Cleveland veteran Luke Walton has played under Hall of Famers Lute Olson and Phil Jackson and he comes from a basketball pedigree learning the game as a child from his father Bill Walton, another Hall of Famer.
Walton, a former Arizona player in his ninth NBA season, will be a head coach someday. He already has experienced a stint as an assistant with Memphis under former UA player and assistant Josh Pastner last season during the NBA lockout. Walton presently is grooming young Cleveland post players Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller into becoming better passers and improving their court vision of the flow of the game.
“At the beginning of the year, the (Cleveland) coaches (told) me, you got to (help Thompson and Zeller),” Walton told Hoopsworld.com. “So I knew that was going to be part of my role this year whether it was while I was playing or while I was not playing.
“I had a lot of good vets that had taught me a lot about this game, so when I am out there playing with these young talented big guys, if I see something that they are doing or I see something that would be more effective for them during a timeout, I will let them know or if we are in the game together, I will try to point it out so we can do it because if we do it in a game, it will reinforce it. They are both such great kids. They want to learn. They want to get better. It has been a lot of fun doing that.”
It made the headlines in Australia when former UA guard Daniel Dillon opted to leave his native Melbourne and play professionally in Romania this season for CSM Oradea. Dillon, who played with the Wildcats from 2004-2008, requested out of his contract with Melbourne after its head coach Trevor Gleeson was fired before this season.
Dillon is enjoying one of his finest years in professional basketball with CSM Oradea, which is 18-2 in Division A of the Romanian National League. He is averaging 11.2 points a game and shooting 42.5 from three-point range.
Another former UA player excelling is Jamelle Horne with Soles de Mexicali in the Mexican National Professional League. The Soles advanced to the semifinals of the LNBP playoffs with a 91-83 victory over Aguascalientes Panthers on Friday. The Soles won that best-of-seven series 4-2. They play the Halcones Xalapa starting Tuesday in the semifinals.
Horne had a double-double — 30 points and 10 rebounds — in Mexicali’s win over Aguascalientes on Friday.
ARIZONA PLAYERS IN THE NBA
Updated Feb. 3
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a–Budinger is out until early March at the earliest with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee.
b–Hill is out the remainder of the season with a hip injury
c–Frye is out this season because of an enlarged heart treatable with rest.
ARIZONA PLAYERS INTERNATIONALLY & D-LEAGUE
Stats provided by EuroBasket.com. Updated Feb. 3
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a–Williams has been suspended six months by the Chinese Basketball League for failing a drug test
b–Wright goes by Ali Karadeniz, his Turkish name
Note–Mohamed Tangara (at UA from 2005-08) plays professionally in Angola but that league is out of season currently.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner