Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DJ Strawberry Traded to Houston

DJ Strawberry (2003-07) has been traded to the Houston Rockets, where he could be teammates with Steve Francis. In return, the Phoenix Suns get former UVa player Sean Singletary. In the Houston Chronicle, Houston's GM says DJ has a shot to make the team:
He is expected to be with the Rockets in training camp and in the preseason. His contract is non-guaranteed unless he makes the opening night roster.

"He's got a shot to make it," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. "He's different. He's athletic, can really defend multiple guard spots. Phoenix was starting to use him at the one. That's where he'll be unique. He might have a chance to catch on in the league even he was just at the two just from his defensive ability.

"If we feel like he can (handle the point offensively) then we feel like we got something there."

The Rockets' press release sums up Strawberry's career so far:
Strawberry (6-5, 201, Maryland) averaged 2.2 points, 0.9 assists and 8.2 minutes in 33 games as a rookie with the Suns in 2007-08. His 33 appearances were the most games played by a Suns rookie since Zarko Cabarkapa (49) in 2003-04. Strawberry scored a season-high nine points vs. New Orleans (2/6/08), as well as notching season bests of seven rebounds and seven assists vs. Portland (4/16/08). He also made his career playoff debut in Game Four vs. San Antonio (4/27/08).

Selected by the Suns in the second round (59th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft, Strawberry posted career bests in points (14.9), rebounds (4.4) and steals (2.03) in 34 games of his senior season at Maryland. Strawberry, the son of former Major League Baseball star Darryl Strawberry, earned All-ACC Second Team and ACC Defensive Team honors in 2006-07, while becoming just the 45th Terp in school history to reach 1,000 career points.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rodney Elliott Signs in France

Rodney Elliott (1994-98) has signed to play (translation) for Paris Levallois of the French Pro B League. Here's what they say on their team website about Rodney (translation):
After an NCAA career at the University of Maryland (senior year: 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game), Rodney played for some minor league teams in American before landing for good in Europe in 2001, where he played in Italy, Spain and Turkey.

A very good three-point shooter and able to play under the basket, this 2.02m forward is a reliable and versatile player. His complementary play with Michel Jean-Baptiste Adolphe could quickly bear fruit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Steve Blake is a Leader in Portland

Steve Blake Photo from OregonLive.comI don't write enough about Steve Blake (1999-2003), since he's not in the news a lot. He's not showy, he doesn't change teams a lot, and he doesn't do anything stupid off the court. But he's become a team leader and the starting point guard for the Portland Trailblazers, and the fans in Portland seem to love him. The Testudo Times blog alerted me to this series of stories in the Portland Oregonian about Blake. It's an eight part series, but only parts 1-5 are published so far:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Updated 8/29/08: Parts 6-8 are now posted on the Portland Oregonian web site:

Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII

(Photo from OregonLive.com)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jamar Smith in Italy's 2nd Division

Jamar Smith (2002-04) has signed a one-year deal (translated) with Fastweb Junior Casale of Italy's Lega 2 (the 2nd division pro league in Italy). From the team's press release (translation):
The Juniors Sign Jamar Smith

The American player completes the 2008-2009 roster.

The FASTWEB JUNIOR CASALE team announces that it has signed an agreement with American JAMAR SMITH.

Born December 5, 1980 in Sicklerville (New Jersey), Jamar attended Overbrook High School. After high school and two seasons at a Junior College in Cumberland, MD, he chose to play for the University of Maryland in the NCAA. He played in the 2004-2005 Premier League in Israel with Maccabi Haifa, then in two successive seasons he has played in the NBDL with the Austin Toros. Last year, he played with Toshiba Brave Thunder in the Japanese league.

The first words of Jamar Smith: "This year I played in a league as competitive and demanding as Italy. I am truly anxious to get to know my teammates and start working. From what I have mentioned, the Juniors can help me find the conditions to grow as a man and as a player. My goal? To compete and improve our chances of winning the championship."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Joe Smith Traded to Oklahoma City

Joe Smith (1993-95) will play for his ninth NBA team next season, after being traded from Cleveland to Oklahoma City (where he will join Chris Wilcox, who moved there with the rest of the franchise from Seattle). The team is waiting to officially introduce the new players until they have announced the new team name, colors, and jerseys, so that the players can hold up a jersey with their name on it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chris McCray to Play for Italian 2nd Division Team

Chris McCray (2003-07) has signed a one year deal (translation) to play for the Rimini Crabs in Italy's second division pro league (Lega 2). Translating the press release from the team:
The Rimini Crabs basketball club communicates with extreme satisfaction that it has signed a one-year agreement with U.S. athlete Chris McCray.

McCray, born in Capitol Heghts, MD on May 7, 1984, is a guard-wing, 1.96 m, 87 kg, and the product of the prestigious University of Maryland. By his senior year with the Terrapins, he was registering constantly growing statistics and reached the semifinals of the prestigious NIT in 2005. After college, he signed with the Milwaukee Bucks as a free agent, playing in 5 NBA games before moving to the Dakota Wizards, with whom he won the NBDL league title. In last season's debut in Europe, McCray signed with Telindus BC Oostende (Belgium-D1), playing in the league tournament and the ULEB Cup. Quick and very athletic, he is a natural shooter, and over the years has added strength and aggressiveness to his game.

Commented GM Renzo Vecchiato: "Of all the foreign players available, we were extremely easily convinced he was our best choice. He is a player with technical sophistication, both on attack and in defence. He is still young, with ample room for improvement."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

James Gist Signs in Italy

It seemed unlikely that James Gist (2004-08), who was picked in the 2nd round of the NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, would be able to secure a roster spot, so Gist has signed a contract (translation) to play in Italy for Angelico Biella of the top Italian pro league (Lega A). Here's a translation of the press release from the team:
Angelico Biella Basketball announces that it has signed an agreement with James Gist.

According to team official Luke Bechi: "We are very pleased to be able to have Gist in our next team. This is James' first overseas experience, but he comes from a prestigious college at Maryland. The player is an incredible athlete and defensive stopper of the first degree, and the former Terrapin also has a good mid-range shot. Moreover, he has the great ability to play above the rim and a natural propensity to rush to counterattack and rebound. The player, along with other companions in the frontcourt, will give our team a big presence under the boards."

Standing 2.06m, James Gist was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 26, 1986. After attending Good Counsel High School in his hometown, he was recruited by the University of Maryland and trained with Gary Williams, one of college basketball gurus. For the Terrapins, he earned playing time as a freshman, increasing his minutes season by season to join the starting five of the Terps as a Junior. His Senior year was the year he reached the peak of his collegiate career with almost 16 points and 8 rebounds, with more than 2 blocked shots per game, and was voted to the All-ACC Defensive First Team (against players from ACC schools like North Carolina and Duke among others).

After the experience in college, Gist attended a workout with the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings, but was chosen by the San Antonio Spurs with the 27th pick in the second round. After the Summer League in Las Vegas, where he played well with the Spurs, getting 11 points and 8 rebounds per game in 22 minutes spent on the court, James Gist now takes the path to Europe, choosing Biella as the starting point of his professional career.

Spurs fans are upset about losing Gist to Europe, but it was unlikely that the Spurs could make room on their already stacked roster for their draft pick. Gist most likely would have ended up playing for the Spurs NBA D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros. Despite signing for one year in Italy, the Spurs will still retain Gist's NBA rights for two years.

Gist will join former Terps Nik Caner-Medley (Upea Capo d'Orlando) and Andre Collins (Carife Ferrara) playing in the Italian Lega A next season.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mike Jones in Romania

Mike Jones (2003-07) is working out with a new team (translation): CSU Asesoft Ploiesti of Romania. You have to scroll down through the archives to find the news item, but it's worth it to see the accompanying photo of Ekene Ibekwe. The article makes it sound like he's there for a tryout, but hasn't signed yet. CSU Ploiesti is the reigning champion of the Romanian league. I'll save you time by posting the translation (translated by Google, cleaned-up by me):
American Mike Jones (1.96m, 90 kg, 24 years) played for the University of Maryland and is recognized as one of the great American outside shooters... I mean well outside the three point line, because this basketballer with the same name as a rapper is a specialist of shots from over seven and a half meters.

Some called him the best defender among high school players, after NBA super star Lebron James. Many were surprised that he was not drafted in 2007; he left to play for Mersin in Turkey and APOEL in Cyprus.

-- Jones was a high school All Star before entering the University of Maryland, where he once managed a record of 9 three-point baskets in a single game!

-- In November of 2005 he became a father with Morgan Howard, bringing a little one into the world: Camryn Howard-Jones.

-- At the first workout, Mike has impressed with his physical qualities, accuracy and precision from great distance. In scrimages played, Jones and Ionel Dodoc were the best shooters and have competed with Alex Iacobescu shooting three-point baskets.

The American player is at CSU for several days, and then the club managers will make a decision on him.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Sarunas Jasikevicius Carries Lithuania's Flag at Olympic Opening Ceremony

Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) is not only the only former Terp playing basketball in the Olympics this summer, but he was selected to be Lithuania's flag bearer for the opening ceremonies tonight. Watch for him on TV tonight!

Several former Terps are also competing in Beijing in field hockey and soccer. Former Terp field hockey players Lauren Powley and Sara Silvetti are blogging their Olympic experience.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Nik Caner-Medley Signs in Italy

Nik Caner-Medley (2002-06) has signed on to play for Upea Capo d'Orlando of the top Italian pro league next season. Full translation here, and here's an excerpt:
In 2007, after summer league and training camp with the Sacramento Kings and a brief appearance in D-League, Caner-Medley signed with the Spanish Kalise of Gran Canaria. He scored 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while averaging 19 minutes in league play. In ULEB Cup games, his stats rose to 13.6 points and 4.9 rebounds (with 68% from the field).

According to the team: "Nik Caner Medley was the first choice of our coach for both wing spots (small and large wing) since last season. We have made a sacrifice to get him, since he is a high-level player in Europe, pursued by several clubs and returning from an excellent summer league with the Los Angeles Lakers. We think it can be very suitable for the way we play; he gives us a great dimension one-on-one and in the open court that our coach wants from his players."

As the Italian press release mentioned, Nik had a good run with the LA Lakers summer league team in Las Vegas last month. (Player Profile with stats.)

Here's a video of Nik Caner-Medley hitting a jump shot for his Spanish team last season: