Wake Forest has offered a full scholarship to a 14-year-old freshman who has never played a down of high school football, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Because of NCAA rules, school officials can't comment on unsigned players. But Chris Leak's father, Curtis, and Independence (N.C.) High School Coach Rusty Jester said Wake Forest Coach Jim Caldwell offered Leak a scholarship during summer camp, and Leak committed to play for the Deacons.

"It's pretty new to me," Jester said Friday. "I've not heard of [a high school freshman getting a college scholarship offer] happening very often. But it's an awful good opportunity for a 14-year-old to have his education taken care of."

Curtis Leak, who said South Carolina also offered Chris a scholarship, said his son plans to sign with Wake Forest in four years, provided Caldwell is still coach.

If Chris attends Wake, the Deacons could have a Leak playing quarterback the next eight seasons. Leak's older brother, former high school all-American C.J., chose Wake Forest over Penn State and Notre Dame in February. C.J. Leak, the leading passer in Independence history, will be a college freshman this fall.

C.J. Leak said his brother, who is 5 feet 11 and weighs 190 pounds, will become the better player.

"He's heavier and more disciplined than I was at the same age," said C.J., who is 6-4 and 225 pounds. "He's disciplined, with good fundamentals and I think [Wake Forest] just sees him developing and getting better four years down the road."

Last summer, after his seventh-grade year, Chris trailed C.J., Independence's Omar Harris and A.L. Brown's Nick Maddox to Florida State's football camp. According to the Leak family, Chris was moved alongside the rising seniors because Seminoles coaches considered him that good.

"Chris is extremely advanced for a 14-year-old," Jester said. "He throws the ball very much like a mature quarterback. Some variables haven't been tested, as far as leadership ability and being accepted by his teammates. Only time will tell about those. But as far as throwing and athleticism, he's there. He's very much a quality quarterback."


Elway Loses Bid

John Elway's life after pro football will not include an ownership share of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. A group headed by billionaire Donald Sturm beat out Elway and a Saudi Arabian princess, winning the chance to bid against a Wal-Mart heiress for the rights to the Nuggets and Avalanche.

The Sturm group offered $461 million for Ascent Entertainment Group's two teams and its Pepsi Center arena, which is to open this fall.

Elway's business manager, Jeff Sperbeck, declined to reveal the amount of the bid submitted by the retired Broncos quarterback, Denver financier Bjorn Erik Borgen and Colorado ski mogul George Gillett.

Chuck Neinas, Ascent's acting chairman and chief executive officer, said the group made the highest bid, had the best financing and met the ownership standards of the NBA and NHL.

Princess Thara Al Saud offered $450 million in cash, said Valerian Butler Smith III, chairman of New York-based Ashland Capital Holdings and the princess's principal investment manager.

Smith said the princess wants him to speak with NBA Commissioner David Stern about acquiring another team.


Rafter No. 1

Patrick Rafter is the first Australian to be ranked No. 1 since John Newcombe did it 25 years ago. Rafter supplanted Andre Agassi at the top of men's tennis, becoming the fifth player to hold the No. 1 ranking this year.

"I've always thought that the years 2000 and 2001 will be his major two years," said Newcombe, Australia's Davis Cup captain and the winner of five grand slam events. "I think he'll be the best player in the world. He mightn't be number one the whole time, but he'll be the dominant player."


Armstrong Rolls On

Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong kept up his winning ways in Boxmeer, the Netherlands, as he launched a week of races, receptions and talk show appearances almost as grueling as the Tour itself.

After three weeks pedaling through France, the 62-mile race around this town southeast of Amsterdam was more about picking up the $25,000 appearance fee than being first across the line.

But the Texan gave 20,000 cheering fans what they had come to see, breaking from the pack shortly before the finish to beat Australia's Robbie McEwan. Servais Knaven of the Netherlands was third.


Possible Kidney Match

San Antonio Spurs forward Sean Elliott said that a member of his family is a possibility for a match to provide him with a kidney transplant, although it is still too early to know for sure.

Elliott said in a statement released by the Spurs that more tests are necessary, and at this point it's premature to make predictions as to whether a match will be found.

KSAT-TV reported earlier yesterday that one of Elliott's two brothers had a compatible kidney.

The San Antonio television station quoted a source close to Elliott for the story. The station did not report which brother, Noel or Robert, was the match. . . .

Duke's Elton Brand, the No. 1 pick in the draft, signed a three-year, $10.7 million contract with the Chicago Bulls.