Around the Nation (Dec. 21): St. Vincent-St. Mary opens renovated LeBron James Arena

Associated Press Published:

BASKETBALL

SVSM opens newly renovated LeBron James Arena

AKRON -- Student-athletes at LeBron James' Ohio alma mater have started competing in a fully renovated gymnasium named for the NBA star, who pledged the funding for the $1 million project.

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron opened the LeBron James Arena last weekend. James didn't attend the ceremony, which happened shortly before he and the Miami Heat played host to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports the new gym at the Northeast Ohio school includes a hardwood floor, plastic bleachers, new locker rooms and a tribute wall.

The newspaper reports a statement from James said he had some of the best times of his life playing in the old gym, and he wanted to show gratitude and help current student-athletes have a good experience, too.

Police chief wants youth night games

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati's new police chief wants kids to have a ball at night -- and to stay out of trouble.

Chief Jeffrey Blackwell is promoting a "hoops for hope" effort with community groups to give at-risk children a recreational outlet at night. WLWT-TV reports that the chief says the basketball program could provide intervention and training, such as in conflict resolution. The goal is reduce violence in the city.

Blackwell says police officers will act as coaches and mentors. He would also like to have people such as Cincinnati Bengals football players get involved.

Blackwell came to Cincinnati from the Columbus police department three months ago.

Former T-Wolves co-owner Marv Wolfenson dies

MINNEAPOLIS -- Marv Wolfenson, one of the two businessmen who brought the NBA back to Minnesota, has died.

Timberwolves spokesman Brad Ruiter told The Associated Press on Saturday that Wolfenson died in La Jolla, Calif. Ruiter did not know any other details.

The Star Tribune reports that Wolfenson died Saturday morning.

Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner were the Timberwolves original owners when the NBA granted them and Minnesota an expansion franchise that began play in 1989. They also owned a series of Twin Cities health clubs.

They were responsible for building Target Center. They sold the team to Mankato businessman Glen Taylor in 1994. Ratner died in 2006.

Achilles injury ends season for Bobcats' Jeffrey Taylor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte Bobcats small forward Jeffery Taylor will miss the rest of the season because of a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

Coach Steve Clifford said he's not sure if the tendon is completely or partially torn and won't know Taylor's recovery time until after he has surgery. However, a torn Achilles tendon typically involves between four to six months of rehabilitation.

"It's unfortunate for him, especially, but also for the team," Clifford said before Saturday night's game against the Utah Jazz. "Sports are like any other business, it starts with people -- and he's a great person."

Taylor, a native of Sweden, was injured in the first half of Friday night's game against the Detroit Pistons.

Taylor had stepped into a starting role after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist broke his hand. He averaged 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 26 games. Kidd-Gilchrist will be evaluated again on Dec. 27.

BASEBALL

Source: Choo inks seven-year, $130M deal with Rangers

A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has agreed to a $130 million, seven-year contract with the Texas Rangers.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday because there was no official announcement about the deal that is pending a physical for the 31-year-old Choo. That person said the physical is expected to be done before Christmas.

The deal comes a month after Texas acquired slugging first baseman Prince Fielder in a trade with Detroit for second baseman Ian Kinsler, the Rangers' primary leadoff hitter.

Choo was Cincinnati's leadoff hitter for 143 games last season, when he had a .423 on-base percentage with 20 stolen bases and 21 home runs.

FOOTBALL

NW Missouri wins D-II national title

FLORENCE, Ala. -- Trevor Adams passed for 277 yards and three touchdowns to lead Northwest Missouri State to a 43-28 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday in the Division II championship game.

The Bearcats (15-0) won their fourth national title to match Grand Valley State for second-most behind North Dakota State's five. They're the fifth team to go 15-0, managing that feat for a second time.

Lenoir-Rhyne (13-2) fell short in only the onetime NAIA champion's second appearance in the Division II playoffs.

Adams completed 15-of-25 of passes with touchdowns of 29 and 30 yards to Reuben Thomas. The pair hooked up for their first score on fourth and 7 on the opening drive and the Bearcats were up 17-0 after 10 minutes.

Duke suspends RB for academics

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke has suspended rushing leader Jela Duncan from school for an undisclosed violation of its academic policy.

School officials said in a statement Saturday that the sophomore is not eligible to return until the spring 2015 semester.

He will not play for the 22nd-ranked Blue Devils in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against No. 20 Texas A&M.

Duncan rushed for 562 yards and three touchdowns this season and caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a score.

The Blue Devils (10-3) have gone four-deep at running back this season and will rely on junior Josh Snead, sophomore Shaq Powell and senior Juwan Thompson to make up for Duncan.

Duke plays the Aggies (8-4) on Dec. 31 in Atlanta.

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