creighton's Josh Jones: Giving up basketball hurts

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) As hard as it is for Creighton's Josh Jones to give up basketball, he says it's not worth risking his life to keep playing.

Doctors advised Jones to stop playing after he underwent a procedure Dec. 18 to locate and correct an atrial flutter. He faces more procedures to treat the heart condition that caused him to faint before a game three weeks ago.

He said he wanted to let their words soak in a few days before he made his announcement this week.

``My life is more important,'' he said Thursday as teammates practiced behind him at the Vinardi Athletic Center. ``The game has gotten me this far. I'm the same person with or without it. But right now, and maybe forever, I'm just stepping away from the game.''

Coach Greg McDermott said he sensed after he visited with Jones two weeks ago that it was doubtful Jones would return.

Jones had an initial health scare in 2007, when he needed an infected heart valve replaced. Doctors said the first procedure revealed additional concerns with Jones' heart. Jones said he'll undergo a second procedure in January to diagnose the other problems, and more treatment probably will follow.

He said it would have been impossible for him to play again this season.

The fifth-year senior is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in public relations.

Jones' situation has prompted an outpouring of support from the community. Though he started only 14 of his 108 career games, he's one of the Bluejays' most popular players.

He's an Omaha native who led Central High School, a few blocks from the Creighton campus, to three consecutive state championships.

``I've got aspirations to do other things,'' Jones said. ``I'm going to try to put my degree to use. I was going to do all these other things regardless, whenever my athletic career was going to end. Now it's time to start pursuing them early.''

Jones said walking has been his most strenuous activity since he passed out during warm-ups before the Dec. 6 game at Nebraska. He admitted to still picking up a basketball and dribbling it when he's hanging out at his family's home a few blocks from campus.

``I want to tell everybody I'm fine - I'm normal - I'm just not able to do high-intense things to put my heart rate at an unsafe rate that can put me down, make me pass out again or potentially cause death,'' he said. ``That's what the procedure is about, changing the complications of my heart to make me live a healthy life with a healthy heart.''

Jones played in eight games this season and usually was the first guard to come off the bench for the 16th-ranked Bluejays. He scored 18 points in a win over UAB. For his career he averaged 5.0 points and 15 minutes a game.

``Obviously, it's a sad deal for him,'' senior guard Grant Gibbs said. ``As much time as he's put into this game... If there is anybody who can handle this, it's definitely Josh and his personality. He's been tremendous, bouncing back and kind of looking toward the next phase of his life. He's one of those guys who can find good in anything. He's going to find a way to get through it.''

Jones plans to be on Creighton's bench at home games, and he said he'll hang around with teammates when he can.

``I'm still a great-spirited person,'' Jones said. ``I'm still smiling. I won't stop smiling, as much as it hurts.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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