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James yet to appeal

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James has yet to appeal his banishment from playing high school basketball, keeping the 18-year-old superstar off the court.

James had been expected to appeal the decision Monday, but Ohio High School Athletic Association spokesman Bob Goldring said the organization did not hear from him or his lawyer by late afternoon.

“Everything is status quo,” Goldring said. “We have not heard anything about an appeal or any legal action.”

James’ attorney, Fred Nance, did not return phone messages.

James, regarded as the nation’s top player and the next No. 1 NBA draft pick, was ruled ineligible on Friday by the OHSAA for accepting two free sports jerseys worth a combined $845 from a clothing store.

As of late Monday afternoon, Nance had not filed for a temporary restraining order with Summit County Common Pleas Court, which would block the order so James could continue playing.

If James plans to appeal the decision by the OHSAA, he must do so to the agency in writing. The appeal would be heard by a state panel on Feb. 13 in Columbus.

James sat out the first game of his career Sunday, and his Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary teammates barely won without him, beating Canton McKinley 63-62.

Afterward, University of Akron police and James’ own security personnel kept reporters away from him. He agreed to an exclusive interview with former NFL star Deion Sanders for CBS News’ “The Early Show.”

In the interview, scheduled to air Tuesday morning, James expresses remorse for accepting the trendy retro jerseys.

“If I had known I was violating anything, I would’ve never done it,” James told Sanders. “I would’ve never jeopardized my eligibility. I would’ve never jeopardized my team.”

“When I went in (the store), you know, I was just going in there as being, you know, another player, and they was trying to reward me for my good grades,” added James, who has said he has a 3.5 grade-point average.

The OHSAA found that the Cleveland store gave James the Gale Sayers and Wes Unseld jerseys for free, in exchange for James posing for pictures to be displayed on the walls.

In addition to ruling James ineligible, OHSAA commissioner Clair Muscaro ordered his school to forfeit its Jan. 26 win over Akron Buchtel.

The Fighting Irish (14-1) entered Monday ranked No. 1 by USA Today but could drop in Tuesday’s rankings because of the forfeit and James’ ineligibility.

James’ team is scheduled to play Saturday night at the Isles Prime Time Shootout in Trenton, N.J., a charity tournament featuring 11 of the top 25 high school teams nationally.

Martin Johnson, president of the Isles, Inc., a nonprofit community development group, said he expects James to not only appeal his punishment but win.

Associated Press