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Boozer named to Olympic team

Carlos Boozer, the rugged power forward who grew up in Juneau and now plays for the Utah Jazz, was named to the U.S. Olympic basketball team on Monday morning.

The 12-man U.S. roster that will represent the United States in Bejing this summer was announced Monday morning by Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team:

Carmelo Anthony (Denver)

Carlos Boozer (Utah)

Chris Bosh (Toronto)

Kobe Bryant (Lakers)

Dwight Howard (Orlando)

LeBron James (Cleveland)

Jason Kidd (Dallas)

Chris Paul (New Orleans)

Tayshaun Prince (Detroit)

Michael Redd (Milwaukee)

Dwyane Wade (Miami)

Deron Williams (Utah)

Team USA, which hasn't won gold since Atlanta in 1996 and finished a disappointing third in Athens in 2004 will be without Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire, who withdrew themselves from consideration last week. The 12-man squad also omitted any members of the NBA champion Boston Celtics who, after a record 26 playoff games, chose not to extend their season any longer.

Boozer joins Eagle River trapshooter Corey Cogdell as the only athletes with Alaska ties to secure Olympic berths so far.

Nine years have passed since Boozer lived in Juneau, yet he still holds Alaska close to his heart, his high school coach said, which is why the NBA All-Star has tattooed a grizzly bear on his chiseled left shoulder.

"He hasn't forgotten where he came from," said retired Juneau-Douglas coach George Houston. "He's trying to get it to the point where he can make it back every summer."

Boozer has been a champion at every level of basketball -- leading Juneau to back-to-back Class 4A state championships in 1997 and 1998 and helping Duke win a NCAA championship in 2002 -- except the NBA.

Boozer wasn't projected as a big NBA star in college. Coming out of Duke as an All-American after forgoing his senior season, Boozer was considered a tweaner of sorts --stuck somewhere between center and power forward.

Pegged as a middle-to-late first-rounder by draft experts in 2002, Boozer slipped into the second round before Cleveland nabbed him at No. 35. Even Utah passed on him in the draft.

"For the whole career, that's going to be motivation for him," Houston said. "He uses that."

Boozer was considered a steal that late, although the slide cost him millions because second-round draft picks do not receive guaranteed contracts.

Boozer would eventually get paid, though.

After starting two seasons for the Cavs and averaging 15.5 points and 11.5 rebounds his second season, Boozer tested the free-agent market in 2004 and wound up signing a six-year deal with Utah for $68 million. That made him the richest athlete ever from Alaska.


Staff and wire reports