- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2016


NEW YORK (AP) - The Philadelphia 76ers selected LSU freshman Ben Simmons with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

The 76ers grabbed the versatile 6-foot-10 forward from Australia who averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists to become the only player in SEC history to finish in the top five in all three categories.

The Los Angeles Lakers, picking second for the second consecutive year, took Duke’s Brandon Ingram, who averaged 17.3 points as the ACC freshman of the year. He becomes the latest young player on a team that will begin life without the retired Kobe Bryant next season.

The picks included the first Austrian (Utah center Jakob Poeltl, No. 9 to Toronto), the highest Greek player ever drafted (Georgios Papagiannis, No. 13, Phoenix, rights dealt to Sacramento), two Croatians (Dragan Bender, No. 4 to Phoenix and Ante Zizic, No. 23, Boston), and two players from the Caribbean (Buddy Hield, Bahamas, No. 6 to New Orleans; and Skal Labissiere, Haiti, No. 28, picked by Phoenix but dealt to Sacramento).

The NBA said there were 26 international players selected, surpassing the record of 21 set in 2003.

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - LeBron James will not chase gold this summer in the Rio Olympics.

Agent Rich Paul told The Associated Press that James informed USA Basketball that he has withdrawn from consideration.

James won gold medals in the last two Olympics. He led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA title this week, his sixth straight appearance in the finals.

The 31-year-old James wanted to wait until after the season until making a decision about Rio, which would have been his fourth Olympics. He’s the latest big name to drop from the U.S. squad, following two-time MVP Stephen Curry, James Harden and Chris Paul.


LONDON (AP) - IAAF President Sebastian Coe downplayed the split with international Olympic leaders over his sport’s decision to bar Russian track and field athletes from competing under their own flag, saying the two sides “will work our way through these issues.”

“We have to be realistic,” Coe told The Associated Press. “This is a new situation. We need to work our way through this. That’s what we will do.”

Coe spoke after the IAAF issued guidelines for Russian track and field athletes applying for “exceptional” dispensation to compete in the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics.


WACO, Texas (AP) - Baylor is releasing five incoming freshman players from their national letters of intent and allowing them to attend other schools without losing eligibility.

The players were not identified in Baylor’s news release, but all requested release prior to May 31, according to the school. The requests came after the Baylor board of regents fired coach Art Briles following the release of a report commissioned by the school that found he and other university leaders inappropriately handled sexual assault allegations by female students.

Without a release from Baylor, the players could have had to sit out their freshmen seasons and lose a year of eligibility if they chose to attend another school. The signees could have requested a waiver from the NCAA to allow them to play immediately and retain full eligibility.


LAS VEGAS (AP) - A day after Las Vegas won a bid for an NHL hockey team, a governor’s panel studying a proposal for a 65,000-seat stadium to lure the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to town was met with a cascade of changing numbers.

There was no talk about whether gambling on pro sports is a good idea.

Around town, legal sports books are already taking bets on how the as-yet unnamed hockey team will score its first goal.

Officials focused more on the key question of finding a site on which to build a stadium now projected to cost $1.45 billion.

Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee members heard again that the project won’t cost the public more than $750 million - mostly through a hotel room tax increase.

A top executive with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. is vowing the deal will get done.


LAS VEGAS (AP) - A new gambling platform approved by Nevada regulators will further blur the lines between traditional sports betting and fantasy sports contests, an industry that insists its games are not gambling in the face of legal challenges across the country.

The Nevada Gaming Commission gave a gambling license to Henderson-based US Fantasy, calling it a fair model as daily fantasy sports businesses such as DraftKings and FanDuel stand accused in several states of operating as illegal, unregulated betting systems.

Like DraftKings and FanDuel, it will allow people to bet on their picks of the top professional sports players and win money based on the athletes’ performance. But they differ in how they pay out winners and whether they believe their business model constitutes gambling.

US Fantasy owner Vic Salerno said it could easily be reframed to fit states that have approved guidelines allowing fantasy sports to operate. But an industry leader predicts it won’t have a major effect on fantasy sports overall because it may only work in Nevada, where sports betting is already legal.

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