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USF signs top recruits today

The South Florida men's basketball team will sign three players today, the first day of the fall early signing period.

Orlando Evans power forward Yusuf Baker, Hamden (Conn.) Hall guard Danny Oglesby and Lake Worth's Sam Barber are expected to make their oral commitments official.

Barber, the most recent commitment, is a 6-foot-4 guard/forward who is one of the top 200 seniors in the nation and top 10 in Florida. Baker (6-8) is rated in the top 50 nationally by some services.

The women's basketball team is expected to sign two players, both rated among the top 100 in the nation, 6-3 center Angela Hawkins of Winter Haven and 5-8 shooting guard Valerie de Velasco of Miami High.

Among local athletes who will sign today with USF in other sports are Dunedin outfielder Jeremy Bellotti with the baseball team and Countryside second baseman Kattrina Dowd with the softball team.

TENNIS: Saddlebrook resident and world No. 2 Jennifer Capriati and Anna Kournikova will face off Dec. 14 in an exhibition at the Ice Palace, the first tennis event at the arena. The event is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and is expected to feature a doubles match between yet-to-be-determined teams. Tickets ($25, $35, $65) will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster and at the Ice Palace ticket office. Limited courtside seats will be available for $125. To order by phone, call (727) 898-2100 or (813) 287-8844. Group tickets are available by calling (813) 301-6900. Gustavo Kuerten is ending the year in a slump, and his No. 1 ranking could slip away at the Masters Cup in Sydney, Australia. Kuerten couldn't handle Goran Ivanisevic's tricky serve and lost to the Wimbledon champion 6-2, 6-7 (7-2), 6-4. Yevgeny Kafelnikov beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).

AUTOS: Owner Robert Yates ordered his pit crew members to begin wearing headgear, a reaction to the pit-lane accident that seriously injured one of his employees. Yates' decision came as Bobby Burrell, a crewman for Ricky Rudd, was upgraded to good condition with a head injury after the accident during the race Sunday in Homestead. Burrell, who is conscious, was moved out of the intensive care unit and into a private room in a Florida hospital. He has been able to talk and spoke with Yates on Monday. Two other crewmen for Rudd and a NASCAR official also were injured.

FOOTBALL: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family launched the Dallas Desperados of the Arena League. Jerry Jones Jr. is president and general manager and Cowboys special-teams coach Joe Avezzano will be coach. Jonathan Diaz, a 17-year-old offensive lineman from Wilmington Banning High in Los Angeles who was sidelined for failing a physical earlier this year, died after collapsing at practice Monday.

GOLF: Palm Harbor's Jay Overton finished the first round of the Senior PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in Calimesa, Calif. tied for 15th, shooting 1-under-par 71. Tampa's Doug LaCrosse shot par and tied for 24th. USF grad and Brooksville native Kelly Lagedrost is tied for third after shooting 1-under 71 at the SBC Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament in Lakeland. Fifteen-year-old Aree Wongluekiet of Bradenton finished at 72, while sister Naree shot 74.

HORSES: A weanling by multiple graded stakes winner Comic Strip brought $120,000 at the November Breeding Stock Sale.

OBITUARY: Elena Tcherkasskaia, coach of two-time U.S. figure skating bronze medalist Angela Nikodinov, died Monday of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 64.

OLYMPICS: Emily Brydon, one of Canada's best hopes for a skiing medal, injured her knee during practice and will miss the Salt Lake City Games. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during super-G training in Colorado on Sunday.

SOCCER: The United States will play South Korea and Cuba in the first round of next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of the North and Central American and Caribbean region. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum filed a lawsuit claiming the United States Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer are unfairly controlling what matches are played there.

SWIMMING: The U.S. women's relay team will be awarded gold medals and declared co-winners with Britain in a disputed 800-meter freestyle race at Fukuoka, Japan, in July. The United States had finished second behind Australia, which was disqualified. The Americans were disqualified for jumping the start on a change. The team challenged its penalty, claiming that a touchpad showing Julie Hardt left the starting block before teammate Cristina Teuscher hit the wall had malfunctioned.

GOLF: Tampa's Doug LaCrosse finished the first round of the Senior PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in Calimesa, Calif. tied for 15th, shooting 1-under-par 71.

_ PETE YOUNG, SHARON GINN,

TIMES WIRES

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