Saturday, July 30, 2011

Landon Milbourne and Chris McCray sign in the French Pro B League

Landon Milbourne (2006-10) has signed to play for Limoges CSP Elite of the French Pro B league. The brief news item is buried on Limoges's poorly designed news page:
An American forward, author of a fine first season in France, should join the club for next year.

Landon Milbourne, an American playing for Boulogne-sur-Mer this season and with whom he reached the semi-finals LNB Pro B, has agreed to play for the Limoges club next season.

Last season, Milbourne played for SO Maritime Boulogne (aka SOMB), which will be the new home next season for Chris McCray (2002-06), who has signed to play next season (translation) for Bologne, also in the French Pro B league. (The team's website is broken, but that's the correct link for it. Maybe it will come back again someday?)
SOMB also announced the signing of Chris McCray, a great player who "can evolve our outside game." Like Milbourne, McCray is a former star of Maryland where he was captain (15.2 points in 31 minutes per game his senior season). He left the university in 2006, just before the arrival of Milbourne.

After his university studies, he played in Italy's Lega Due with Rimini and in the Belgian League for Oostende. This season, he played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force D-League (9.7 points to 44.3%, 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 29 minutes). "It is likely that his basketball knowledge and his immense dexterity will heavily benefit SOMB's game this season. A true free spirit, very creative, and he is a great three-point shooter," said a team press release.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Braxton Dupree signs with Maccabi Ashdod... Sort Of

Braxton Dupree (2007-09, then transferred to Towson) has given up his final year of eligibility (he would have been a 5th year senior) and signed to play in Israel for Maccabi Ashdod:
Despite sitting out the entire 2009-2010 season because of NCAA rules regarding transfer players, Dupree averaged solid numbers last year with the Tigers, posting 12 points and nearly eight rebounds per game in an average of 31 minutes per contest.

Dupree went undrafted in June's NBA draft, but still has aspirations of perhaps playing in the NBA's summer or developmental league after his time overseas, in hopes of getting a shot at the NBA one day, according to ESPN.

For the first year of his contract, Dupree will be assigned by the team to play for Ness Ziona in the Israeli National League. (The National League is the country's second tier pro division; Maccabi Ashdod plays in the top pro league, the Loto League or Premier League). From the team's press release (translation):
Dupree, a Towson University graduate, signed a contract with Maccabi Ashdod, in which he was lent for the upcoming season to Ness Ziona of the Israeli National League, after which Maccabi Ashdod will have options to extend his contract for two more years until the end of the 2013/14 season. [...]

Team administrator of Maccabi Ashdod, Shai Housman, said, "While we wish to complete a foreign signing next season, Maccabi Ashdod is setting goals for itself several years ahead. As an integral part of this policy, we regularly follow other players that might fit us in the future. With our budget, we cannot compete with the Loto League's top teams, so it requires taking action in a comprehensive and deliberate way, in order to improve our chances of getting quality players for an amount of money which we can afford."

"Dupree is a young interior player and has potential. After he strengthens his abilities in the coming season, we certainly will be happy to bring him into the group in the future."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dino Gregory Will Play in Sweden

Dino Gregory has signed a deal to start his professional career with the reigning Swedish League Champion Sundsvall Dragons. Here's the team's press release (translation):
The Sundsvall Dragons has announced the signing of their first U.S. import this year, 200cm tall Dino Gregory of Baltimore. The contract is for one year and Dino is expected to Sundsvall in the near future to be with the team for preseason practice in early August.[...]

Frederick Åhnstrand, Dragons club manager:
"He is a super athletic inside player who will be a real Intimidator. He's a good defensive player who, with his athleticism, will fit into the way we play and will contribute from the post position. Dino fits perfectly into the way we play and we are very pleased to retain such a good player for our team."
The Terrapin Station blog has notes on the signing today too.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Steve Francis's New Life

The Montgomery County Gazette recently featured a story about Steve Francis (1998-99) and his new, post-playing life. The story reflects on Francis's playing history, from bouncing around between high schools in Silver Spring, to the University of Maryland, to the NBA, and finally to last winter's short stint in China's pro league. Today, Francis is focusing on his charitable foundation, his new music label, and just being a dad:

The present is in Montgomery County; he returned from his home in Houston to participate in the 122nd annual Independence Day Celebration in Takoma Park. Continuing an annual tradition, he also played host to a Fourth of July community barbecue. Then he was off to College Park to host a charity basketball camp.

Through the Steve Francis Foundation, he has made charity a part of his daily life. He said he has a lot of pride in the Brenda Wilson Scholarship Program, which was named after his mother and created in 2004. [...] Francis’ agent, Carrie Potter, said the foundation has doled out $350,000 to 35 students since the program’s inception. [...]

Among its many other endeavors are the Holiday Extravaganza, a Christmas party for youth in Houston; Christmas in February, the donation of more than 5,000 non-perishable items to 700 needy families at a Houston Food Bank Food Fair; Turkey & Trimmings, a distribution of Thanksgiving meals each year since 2005; and funding the D.C. Warriors, an Amateur Athletic Union club basketball team located in Takoma Park.

Francis launched a new music label, Maserati Music, last summer that features local musicians. He made his debut with a Washington, D.C. listening party.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Andre Collins to JuveCaserta

Andre Collins (2001-04, then transferred to Loyola) has signed a new deal for next season (translation) with Pepsi JuveCaserta in Italy's Serie A league.
After his last year in college with the Loyola Greyhounds, he arrived in Italy where he won the Lega Due title in his first season, and with extensive training, the award for best player of the year for 2007-2008. In December 2007 against Aget Imola, he set a remarkable scoring record - in the history of Ferrara Basket Club - 10 shots from three scored. In his first year of play in Serie A, Collins was confirmed as one of the best players: the third leading scorer among players with more than 33.5 minutes per game. During last season in Pesaro, following a season with Virtus Bologna, "Deuce" scored an average of 27 points per game. All these numbers portend, in conjunction with other additions to the team, a great season for JuveCaserta.
(Italy has two primary basketball leagues: Serie A, which is the top pro league, and Lega Due which is the second tier league. The two leagues have a relegation and promotion system where the top Lega Due teams rise up to Serie A and the bottom Serie A drop to Lega Due after every season. After his first year in Italy with Ferrara, the team won Lega Due and was promoted, so Collins's second season was also with Ferrara, but now in Serie A.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bambale Osby Signs on for the Playoffs in Puerto Rico

While the basketball season is over in most parts of the world, they're still in the playoffs in Puerto Rico, where Bambale Osby (2006-08) has signed on for the remainder of the season (translation) with Vaqueros de Bayamon. Bayamon was down 0-2 in its best of seven semifinal series, but has won three straight games since Boom came on board. Osby scored 7 points and 4 rebounds in his first game with the team, following it up with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks in the his second game and 20 points and 8 rebounds in the most recent game.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Drew Nicholas Signs with Milano

Drew Nicholas (1999-2003) had a year left on his contract with reigning Euroleague champion Panathinaikos, but was released anyway after he and many other teammates refused to take a pay cut from the Greek team. From Ekathimerini.com:
Drew Nicholas has left Panathinaikos after three years of titles with the team, the European champion announced on July 16.

The US shooting-guard apparently refused to take a pay cut, which has been proposed to most players of the team, and on the same day he sealed a deal with Armani Milano, according to a statement by the Italian club.

Nicholas quickly signed to play (translation) for Armani Jeans Olimpia Milano of the Italian SerieA league. Milano finished third in the highly competitive top Italian league last season, and will be good again next season after reloading with three players cast off from Panathinaikos this week. From the team's press release:
"With Drew Nicholas," said coach Sergio Scariolo, "we insert into the group not only an excellent shooter who has demonstrated his technical quality on all teams for which he played, but also a serious and positive person, who has made an essential contribution to the success of his teams in recent years."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ibekwe Re-signs with BBC Bayreuth

Ekene Ibekwe (2003-07) joined BBC Bayreth mid-season last year and quickly established himself as one of the team's best players. Last week, Bayreuth rewarded Ibekwe by signing him to a one-year extension (translation) to his contract:
The fifth position of BBC Bayreuth's team for next season is filled. Ekene Ibekwe, who joined the team in early February, will also contribute in the new season, wearing the Bayreuth jersey. The 25-year-old power forward has extended his contract by one year.

In his debut in a BBC uniform, the 2.06 meter tall American with Nigerian roots celebrated a win on 6 February in an away game in Göttingen. The Los Angeles-based powerhouse played in a total of 15 games last season for BBC. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds, with a player rating of 12.3. The 26 year old was important, necessary for victory in the league. Six times the power forward was the highest scorer and best rebounder for the team.

"Ekene is to some extent responsible for the reversal of last season; he played with heart and passion, and he was a large part of our success in securing a playoff spot. I am pleased that we succeeded, after intensive and really tough negotiations, in convincing Ekene to pick up for another season with Bayreuth. Of course his popularity with the fans and sponsors did not escape us, so we hope his new obligation will be a good a sign for the fans and sponsors," said BBC general manager Uli Eichbaum.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nik Caner-Medley Signs with Valencia

Nik Caner-Medley (2002-06) had a great individual season playing for Asefa Estudiantes in Madrid, Spain, but the team was mired in the bottom half of the ACB league and missed the playoffs. Next season should be different, as Caner-Medley signed this week (translation) to play with Power Electronics Valencia, which finished in 3rd place last season and should be competitive again next year. Caner-Medley, who was named ACB Player of the Month three times last season, was one of the most highly sought-after free agents in Spain this summer, with three other teams seriously competing for his services:
Cajasol, Estudiantes, and Unicaja were also interested in acquiring the services of the most valued player of the last regular season. In the games he played in against those teams, he scored 14.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and a 17.6 player rating, which allowed him to sneak into the first team all-star team ahead of former Valencia star Dusko Savanovic. Caner-Medley will now take Savanovic's place in Valencia, if Efes Pilsen eventually ends up paying a million and a half for the Serb's escape clause.

Unicaja had spoken more than once with the player asking for patience. But their number one goal was to sign Malaga's Judson Wallace and only if he opted for Barcelona would they go to Caner-Medley. The American did not dislike the option of going to the Costa del Sol, but he was tired of waiting and the appearance of the offer of Power Electronics has ended his patience.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Former Terps 2010-11 Season Round-Up: NBA, NBDL, & Minor Leagues Edition

Now that I've covered all the overseas Terps, let's take a look at how former Maryland players here in the US fared in 2010-2011, complete with some self-referential links:

Steve Blake (1999-2003) played for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he averaged 4.0 points, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 rebounds in 20 minutes a game in the regular season (79 games), then 2.2 points, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 rebounds in 16 minutes a game in 9 playoff games. The Lakers made it to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Now that we're in the off-season, Blake is probably working on his Mixed Martial Arts skills.

Blake's Lakers teammate, Joe Smith (1993-95), in his 16th NBA season, averaged 0.5 points, 1.3 rebounds in 4.3 minutes per game in 16 regular season games (4 with the New Jersey Nets prior to an early season trade to the Lakers). He appeared in 5 of the Lakers' playoff games, going scoreless. This may have been Smith's last shot at an NBA title.

Greivis Vasquez (2006-10) had a successful rookie year with the Memphis Grizzlies. Vasquez averaged 3.6 points, 2.2 assists, and 1.0 rebounds in 12.3 minutes per game in the regular season (70 games). Vasquez stepped it up in the playoffs though, and scored 4.3 points, 1.5 assists, and 1.9 rebounds in only 10.9 minutes per game (13 games). The Grizzlies also made it to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Vasquez has been spending his off season doing some important sports diplomacy in Venezuela in conjunction with the US State Department and other NBA and WNBA athletes.

Statistically, Chris Wilcox (2000-02) may have had the best season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 17.5 minutes per game in the regular season (including 29 starts in 57 games) for the Detroit Pistons. Wilcox came on strong in the second half of the season, but finished the year as the longest tenured NBA player without a playoff appearance.

As I mentioned a few days ago, DJ Strawberry (2003-07) started out the season with the NBA D-League's Reno Bighorns before heading overseas to play in Lithuania in January. In 20 games (7 as a starter) with the Bighorns, Strawberry averaged 13.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.0 steals in 29.6 minutes per game.

Chris McCray (2002-06) was back for his second season with the D-League's Sioux Falls Skyforce, averaging 9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game in 29.3 minutes. McCray started 23 of 29 games for the Skyforce, which had a poor year (10-40) and missed the playoffs,

Beyond the D-League, there are several smaller minor leagues in various stages of organization and stability in the US.

Byron Mouton (2000-02) played for the Washington Greenhawks of the Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League. Unfortunately, the Greenhawks cancelled their season after only four games. Mouton averaged 27.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in the four games the team played. The team does still exist, however, and the Greenhawks recently helped local children set a world record for kids dribbling mini-basketballs, led by Mouton, Gheorge Muresan, and AND1's The Professor.

Parrish Brown (2005-07) played for the American Basketball Association's Chicago Steam at one point this winter, but he's not on their website's roster anymore.

Ryan Randle (2001-03) briefly played for the Metroplex Lightning of the United Basketball League, but the team no longer exists and their website has disappeared since the season ended a month ago.

(Don't miss the 2010-11 International Terps Round-Up, if you haven't seen it already!)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Former Terps 2010-11 Season Round-Up: International Edition

As we've been chronicling for the past two weeks, it was a season of many championships for former Terps playing overseas:
James Gist (2004-08) won the Serbian Championship.
Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) won the Turkish Championship.
Terence Morris (1997-2001) won the Spanish Championship.
Drew Nicholas (1999-2003) won the Greek Championship and his second Euroleage Championship.
Nik Caner-Medley (2002-06) also had an All-Star season in Spain.

Now, here's a round-up of the rest of our Terps who played overseas this season:

DJ Strawberry (2003-07) joined Lietuvos Rytas in Vilnius, Lithuania midway through the season. The team went 20-4, finished second in the regular season, and lost in the Lithuanian championship finals 4 games to 1 against rivals Zalgiris. Lietuvos also took the bronze in the regional Baltic Basketball League and advanced to the Top 16 round of the Euroleague tournament. In 31 games in Lithuania, DJ averaged 5.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Strawberry started the season with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League, where he averaged 13.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 20 games.

Bambale Osby (2006-08) played in Tallinn, Estonia, for TTU/Kalev this season. TTU/Kalev finished 3rd in the Estonian regular season, going 25-7, and lost in the semi-finals of the league tournament. Osby averaged 16.4 points (6th in the league), 10.0 rebounds (4th in the league), and 1.2 blocks (4th in the league) in 38 games. Boom was a finalist in the league's slam dunk contest and the MVP of the league's All-Star game. In the regional Baltic League, TTU/Kalev went 6-16 and finished 11th. Osby led his team with 18.6 points and 12.0 rebounds in that league's 22 games. Here's an interview with Osby from the All Star game.

Lonny Baxter (1998-2002) played for BC Enisey Krasnoyarsk of the Russian PBL league. Enisey went 12-15 in the regular season and lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Baxter averaged 16.2 points (4th in the league) and 7.2 rebounds (3rd in the league) in 37 games, including two EuroChallenge qualifier games.

Juan Dixon (1998-2002), who had sat out a one year FIBA ban for steriod use, came back in March to play for Turkey's Banvit Kulubu. Banvit went 23-7 and finished 2nd in the regular season, but lost in the Turkish Basketball League semi-finals. Dixon averaged 8.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 14 games.

Ekene Ibekwe (2003-07) played for three different teams this season. Ibekwe started off last fall with Germany's Artland Dragons, where he averaged 8.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 14 games. Then in January, he was cut from the team and went to Israel, where he averaged 6.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 6 games for Ironi Ashkelon. Soon, he was back in Germany, finishing the season with BBC Bayreuth, where he averaged 11.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in 15 games. Bayreuth finished 9-25, far out of the German Bundesliga playoffs.

Travis Garrison (2002-06) played for BC Khimik in the Ukraine. Garrison averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 32 games for Khimik, which went 16-32 and missed the playoffs. Khimik also played in the opening round robin of the EuroChallenge tournament, where Garrison averaged 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 6 games.

Eric Hayes (2006-10) spent most of his first professional season with Leche Rio Breogan in Spain's LEB Gold league (one step below the top ACB league), then finished the season playing a single game for Lithuania's Neptunas Klaipeda. Hayes averaged 8.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 24 total games, while shooting 47% from 3 point range. Breogan went 18-16 in the regular season and lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

Landon Milbourne (2006-10) played for SO Maritime Boulogne of the French ProB league in his first year as a professional. Boulogne finished 19-15 in the regular season and lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs. Milbourne averaged 16.5 points (6th in the league), 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.7 steals in 39 games.

Jamar Smith (2002-04) played for France's ProA league team, Entente Orleans, where he averaged 5.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 28 games. Orleans went 12-18 and missed the playoffs. Orleans also participated in the opening round robin of the EuroChallenge tournament, where Smith scored 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 6 games.

Rodney Elliott (1994-98) played for Argentina's Boca Juniors. Elliott averaged 11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 2.0 steals per game for the Juniors, who went 13-17 and missed the playoffs.

Andre Collins (2001-04) played for Scavolini Pesaro in Italy's Serie A league. Scavolini finished 14-16 and missed the league playoffs. Collins averaged 12.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists (4th in the league), and 2.4 steals (9th in the league) per game.

There was some evidence that Mike Jones (2003-07) had signed to play in Venezuela for Guaiqueries de Margarita, but I've had no luck finding statistics or up-to-date rosters for Venezuela's LNB, and the team's website is no longer on-line.

(Don't miss the 2010-11 Domestic Terps Round-Up, if you haven't seen it already.)

Friday, July 01, 2011

James Gist Facing Possible FIBA Doping Ban

James Gist (2004-08) may be facing a FIBA ban after testing positive (translation) for Carboxy-THC (that's the chemical marijuana leaves behind in the body) last month during a routine post-game drug test on June 1st in Serbia.

Two samples are always taken, and Gist's sample A came back positive with low levels of the drug. So, if my understanding of poorly translated Turkish news and my memory of FIBA procedures is correct, sample B will now be tested by a different lab. If sample B comes back positive as well, then the ban could be anywhere from three months to two years.

Gist had just signed a new deal with reigning Turkish champion Fenerbahce Ulker last week. The team has said they will wait for the investigation to finish before management decides whether to keep Gist or not.