Washington Capitals

Harrison twins pick Kentucky

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Harrison twins pick Kentucky

After a long and rumor-filled recruitment, Andrew and Aaron Harrison decided to play college basketball at the University of Kentucky.

The Harrisons, twin brothers from the Houston area, are both rated in the Top 5 of all high school seniors and are expected to have an immediate impact on the college level. Most basketball experts expect the twin brothers to only play one year in college before turning professional.

The Harrisons decision boiled down to Kentucky or the University of Maryland. The Maryland staff put in long hours recruiting the talented pair of guards, and listed relationships with family members and current players as reasons for the Harrison twins to attend Maryland.

In the end, the appeal of Kentucky, the defending national champion, proved too much for Maryland to overcome.

Kentucky's head coach John Calipari is famous for bringing in the top recruits in the country before sending them off to the NBA, and it appears the Harrison's will be the newest members to travel that path.

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly

The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly

Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles. 

Today’s player: No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly.

Will Devante Smith-Pelly manage to ressurect his career this season?

After getting bought out by the Devils on June 30, Smith-Pelly signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Caps a few days later. The deal will pay him $650,000 in Washington and $300,000 in Hershey.

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It's a significant paycut from the $1.25 million that Smith-Pelly, 25, earned last season, and the contract offers less job security. But he's got another chance, much like the one the Caps gave to Brett Connolly a year ago, to seize a spot in the bottom six and reestablish himself in the league. Connolly, after being cut loose by the Bruins last summer, took full advantage of his opporrunity here, scoring a career-high 15 goals in 66 games and earning a two-year, $3 million extension from GM Brian MacLellan.    

When training camp opens in mid-September, the Caps are going to need a pair of wingers to play with center Jay Beagle on the fourth line. There will be no shortage of competition for those positions, with Smith-Pelly expected to battle Anthony Peluso and forward prospects Nathan Walker, Chandler Stephenson, Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, Liam O’Brien and perhaps others.

Smith-Pelly would seem to have the inside track based on experience alone. He’s played in 266 NHL regular season games and 24 playoff contests. (Peluso, 28, has played in 142 games, while no one else I mentioned has appeared in more than 14.)

Smith-Pelly, a 6-foot, 214-pound righty, has also had some eyebrow raising stretches in his career. In the 2014 playoffs as a member of the Ducks, he amassed five goals in 12 games while averaging 4.4 hits per. In 2016, he was dealt from Montreal to the Devils late in the season and ended up racking up eight goals and five assists in only 18 games.

So, Smith-Pelly has been productive. He just hasn’t been consistent.

Will that change in Washington? That’s yet to be determined. But we can already surmise this much: he's got a pretty good opportunity in front of him and he's probably running out of chances.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley

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Former Ravens LB Zach Orr retires from the NFL ... again

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USA Today Sports

Former Ravens LB Zach Orr retires from the NFL ... again

In 2016, Zach Orr was the Ravens' leading tackler, and earned a spot on All-Pro second team.

But before Orr could begin preparing to replicate his standout 2016 season, a rare spinal condition forced him to announce his retirement in January.

At just 25 years old, Orr struggled with the decision and considered the thought of unretiring earlier this summer.

But on Friday afternoon, the Fairfax, Va. native made his retirement official.

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With Orr coming off of his best season in his young and promising NFL career, he went to multiple consultants where he received mixed reviews on whether or not he could continue his NFL career.

Orr took to The Players' Tribune to inform the public as to why he made this decision and explains his health concerns.

After going undrafted out of North Texas in the 2014 NFL Draft, he was signed by the Ravens as a free agent. He finished his rookie season with seven special teams tackles, the second-most on the roster. In 2015, Orr finished with 22 tackles, and looked primed for a breakout season. That's exactly what happened in 2016, as he finished with 132 total tackles, three interceptions, and two fumble returns.