Sports Briefs

Okafor among candidates for final spot on U.S. Olympic basketball team

Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2004

With one roster spot remaining to be filled, the U.S. Olympic basketball team is expected to choose size over shooting ability. Among the final candidates are Emeka Okafor, Brad Miller and Theo Ratliff, a source told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Carmelo Anthony has accepted an invitation to join the team, but two members of the NBA champion Detroit Pistons - Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace - have declined, two sources close to USA Basketball said on condition of anonymity.

One of those sources said the USA Basketball selection committee has decided to add a center rather than a pure shooter - a decision that has knocked Michael Redd out of contention for a spot on the constantly evolving 12-man roster.

"It has always been a dream of mine to play for my country in the Olympics and I plan on coming back with gold medal," Anthony said in a statement issued Wednesday by the Denver Nuggets.

Only Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson remain from the star-studded U.S. team that won the Tournament of the Americas last summer to earn a berth in the Athens Olympics.

Following a slew of withdrawals and rejected invitations, the unofficial U.S. roster now includes Duncan, Iverson, Anthony, LeBron James, Richard Jefferson, Stephon Marbury, Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire, Lamar Odom and Juneau's Carlos Boozer.

The addition of Miller, Okafor or Ratliff would give the team a true center, adding depth to a front line that includes only three power forwards - Duncan, Stoudemire and Boozer, a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"The more young kids with enthusiasm that are going to be our future, in my mind, the better off we can be," U.S. coach Larry Brown said during the NBA Finals.

The U.S. team opens training camp July 26.

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