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Wake Forest's Paul Leaves Two Years Early, Enters NBA Draft

Friday, April 15, 2005; Page D02

All-American point guard Chris Paul will give up his final two years of eligibility at Wake Forest and enter the NBA draft. He made the announcement yesterday at a news conference in Winston-Salem, N.C.

In the final game of the regular season, Paul intentionally punched North Carolina State's Julius Hodge in the groin. Paul was suspended for one game and Wake Forest lost to the Wolfpack in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

Wake Forest's Chris Paul has decided to forgo his last two years of college eligibility to enter the NBA draft. (Jeff Glidden - AP)

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That loss likely cost the Deacons a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and they were upset in the second round by West Virginia. But Paul denied it had any effect on his decision.

"None whatsoever," he said. "Julius Hodge, good riddance. Maybe I'll see you next year." . . .

Torin Francis will forgo his senior season at Notre Dame and enter the draft. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 9.3 points and 7.9 rebounds last season, leading the Fighting Irish in rebounding for the third straight season.

• TENNIS: In Charleston, S.C., defending champion Venus Williams lost to Tatiana Golovin, 7-5, 6-4, at the Family Circle Cup.

"I just kept making error after error. It was a comedy of errors," said the fourth-seeded Williams, who played Wednesday night and then had to play again at 1 p.m.

Justine Henin-Hardenne defeated Iveta Benesova, 6-2, 6-3, and will face Lindsay Davenport, who defeated Viktoriya Kutuzova, 6-3, 6-1, in the next round. . . .

Off to the best start to an ATP season in 21 years, Roger Federer extended his winning streak to 25 with a victory over Fernando Gonzalez at the Monte Carlo Masters in Monaco. The top-ranked Swiss star beat the Chilean, 6-2, 6-7 (7-3), 6-4, to improve to 35-1 this year. John McEnroe began the 1984 season with 39 straight wins.

• SOCCER: Major League Soccer players overwhelmingly approved the first collective bargaining agreement in the history of the league, one that increases the minimum salary, establishes a pension benefit and also inaugurates a neutral arbitrator in grievances.

The agreement increases the minimum salary from $24,000 to $28,000 this season and to $34,000 in the final year of the contract (2009).

-- From News Services

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