High school basketball phenom LeBron James will make his second appearance in Toledo tonight at 8:30 when his 21-1 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary team, ranked No.1 nationally in the USA Today poll, faces Tallmadge (14-9) in a Division II regional semifinal at Savage Hall.
As many as 1,000 tickets may be available for the game at around 10 a.m. today, according to Rosanne Croop of the University of Toledo ticket office, who said Tallmadge officials will be forwarding their unsold portion of tickets. Akron SVSM also may return some unsold tickets.
If James' team, rated No. 1 in D-II, wins tonight it will play the winner of tonight's 5:30 p.m. regional semifinal between 15th-ranked Ottawa-Glandorf (21-3) and ninth-ranked Willard (21-3).
James and Akron SVSM defeated Ottawa-Glandorf 77-58 in a Division II regional final played to a Savage Hall crowd of 8,878 last March 16.
Croop said the three-hour gap between semifinal start times was arranged by UT officials to allow enough time to clear Savage Hall and the parking areas between games, both of which may be sellouts in the 9,000-seat facility. Any remaining tickets unsold by the regional-final teams tomorrow will be put on sale between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday, according to Croop.
James is expected to skip college and become the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft in June. He is also expected to sign a lucrative shoe endorsement deal upon completion of his high school career, a contract some say could surpass $25 million.
He was suspended by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Jan.31 for accepting two “throwback” sports jerseys valued at $845 in violation of OHSAA bylaws. The Fighting Irish also were ordered to forfeit a victory over Akron Buchtel played after the jerseys were received.
James returned the jerseys, and the OHSAA's permanent suspension was reduced to two games by an Akron-area judge.
- STEVE JUNGA