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Where Are They Now, 2010; Part 14
January 24th, 2010

This one might be shorter than the last one.

One final note on Keon Clark: despite what I said earlier about Clark’s mandatory weekly court appearances being “almost universally described as good”, Clark failed a drug test as recently as late November. So maybe it’s not all coming up Milhouse after all.

 

Victor Claver

Windpipe is still with Valencia, his hometown team and the team he’s been with since he was 15. He’s averaging 11.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in the EuroCup, alongside 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the ACB. Good numbers all, and good defense, with only one drawback; Claver is shooting a combined 26 of 87 from three-point range between the two competitions, which is 29.8%.

 

Mateen Cleaves

After spending last year in the D-League, Mateen Cleaves is currently unsigned. This would appear to be by choice, as his Twitter reveals a new career direction. Cleaves has teamed up with some guy named Jon Connor (not the one of Terminator fame) to launch Varsity Records, a record label that appears to have one client (Connor) and one manager (Cleaves). This would appear to be a full-time venture for Cleaves now, so he is perhaps done with basketball at the age of 32. I’m speculating about that, of course, but only because of Cleaves’s apparent dedication to this new endeavour.

Is Jon Connor any good? You be the judge.

Hard to tell, really. That’s just noise on that video. But the crowd seem to be enjoying it.

Here’s an article about them both.

 

Keith Closs

For the 2007-08 season, a 31-year-old Closs joined the Tulsa 66ers of the D-League, and spent the entire year there. It represented the best job security that Closs had had since his NBA career floundered almost a decade ago, and an article (which I now can’t find) spoke of his comeback from the apathy and alcoholism that had plagued him until that point. It was a nice story.

Since that season ended, though, Closs’s career has been back to its previous stop-start ways. Closs started last year in China, averaging 14.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and a league-best 4.5 blocks in 18 games for the now-defunct Yunnan Running Bulls. After putting up a triple-double (13/13/11) in his final game with the team in late December, he moved to rival team Liaoning for a try-out, but did not make the team, and then this summer he was a part of the stacked IBL team, the Los Angeles Lightning.

What’s he doing now? Well, this very week, Closs was the first pick in the second round of the Universal Basketball Association draft by the seminally named GIE Morrow Disciples, a team that clearly read the Anthony Morrow Facts before choosing that name. The Universal Basketball Association is a minor league that you’ve probably never heard of; nor had I until I looked up Keith Closs’s recent career. The UBA is based in Texas and used to be known as the United Regions Basketball League. The MVP of the league last year was Atlanta Christian’s very own Jermaine Barnes, who averaged 41 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals per game.

For Keith Closs to have been only the ninth pick, there must be 8 players in the UBA deemed to be better than him.

(By the way, Jermaine Barnes has never played to a standard above the ABA. But the advantage to that is huge statistics, and Barnes fully took advantage of that by averaging 48.2 points per game for an entire season in 2007-08. It was in the Japanese third division, but still. Buckets.)

 

Dominique Coleman

Coleman made his name in the D-League last year, playing for the now-defunct Colorado 14ers. He averaged 15.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 4.8 apg and a league best 2.8 spg, numbers he hadn’t previously approached, not even in the Big 12. Coleman took this new CV to Belgium, where he joined Dexia Mons-Hainaut and awaited some hot EuroCup action. However, despite his 22 points and 9 steals in two games, Dexia were knocked out of the EuroCup (see also: Justin Cage’s entry), and Coleman moved to another EuroCup team in Angellico Biella. There, he averaged 4.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the EuroCup, alongside 5.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in the Italian league, before being released. Coleman was only ever signed as injury cover for Fred Jones, and once Jones returned to health, Biella didn’t have room to keep Coleman. He is now unsigned.

 

Coleman Collins

Collins is in Germany, playing for ratiopharm Ulm. (The lack of capitalisation there is theirs, not mine.) Collins is averaging 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24 minutes per game, shooting 57% from the floor and 54% from the foul line.

It’s been a while, so let’s play Count The Germans: on a 15-man roster, Ulm have ten Americans (including two called Kevin Martin and John Bryant), one Dane (going by the very un-Danish name of Darko Jukic), one Bosnian and five Germans. Three of those Germans are in the regular playing rotation, including national team forward Robin Benzing.

I think that’s the most successful game of Count The Germans we’ve had so far.

 

Will Conroy

Apart from very short stints in the NBA and Italy, Conroy has been in the D-League since leaving the University of Washington in 2005. This means he probably still has a mortgage, because the D-League does not pay well. Conroy has done this for the simple reason that he knows he’s on the cusp of the NBA, and the best way to get in it when you’re that close is to be in the D-League and wait for opportune 10-day deals. However, despite averaging 27/8/5/2 down there last year, Conroy still couldn’t get any guaranteed money in training camp this year, and went to the Rockets camp in October on a completely unguaranteed deal. Then, in spite of the Rockets having only two point guards, Conroy lost out on a roster spot to Brian Cook, because Cook’s expiring salary can’t be traded if he’s not on the roster. And trading that remains a possibility, however small. So it was no joy for Will.

The guards to have been called up from the D-League to the NBA so far this season are Sundiata Gaines, Mario West, Cedric Jackson and JamesOn Curry. While Gaines’s story has been quite cool, what else does Conroy have to do? No one in the NBA really needs Conroy right now, not even the Rockets, but he’s being passed over for lesser players and has been for a while. If teams need a point guard to call up as injury cover, Conroy is ready and waiting, but they’re not doing so. Worse still for Conroy; he just turned 27, and the window is closing.

Conroy went to China to start this season, but lost out in the crush that saw basically every former NBA player vying for spots there. He has since rejoined the D-League and is averaging 14.3 points, 8.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

 

Omar Cook

Montenegrin national team starter Omar Cook is one of the best point guards in Europe. His team Unicaja Malaga have turned over their backcourt recently, replacing Taquan Dean and Shammond Williams with Juan Dixon and Zabian Dowdell, but Cook remains a mainstay and one of the best passers on the continent. He averages 9.3 points and 5.7 assists per game in 25 minutes per game in the ACB, alongside 8.9 points and 6.0 assists per game in the EuroLeague. If those assists numbers don’t look like much, consider:

a) the minutes played.

b) the fact that assists are far harder to get in Europe; double the number and subtract a bit for their NBA equivalents.

c) the fact that the EuroLeague and the ACB represent the second and third-best standards of basketball in the world, and Cook is second in them both in assists per game.

Maybe now you’ll understand why he is badass.

Also note; in 19 ACB games this year, Cook has only scored in double figures six times. One of the, however, was a 35 point explosion.

 

Brandon Costner

NC State product Costner was Coleman’s teammate at Hainaut before getting hurt in late October. He was replaced by Curtis Sumpter, but rejoined the team in early December, and is averaging 10.6 points and 4.0 rebounds on the Belgian league season. He was doing a lot better before the injury.

From what I’ve seen of him there this year, Costner has forsaken any remaining impulses to pretend he’s a post-based power forward any more.

 

Ryvon Covile

Detroit Mercy product Covile is playing his second season with Orleans in France, with this year having an added bonus; Orleans are (or rather, were) a EuroLeague team. In that competition, The Detergent averaged 9.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 fouls, alongside 10.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.1 fouls per game in the French league. Covile’s rebounding was his staple in college, yet he’s not proving to be much of a rebounder now that he’s undersized in the pros. However, his offensive output has increased over the years, which makes up for it.

 

Chris Crawford

As regular readers will know, Crawford has been a particular point of interest over the years due to his complete disappearance a few years ago. That issue was addressed at length here, and an impassioned two-person internet campaign to find Chris Crawford produced the following results:

1) He lives in Galesburg, Michigan.
2) He owns a company called “Slam Dunk Stables,” a thoroughbred racing stable that either is or was part-owned by Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

I don’t think we need any more than that.

 

Joe Crawford

Crawford was in camp with the Knicks, yet despite having the guaranteed money advantage over Marcus Landry, Landry beat him to the 14th roster spot. And the Knicks didn’t keep fifteen out of training camp, for as we later learned, they were keeping #15 for Jonathan Bender. Crawford rejoined the D-League – where he will earn about half of the $50,000 the Knicks are paying him not to play – where he was assigned to the L.A. D-Fenders. He is averaging 17.7 points and 3.8 assists per game.

Finally….

 

Austin Croshere

Despite playing for three NBA teams last year – the Pacers, the Bucks and the Spurs – Croshere has not played for any this year. It doesn’t look like he’s going to, either, as he now does television and occasional radio work for the Pacers.

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