The Where Are They Now series of posts started out by accident, yet they’ve become the most enjoyable part of the website. They seem to be fun for you to read, and they’re definitely fun for me to write, so now that Christmas time has passed and new seasons have begun around the world, we begin a list anew.
The list covers all the players in the site’s player database that aren’t currently in the NBA. This is the best part of 1,000 people, ranging from retired players you’ve heard of, to unsigned draft picks you’ve never heard of, to free agents on the cusp of the big dance, to players who one day will be in the NBA, to players who absolutely could play in the NBA but who are doing well enough elsewhere, to players who one day will be in the NBA, all the way down to random players I like who never have been in the NBA and that never will be. It’ll be long and fun at times, long and dull at other times, and sometimes just plain long. I’ll try to find as many different ways to say the phrase “on the season he is averaging” as can be, but if I repeat myself, chalk it up as an occupational hazard.
In theory, there’s going to be one of these a day until about April. The list will be in alphabetical order, ish. So let’s begin.
Abdul-Wahad was covered last month in the 1993 Draft Round-up. I shall reproduce it here.
Tariq played in only 67 games this entire decade. He played 29 games in 2000-01, 24 games in 2001-02 and 14 games in 2002-03. His last NBA game was April 14th 2003, and he never played outside of the NBA. He had a try-out with Climamio Bologna in the 2006 preseason, but he did not make the team, and that was it. Nevertheless, he got paid huge amounts of money during that time in exchange for services not rendered, and he’s been investing it into the entertainment industry. Abdul-Wahad owns a French TV channel called 3A Telesud, is a partner in whatever this is, and is a partner in this clothing company.
In the pipeline is a piece called “A History Of Failed Physicals,” one which I’m currently researching to see if it has the legs I think it might. Shareef will play a pivotal role in its success.
After going undrafted, Texas multi-record holder A.J. Abrams is playing in Greece, where, due to their funky alphabet, he is known as A.J. Eimnpamz. For Trikalla in the Greek A1 League, Eimnpamz averages 17.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 35 minutes per game. It doesn’t look as though he has any aspirations to expand the distributing aspect of his game, although nor does it look like his size is holding him back from scoring too much on the continent.
Trikalla are 12th out of 14 teams in the A1, armed with only a 2-6 record, and it’s not been a good season. Their three imports are Abrams, Kasib Powell and former Pittsburgh forward Tyrell Biggs, but it’s not really helped the team, and Biggs in particular has been ineffective. Trikalla recently brought in Mark Dickel, which might have spelled the end for Biggs, and which gives Abrams one more player not to pass to.
Abukar was in the D-League last season with both the Austin Toros and the Idaho Stampede, and after the D-League season ended he went to Switzerland to sign with the Lugano Tigers. While there, he averaged 19.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in the final seven games of the year, and has stayed there this season, averaging 16.2 points (second on the team) and 6.4 rebounds per game (third).
Swiss basketball is certainly not Europe’s strongest, which is why we don’t often talk about players being there. To give you a yardstick on that, the current leading scorer in Switzerland is a small guard named Kenny Thomas (not THAT Kenny Thomas), who averages 21 points per game for Lausanne. But last year, Thomas was playing for Radford, a Big South Conference team that made it to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, only to lose to North Carolina by 43 points. Thomas averaged 14 ppg last year on 41% shooting for Radford; he’s doing better in Switzerland than he was in the Big South.
The Lugano Tigers employ a ten-man rotation that features only one real Swiss player. Four players have Swiss passports, but, as their names might suggest (Derek Stockalper, Dusan Mladjan, Slavisa Pantic), three of them are naturalised. Even the real Swiss homegrown, Luka Vertel, has mixed Croatian heritage. The Tigers roster is made up of five Americans (Abukar; Stockalper, who plays for the Swiss national team on the side; former North Carolina bench player Byron Sanders; former Pacers summer leaguer Scott Vandermeer; D-League veteran Mike Efevberha), one Brazilian (Gustavo Lo Leggio), one Croatian-Slovenian (Martin Mihajlovic), Vertel (part Croatian), Pantic (naturalised Bosnian) and Mladjan (naturalised Serbian, although he’s been in Switzerland for the best part of a decade). And that list does not include former Michigan State guard Travis Walton, who went home last week. Switzerland isn’t turning out a great amount of homegrown international basketball talent, and the Lugano Tigers definitely aren’t.
But, although it was via Italy, Switzerland DID produce Thabo Sefolosha. So it’s not all bad.
Acker started last season with the Pistons, and got traded to the Clippers in a trade that I totally predicted. (Apologies for being self-aggrandising.) He then went to summer league with the Knicks, and then left the NBA. He signed with A.J. Milano in Italy, and appeared in the league’s first eight Italian league games (averaging 10.0 points and 4.3 rebounds) and their first four EuroLeague games (8.8 and 2.8). However, he hasn’t played since November 12th due to injury. I don’t know what the injury is exactly, but a quick Google translate reveals that it’s a “torn muscle.” Don’t know which.
Adams has not played anywhere this season. Not sure why. Last year, the Raptors signed him to a fully guaranteed $711,517 salary incredibly early in the offseason, watched Hassan turn up out of shape, and had to dump the contract on the Clippers (in the same way as Acker above), who then waived him. Adams then signed in Serbia for Vojvodina, but appeared in only two games before being waived in early March. He has not played anywhere since.
Adeleke started the season with Napoli in Italy’s Serie A, but played only three games, totalling 30 points and 27 rebounds.
Adrien is in Spain, averaging 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds for Leche Rio Breogan Lugo. Those are good numbers, but they come from the second division, the LEB Gold. And even though the Spanish league is the strongest league in the world outside of the NBA, the second division isn’t particularly great. (It’s better than Switzerland, though.) Adrien has also managed to total only five assists in 15 games, which is quite hard to do.
Ager is also in Spain, in the ACB (first division) with Cajasol Sevilla. Unfortunately, his stat line there this season is unnervingly similar to his NBA stat lines of the last three seasons; that is to say, he’s still struggling. In eight games, Ager is averaging 2.4 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.3 assists, shooting 22% from the field, 20% from three-point range and 67% from the line. He has gone scoreless four times in those eight outings, has fouled in seven of them, and has played in only about half of the team’s games. Cajasol are having a decent season, ranked sixth overall in the ACB with an 8-6 record, but they’re doing so with a seven-man rotation. They could use Ager’s help, particularly now that Domen Lorbek has left. But they’re not getting it. It also won’t help that Cajasol just made a big move in acquiring Ivan Radenovic, who, despite not playing Ager’s position, gobbles up some of his available minutes.
Blake Ahearn was in Spain as well until this week, when he was released by Estudiantes Madrid. In the last two years in the D-League, Ahearn has boasted true shooting percentages of .670% (in 2007-08) and .629% (in 2008-09), which is absolutely ridiculously good from a 6’2 guard. This year with Estudiantes was not really any different; Ahearn shot 41% from three-point range (36-87), and a typically Blake Ahearn-like 98% from the foul line (57-58), on his way to averaging 14.2 points per game. However, he only shot 29% from two-point range (10-34), and he also averaged only 0.8 assists a game to go with that. As shooting specialists go, you can’t be much more effective than that, but a specialist is as much as he was.
EDIT – Estudiantes signed Chris Lofton today, another specialist shooter.
In keeping with the theme in this post, Akindele WAS in Spain, and is not any more. Akindele signed with Xacobeo BluSens Obradoiro in the ACB in the summer, but he never played for the team after failing his physical due to a meniscus injury. He has not signed elsewhere since. Xacobeo replaced him with Mike Higgins, who is 43 years old in two months time, yet who is apparently more able to play that Deji is right now. Tough break, but he’ll be fine.
Speaking of Mike Higgins; he played in the NBA once. That was 19 years ago now, in the 1990-91 season with the Sacramento Kings. This season he’s totalled 10 points, 19 rebounds, 17 fouls, 1 assists and 0 blocks. It’s been an epic career, but it’s winding down now.