Former high school phenom ready for shot with Warriors
Jeremy Tyler was in Israel two years ago when the moment came that made him realize his unprecedented experiment wasn't quite going to work out as planned. During the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days of the year, he was at home at night watching a movie. The noise was blaring on his speakers, and the lights were on in his house — all a big no-no in a place where life revolves around religion.
Neighbors came knocking on his door, screaming. The commotion created such an uproar that even the police were called. In just one night, the first American-born player to drop out of high school for a professional basketball career overseas had offended what felt like an entire country. "I didn't know. It was a complete culture shock," Tyler said Monday when he was introduced by the Golden State Warriors after being selected 39th overall in the NBA Draft. "It was a big wake-up call."
There have been many of those on Tyler's journey. A former high school phenom in San Diego, the 6-foot-10 power forward/center was considered perhaps the best big man in his class. But he wasn't happy at his school and wanted to transfer ahead of his senior season, only he couldn't because of district rules. All of 18 years old, he left high school after his junior year and signed a $140,000 deal with Israeli team Maccabi Haifa.
Life would never be the same. "There were two roads to take. I took the harder road," Tyler said.
The Warriors paid Charlotte $2 million in a surprising decision to move up in the second round and select Tyler. The Warriors will try to be patient and aren't expecting major contributions immediately.
"There were times I was like, 'Man, this is really hard.' But there was never a time where I regretted my decision," Tyler said. "I'm happy with it. I'm in the NBA. I have a chance. That's all I ever wanted."
N.C. State hoops hero killed in crash
Former North Carolina State basketball star Lorenzo Charles, the muscular forward whose last-second dunk gave the underdog Wolfpack the 1983 national collegiate championship, was killed Monday when a bus he was driving crashed, a company official said Monday. Elite Coach general manager Brad Jackson said Mr. Charles, 47, worked for the company and was driving one of its buses on Interstate 40. Raleigh, N.C., police spokesman Jim Sughrue said no passengers were aboard.
Mr. Charles secured his spot in N.C. State lore 28 years ago in the final moments of the Wolfpack's matchup with Houston in the national championship game. He grabbed Dereck Whittenburg's 30-foot shot and dunked it at the buzzer to give N.C. State a 54-52 win and its second national title, sending Coach Jim Valvano spilling onto the court, scrambling for someone to hug in what has become one of the lasting images of the NCAA Tournament.
Derby winning owner Cornacchia dies
Joseph M. Cornacchia, co-owner of Kentucky Derby winners Strike the Gold and Go For Gin, and a former member of The New York Racing Association Inc. Board of Directors, passed away on Sunday. Mr. Cornacchia, 78, made his mark in the board game industry as the manufacturer of Trivial Pursuit and president and founder of The Games Gang, which created Pictionary and Balderdash. Mr. Cornacchia partnered with B. Giles Brophy and William Condren to buy Strike the Gold as a 2-year-old in 1990, and found himself in the Churchill Downs winner's circle a year later. Mr. Cornacchia and Condren repeated the Derby feat in 1994 with Go For Gin, and also teamed up to win the 1996 Preakness with Louis Quatorze.
McIlroy third in latest world rankings
British golfers hold the top three spots in the world rankings, the first time that's happened in the 25-year history of the rankings. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland rose to third Monday following his triumph at the U.S. Open. Englishmen Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are Nos. 1 and 2.
"We've fed off each other's success," McIlroy told Sky Sports TV. "We saw Lee get to No. 1 in the world and Luke has been very consistent for the last two years. We're working hard to beat one another and strive to be better than everyone else."
Having started the year at No. 10, McIlroy overtook PGA Champion Martin Kaymer without playing last weekend because of the German's poor showing at the BMW International Open.
McIlroy said he wants to keep playing well while Tiger Woods continues his recovery from an injured left leg.
"It's a good time for me to win things when he's not playing his best," McIlroy said. "The first thing for Tiger is to get healthy and see what happens from there. I don't know if anyone can answer if he'll get back to where he was 10 years ago, but a lot of people would like to see him back on the course."
■ Sean Dougherty shot an 8-under 64 on Monday on the Hershey Country Club's West Course to break Sam Snead's 36-hole scoring record in the PGA Professional National Championship in Hershey, Pa. Dougherty, the 32-year-old PGA head professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan., had a 12-under 131 total — a stroke better than the mark set by Snead in 1971. Dougherty opened with a 67 on the East Course,
Eighty-five players in the 312-man field made the cut for the final two rounds on the East Course, the site of Byron Nelson's 1940 PGA Championship victory. The top 20 will earn spots in the PGA Championship on Aug. 11-14 at Atlanta Athletic Club. Keith Ohr, the PGA head professional at Wildwood Country Club in Louisville, and Patrick Vadden, the PGA assistant professional at Charlie Vettiner Golf Club in Louisville, are both in a group tied for 15th at 139.
Nicholasville swimmer wins silver medal
Nicholasville swimmer Collin Lutz won the first medal by a Kentucky athlete at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, on Monday. Lutz took the silver in the 100-meter backstroke. Lutz will also compete in the 100-meter freestyle and 4x100-meter medley relay finals on Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, Ryan Barts of Georgetown will compete in the preliminary heat of the 4x100-meter relay.
Martin wins 400 at Canadian nationals
Kentucky senior Jenna Martin won the 400-meter dash in the Canadian National Championship on Saturday with a time of 51.95, narrowly missing out on topping her personal-best time in the event. Martin holds the fastest time in the event in UK history.
■ Kentucky men's tennis star Eric Quigley, who just completed his junior season, was one of 19 players chosen for the 2011 United States Tennis Association Summer Collegiate Team.
The last word
LaDainian Tomlinson is enjoying the extended summer break from the rigors of minicamp and other off-season activities. After 10 NFL seasons, the New York Jets running back has been able to spend more time with family and a nearly year-old son while resting his body. While he has not yet thought about whether the labor situation will get settled to start training camp on time, Tomlinson said he expects to be thinking differently about that soon.
"It's a time clock on my body and I promise you as you get closer to August you start feeling like hitting. That's just what it is for football players. I've been at the point where I'm like, 'Oh, I'm good. Working out, everything's good.' I am starting to get a little eager to hit people and kind of to get hit maybe."