SPORTS PEOPLE

James dazzles record N.C. crowd


Fans pack the Greensboro Coliseum to watch LeBron James and St. Vincent-St. Mary of Akron, Ohio play Winston-Salem Reynolds in Greensboro, N.C.

AP Photo/News & Record, Tom Copeland
Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 2:56 a.m.

GREENSBORO, N.C.- More than 15,000 fans showed up at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday to get a look at LeBron James. He did not disappoint.

In front of the largest crowd ever to watch a high school basketball game in North Carolina, the 6-foot-7, 240-pound senior scored 32 points as St. Vincent-St. Mary's (Ohio) beat Winston-Salem Reynolds 85-56.

On the same floor where Michael Jordan played several games while at North Carolina, James showed why he's widely considered the nation's top high school player and the likely No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft.

James, who grew up idolizing Jordan and wears No. 23, even wore Nike Air Jordans while the rest of his team wore Adidas. When asked why, James smiled and said, "Because we're in North Carolina."

Among those in attendance was Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, the AP defensive rookie of the year and a former two-sport star at North Carolina. Peppers said he drove from Charlotte just to see James play.

"I just came to see what all of the hype was about," Peppers said. "And yeah, he's worth it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch him play high school ball."

Asked if he thinks James should turn pro, Peppers said, "Why not? He's got the body and he's got all of the skills."

After a slow start in which he was held to four points in the first quarter, James scored 11 in the second quarter as St. Vincent-St. Mary (12-0) blew open a four-point game to take 40-24 halftime lead.

James brought the crowd to its feet in the third quarter when he blocked a shot, then raced the length of the court and slammed down an alley-oop pass. He capped an impressive 15-point third quarter by losing a defender with a crossover dribble and nailing a fallaway 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"The crowd didn't like us," James said. "They booed us a couple of times. But I know when they go home they will have seen a good team play."

Reynolds (10-5), the three-time defending Class 4-A state champions, struggled with the fullcourt pressure of the nation's top-ranked team for much of the game.

Reynolds had hoped 6-7 senior Reyshawn Terry, who has committed to North Carolina, would slow James. But Terry got into foul trouble and scored just eight points. Keith Foster led the Demons with 13 points.

"He's a great player and you can't take anything away from him," Terry said. "I hope he does well in the NBA."

When Terry picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter, James walked by him and held up four fingers.

"That's just me," James said. "I am a humble guy. Yeah, sometimes I get cocky on the floor, but off the floor I'm humble."

Headline: James draws largest crowd for high school game in North Carolina

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