LeBron James draws record Carolina crowd

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - LeBron James went to his idol Michael Jordan's home state and played just like Mike.

James, the nation's top high school player, scored 32 points Monday to lead Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary to a 85-56 win over Winston-Salem Reynolds before the largest crowd ever to watch a
game in North Carolina.

More than 15,000 came to the Greensboro Coliseum to get a look at James. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound James didn't disappoint.

On the same floor where Jordan played several games while at North Carolina, James showed why he'll likely be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft.

James, who wears Jordan's No. 23, even sported Nike Air Jordans while the rest of the team wore Adidas sneakers. When asked why, James quipped, "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 had 11 points in the second quarter as the nation's top-ranked team 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, 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 burying a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"The crowd didn't like us," James said of the Fighting Irish (12-0). "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), three-time defending champions, had trouble handling a fullcourt press much of the game.

Senior Reyshawn Terry, who has committed to North Carolina, had hoped to slow James but got into foul trouble and scored just eight 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."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)