Paxten Aaronson hopes to join brother Brenden on US team
CARSON — Paxten Aaronson has yet to move into an apartment in Germany.
“I actually have only been there for like four days,” he said. “I was staying in the hotel, but I walked all around the city. It’s a beautiful city, but I’m looking forward to going back and kind of making it my home with my apartment and everything.”
The 19-year-old midfielder transferred to Eintracht Frankfurt from Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union at the start of the year, then went to Dubai with his new club for 10 days of training. The younger brother of Leeds midfielder Brenden Aaronson, Paxten Aaronson then headed to the U.S. to join the American national team for a possible debut in an exhibition against Serbia on Wednesday night under interim coach Anthony Hudson.
“I’m really hungry to get after it and make a really good first impression,” Aaronson said Monday. “It’s a dream of mine to make my senior debut.”
A native of Medford, New Jersey, Aaronson started with the Union academy at the under-13/14 level, debuted for Philadelphia Union II in the second tier United Soccer League on July 23, 2020, and made his MLS debut May 30, 2021. He played in 23 games last season, though just two of them starts.
Aaronson scored seven goals in five matches at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, earning top player and goal-scoring leader awards as the Americans qualified for this year’s Under-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.
Aaronson is following the path of 22-year-old brother Brenden, who moved from the Union to RB Salzburg in January 2021 and to Leeds last summer.
“I talk to him on a regular basis,” Aaronson said. “I think I was going to FaceTime him later today.”
Brenden Aaronson made his U.S. debut in January 2020 and has 28 international appearances, including all four U.S. matches at last year’s World Cup. He is not with the team for this week’s games, which are outside FIFA’s international release windows.
The Aaronsons could become the eighth set of brothers to play for the national team following John and Pedro DeBrito, Otto and Rolf Decker, Angelo and Paul DiBernardo, Charlie and Henry McCully, George and Louie Nanchoff, Steve and Ken Snow, Archie and Tom Stark.
Sharpe apologizes for actions during Grizzlies-Lakers game
LOS ANGELES — Hall of Fame football player Shannon Sharpe apologized Monday after getting into a heated courtside conversation with Memphis Grizzlies players Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks and Morant’s father during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Fox Sports personality issued the apology during the “Undisputed” show with Skip Bayless.
“I’ve preached for the last six and a half years responsibility and accountability, and I take full responsibility for what transpired,” Sharpe said. “I’m never gonna say that wasn’t Shannon Sharpe because that was me. That was just me getting out of character. And I’m sorry for all those that saw my actions and took offense to my actions.”
Sharpe exchanged words with Brooks throughout the first half Friday and then yelled at Morant on the final possession of the second quarter. After the halftime buzzer sounded, Brooks yelled at Sharpe and Sharpe motioned toward Brooks.
Morant walked toward Sharpe at his courtside seat before center Steven Adams stepped in front of him.
Tee Morant, Ja Morant’s father, also got involved in the conversation before security at Crypto.com Arena separated everyone.
Sharpe, 54, yelled “I bet you won’t!” at Tee Morant as security guards tried to break things up.
“It does not matter what Dillon Brooks said or how many times he said it. Me being the responsible person, having the platform that I have, and having so many people look up to me, I was wrong,” Sharpe said. “I should have lowered the temperature in the arena. Instead, I turned the temperature up, and I let it get out of hand.”
Panthers complete interview with Sean Payton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers interviewed Sean Payton for their coaching vacancy on Monday.
Panthers owner David Tepper has also interviewed Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, former Detroit Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and Steve Wilks, who was the team’s interim head coach this season, for the job.
The 59-year-old Payton is drawing plenty of interest from NFL teams with head coaching openings. including the Denver Broncos.
Payton did not coach this past season, but the New Orleans Saints still hold his rights. It’s unclear what type of draft pick compensation it would take from the Panthers to lure Payton from their division rivals.
Payton won the NFC South seven times with the Saints and the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, amassing a 152-89 record in the regular season and a 9-8 mark in the postseason.
Michigan Stadium tunnel will widen without portable seating
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan Stadium’s lone tunnel — the site of altercations between players as they enter and exit the field — will be a little wider next season.
The school confirmed Monday that it will remove a portable section of seats from the front of the tunnel to give players, coaches and staff members more room to enter and exit the football field.
Previously, fans were close enough to touch coaches and players as one spectator did last season with Michigan State’s Mel Tucker well before the postgame altercation between Spartans and Wolverines players that led to suspensions and criminal charges.
A total of 45 portable seats will be lost and enough standing-room only tickets are expected to be added in the stadium to keep its capacity at 107,601.
“This decision was made after a thorough review for the health and wellness of everyone who uses the tunnel to get on and off the field,” Michigan spokesman Kurt Svoboda said.
The Big Ten fined Michigan State $100,000 for its role in the stadium tunnel altercations and reprimanded Michigan for failing to “provide adequate protection for personnel of both home and visiting teams when entering and leaving playing arenas,” per conference policy.
Lifeguard Luke Shepardson wins Hawaii surfing ‘Super Bowl’
HONOLULU— Luke Shepardson was declared the winner in one of the world’s most prestigious and storied surfing contests held in Hawaii over the weekend for the first time in seven years.
Shepardson was declared the winner Sunday of The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, while John John Florence — the winner of the event in 2016, the last time it happened — was named runner-up. Shepardson, a Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguard, scored 89.1 points out of a possible 90 to edge out defending champion Florence, the Star-Advertiser reported.
Mark Healey took third place and Billy Kemper took fourth.
The competition also featured female surfers for the first time in its 39-year history, and six competed.
Andrea Moller made history as the first female to ride a competitive wave at “The Eddie,” the newspaper reported.
The one-day contest held in Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore goes forward only when the surf is consistently large enough during the winter big-wave surfing season from mid-December through mid-March.
Before this year, it had only been held nine times since the initial competition in 1984.
The competition honors legendary Native Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau for his selflessness, courage and sacrifice.
Twins acquire veteran OF Michael A. Taylor from Royals
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins acquired veteran Michael A. Taylor from the Kansas City Royals on Monday night, adding depth and defense to their outfield in exchange for two relief pitching prospects, according to a person with knowledge of the trade.
The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams had not yet announced it.
Taylor batted .254 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 414 at-bats last season for the Royals, his second year with the club after spending his first seven major league seasons with the Washington Nationals. Taylor was a Gold Glove winner in his Royals debut in 2021 and gives the Twins a third outfielder on their roster who has won the award, joining Byron Buxton (2017) and newcomer Joey Gallo (2020 and 2021).
The Twins sent 23-year-old right-hander Steven Cruz and 25-year-old left-hander Evan Sisk to the Royals.
Cruz, a native of the Dominican Republic, went 1-4 with a 5.14 ERA, 35 walks and 72 strikeouts in 56 innings last season for Double-A Wichita.
Sisk, who was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 16th round in 2018 out of the College of Charleston, split last season between Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. He went 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 29 walks and 76 strikeouts in 63 innings between the teams.
Notre Dame’s Dara Mabrey out for season with torn ACL
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame guard Dara Mabrey announced on social media that she tore her ACL, ending her college career with the seventh-ranked Irish.
The graduate student hurt the right knee nearly 2 minutes into the game when she stole a ball and was racing down the court. She was fouled and went to the floor and immediately grabbed her knee. The school said Mabrey also had a a tibial plateau fracture.
“On Sunday against UVA, I suffered an ACL injury that will end my final season at Notre Dame,” Mabrey said on Twitter. “While it certainly is not the way that I wanted to go out, I am confident that everything happens for a reason. I know I will find peace with my situation as I recover in the coming months.”
Mabrey has played 135 in her career which started at Virginia Tech for the first two seasons before she came to Notre Dame where her two older sisters starred. She started 18 games this season and 125 in her career. She’s averaged 10.9 points and 2.4 assists over the years.
Nuggets star Porter Jr.’s brother arrested after fatal crash
DENVER — University of Denver basketball player Coban Porter, the brother of Denver Nuggets’ star Michael Porter Jr., smelled of alcohol and and had slurred speech when he was arrested following a fatal crash in Denver, police said in a court document released Monday.
Porter ran a red light going about 50 mph (80 kmph) eastbound and hit a vehicle going northbound at an intersection, killing the driver, early Sunday morning near the University of Denver, the probable cause statement said. The passenger was also injured, it said.
When interviewed by police, Porter “displayed bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred and mumbling speech, and the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath” and had a “BudLight” paper wristband on his left wrist, the statement said.
Porter was arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide and was released from jail Sunday afternoon after his brother paid a $2,000 bond, according to court records. Michael Porter Jr. missed Sunday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Denver for “personal reasons.”
Court records did not indicate if Porter had an attorney yet.
In a statement, the University of Denver expressed its condolences.
“This is a tragic and heartbreaking situation, and our deepest sympathies are with those involved in the accident, their families, and friends. All the resources of our campus and broader community, including counseling services, are available to any DU community member in need of assistance 24/7,” it said.
Coban Porter, a 6-foot-4 guard, signed with the Denver Pioneers in 2021 after spending the previous season with Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri.
Knee injury ends season for Nebraska’s Emmanuel Bandoumel
LINCOLN, Neb.— Nebraska’s Emmanuel Bandoumel will require surgery and miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee in a game over the weekend, coach Fred Hoiberg announced Monday.
Bandoumel’s knee buckled as he drove to the basket in the first half of the Cornhuskers’ 76-65 loss Saturday to Penn State. He is the second Nebraska starter in two weeks to sustain a season-ending injury. Juwan Gary is out with a shoulder injury.
Bandoumel, a fifth-year guard who transferred from SMU, started all 20 games for the Huskers (10-10, 3-6 Big Ten) and was averaging 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
“I am heartbroken for Emmanuel to have his college career end this way,” Hoiberg said. “I’ve said all season that Emmanuel is one of the best defenders in the country, and he impacts the game in so many ways beyond the measurables.”
Bandoumel had started 84 consecutive games since his first season at SMU. He played 100 Division I games and totaled 880 points, 351 rebounds and 160 assists during three seasons at SMU and one season at Nebraska. He began his career at Hill College in 2018-19.
Georgia football transfer Thomas arrested on felony charge
ATHENS, Ga. — A wide receiver who recently transferred to national champion Georgia from Mississippi State was arrested Monday on felony and misdemeanor charges.
Rodarius “Rara” Thomas was booked at around 4 a.m. on a felony charge of false imprisonment and a misdemeanor count of family violence battery, according to Clarke County jail records. He spent more than eight hours in jail before being released on $1,850 bond shortly after noon.
Jail records showed the 20-year-old Thomas was arrested by University of Georgia police. No other details were immediately available, and it was not known if Thomas had an attorney who could speak for him.
“We are aware of a reported incident involving conduct by one of our student-athletes,” the Georgia athletic department said in a statement. “While we are limited in what we can say about the incident, the report is disappointing and not reflective of the high standards we have for our student-athletes on and off the field.”
The arrest of Thomas was another blow to a Georgia team that won its second second straight national championship with a 65-7 rout of TCU on Jan. 9.
A few hours after a celebratory parade through Athens and a ceremony at Sanford Stadium, offensive lineman Devin Willock and a member of the recruiting staff were killed in an early morning car wreck on Jan. 15. Excessive speed has been cited as one of the causes of the crash, which remains under investigation.
Thomas, who is from Eufaula, Alabama, was one of Mississippi State’s leading receivers this past season, with 44 catches for a team-high 626 yards and seven touchdowns.
He announced his transfer to Georgia in December.
Thomas has been projected to be key member of the Bulldogs’ offense after receiver Kearis Jackson declared for the NFL draft and receiver Adonai Adonai Mitchell entered the transfer portal.
Mitchell, who has since committed to Texas, missed much of the 2022 season with a high ankle sprain. He returned to make the game-winning, 10-yard touchdown catch against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal and added a 22-yard touchdown catch against TCU in the title game.