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Hawaii hometown backs Te'o after girlfriend hoax

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Hawaii hometown backs Te'o after girlfriend hoax

LAIE, Hawaii (AP) People in the small Hawaii hometown of Manti Te'o stood firmly behind the Notre Dame linebacker after the story of his girlfriend and her death from leukemia were revealed as a hoax.

For the second day Thursday, no one answered the door at the modest, single-story wood home of Te'o's parents, in the small coastal town of Laie on Oahu's northern shore where Manti Te'o, an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist, was born. Brian and Ottilia Te'o, did not appear to be inside.

Members of the mostly Mormon community said they were dumbfounded and didn't believe Manti Te'o would have knowingly perpetrated such a story. The town of about 6,000 people, roughly an hour's drive from Honolulu, is home to a small Hawaii satellite campus of Brigham Young University.

Lokelani Kaiahua, 42, said Te'o's parents were her classmates, and she knew them to have strong family values they instilled in their children.

``I just don't see something like that being made up from him or having any part of that because they're not those kind of people,'' she said while sitting and talking with friends a few doors down from the Te'o family home.

According to media accounts that surrounded Te'o this season, his purported girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia in September. But on Wednesday, the website Deadspin.com posted a lengthy story saying there was no evidence that she ever existed.

Notre Dame officials then confirmed the hoax but were insistent that Te'o was only the victim.

Te'o is a hero and role model to many children in Laie and nearby small towns like Hauula, Kaaawa and Kahuku along the two-lane highway snaking through Oahu's northeastern coast.

Students at Hauula Elementary often wear Notre Dame jerseys with his number ``5'' on them. Te'o has often returned to the area to talk to speak to students.

The father of another high-achieving athlete who lives in the area said he felt for Te'o's parents, and for Te'o himself.

``Of course you're going to love them no matter what and support them. There are times when you fall down, but you get to rebound. And that's where Manti personally needs our support, probably,'' said Benny Kai, a Kahuku resident and father of former U.S. Olympic soccer player Natasha Kai. ``I support him in everything he does.''

Makala Paakaula, 38, a high school administrator, said Te'o should be lauded for uniting Notre Dame during his senior year when he could have left for the NFL, she said.

``It's amazing how he brought together the whole school to become one ohana, one family, where they all belonged, where they all had a purpose,'' Paakaula said.

Phi Smotherman, 46, said people in Laie are sorry a guy like Manti became a victim of hoax. He said the town should throw a parade for him when he comes home in recognition of his career at Notre Dame and all the awards he received.

``I hope he does great, goes to the NFL and finds a real girlfriend that he can marry and actually touch,'' Smotherman said.

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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.

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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

Of the Wizards' players set to hit free agency on June 30, one who has a good chance to return is point guard Tomas Satoransky. He and center Thomas Bryant are atop the team's priority list with Bobby Portis likely too expensive and Jabari Parker set to enter the market unrestricted.

Satoransky will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards can match any offers made by other teams. And in talking to members of the Wizards' coaching staff and front office, they speak of Satoransky like he is part of their future.

Still, nothing can be assumed and especially in a year in which many teams have money to spend. As Kevin O'Connor of the Ringer noted this week, there is more cap room available this summer than the previous two combined. That could lead to 2016-level contracts where role players get paid like starters and average starters get paid like stars.

What will make Satoransky's market interesting, though, is the fact there are some much bigger names available at his position. At point guard, teams with the most money can go after All-Stars like Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and D'Angelo Russell. There is then a robust second tier that includes Malcolm Brogdon, Terry Rozier and Ricky Rubio. Then you have Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, Patrick Beverley, Darren Collison and Rajon Rondo.

It is a great year to be a free agent, but maybe not the best year to be a free agent point guard. The position class is absolutely loaded.

Satoransky, though, will still draw plenty of interest and among the teams expected to check in on him are the Mavericks, Pacers, Magic and Celtics, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Celtics have already been tied to Satoransky by Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. But they also have their sights set on some of the bigger fish at point guard with rumors tying them to Walker, in particular.

The Utah Jazz were also expected to pursue Satoransky, but their trade for Mike Conley Jr. has taken them off the list. The Phoenix Suns could also emerge as a suitor, though they are being linked to higher profile free agents at this point.

Both the Wizards and Satoransky expressed interest in a contract extension midway through the 2018-19 season, as NBC Sports Washington reported, but those talks didn't get much further. The Wizards ended up putting a lot of things on hold once they drifted out of the playoff race and ultimately fired team president Ernie Grunfeld.

With senior vice president Tommy Sheppard serving in the interim, though, Satoransky has a big proponent calling the shots in the Wizards front office. Sheppard scouted Satoransky before the Wizards drafted him and was key in convincing him to leave Europe for the NBA.

Satoransky likes playing in Washington and recognizes an opportunity at point guard with John Wall set to miss most of next season due to Achilles surgery. But he also recognizes this as a chance to earn the biggest payday of his career.

How much money Satoransky will ultimately receive is hard to predict. Those in his camp are apprehensive to throw numbers out there because even they aren't sure. He wants a long-term deal and his fit in the rotation is a big consideration, according to someone familiar with his plans.

One potential comparison could be Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who makes just over $9 million per year. Though VanVleet is arguably better, Satoransky is hitting the market with more money to go around. 

Many have tried to project Satoransky's market in the past few months. Soon we will find out just how valuable he is.

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