Duluth's Wheeler commits to Gardner-Webb basketball

· Duluth senior Jesse Wheeler, a 6-foot-5 forward, has accepted a basketball scholarship from Gardner-Webb University (N.C.). A two-year starter, he is the son of Bob and Patti Wheeler.

Wheeler averaged 14.6 points and 5.0 rebounds as a junior.

Lanier, Berkeley Hills finish high in Georgia Team Championship

· Lanier Golf Club dominated with a two-day score of 7 under par to win the Georgia State Golf Association's Georgia Team Championship, held this past weekend at The Georgia Club. Lanier's team was Dave Sexton, Al Everett, Matt Robbins and Jeff Belk.

Berkeley Hills Country Club tied for second at 1 under with the foursome of Ed Cortez, Jeddy Smith, Jorge Cora and Hector Cora.

Locals fare well on AGA Tour

· Duluth's Eddie Fields and Buford's Phil Hoddy won flights at an Amateur Golfers Association Tour stop at Reunion Golf Club. Fields shot 79 to tie for first in Flight Two while Hoddy was the Flight Five champion with an 83.


Andruw Jones named Silver Slugger

· ATLANTA - The Braves' Andruw Jones on Monday won the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger award for National League center fielders.

Jones, who hit .263 with 51 homers and 128 RBIs this past season, is a first-time winner of the award. The 28-year-old's home run total set a franchise high.

The Silver Slugger is voted on by baseball's coaches and managers and given to a player at each position in the AL and NL. Selections were based, Louisville Slugger said, on a combo of offensive stats that included batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and also the coaches and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value.

Jones is up for several more awards this week, including National League MVP, voted on by the country's writers. Last week, Jones won the Hank Aaron Award for the NL's best offensive player.

He also already won the Sporting News' major league player of the year award.

Thrashers call up Barney from AHL

· ATLANTA - The Atlanta Thrashers have signed forward Scott Barney from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, general manager Don Waddell announced Monday.

Barney, 26, leads Chicago with 11 points (seven goals, four assists). The 6-4, 225-pound right wing has scored goals in four straight games with Chicago.


Epstein walks away from Red Sox

· BOSTON - Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein resigned Monday, surprising Boston and the baseball world just one year after he helped build the franchise's first World Series championship team since 1918.

The team said in a statement that Epstein will continue working for several days to assist in the transition and prepare for the offseason.

The Boston Herald, which first reported the news on its Web site, said the Yale graduate has told associates that he may leave baseball, or at least take a year off.

The Dodgers, Phillies and Devil Rays have GM openings, but none has a $120 million payroll to match the one Epstein was given in Boston.

The 31-year-old Epstein was reportedly offered about $4.5 million for a three-year extension - quadruple his previous salary.

Weiss brings jovial attitude to Sonics

· SEATTLE - Bob Weiss could have spent the time analyzing scouting reports, examining film of players trying to make his roster, or simply enjoying a moment to relax during a hectic preseason.

Instead, there was the new coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, standing in front of new season ticket holders, microphone in hand, holding an impromptu ''Q&A'' less than an hour before a recent preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

After 11 years as a SuperSonics assistant, Weiss - the former Atlanta Hawks coach - was handed the reins in the offseason when former coach Nate McMillan bolted south to Portland. Along with the transition came a stark change in style and personality.

''He's more of a laid back guy, but I think there is a big difference in that two feet on the bench and moving over to that head spot,'' forward Nick Collison said. ''Guys have a different mindframe. We'll see as we go.''

Weiss had a regular-season record of 124-122 and a playoff record of 2-6 as Atlanta's coach from 1990-93.

Culpepper out for season with knee injury

· EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - An already dire situation got worse for the demoralized Minnesota Vikings with confirmation Monday that quarterback Daunte Culpepper will miss the rest of the season with a devastating injury to his right knee.

Culpepper, a three-time Pro Bowl pick coming off a career year whose effectiveness had fallen off dramatically this season, tore his anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in Sunday's 38-13 loss at Carolina.

Once the swelling subsides, the 28-year-old Culpepper will have surgery and several months of arduous rehabilitation. An injury of this nature typically takes a year to recover, but at least right now the Vikings are optimistic about his status for 2006.

''Our expectations are he's going to be ready for the season,'' athletic trainer Chuck Barta said.

- From staff, wire reports