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SPORTSBRIEFING

Four classes in WV hoops

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — High school basketball teams in West Virginia are being divided into four classes instead of three, creating a larger and longer state tournament for at least the next two years.

News outlets report the West Virginia Board of Education voted Wednesday to accept a Secondary School Activities Commission pilot program going into effect in the 2020-2021 school year.

The program uses a formula to group schools. Classifications will be determined 70% by school enrollment and 30% by location and socioeconomic status.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports supporters say the change could create more parity for rural schools. Opponents say the change could unfairly affect specific counties.

The pilot program adds eight teams to the state basketball tournament and an extra day for both boys’ and girls’ teams at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Oklahoma favored

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma is the favorite to win another Big 12 football title, according to the conference’s preseason media poll released Wednesday.

The Sooners have won the league the last four years and 12 Big 12 championships overall. Oklahoma also made the College Football Playoff three of the past four seasons.

Texas was picked second by media covering the league. The top two teams will meet in the conference championship game on Dec. 7. The Longhorns lost to the Sooners in the title matchup in 2018.

Iowa State, TCU and Oklahoma State round out the top five picks.

The Big 12 will have four new head coaches in 2019 with Les Miles at Kansas, Chris Klieman at Kansas State, Matt Wells at Texas Tech and Neal Brown at West Virginia.

Marathon memorial takes shape

BOSTON (AP) — Four bronze spires that will make up part of a memorial to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings have been put in place near the finish line.

The spires, ranging in height from about 17 feet (5 meters) to 21 feet (6 meters), will serve as light poles for the memorial. They were installed Wednesday at one of the two locations where pressure cooker bombs detonated on April 15, 2013, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.

Memorials will eventually stand at both sites and will also honor two police officers who died after the attacks.

Planning began four years ago for the $2 million memorial, and it’s since undergone substantial redesign.

Artist Pablo Eduardo has said it’s important to meet the hopes and expectations of families who lost loved ones.

NBA to tinker with draft rules

LAS VEGAS (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants the hat game fixed.

Mindful that it was awkward for draft picks this year who were selected by one team and had already been traded to another — but because of league rules, were unable to be introduced by their actual franchise for more than two weeks — Silver said there was discussion Tuesday at the league’s board of governors meeting about how to change that going forward.

Several ideas are under discussion, including changing the rules about how and when draft-night trades can be announced. It could be earlier next season and not necessarily attached to the early July end to the moratorium on trades and certain signings.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Silver said.

First-round picks were issued hats to wear on stage at the draft, corresponding with the team that chose them. De’Andre Hunter went No. 4 overall, taken by the Los Angeles Lakers. His rights had been traded twice — first to New Orleans as part of the Anthony Davis deal, then to Atlanta. But since neither of those trades could be finalized before July 6, Hunter wore a Lakers cap on stage.

“We talk about being fan friendly, and that isn’t fan friendly,” Silver said.

There are plenty of changes that will be under consideration in the next few months, including one about the rules regarding the start to the negotiating period for free agents. Silver said that was also a topic among the board of governors on Tuesday.

For the draft night-traded players, it’s about more than the hats. Because some draftees couldn’t be part of their franchises before July 6, they were assured of missing the start of NBA Summer League. It cost a few players the chance to play in summer league at all, which disappointed many of them.

That won’t be an issue next year, with Summer League in Las Vegas scheduled to begin on July 10, 2020, long after the NBA’s new league year is likely to begin. So any draft pick that gets traded on draft night should, in theory, be with his actual team in plenty of time to take part in summer contests.

But this year, it was an issue.

“I was really disappointed,” Phoenix rookie Ty Jerome said.

Former North Carolina forward Cam Johnson wound up with Phoenix after being drafted No. 11 by Minnesota. By the time the draft could be executed, the Suns felt it was too late to put Johnson and Jerome — the No. 24 pick whose rights were traded twice on his way to Phoenix — on the floor for summer league.

So they remained in a cautious state of limbo for a couple of weeks, because an injury could have potentially derailed any trades.

“The one thing I was told was just to lay low,” Johnson said. “As much as I wanted to go out there, I wanted to play pickup, I was back at Carolina for a week and there were alumni games and all that that I didn’t really take part in because I was told to lay low — which I did. A lot of court workouts, a little one-on-one every now and then, a lot of lifting, staying under the radar but continuing to work.”

Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk said he thought this year was an outlier on the picks-being-traded front, simply because of how many teams found themselves in situations where moves were possible.

The Hawks introduced their draft picks, Hunter and Bruno Fernando, in Las Vegas this past weekend instead of in Atlanta, because both were draft picks whose rights were held up in trades until the moratorium was lifted and swaps could be finalized.

“It’s a hard situation, because you don’t have their rights even though everyone kind of knows it,” Schlenk said. “I’m sure the league will look into it to see what they can do. They take, obviously, tampering and salary-cap circumvention and trying to get around it very seriously, so I’m sure they will take a look at it.”

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.

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