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WAMC Sports Report 6/27/24: Hawks make Risacher second straight Frenchman taken No. 1 in NBA draft

Zaccharie Risacher, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the first overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA basketball draft, Wednesday, June 26, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
Julia Nikhinson/AP
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AP
Zaccharie Risacher, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the first overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA basketball draft, Wednesday, June 26, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

NBA

The Atlanta Hawks took Zaccharie Risacher with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Wednesday night, followed by another French teen in 7-footer Alex Sarr to Washington at No. 2. They were the first of three Frenchmen in the top 10 and four in the first round. It’s the second straight year a player from France was the first player selected. Risacher doesn’t come with the enormous height or hype of Victor Wembanyama, the towering center who went to San Antonio last year and went on to win the Rookie of the Year award. But the Hawks saw him as the best choice in what has been viewed as a draft absent of elite talent. This is the first time that the draft has gone consecutive years without the No. 1 pick being someone who played at an American college.

Elsewhere in the first round, the 76ers took Duke guard Jared McCain 16th, the Knicks took Miami forward Kyshawn George 24th and traded him to the Washington Wizards. New York also took Ratiopharm Ulm forward Pacome Dadiet 25th. With the 30th pick, the Boston Celtics selected Creighton guard Baylor Scheierman.

The second round kicks off at 4 p.m. today. The Knicks will pick 38th, the 76ers 41st, and the Boston Celtics 54th.

The NBA may have to rethink the timing of its draft. Not the month, just the hour it starts. Paris is six hours ahead of New York. That forced French basketball fans eager to see history to stay up into the wee hours of Thursday morning. France joined the United States as the only countries with three players selected within the top 10 picks of an NBA draft. The momentum started with Victor Wembanyana of France becoming the No. 1 pick overall a year ago. Atlanta made Zaccharie Risacher the top pick of this draft. Risacher says he knows a lot of France stayed up all night to watch.

The players selected in the first round of the NBA draft. French teenager Zaccharie Risacher goes first overall to the Atlanta Hawks, followed by another French teen in 7-footer Alex Sarr to Washington at No. 2. They were the first of three Frenchmen in the top 10 and four in the first round. Charlotte took Tidjane Salaun at No. 6 overall while Pacome Dadiet went at No. 25 to New York. Two-time reigning national champion UConn had guard Stephon Castle go fourth to San Antonio and big man Donovan Clingan go seventh to Portland. Kentucky also had two top-10 picks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves did some extra digging into Terrence Shannon Jr. before the draft. They found plenty of sources vouching for his character. The background work bolstered their confidence in a dynamic player whose final season at Illinois was overshadowed by a rape charge he was recently exonerated of. The Timberwolves took Shannon at No. 27 overall in the first round. Shannon was found not guilty two weeks ago after a jury spent less than two hours deliberating the verdict. He was accused of sexual assault last September during a visit to Kansas for a football game.

A person with knowledge of the details says OG Anunoby will stay with the New York Knicks on a five-year contract worth more than $210 million. Keeping the swingman was a priority for the Knicks after they flourished when Anunoby was in the lineup after arriving in December in a trade with Toronto. The deal was first reported by ESPN, which said Anunoby’s deal would be worth $212.5 million. The person confirmed the details to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract is not yet official. The Knicks went 20-3 with Anunoby in the lineup in the regular season.

MLB

Francisco Alvarez went 3 for 3 with a homer and three RBIs, Tyrone Taylor added a three-run drive and the surging New York Mets routed the Yankees 12-2 for a two-game Subway Series sweep. Harrison Bader also went deep and delivered an RBI double for the Mets, who chased Luis Gil in the fifth inning. They pounded Yankees pitching for seven homers and 21 runs over two nights at Citi Field. With their 15th victory in 19 games, the Mets climbed back to .500 for the first time since May 9. The struggling Yankees, who lead the AL East, have lost four consecutive series and eight of 10 games overall. Following an 87-minute rain delay, Aaron Judge launched a two-run homer with the Yankees trailing 7-0 in the sixth.

Brandon Marsh had four hits, including a homer, and drove in four runs and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 to take two out of three games. Marsh singled in the second inning, hit a two-run homer in the fourth, drove in two runs with a fifth-inning single and got another base hit in the eighth. Phillies starter Spencer Turnbull faced Tigers for the first time after spending five seasons with them. He allowed one run in three innings before leaving with right shoulder soreness. Jose Ruiz, the second of six relievers for Philadelphia, got the win with a perfect fifth. Keider Montero took the loss for Detroit.

Elsewhere, the Red Sox’ game against the Blue Jays was suspended in the top of the second inning due to rain and will be made up as the first game of a split doubleheader on August 26th.

Salvador Perez highlighted a five-run, two-out rally with a go-ahead double in the eighth inning, and the Royals went on to beat the Marlins 5-1 on Wednesday. The Royals had been shut down by Valente Bellozo, making his big league debut, and the Miami bullpen until that point. Perez got his timely hit off Huascar Brazoban after a double by Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino's tying single. Angel Zerpa (1-0) got the final two outs of the eighth for Kansas City in relief of Brady Singer, who allowed an RBI single to Vidal Bruján in the second but little else of 7 1/3 innings. James McArthur handled the ninth to wrap up the win.

Rookie Spencer Arrighetti struck out a season-high 10 in seven scoreless innings and Yainer Diaz had three hits to lead the Houston Astros to a 7-1 win over Colorado Wednesday to extend their winning streak to a season-long seven games. The Astros, who opened the season a dismal 7-19, improved to 40-40 with the victory, reaching .500 for the first time this season. Arrighetti (4-6) tied a season-low with three hits and didn’t walk a batter for the first time this year in his longest start of the season.

Andruw Monasterio hit a game-ending single in the 10th inning after entering as a replacement for injured Joey Ortiz, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Texas Rangers 6-5 helped by Jake Bauers’ grand slam and Jackson Chourio’s inside-the-park homer. Milwaukee recovered after wasting a 4-1 lead in Dallas Keuchel’s Brewers debut and the NL Central leader swept a three-game sweep from the World Series champion. With Willy Adames on second base as the automatic runner, Bauers popped out on a bunt attempt off Jacob Latz (2-3), Rhys Hoskins was intentionally walked and Sal Frelick popped out. After a wild pitch, Monasterio lined a single to left-center.

Shohei Ohtani hit another leadoff homer and Gavin Stone pitched a four-hitter, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox 4-0 for their fourth consecutive win. Ohtani drove a full-count cut fastball from Erick Fedde deep to right-center for his NL-leading 25th homer. Ohtani’s third leadoff homer this season extended his RBI streak to a franchise-record 10 games. The two-time AL MVP also hit a leadoff drive in Los Angeles’ 4-3 victory on Tuesday night. Stone (9-2) struck out seven and walked none in his first career complete game.

Jose Miranda hit an early three-run double, Simeon Woods Richardson pitched effectively into the sixth inning and the Minnesota Twins beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-3. Miranda hit the first of two doubles in the second inning off Ryne Nelson and the Twins piled on from there. Willi Castro hit a two-run homer, Trevor Lamach doubled twice and one of baseball’s best offenses banged out 14 hits, including eight for extra bases to bounce back from a 5-4 loss in the series opener. Woods Richardson allowed three runs on four hits and struck out four with two walks in 5 1/3 innings. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had two RBIs for Arizona.

George Kirby allowed one run in six innings, Cal Raleigh hit a three-run homer and the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2. Seattle went 3-6 on a trip to Cleveland, Miami and Tampa Bay and at 19-25 is the only division leader with a losing road record. Seattle closer Andrés Muñoz, who blew his second save in 15 chances on Monday, loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth on two walks and a hit by pitch before Trent Thornton got his first big league save.

The Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 5-2 Wednesday to sweep their three-game series. Zach Neto had a tiebreaking three-run double in the sixth inning. Max Schuemann had an early RBI double that should have driven in two runs for the A’s, but Kyle McCann was called out instead when he failed to touch home plate and then made contact with teammate Armando Alvarez, who had already scored. Los Angeles still trailed 1-0 until its five-run sixth. Matt Thaiss added an RBI double for the Angels, who have won four of five.

Cedric Mullins hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Cleveland 4-2 to end a five-game skid and snap the Guardians’ seven-game winning streak. Gunnar Henderson hit his 26th home run and Ryan O’Hearn also went deep for the Orioles. Mullins connected off Xzavion Curry (0-2) to give Baltimore the lead for the first time. Cleveland's seven-game winning streak ended despite home runs by Jhonkensy Noel, who connected on his first at-bat in the majors, and Gabriel Arias. Grayson Rodriguez gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings for the win.

Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer, Luis L. Ortiz threw six innings of one-run ball and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-1, winning a series between the NL Central rivals for the second consecutive week. Rowdy Tellez also homered and Jason Delay drove in a pair of runs with a two-out double in the sixth inning. The Pirates took two of three from the Reds, as they did last week in Pittsburgh. Cincinnati has lost four of five and eight of 11.

Matthew Liberatore pitched six shutout innings in a spot start and Alec Burleson hit a go-ahead, two-run double to lead the St. Louis Cardinals over the Atlanta Braves 4-1 Wednesday for a day-night doubleheader split. Jarred Kelenic had three hits, including his eighth home run, and three RBIs as the Braves won the opener 6-2. Kelenic was 6 for 9 with four RBIs in the doubleheader and is hitting .362 with four homers and 10 RBIs since being moved to the leadoff spot in the batting order. Liberatore gave up two hits and struck out eight in his fifth start.

Kyle Higashioka homered twice, including his first career grand slam, and Dylan Cease pitched seven brilliant innings for the San Diego Padres, who beat the Washington Nationals 8-5 to sweep a contentious three-game series. Higashioka hit a two-run homer off rookie DJ Herz in the second inning and then a grand slam off Tanner Rainey in the eighth that hit high off the brick warehouse in the left-field corner. It was the fourth grand slam of the season for the Padres and second in two nights. Higashioka has eight homers this year.

Michael Conforto and David Villar hit back-to-back home runs in the second inning, Luis Matos hit a tiebreaking solo shot in the fifth and the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 4-3. Giants starter Hayden Birdsong was called up from Triple-A Sacramento for his major league debut, and allowed three runs and six hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. Luke Jackson (4-1) followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his fourth straight win. Camilo Doval pitched the ninth for his 14th save. Seiya Suzuki homered for Chicago, which lost its fourth in a row and fell to 3-13 in its last 16 road games.

Shohei Ohtani is rolling along for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the moment. When it comes to the Home Run Derby, well, stay tuned. Ohtani hit a leadoff drive against the Chicago White Sox for the second straight night, extending his RBI streak to a franchise-record 10 games. The two-time AL MVP is batting .310 with 11 homers, 23 RBIs and 24 runs in 23 games this month. Ohtani’s latest tear has him contemplating another try at the Derby on July 15 as part of the All-Star festivities at Globe Life Field in Texas. Ohtani says he has to talk to “a lot of people” before deciding on the marquee event.

SOCCER

Salomón Rondón scored on a penalty kick in the 57th minute, and Venezuela advanced to the Copa America quarterfinals with 1-0 victory over Mexico. Venezuela, which opened with a 2-1 win over Ecuador, is assured finishing among the top two in Group B. Mexico began with a 1-0 victory over Jamaica and has three points along with Ecuador, which defeated the winless Reggae Boyz 3-1 earlier Wednesday. Mexico plays Ecuador at Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday, and needs a victory to advance. Venezuela faces already eliminated Jamaica at Austin, Texas. Venezuela ended a 13-game winless streak against El Tri.

U.S. national team forward Alex Morgan has been left off coach Emma Hayes’ roster for the Paris Olympics. Morgan was the most notable absence on the 18-player list. The 34-year-old Morgan is a three-time Olympian but missed more than a month with the San Diego Wave after injuring her left ankle on April 19. She had since returned. Morgan also was named to the squad Hayes assembled for a pair of U.S. friendlies against South Korea earlier this month. Morgan has 123 goals in 224 appearances with the national team. Hayes says “there is no denying that it was an extremely competitive process.”

OLYMPICS

USA Gymnastics believes it is building momentum toward a better future as the 2024 Olympics near. The organization has undergone a massive overhaul in the last six years in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal. President Li Li Leung and her team have placed an emphasis on transparency and support in hoping to re-establish trust in athletes, coaches and gym owners alike. Superstar Simone Biles says the leadership at USA Gymnastics has changed because “they've done the work” to make the organization a better place. The organization will be in the spotlight this weekend at the U.S. Olympic trials.

© 2024 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.