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London hires 4, including Tom O'Brien, Tenuta

London hires 4, including Tom O'Brien, Tenuta

Virginia coach Mike London has reached into the Cavaliers' past to refill his coaching staff.

London on Thursday hired former Boston College and North Carolina State head coach Tom O'Brien to be his associate head coach for offense and coach tight ends, Jon Tenuta to be his associate head coach for defense and defensive coordinator, and Jeff Banks to coach special teams and running backs.

He also promoted wide receivers coach Marques Hagans from graduate assistant to fulltime assistant, and said cornerbacks coach Chip West has been promoted from assistant recruiting coordinator to recruiting coordinator.

O'Brien, Tenuta and Hagans have deep Virginia roots.

O'Brien was an assistant under George Welsh at Virginia from 1982-96, the most successful era in school history, before becoming the head coach at Boston College and then N.C. State. He was fired at N.C. State on Nov. 25 with a career mark of 115-80, including an 8-2 record in bowl games.

He also had London on his staff at Boston College, and becomes the second former boss to join London's staff. Jim Reid, the Virginia defensive coordinator who was fired along with three other assistants after the Cavaliers finished 4-8 last season, had London as an assistant coach when he was at Richmond.

``With Tom's experience as a head coach in the ACC and Big East for 16 seasons, I am looking forward to his insights and I'm excited that he will be able to share his knowledge with our coaches and players,'' London said in a statement provided by the school. It said none of the coaches would be made available to comment until after the American Football Coaches Association convention that runs from Jan. 6-9.

O'Brien received a two-year contract with a $150,000 signing bonus, an annual salary of $450,000 and a $300,000 bonus at the conclusion of the deal. The package makes him the highest paid assistant on London's staff; offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's contract pays him a base salary of $453,000.

Tenuta was a defensive back at Virginia who graduated in 1982. He has 32 years of experience, half of it as a coordinator with stops that include Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. He received a five-year contract with an annual salary of $500,000.

``It's no secret that Jon brings an aggressive approach to the defensive side of the ball and I think our players will be excited to adopt that philosophy,'' London said. ``Jon has a great track record of improving defenses. He's spent many years coaching in the ACC and there's not much, if anything, he has not had to prepare for. I know Jon and his family are excited to return to Charlottesville and UVa.''

Hagans was a wide receiver and quarterback at Virginia from 2002-05. He ranks seventh in career passing yards at Virginia with 4,877 and is from Hampton in the state's most fertile recruiting area. He received a two-year contract with a salary of $150,000.

Banks, a former punter, has coached special teams for 12 years at the college level, the last nine at UTEP. He replaces Anthony Poindexter, who remains on staff coaching safeties but had the special teams duties taken away in the staff shakeup announced Dec. 2.

Banks received a two-year contract at an annual salary of $200,000, and all the assistants are entitled to performance bonuses based on success.

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Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Following the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, emotions were high. 

Many current and former players paid tribute to Bryant, including Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who dominated in the Hawks 152-133 win over the Wizards. 

He ended the night with a spectacular performance of 45 points, with 14 assists, making 13-of-24 FGs and 13-of-16 free throws as well as six 3-pointers, six rebounds and one assist. 

Young is the first player to have a 45-point double-double with under 25 field goal attempts against the Washington Wizards, since Kobe Bryant on December 17, 2006.

In honor of his mentor and favorite NBA player, Young wore a No. 8 jersey and took an 8-second-violation after the opening tip. 

He even wore his shoes with a tribute to Bryant as well. 

Young was able to channel his emotions into the game, leaving everything on the floor.

In an emotional night, Young was able to keep himself composed leading the Hawks past the Wizards. 

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Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

The news of Kobe Bryant's death shook the sports world to its core, and while there were NBA games scheduled throughout Sunday, some felt the league should have canceled the games in light of the tragic news. 

Isaiah Thomas was one of them. 

"It's hard to even talk about it," Thomas said. "The NBA should have just canceled all the games because that put a dent in everybody's life that he's touched."

Thomas looked up to Bryant, admired him from afar and found his love for the game of basketball because of Bryant's greatness. Spending 20 years as a Laker, Bryant won five championships, an MVP and two Finals MVP awards to go along with 15 All-NBA selections and 18 trips to the All-Star game. 

For Thomas, his relationship with Bryant started to grow when he broke out as an All-Star in Boston. When Thomas suffered the tragic loss of his sister, they grew closer. After his hip injury that cost Thomas over a year of his career, Bryant supported him throughout. 

"I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant," he said. "2017, I lose my sister, 2019 I lose one of my best friends in Nipsey Hussle, and then to lose a mentor of mine, like, that's bigger than basketball, that [expletive] hurts.

"He was one of the people that was there for me and in my corner," he said. "And then I got injured, he was one of those guys that was there for me the whole time, helping me through mentally."

The NBA had a difficult decision to make on whether or not to cancel games since there were two games already in progress.

But before, during and after the game, everyone's thoughts were with Bryant and his family and not on a basketball game. Because as Thomas said, it's bigger than basketball. 

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