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AKRON LeBron James expected to declare for draft



Published: Mon, April 28, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



He would be ineligible to play in college because of his all-star participation.

AKRON (AP) -- No last-minute surprises were expected when LeBron James was to finally announce his basketball future today.

James, the nation's premier high school player, was expected to end months of speculation by declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft. A news conference was set for Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School gymnasium.

His announcement will come a day after that of his good friend, Syracuse swingman Carmelo Anthony, who gave up his final three years of college eligibility on Thursday.

The 6-foot-8 James is considered by many to be the No. 1 selection in the June 26 draft.

James' publicist, Alexandria Boone, declined to disclose what James would announce.

College not likely

However, James has not been actively recruited by college coaches for more than a year. He also has played in more postseason all-star games than the NCAA permits and would have to sit out his freshman season even if he did accept a college scholarship offer.

James is a three-time Mr. Basketball in Ohio and was chosen as USA Today's national player of the year. He capped a turbulent season -- which included a suspension by the OHSAA -- by leading St. Vincent-St. Mary to its third state championship in his four seasons.

He averaged 30.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.9 steals as a senior -- and has been named the MVP in all three of his postseason all-star games.

The NBA's deadline for underclassmen to make themselves eligible for the draft is May 12.

James said on April 16 that he would sit down with his family within the next two weeks and "make a decision about what I'm gonna do so everything starts flowing."

Boone said James would be making more than one announcement.

He is expected to introduce his agent and may discuss an endorsement deal. Industry experts have estimated the 18-year-old will command a shoe and apparel contract of at least $20 million.

The Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers have the best odds of winning the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery on May 22.




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