Cancer free and confident, James Conner eager to get to NFL

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- James Conner long envisioned the day he would walk into the indoor practice facility the Pittsburgh Panthers share with the Pittsburgh Steelers and be welcomed by a sea of NFL scouts and coaches. Yet the record-setting running back didn't envision it quite like this, walking from station to station with a crew from NFL Films in tow to chronicle another important step in the 21-year-old's remarkable comeback from a battle with cancer.

Coach Eric Musselman says he's staying at Nevada

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Nevada coach Eric Musselman said Wednesday he has withdrawn his name for consideration for the coaching vacancy at California, committed to continuing to build the Wolf Pack program after the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 in his second season. Musselman's team captured the Mountain West Conference regular-season crown and tournament title, a program first.

BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Wednesday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EDT: -- LOS ANGELES -- The United States plays Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic. The Americans are in the final for the first time against the team from a U.S. territory that was runner-up last year to the Dominican Republic. Game starts 9 p.m.

Belgium-born Lecomte helps Baylor get to another Sweet 16

WACO, Texas (AP) -- Manu Lecomte is like so many other players who made the NCAA Tournament. They grew up with dreams of making big plays on the biggest stage. Like his four-point play to start a personal scoring surge late in the second-round game that finally put Baylor ahead to stay and helped push the Bears to another Sweet 16.

Spring flings: 6 intriguing quarterback competitions

College football teams can be divided into two groups during the spring: Those with quarterback competitions and those without. The ones without are usually kind of boring. There might be position battles all over the depth chart, but nothing quite piques interest like an opening at QB1. Two of the most intriguing quarterback situations this spring might not qualify as genuine competitions.

Rice coach, former VCU assistant returning to coach Rams

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Rice coach Mike Rhoades is returning to VCU to become the Rams' head coach. The 44-year-old Rhoades spent five years as an assistant to Shaka Smart from 2009-14. He replaces Will Wade, who resigned Monday night to take the same position at LSU. Rhoades told Fox 26 TV in Houston the VCU job is a "dream come true.

Butler, Purdue use true grit to get programs into Sweet 16

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Coach Matt Painter kept believing in his team even as he watched Purdue fritter away a 19-point lead. He did, after all, recruit these players to excel in tough times. And he did spend two years using the lessons from consecutive overtime losses in the NCAA Tournament to show his team what it took to survive in March.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Rebecca Miller, followed by Simmi Buttar at 5 p.m. and Dennis Waszak at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from . For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.

VCU's Wade heading to LSU after pair of tourney appearances

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Will Wade is leaving VCU to take over LSU after guiding the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in both his seasons as coach. LSU vice chancellor and athletic director Joe Alleva made the announcement Monday night on the school's athletics website and Twitter. Wade guided the Rams to the Atlantic 10 championship game and the NCAA Tournament in both of his seasons.

Boeheim looks ahead without assistant beside him

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim heads into an offseason like no other in the past two decades -- without assistant Mike Hopkins. Coming off a down year (19-15, 10-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) and without his top assistant to lend extra stability, Boeheim faces a challenging road ahead. Hopkins, who was in line to succeed his Hall of Fame mentor after next season, was hired Sunday as head coach at Washington. "It'll be difficult," Boeheim said.

Underwood settles in at Illinois after 1 year at Oklahoma St

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Brad Underwood is back home. While the 53-year-old was born in McPherson, Kansas, Illinois became home when he served as an assistant coach at Western Illinois from 1992-2003. It was then that he matched wits with Lon Kruger and Bill Self, and he saw what it meant to play against Illinois. He witnessed the support from the community and the students and was hooked.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by Simmi Buttar at 5 p.m. and Jake Seiner at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.

Fab duo: For the Fabbris, Quinnipiac's NCAA run is a bonus

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- When Quinnipiac was putting together its 2014 recruiting class, there was one player in particular who Bobcats coach Tricia Fabbri was very concerned about losing to another school. That would be her daughter. "I said to myself, 'I'm not even going to be able to recruit my own kid to my own school?'" Tricia Fabbri said. "That's not going to look good.

Illinois hires Oklahoma State's Underwood as new coach

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- A year ago, Brad Underwood's Stephen F. Austin squad lost to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament, and he took the job at Oklahoma State the next day. A year later, history repeated itself. A day after Oklahoma State lost to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, Underwood accepted the job at Illinois. He called the chance to lead the Fighting Illini a "once in a lifetime opportunity.

Fouling flubs mark first 2 days of NCAA Tournament

Coaches across the country can use the first two days of the NCAA Tournament as examples when they're teaching the importance of knowing when and how to foul in late-game situations. One day after Northwestern sank the winning free throws in a 68-66 victory over Vanderbilt after an ill-timed foul, Arkansas clinched its 77-71 triumph over Seton Hall after the Pirates got called for a flagrant foul in the final minute.

No. 1 seed South Carolina cruises to 90-40 opening NCAA win

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- With half of its twin tower frontcourt out for the NCAA Tournament, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley is trying out some different lineups. Almost everything she tried worked Friday as the top-seeded Gamecocks (28-4) beat No. 16 seed UNC Asheville 90-40 in their biggest victory ever in the NCAA Tournament. Staley started four guards to join Naismith national player of the year finalist A'ja Wilson.

Nigel Williams-Goss fashions lead role for Gonzaga

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Nigel Williams-Goss slid on black shoes below dark slacks and buttoned up a white collared shirt. He grabbed a bright blue Kenzo Paris sweater with a large eye logo on the chest and little eyes on the sleeves, and pulled it over his head. A quick check of his hair and Williams-Goss was ready. "I've always loved fashion and been into clothes, cared about what I'm wearing," he said.

VCU facing youth movement under coach Will Wade next season

Next year, third-year VCU coach Will Wade will be largely relying on players he recruited to keep the Rams' success going. The college careers of five seniors ended with VCU's loss to Saint Mary's in the NCAA Tournament, capping an impressive run for the group: 103 victories, four consecutive seasons with at least 24 wins and four NCAA Tournaments. The quintet is the bulk of what remains from Shaka Smart's six seasons at VCU.