Despite coming from the unpleasant town of Aldershot, Joel Freeland has turned into a fine player. Still in Spain, Freeland has moved from Gran Canaria to Unicaja Malaga, lured by the promise of EuroLeague ball. Freeland is averaging 9.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 19 minutes per game in the EuroLeague, alongside 11.5/4.5 in 20mpg in the ACB.
It’s not just my national bias talking – although that inevitably factors – but Joel Freeland is awesome. He has size, athleticism and skill; decent offence, decent rebounding and decent defence. He’s not a star player, but he’s a rotation-calibre NBA player and all around superhero. Taking him 30th in 2006 was an Eyenga-level gamble by the Blazers, but it’s worked, and while his selection is not enough to justify trading down from third to sixth in 2005 (thus going from Chris Paul to Martell Webster), it certainly helps.
Freije is playing in his family’s homeland, Lebanon. Despite being born in Bismarck, North Dakota, Freije has ties to Lebanon in his heritage and now represents them at international level. I have absolutely no numbers for Freije’s play with the Lebanese club Sporting Al Riyadi, but at the Asian Championships this summer, Freije averaged 15.7 points and 4.6 rebounds. He also likes to spend his summers in Puerto Rico, where he averaged 20.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in 30 games last year.
Freije has a Canadian/Lebanese teammate called Omar El Turk, who sounds more like an Anchorman character.
Russian international swingman Vitaly Fridzon is into his fifth season with Khimky, averaging 9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in the Russian league, 9.4/3.0/2.8 in the VTB United League, and 6.5/2.4/2.0 in the EuroLeague.
So, that’s where he is now. If you were wondering.
Ex-Fresno State forward Hiram Fuller is now a Libyan national, via means entirely different to those of Matt Freije. Fuller represented Libya at the 2009 African Championships under the name of Hesham Ali Salem; amongst his teammates was ex-Bulls forward Randy Holcomb, known then as Raed Farid Elhamali. I don’t think I want to know how this happened.
For his domestic basketball, Fuller has gone to Mexico, where he averages 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds for Fuerza Regia Monterrey.
In retirement, Lawrence Funderburke has written two books. One of them is foreworded by Lou Pinella, and called “Hook Me Up, Playa!: An Insiders Look Into the Financial Fortunes, Misfortunes, & Fortunate Lessons Learned from Modern-Day Professional Athletes.” (Title could maybe use some shortening.) The second is called “The Triangle Formula of Success,” and has a complimentary website. That website is part of the Lawrence Funderburke Youth Organisation, an organisation that attempts to teach kids how to invest money. It also contains diet tips. Something for everyone there.
Gadson is in the D-League, playing for the Dakota Wizards. He is averaging 9.9 points and 3.7 assists per game.
Gadson is also one of the few people covered on this website that used to play in the British Basketball League. (And by “few”, I mean very few. It’s him, Andy Betts, and that might be about it. Not even Joel Freeland did that.) For the Brighton Bears in late 2005, Gadson averaged 21/5/5 on a team that featured Luol Deng’s brother, Ajou. The head coach and owner of that team was Nick Nurse, who now coaches the Iowa Energy; Nurse wanted to move the Bears to the D-League, but the move didn’t come off, so he went back to the States without them.
The Brighton Bears then folded and no longer exist.
Even before he signed with the L.A. Lakers for training camp, Massachusetts graduate Gaffney had signed with Galil Gilboa in Israel. The team let him come back to America for camp, and he rejoined them after the Lakers waived him. However, Gaffney played in only one game for the team before breaking his foot. He was released from his contract and is now back in America rehabbing.
– Deng Gai
Deng Gai is a tough one to find. Between 2001 and 2005 he played for Fairfield in the MAAC, and averaged 13.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game as a senior. He went undrafted, but caught on with the Philadelphia 76ers in training camp and made the regular season roster. Gai survived five weeks being being waived, appearing in two games and posting five trillion. That was his only NBA soirée.
Gai then moved to the USBL for the rest of that season with the Dodge City Legend, and spent the 2006-07 season with the Wilmington Sea Dawgs in the ABA. (Spelling it wrong will make it appeal to youngsters!) He spent another summer in the USBL in 2007 with the Albany Patroons, then moved to Poland for the 2007-08 season, where he averaged 4.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in the Polish league for ASCO Slask Wroclaw.
All four of those teams have now moved on or gone under. Slask Wroclaw went bankrupt; their second team became their first team, and they play in a faraway Polish lower league, out of sight and mind. The Sea Doggies moved to the ABA to the PBL in 2007, and have moved again this year to the Continental Basketball League, an upstart league born out of the ashes of the old Continental Basketball Association that currently features four teams and will begin its first ever season shortly. The Patroons returned to the CBA in time for its final season, but died when the CBA did. And the entire USBL no longer exists, although there are small whispers of a rebirth after two years out of the rotation. Nothing to reinforce it, though.
Similarly, since leaving Poland, Deng Gai has disappeared from the basketball map. The only thing I can find about him is his Facebook page. And his name is more common than you might think, which makes Googling info on him harder than you might think.
Deng Gai fact: The aforementioned Ajou Deng is Luol Deng’s brother, and Deng Gai is Luol’s cousin. The clue was in the name, I think.
Charles Gaines is currently eighth in China in rebounds, and second in scoring. Loyal readers will know already that that means big numbers, and Gaines’ line doesn’t disappoint; 38.8 mpg, 29.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.1 bpg, 2.1 spg, 63% FG, 71% FT. Only a few short hours ago, he shot 14-17 en route to 33 points and 8 rebounds in a win over Stephon Marbury’s Shaanxi team. Got to love Chinese basketball.
A full rundown of CBA stats will follow shortly.
After three years in Italy, Gaines has taken the unusual step of joining the D-League this season. It’s unusual because he’s 29 years old and not on the verge of a call-up, so there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reason for the big pay cut. Playing for the Bakersfield Jam, Gaines is averaging 13.5 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 33 minutes per game, shooting 48% from the field and 40% from three-point range. Solid all-around numbers, but only solid.
Reece Gaines fact: Reece Gaines’s first name is Clifton. That is all.
Gansey has not had a great professional career. After going undrafted out of West Virginia in 2006, he signed with the Miami Heat after summer league, but did not make the team after nearly dying of MRSA. He missed that season, and while he returned in the 2007-08 season, he posted only 10 ppg in the Italian second division. This was perhaps expected given the whole near-death thing, and definitely fair, but nonetheless a slow start. Last season saw only an 8.7 ppg average in the German league, and he returned to America this season with his three-year professional career still not exactly underway.
In the D-League draft, Gansey was picked with the second pick of the sixth round by the Idaho Stampede, inauspiciously ranked behind such luminaries as Derrick Mercer of American and backup Duke forward David McClure. He played in 11 games for the Stampede, and averaged only 9.6 points and 4.2 rebounds, still not quite cooking on the gas he was at West Virginia. But then in January, Idaho traded him to the Erie BayHawks for Donell Taylor, and that was what finally opened the floodgates. In 14 games for Erie, Gansey’s averages have shot up to 18.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, way more like his glory days. Erie are making him put work in; he averages 44.1 minutes per game and has played all 48 minutes in six of 14 games, and played 52 of 53 in another. But after missing so much of the early part of his career, that’s probably a welcome proposition.
To celebrate this breakout, Gansey now blogs for Ridiculous Upside.
Garbajosa played for Khimky last season, alongside Vitaly Fridzon. Khimky made the final of the EuroCup as favourites before losing to Chuck Eidson’s Lieutuvos Rytas team, after which Garbajosa left Russia after only one season and returned to his native Spain, joining up with Real Madrid. He is averaging 7.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in the ACB, alongside 8.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in the EuroLeague.