It's official. LeBron enters NBA draft - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

It's official. LeBron enters NBA draft

By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - LeBron James declared himself eligible for the NBA draft Friday, ending months of speculation that he would bypass college and turn pro.

The 6-foot-8 James, the nation's top high school basketball
player, is expected to be the No. 1 selection in the June 26 draft.

James, 18, made the long anticipated announcement at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, which he led to three state championships in four years.

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

James, who will graduate in a month, has been destined for the pros for some time. At one point he and his mother, Gloria, considered petitioning the NBA to allow him to enter the draft after his junior year.

He has been heralded as a once-in-a-generation player since his sophomore year.

As a junior, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, dubbed "The Chosen One," and in the last two years has won every national player of the year award possible.

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

His senior year also included an investigation after he accepted two "throwback" jerseys worth $845 from a Cleveland clothing store.

James (pictured, above) was suspended by the state's high school athletic association, which also forced St. Vincent-St. Mary to forfeit one game.

He then won a court order allowing him to complete his senior year.

The three-time Ohio Mr. Basketball capped the season by leading St. Vincent-St. Mary to another state title.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association also looked into
James' mother's purchase of a $50,000 Hummer H2 for her son's 18th birthday. The family was cleared of any wrongdoing.

While James announced his intention to turn professional, he hasn't answered several other looming questions.

He has not picked an agent or chosen the between Nike, Adidas and Reebok, which have been courting James for a shoe deal expected to be worth at least $20 million.

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

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