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LSU's Reid, Simon, Wing, Ware headed to NFL draft

LSU's Reid, Simon, Wing, Ware headed to NFL draft

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU safety Eric Reid, cornerback Tharold Simon, running back Spencer Ware and punter Brad Wing formally declared their intention on Friday to leave school early and enter the NFL draft.

Those decisions mean the Tigers will lose at least three defensive regulars, with linebacker Kevin Minter also having informed the school he'd be leaving this week.

Reid and Minter both were AP second-team All-America selections. Simon was a starter who had four interceptions this season.

Reid finished with 91 tackles, ranking third on the team. He also made a pair of interceptions, seven pass breakups, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.

``It was always my dream to go to LSU and play football,'' said Reid, whose father was an LSU track star. ``This was a very difficult decision because I always wanted to be a Tiger and I love LSU. But, after careful consideration and talking with my family, I feel like this is the right time to make this decision.''

Minter led LSU with 130 tackles, including 15 tackles for losses, in his junior season. The Georgia native's highlights included a 20-tackle performance against Florida and he had 19 tackles in LSU's 25-24 loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Simon had 96 tackles, 22 pass breakups and seven interceptions during his career with the Tigers and said his decision to turn pro after his junior season came ``with mixed emotions and serious consideration with my family.''

Ware has been a productive running back for the Tigers for three seasons, rushing for 1,249 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also catching 39 passes for 404 yards and two scores. The former high school quarterback also passed for a score, hitting Rueben Randle for a 39-yard TD against Auburn in 2010.

``I feel confident that I'm ready to go to the NFL,'' Ware said. ``I want to thank Coach Miles and his staff for helping me develop on the field and mature as both a player and person.''

Wing, an Australian, has been among the top college punters the past two seasons. He averaged 44.6 yards per punt, the highest average in school history for a player with at least 100 punts, though his second season was not as good as his first.

``I want to thank the fans, my coaches and my teammates for three amazing years at LSU,'' said Wing, who took a redshirt as a freshman.

While Ware, Simon and Wing were exceptional players at LSU, they each missed playing time for running afoul of team policies. Ware and Simon were suspended one game during the middle of the 2011 season for failing drug tests. Wing was suspended for this season's Chick-fil-A bowl for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

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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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