By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - LeBron James is taking his show on the road this season.
James, regarded as the nation's top high school basketball player and the likely No. 1 pick in next year's NBA draft, and his Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary teammates are scheduled to play games in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chapel Hill, N.C., Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh.
"We think this is a great opportunity for LeBron, and our core group of seniors, who have all played together since they were kids, to face some high-quality competition and see some places many of them have never been," said Grant Innocenzi, athletic director at SVSM high school.
The Irish are scheduled to play Street & Smith magazine's preseason No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif., at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 4. They'll also be playing at the Palestra in Philadelphia (Dec. 22); the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill (Jan. 20); Value City Arena in Columbus (Dec. 28); and Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh (Dec. 15).
In addition, James' team will make a visit to Trenton, N.J. for a tournament (Feb. 7-9) and will play at Cleveland's Convocation Centre against Oak Hill (Va.) Academy on Dec. 12 in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.
"This will be great exposure for our school and for LeBron," Innocenzi said. "We've very excited."
Innocenzi said the travel will not cause the players to miss any school since the games are scheduled while SVSM is closed for holiday vacation.
The 6-foot-7 James, who broke his right wrist this summer in an AAU tournament in Chicago, won every major player of the year award last season.
James (pictured, above) was already a phenom in Ohio before gaining national exposure when Sports Illustrated did a cover story on the 18-year-old and dubbed him "The Chosen One".
Like last year, SVSM will play the majority of their home games at Akron's 5,700 Rhodes Arena. However, the Irish will play two games in their own school gym, which seats 1,700.
"It will be loud, hot and sweaty, all the good things about high school basketball," Innocenzi said.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)