Where Are They Now, 2010; Part 68
May 18th, 2010

Samo Udrih

Beno’s brother started the year back in his native Slovenia, having not retained his place at Estudiantes Madrid. The one-time Maverick averaged 13.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists for Hopsi, while waiting for a better offer to come in. In January, one did, and Udrih moved to Croatia to play for Cibona Zagreb. For them he averaged 7.3 points down the stretch of their EuroLeague campaign, 9.0 ppg in the Adriatic League and 9.4 ppg in the Croatian league.


Ejike Ugboaja

Cavaliers draft pick Ugboaja’s professional career before this season has read; Nigeria, Poland, Cyprus, D-League, and Iran. There’s not a whole lot of pedigree there, not helped by the fact that he averaged only 3/3 for the Cavaliers’ own D-League affiliate before being released. However, this year has seen Ejike bounce back a bit. He started the year with Azovmash in Ukraine, averaging 9.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in only 15 minutes per game in the Ukrainian Superleague. He left in December and returned to Iran to play for Petrochimi, where statistics are unfortunately unavailable. Nevertheless, he produced quite a lot in a better quality of league than usual. It’s something to build from.

Here are all the players drafted by the Cavaliers after the 2003 draft (the LeBron James draft):

Luke Jackson (10th, 2004)
Anderson Varejao (30th, 2004; technically drafted by Orlando, but done so for Cleveland)
Martynas Andriuscabbages (44th, 2005; technically drafted by Houston, but again done so for Cleveland)
Shannon Brown (25th, 2006)
Daniel Gibson (42nd, 2006)
Ejike Ugboaja (55th, 2006)
J.J. Hickson (19th, 2008)
Darnell Jackson (52nd, 2008; technically drafted by Miami, etc)
Christian Eyenga (30th, 2009)
Danny Green (46th, 2009)
Emir Preldzic (57th, 2009, Phoenix)

It’s a largely-miss record with a couple of salvaging hits (Hickson and Varejao). Gibson wasn’t a bad pick either, even if he’s somewhat redundant right now, and Kaun will be regarded in NBA circles as a good pick-up two years from now. However, it’s not much of a list, not helped by the fact that Shannon Brown only became decent three teams later, and not until after being one of the only five players in history to have the third year of his rookie scale contract turned down.

That list also excludes the four picks that were traded by previous GM Jim Paxson, which were later by other teams used on Sean May, Rudy Fernandez, Jared Dudley and Malik Hairston (and which, if we were to play the always fun “optimum hindsight draft picks” game, could have been used on Danny Granger, Tiago Splitter, Carl Landry and Anthony Morrow). All they got in exchange for that was Sasha Pavlovic, half a year of Jiri Welsch and a year of the Milt Palacio Layup Bonanza; the May pick was given to Charlotte to coerce them into taking Jahidi White in the expansion draft.

These things aren’t the fault of the current Cavaliers management, of course, except for the ones that are. Nor should it reflect on Ejike Ugboaja, whose drafting should stand on its own merits. But to non-Cavs fans, it’s an interesting eye-opener. And probably quite a poignant one.


Cory Underwood

D-League veteran Underwood has been all over the show this year. He has spent time with five different D-League teams – Albuquerque, Maine, Idaho, Dakota and Austin – and has also spent two different stints in the PBL with the Halifax Rainmen. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.7 rebounds for the Rainmen, and averaged 7.9 points and 3.7 per game over his various D-League stints. Included somewhere in there was a trade for Joe Dabbert; Dabbert, Dan Issel’s second cousin, averaged 14.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.3 fouls in only 24 minutes per game for the Idaho Stampede this year. Some bonus info there.


Robert Vaden

After being drafted by the Bobcats and traded to the Thunder, Vaden’s professional career began in the Italian second division with Aget Imola. He averaged 16.9 points in 35.7 minutes per game there, shooting more threes than twos and hitting them at 40%. Vaden formed an explosive backcourt with former BYU guard Trent Whiting, who averaged 22.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Whiting his spent eight of the nine seasons of his professional career in Lega Due, and has averaged no less than 16.6 ppg in any of them. Is there not an opportunity for promotion here?

Former San Diego State forward Ryan Amoroso was also with Imola for much of the season, but he left in February. The man who Jimmy Dykes once described as being “in there to foul” did a lot of it, averaging 4.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 fouls in 16 games.


Ramon Van De Hare

2003 Raptors draft pick Van De Hare played with the mighty Barcelona until 2005. (Note: the word “played” is generous there.) Upon leaving, he joined Slovenian giant Olimpija Ljubljana for a year, and even appeared in seven EuroLeague games with them. But since 2006, RVDH has no longer been able to land sweet gigs based on his supposed potential. He spent the 2006-07 season in Cyprus with AEL Limassol, which is quite the downgrade, and returned to Cyprus for the 2008-09 season after an unsuccessful trip to Ukraine with Azovmash in 2007-08 (who seem to still owe him some money, over a year later).

For this season, Van De Hare returned to Spain. But no longer is he on the deep benches of ACB teams. Far from it. Instead, Van De Hare plays for a team called Platges de Mataro. And not only have Mataro completely jacked the L.A. Lakers’ logo for themselves; they also play so far down the Spanish basketball system that I had to Google it.

The pinnacle of Spanish basketball is the ACB, a top-three league worldwide featuring all the good teams you’ve heard of such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Caja Laboral, etc. There are 18 ACB teams. Then comes the LEB, which is split into two divisions; the LEB Oro (Gold) and the LEB Plata (Silver). There are 18 LEB Gold teams, and 21 Plata teams split into two divisions. After that comes the Liga Española de Baloncesto Amateur (EBA), which is divided into five groups; Group A, Group A-B, Group B, Group C and Group D.

Mataro play in Group C of the EBA.

Stats are unavailable for hopefully obvious reasons, other than to tell you that Van De Hare totalled 15 points and 13 rebounds in their last game. Nice numbers, I suppose. But this misses the point. This is a former NBA draft pick, EuroLeague and ACB champion we’re talking about here. Ramon almost never played for Barcelona, but they invested a heck of a lot of time and money in him over the years, trying to make something of him. He even got drafted in the NBA by a team that had never seen him (allegedly), based on the reputation of this potential. And yet this is where we are now. The word “Amateur” in the EBA’s name is a clue as to how far backwards down the Spanish basketball ladder we’ve gone here. That’s how far you have to go to find former NBA draft pick, Ramon Van De Hare.

Orlando still owns his rights, after having traded for them in 2005. But, truth be told, they might not ever sign him to an NBA contract.


Nick Van Exel

This one shouldn’t take as long. Nickey Maxwell Van Exel retired after the 2005-06 season and is now an assistant at Texas Southern University, as is another ex-NBA player, Vin Baker.


Keith van Horn

Van Horn has not appeared in an NBA game since Game Five of the 2006 Finals. He’s been in the league since then, what with that whole Jason Kidd sign-and-trade thing, but he didn’t play a game amid that semi-comeback and he never really intended to. (It was briefly reported that he would work out with the Nets, but that was probably a lie. Remember, this is a man who retired because he wanted to be with his family, not because no one wanted him.)

It’s hard to trace what Van Horn is doing now. Although he did build a quite magnificent trout stream.


Ratko Varda

Varda didn’t get started this year until January, but landed a decent gig when he replaced Pape Sow for Polish EuroLeague team Gydnia. He averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds for the remainder of the EuroLeague season, but has averaged only 6.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in the Polish league. He has also turned it over 1.9 times per game in only 10 minutes.


Jeff Varem

Former Washington State forward Varem has spent at least part of the year in Iran, playing for Saba Mehr. However, any more information than that is extremely hard to come by. As far as I can tell, he is no longer there, and may not have been for a few months.


A.D. Vassallo

Vassallo graduated from Virginia Tech last summer, and signed back in his native Puerto Rico before attending the Bulls summer league camp. He did not make the team and went to France to play for Paris-Levallois, where he averaged 17.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game (the PPG ranked fourth in the league). Upon the conclusion of Levallois’s season, Vassallo will return to Puerto Rico to play another BSN season; however, Levallois finished 7th in the ProA regular season, and thus begin their first round playoff series against Le Mans tonight.


Jacque Vaughn

After spending the last two years with the Spurs, Vaughn was jettisoned this summer in favour of an extra wingman, as the Spurs decided to run with only two point guards. And when the team needed some mid-season ball-handling reinforcements, they looked to youth instead, giving contracts at various points to Garrett Temple, Cedric Jackson and Curtis Jerrells. Vaughn is about to turn 35 and hasn’t been good for about eight years; his NBA career looks to be over. With his 3.72 GPA in Business Management, however, he should be nicely set up for long term income.

Jacque Vaughn fact; Jacque Vaughn started the 2001-02 season in an 0-26 shooting slump, which is almost Duhon-like. Strangely, that ended up being the best shooting season of his career; Vaughn finished the season shooting 47%/44%/83%, with a true shooting percentage of .547%. He hit 24 three-pointers that season. He’s hit 22 in the seven seasons since.



Fran Vazquez

Vazquez just won the EuroLeague with Barcelona. He is often the subject of derision amongst circles of NBA fans after the slight miscalculation that was his selection so high in the 2005 draft, yet such ridicule misses the key point; Vazquez was drafted that high because he can play. Big, strong and athletic, Vazquez sprints the court, blocks shots and runs a hugely effective two-man game with Ricky Rubio, and his production is what makes him the starting centre for the best non-NBA team in the world. Vazquez averaged 7.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the EuroLeague (PER of 25.2) and 7.4/4.1/1.3 in the ACB (PER of 23.0). He might not suit the current Magic setup, what with them already having Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat, but don’t go thinking that he’s not playing in the NBA because he can’t. As he most certainly can.

Additionally, in a rule that I don’t believe has ever yet come into play but which will do very soon with Tiago Splitter, Vazquez is no longer bound by the terms of his rookie scale contract. So if Orlando wants to use some or all of their MLE on him one day, then they can.

Ramon Van de Hare might be easier to sign, though.

Posted by at 9:53 AM