Mustafa Shakur is back in the United States leaving Italy to play near his hometown of Philadelphia in the NBA’s Developmental League, while former Arizona teammate Salim Stoudamire resumed his professional career in Venezuela after a two-year hiatus.
Shakur’s NBA D-League rights were traded March 5 from the Rio Grande Vipers to the Erie (Pa.) BayHawks and he seized the opportunity to move back to the U.S. after thriving in Italy. He averaged 11.5 points, 3.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 17 games for Sidigas Avellino.
Stoudamire, who last played for the Reno Bighorns of the D-League in 2011, at first tried to play in Europe but has instead joined another former teammate — Hasaan Adams — with Guaros de Lara in Venezuela on March 1.
Erie, affiliated with the New York Knicks, immediately relied on Shakur to be a leader in his debut Saturday night. He had 17 points, five assists and three steals in the BayHawks’ 111-105 victory over Springfield Armor.
“I felt a little winded in the first quarter, and I got my second wind in the second half, and I think my teammates made it easy for me by playing good defense and getting steals and getting out there running to make it easier in my first game,” Shakur told the Erie Times-News.
Shakur, who was with the Wildcats from 2003-2007, had not played for Sidigas since Jan. 27. He moved back to the U.S. in anticipation of playing in the D-League to conclude the season.
“He’s a veteran who’s been around the block and in the NBA and in the European League, so you’re doing yourself a lot of good,” BayHawks coach Gene Cross told the Erie Times-News. “His speed, his quickness, he can get to the rim and find people, he’s a tremendous asset for us, and I feel like a better coach when he’s on the floor. He can also pressure the ball on defense and make the other team uncomfortable.”
Shakur has played in France and Italy in the last couple of years since playing within a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards in 2011. He played with Rio Grande during the 2010-11 season when Stoudamire was at Reno. Stoudamire, who played at the UA from 2001-2005, was reunited with Adams (at the UA from 2002-2006) when an opportunity to play in Europe did not materialize.
Stoudamire and Adams played their first game together with Guaros de Lara on March 2. They combined for 33 points in Guaros de Lara’s 94-86 win over Gigantes de Guayana. It was their first game as teammates in almost eight years since the Wildcats lost in the Elite Eight against Illinois in 2005.
They have not played in almost a week because the Professional Basketball League in Venezuela suspended its games in the wake of the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on March 5. The games will not resume until Tuesday.
After Stoudamire’s signing on Feb. 27, the Venezuelan media reported about his game-winning basket against Oklahoma State in the 2005 Sweet 16, one of the most notable plays in the UA’s NCAA tournament history.
|Some former Wildcats on display in this inspirational video:
||Stoudamire was not the only former Wildcat who resumed his career last week. Former Arizona guard Zane Johnson, who transferred to Hawaii after playing with the UA from 2007-09, began his professional career on March 1 with Caceres in Spain.
With Stoudamire and Johnson now playing, that brings the total to 29 former Arizona players who have played in professional basketball this season either in the NBA, D-League or in a foreign league. …
Brendon Lavender is back in the U.S. after playing seven games in the Swedish professional league. He Tweeted on Feb. 18 that he suffered an ankle injury that requires treatment and rehabilitation at home for at least two months. He averaged 7.9 points for Stockholm. …
Jesse Perry battled against Loren Woods in Lebanon in a game matching former UA post players. Perry had 15 points and 14 rebounds in Hoops Club’s 95-88 loss to Woods’ Al Riyadi team on Thursday. Woods tallied 27 points and 17 rebounds. …
ARIZONA PLAYERS IN THE NBA
Updated March 10
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a–Budinger is out with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee but has been recently cleared to undergo agility drills.
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 March 10
[table “” not found /]
a–Williams has been suspended six months by the Chinese Basketball League for failing a drug test
b–Shakur’s D-League rights were traded to Erie last week. He left Italy and joined the Erie squad for the remainder of the season.
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