Why were a bunch of NBA stars in Africa?

Why were a bunch of NBA stars in Africa?

From Comcast SportsNetOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- For Nick Collison, taking a trip to Africa changed the world he lives in.The Oklahoma City Thunder forward was only in Kenya for three days, but it felt like three weeks. He witnessed people who walked 30 miles just to get two drops of polio vaccine, then turned around and walked home. He mingled among 100,000 people seeking refuge from wars and famine.He'll come back to the United States a changed person."To see things like that, it makes it real because you always hear about what's going on in different places of the world. To see it firsthand, for me, made it real," Collison said by phone Thursday from South Africa, where he's participating in the NBA's 10th Basketball Without Borders clinic."It's just an incredible trip."Before heading to Johannesburg, Collison stopped in Nairobi then headed out to the refugee camp with UNICEF."I'd say it's probably a life-changing experience. It's something that will give me a different perspective on my life and just how I see the world," Collison said."I think the goal of bringing the NBA as a partner of UNICEF is to get guys to talk about it and just kind of get the word out to a different audience, to let people know what groups are doing and people can get involved with what's going on."Collison is part of a hefty Thunder presence in Africa this week. Four of the seven NBA players participating in Basketball Without Borders this year are from the Oklahoma City roster. Serge Ibaka, a native of the Republic of Congo, joins Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Cole Aldrich as camp coaches.Chicago's Luol Deng, Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute and Brooklyn's C.J. Watson are also participating in the basketball clinic for 60 African boys and girls, and helping life skills seminars and education on HIV and AIDS."We're out here to not only change other people's lives but also to change ours, to give us a different perspective on other how other people live," Aldrich said. "Serge grew up in a totally different lifestyle than any of us did, and we're learning a little bit of that through this trip."It's been so much fun, there's a lot of things we've got to continue to do and we're just trying to spread the word of basketball and just help people that need help."Ibaka made a stop in his hometown, Brazzaville, for about a week and offered a basketball clinic there before linking up with his teammates in Johannesburg. Ibaka is the son of two Congolese basketball players, and is trying to do his part to spread the sport further now that he's developed into one of the NBA's top defenders."I'm trying to do my best I can to come back there and give something and show them that I'm still thinking about them," said Ibaka, who led the league in blocks last season and finished second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year.Sefolosha's father is from South Africa, and he, Ibaka and Collison all had participated in Basketball Without Borders before. Aldrich is a first-timer and took in a safari before the camp began."The goal is to try to improve the basketball development program for kids over here, to get more coaching, to get the national teams more involved, so that they can learn the game better," said Collison, who last participated in 2008. "I've seen a difference from four years ago. The coaching is better, the kids are more skilled, they have a better feel for the game. It's really great for the NBA to do."While passing along some tips on life and how to play hoops, the players also learn more about themselves and the people around them. Just as importantly, they'll live out unforgettable experiences that they can share with others through the platform of professional sports."You kind of look eye-to-eye with people and you start to actually relate to them because they're mothers, fathers and they're trying to do what's best for their children," Collison said. "They just have so many obstacles and difficulties."

Quick Links

Redskins could face RB decision: Christian McCaffery or Dalvin Cook?

Redskins could face RB decision: Christian McCaffery or Dalvin Cook?

Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has the Redskins selecting Stanford RB Christian McCaffery with the 17th overall pick, while Florida State RB Dalvin Cook remains on the board until the Packers with the 29th pick. 

Both runners put up ridiculous stats in college. Cook posted nearly 5,400 total yards to go with 48 touchdowns in three seasons as a Seminole. McCaffery went over 5,100 total yards to go with 31 touchdowns in three seasons.

Until the NFL Combine, however, Cook seemed certain to go before McCaffery. The Stanford product impressed coaches and scouts, particularly with his 40-time of 4.48, a tenth of a second faster than Cook.

Like many high-profile prospects before him, Cook's game is being picked apart, as is a track record with multiple arrests. From Cook's NFL.com Draft Profile:

Very talented runner with outstanding balance, footwork and burst. Cook lacks the power that you may find with some running backs in this year's draft, but he is a homerun hitter with a resume featuring monster games against his most highly regarded opponents. Cook creates for himself with elusiveness and speed, but his value could be diminished by injuries, character and issues in pass protection. If everything checks out, he could become a rookie of the year candidate right away.

Now is a good time to note that even with the questions, Cook's draft grade from NFL.com was a 6.47. McCaffery's was a 5.99, but has much fewer questions. Additionally, McCaffery might project as a player that could line up as a slot receiver or work on special teams, two things not expected from Cook. 

From McCaffery's NFL.com Draft Profile:

Multidimensional runner with flex appeal for teams looking for a player who can carry the ball 20 times or catch it 10 depending on the game plan. McCaffrey's size, power and speed are just average, but he is able to create yardage for himself with his vision and elusiveness. McCaffrey's ability to return punts and kicks could be the value sweetner that pushes his name into the first round.​

Beyond the draft grades and abilities of each player, the question remains if the Redskins should even consider a running back at 17. The team has much bigger holes on the roster, but, McCaffery or Cook present possible game-changing talents. Going into 2017, Robert Kelley holds the 'Skins RB1 job, with Chris Thompson expected to return as a restrcited free agent.

Matt Jones and Mack Brown are also on the roster. Jones, remember, was a third-round pick in 2015 and held the starting running back job until about the halfway point last season, then was inactive the second half of the year. Drafting an early RB might signal the end of Jones' tenure in Washington. 

Cook? McCaffery? Defense? What should the Redskins do at 17? Let us know what you think in the comments.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

DON’T MISS OUT - #REDSKINSTALK PODCAST PARTY APRIL 5 AT PENN QUARTER SPORTS TAVERN!

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Redskins roster turnover from 2016 likely to exceed 25 percent

Redskins roster turnover from 2016 likely to exceed 25 percent

The Redskins went 8-7-1 last year and finished a half game out of their second straight playoff appearance. Despite that modest success, the organization is undergoing some fairly substantial roster churn that started in the last month or so and will continue right up until the final 53-man roster is set in early September.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Of the 53 players who were on the 2016 Week 1 roster, these nine will not be back.

  • DE Chris Baker (signed with Bucs)
  • WR Pierre Garçon (signed with 49ers)
  • WR DeSean Jackson (signed with Bucs)
  • C Kory Lichtensteiger (retired)
  • DL Ricky Jean Francois (released)
  • WR Rashad Ross (released during season)
  • DL Kendall Reyes (released during season)
  • S David Bruton (released during season)
  • C Austin Reiter (released and then signed off practice squad)

These four players are unsigned veterans and even if the Redskins do bring any of them back they will have to compete for a roster spot:

  • LB Terrence Garvin
  • S Duke Ihenacho
  • DL Kedric Golston
  • CB Greg Toler

That makes a total of 13 players who are unlikely to be on the 2017 Week 1 53-man roster, a 23 percent turnover rate. That initial 2016 roster had 13 players who were new to the organization. It seems likely that the Redskins will surpass that number this year.

There are some other players who were on the roster for a substantial amount of time in 2016 such as S Donte Whitner, DL Cullen Jenkins, and C John Sullivan, who also are unsigned and unlikely to be back. They are not counted in the turnover percentage here but the still represent a degree of roster churn.

Who will replace the departed players? They have signed five unrestricted free agents. Four of them, DL Terrell McClain, DL Stacy McGee, WR Terrelle Pryor, and S D.J. Swearinger, are locks to make the roster. LB Chris Carter was signed but he will have to compete for a spot.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock draft roundup: Will Foster fall?

The team has 10 draft picks and they will sign around a dozen undrafted players. It seems likely that six or seven of the draft picks and one or two UDFAs will be on the final 53 as well.

One other player who is likely to be on the 53 in September is OLB Junior Galette. He spent last year on the non-football injury list. Galette has been on the roster for two years without having played a single snap, preseason or regular season.

Some other roster spots could be filled by players who were on the 2016 practice squad such as DL A.J. Francis.

Still, more than 13 players from last year will be gone come September as there are at least 11 returning players who are on the bubble and vulnerable to having their jobs taken by one of the draft picks, UDFA’s or perhaps by street free agent signees such as CB Tharold Simon or NT Phil Taylor.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.