Monday, February 28, 2011

Eric Hayes is Now in Lithuania

Eric Hayes (2006-10) was released by his Spanish team, Leche Rio Breogan Lugo, last week, and subsequently signed with Neptunas Klaipeda in Lithuania. From the team's press release (translation):
Neptunas Klaipeda has added the 23 year old, 193 cm tall, point guard Eric Hayes. Beginning tomorrow, the seaport town will have a basketball player who has signed a contract until the end of the season.

The American's 2010/11 season started in Spain in the second tier LEB Gold league with Lugo's "Leche Rio" Breogan team. With Breogan, Hayes averaged 22.3 minutes, 8.9 points, 2 assists, and 1.9 rebounds per game.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parrish Brown Playing for Chicago in ABA

I can't find a news story to link to, but Parrish Brown (2005-07) is now playing for the Chicago Storm of the ABA roster here). Brown was originally from Chicago before coming to Maryland as a Junior College transfer in 2005.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ekene Ibekwe Back in Germany

Ekene Ibekwe (2003-07) started the season in Germany, then moved to Israel in late December. Now, Ibekwe is back in Germany (translation) with BBC-Bayreuth. From the team's press release:
On Thursday evening, Ibekwe came from Israel to Bayreuth, and on Friday morning passed his physical exam. The first practice with the team followed in the afternoon. "I am delighted to be back in Germany and hope I can help the team in the battle for the league title. I am very happy to play for the team and the fans and I hope that I can help on defense, under the basket, and also on offense."

"We hope that Ekene Ibekwe can help in our situation, and give the team more depth after the loss of Koko Archibong. He has proven his capabilities playing in Quakenbr├╝ck and we hope he can bring his services to BBC," said BBC manager Uli Eichbaum. Coach Andreas Wagner added, "We had to play the last few weeks with no real power forward. Pete Campbell has done a good job filling this gap as well as he could. We got in Ekene Ibekwe a very good player who can hopefully help us quickly. We expect him to to quickly integrate into the team. He is just the player who was missing from our team.
In his previous stint in the German BBL with Quakenbr├╝ck's Artland Dragons earlier this season, Ibekwe had averaged 8.9 points and 5.7 rebounds.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Juan Dixon Ready to Return to Playing Overseas

It has been exactly one year since Juan Dixon (1998-2002) received a one-year suspension from FIBA for steroid use on February 11, 2010, and Dixon is ready to go back to play in Europe again (scroll down to the second half of the story for the part about Dixon), and he will probably have several teams bidding for his services.
"I'm excited," Dixon told HOOPSWORLD in a phone interview. "It's been a long year and throughout everything, I've just tried to work as hard as I could so that I would stay in the best shape possible. That's pretty much all I've been doing. The suspension is over on Saturday so I'm able to play anytime after that and I'm looking forward to it. I'm very excited. I've been counting down the days. I'm tired of being here in Baltimore and I'm really looking forward to playing basketball."

While Dixon will definitely be returning overseas, he has yet to determine which team he will sign with. Many teams have expressed interest in his services, including his former team Unicaja Malaga, but he is still weighing his options. [...]

One option that Dixon and his agent, Terrance Doyle, strongly considered was entering the NBA Development League Draft. In fact, Dixon had all but decided to take that route before running into an unexpected obstacle.

"If I had played in the NBA Development League, my suspension in Europe would have started over," Dixon explained. "Just in case things didn't work out as planned in the D-League, I just wanted to make sure that I kept my options open. That's why I decided not to go there."

Updates from March 11-13, 2011: Dixon signs with Turkey's Banvit and a story about his comeback.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Baxter and Strawberry Score Wins in Contract Arbitration

One of the problems of playing overseas is that the teams often have financial difficulties and fail to pay the players, particularly when the team knows that a foreign player may not have the time and patience to go through the local courts to sue the team. In recent years, FIBA has instituted the FIBA Arbitral Tribunal system to help players and teams arbitrate contract problems. The New York Times had a recent story about the tribunal system, starring Lonny Baxter (1998-2002) and DJ Strawberry (2003-07) as two players who have won in arbitration with their former teams. Baxter succeeded in getting his paid owed contract money from his former Turkish team through the program, but Strawberry has still gone unpaid because the Italian team that owes him is broke. Excerpts:
Receiving a late paycheck is an accepted reality for many American basketball players working overseas.

For the former N.B.A. player Lonny Baxter, when Besiktas ColaTurka Istanbul, his Turkish team for the 2009-10 season, owed him $120,000 after not paying him for three months, he did not take it lightly.

Baxter, 32, knew that Besiktas would be late for some payments, but, he said, “I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was once I got there.”

So Baxter and his agents exercised an arbitration clause that has helped several American players resolve labor disputes in foreign countries. The F.A.T. clause, which stands for FIBA Arbitral Tribunal, is a voluntary legal proceeding that agents are now demanding to have included in their players’ contracts with international teams.

“Clubs tend to not respect the contracts they make,” said Dirk-Reiner Martens, a longtime legal adviser to FIBA, which oversees international basketball. [...]

Other players are not repaid as quickly. The former Maryland player D. J. Strawberry was owed more than $250,000 by the Italian team Fortitudo Pallacanestro Bologna before a knee injury ended his season. An F.A.T. arbitrator awarded him $272,583.27 and interest in September. But Fortitudo, which is thought to be almost $11 million in debt, is not playing in Italy’s professional Serie A this season. Rade Filipovich, the president of BDA Sports International and Strawberry’s agent at the time, said his agency had no option but to wait until Fortitudo returned to Serie A in order to reclaim Strawberry’s money.
Baxter is currently playing for Siberian team Enisey Krasnoyarsk in the Russian Superleague, and Strawberry is playing for Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Checking in with JD Walsh

I wrote about former Terp John "JD" Walsh (1991-93) and his international basketball diplomacy a year ago, but the blog's readership has grown a lot since then and some of you might not be acquainted with Walsh's overseas work. It was one of my favorite stories from this blog from 2010, so I'm happy to find an excuse to revisit it.

Indian sports website SportsKeeda has a nice story on JD Walsh and an interview that will update the people who know JD's story and introduce the story to new readers:
In the past four years, Walsh has been all over India. Places he’s been include and are not limited to, Delhi, Kashmir, Mumbai, Punjab, Pune, Chennai, Kerala, Maharashtra, Noida, Kolkata and Mizoram. Its an understatement to say that he travels often. [...]

For him, New York and Mumbai are two places he considers as home. They say home is where the heart is. His heart was given to basketball and humanity a long time ago. Yes, the two do go hand in hand sometimes. See, when he holds a basketball camp for underprivileged orphans for CHINAR (Child nurture and relief) in Kashmir, he also shines a spotlight on their plight making it visible around the globe. It helps to attract donations for their cause.
You can follow JD's travels and work on Twitter @JDBasketball, and learn much more about Walsh's international work by going back and reading last year's blog story about him.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Jerome Burney: Personal Trainer in Atlanta

Patrick Stevens from D1scourse caught up with Atlanta-area native Jerome Burney (2007-10) at the Maryland-Georgia Tech game last weekend and learned what Burney has been up to since graduating last spring:
Still, the upbeat Burney --- decked out in a Maryland warmup shirt from last year --- is putting his kinesiology degree to good use. He's working as a personal trainer for guys attending his old high school --- Westlake High.

"I'm training out of my old high school," Burney said. "I've got a guy who plays football and is looking for a school to go to, trying to walk on since he really didn't have that much time. After the basketball season is over, I'll train some of the guys on the basketball team as well."

Thursday, February 03, 2011

James Gist's Euroleague Interview

James Gist (2004-08) has become one of the breakout stars of the Euroleague tournament this season, and he was chosen for this week's featured interview on the league's site. In Gist's interview, he talks about adapting to the European game, the outlook for his team, Partizan mt:s, and the absurdly high energy level of the fans in Belgrade Serbia:
One thing I have always considered myself to be is a high-energy player who gets the fans going. It's been that way since I was a kid. At the University of Maryland, we had the wildest fans in America, 18,000 every night. If I could get a block or a dunk to make them wilder, I tried to do that. But it’s not about the dunk: it's about using that to get the crowd involved so you can win, which is so much more important. I feel if you get the crowd alive - with a steal, a block, a fastbreak or whatever - and that gets your teammates going, it can only help the team. [...]

As much as I love the fans in Maryland, because they give their all every game, Belgrade has to be the craziest place ever to play in. I had Maryland before this, and even in Biella the fans were packed into a small gyms, 4,000 of them making noise the whole game. But Belgrade is on a whole different level. I can't describe it. The fans here want to win it for you. With the energy coming from 22,000 people like that, they're practically on the court with us. They love the game more than we do; they just can't play.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Jin Soo Choi Drafted in Korea

Jin Soo Choi (2008-10), who left Maryland last January to return to South Korea, was drafted third in the Korean Basketball League amateur draft and will play for the Daegu Orions next season:
Forward Choi Jin-soo, who played two seasons with the University of Maryland Terrapins, was selected third overall by the Daegu Orions. Choi has the distinction of being the first Korean to play NCAA Division I basketball but parted ways with the Terrapins in January 2010 after failing to keep up with his classes.

The offensively gifted forward will be coached by his estranged biological father and Orions head coach Kim Uyoo-tak. Choi’s parents divorced when he was an infant and he changed his last name from Kim to Choi in May of 2009 to acknowledge his stepfather.

“I’m not in game shape just yet but I’ll prepare for my professional debut one step at a time,” said Choi. “I don’t feel uncomfortable about playing for my father. I’m concerned that it might affect other players on the team but my priority is to perform my absolute best.”

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Celebrating Five Years of Stalking the Terps

I don't usually celebrate milestones, but five years ago today, on February 1, 2006, I started posting everything I knew about former Maryland basketball players playing in the NBA, playing overseas, and coaching. I had been searching the web for former players, compiled a list of links, and planned to just post them to one of those newfangled blogs, one at a time, once a day, until I ran out of material. And, on February 25th, I indeed ran out of things to post and went on vacation, unsure if I would keep up with this blog or not. I figured maybe after a few months of inactivity, I'd just turn this into a blog with funny pictures of my cat (yeah, that would have been stupid and unprofitable). My hiatus lasted about a month, and I've been posting about the Terps regularly ever since.

It started with a question that, if my site's search term stats are any indication, is the same question that many of you have asked yourselves a few seconds before you arrived at this blog for the first time: "What ever happened to Exree Hipp?" And while I never quite satisfactorily answered that, the question did lead me to search for all the other former players.

Part of my philosophy in starting the blog was that we root hard for players for four years, and we shouldn't forget them or stop rooting for them after they graduate. Once a Terp, always a Terp. It used to be that if players didn't make the NBA, they just disappeared from everyone's radar, only occasionally reappearing at the Midnight Madness alumni game or the rare Where Are They Now? story in the paper. It's hard to root for someone who plays in Serbia or Lithuania when there is no news in English. But Google search and translation has made it more accessible for me to do the work and you to follow along with me.

About half the visitors here come through Google searches for former players. (Yes, Exree Hipp is usually in the top 10, but other players cycle in and out of the top spots; Bambale Osby was #1 last month.) Mostly it's Maryland fans, but also a fair number from Europe who are just fans of our players. And there are plenty of regulars that stop by when there's a new story up, and double that amount if a bigger website links here.

A big thanks to Testudo Times and the Baltimore Sun for being those "bigger websites" that link here the most. And thanks to everyone who put this blog in their blog-rolls or posted links to my stories, especially D1scourse, Shell Games, and, who have sent a lot of people my way over the years. And if you have a Terps blog and you're not in my blog roll, it's just because I don't know about you yet, so send me an e-mail.

So... another 5 years? Sure. Why not. Or maybe I'll just start posting cat pictures one day, slap up some ads, and become rich enough to quit my day job.

In the meantime, you should all be following and re-tweeting my Twitter feed, @MDBballWATN, and "like"ing the blog's Facebook page.

Go Terps (past, present, and future)!