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RB Saquon Barkley refuses to give timeline for NFL draft decision

Don’t expect Saquon Barkley to talk about whether he will enter the 2018 NFL Draft until after Penn State’s bowl game.

The ninth-ranked Nittany Lions are playing No. 11 Washington in the Fiesta Bowl slated for Dec. 30, which is what Barkley said he was focusing on.

He said he isn’t trying to push himself to make a decision by a certain date, and that impatient fans will simply have to wait.

Whenever it hits me, Barkley told reporters Thursday. It could be the day after (the bowl game) I know I’m going to stay or going to leave. It could be the last day (to declare).

Barkley was an early Heisman Trophy favorite this year, but late-season losses knocked him out of contention. Even so, many have him tabbed as the first running back to go in the draft.

It’s hard because it’s right in front of you, Barkley said of making his decision. I’m human. I have taken time to think about it. I talked to (coach James) Franklin about it before the season even started. I talked to my family about it. The best way I try to deal with it is to live in the moment and appreciate the time I have here.

Barkley has 1,134 yards rushing yards and 21 touchdowns under his belt this season, and since he is playing in the Fiesta Bowl, he will likely pad his stats a little more.

Next month features the most severe schedule disadvantage of the season. How much did the schedule affect teams in December, and who should be on alert in January?

Harden, however, often settles for just standing on the wing when Chris Paul has the ball. How much more of a headache might Houston’s top-ranked offense be if Harden dedicated himself to being a threat when he’s off the ball?

Granted, Harden being pedestrian off the ball is partially by design. It’s a way of allowing Harden, who leads the league with a usage rate of 36.0 percent, to essentially rest for an occasional possession.

The Rockets, having the luxury of featuring two premier penetrating playmakers, don’t set many off-ball screens for anyone. They actually rank dead last in the league in that category, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Houston has set only 40 off-ball screens for Harden all season — that’s less than half of even Russell Westbrook, another elite ball handler who tends to be a spectator when he doesn’t have the rock.

Here’s why Houston might want more of that action for Harden: He’s really good when it happens. In fact, his average of 1.5 points per possession after an off-ball screen is the best in the NBA among players with at least 40 opportunities. — Tim MacMahon

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