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Mustafa Shakur is an Arizona Point Guard U. alum who also graduated from the school of hard knocks following the likes of Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and Jason Gardner.
Shakur had high unrealistic expectations placed on him, rated as a five-star recruit out of Friends’ Central School near Philadelphia. After earning a Pac-10 All-Freshman selection in 2002-03, Shakur was not chosen an all-conference player in his career. He was an honorable mention choice as a senior in 2006-07.
Gardner, his predecessor, was a three-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection. Although Shakur did not reach that level, he carved his own niche with the Wildcats and produced credible numbers. He had his critics, but nobody could question his work ethic (ranking only behind Gardner, Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr in career minutes).
He is No. 25 on the UA’s career scoring list with 1,318 points. He is second in career assists with 670, trailing Russell Brown’s incredible record of 810 from 1978-81.
Shakur is one of only three UA players with at least 1,300 points and 600 assists. The others are Gardner (1,984 points and 622 assists) and Damon Stoudamire (1,849 and 663).
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Shakur has played mostly overseas and in the NBA’s Developmental League in his professional career. His NBA experience is only 22 games in 2010-11 after he was signed to multiple 10-day contracts by the Washington Wizards.
He continues to work out in Philadelphia with the hopes of signing somewhere. Recently on his Instagram page, Shakur showed his studious side, displaying five novels he is about to read including “9 Things a Leader Must Do”, “Empowering Yourself” and “Built to Last”.
Shakur’s No. 15 uniform at Arizona is shared by a couple of other players who hit the books and their jump shots — Warren Rustand and Jim Rappis.
Rustand, a career 81.4 percent free-throw shooter, was the first UA player to play on a U.S. national team (1966, Silver Medal). He also was the first to be selected an academic All-American, WAC Scholar/Athlete of the Year, to play in a national all-star game (1965 East-West game, be named All-WAC three consecutive years, and lead the Wildcats in field goal percentage and free throw percentage three consecutive years.
Rustand, an Arizona Sports Hall of Fame inductee, and former U.S. Congressman Mo Udall are two of the most distinguished former Arizona basketball players. Rustand, 69, is still going strong as an entrepreneur, educator and public servant. He continues to conduct motivational speeches for businesses and prospective business owners (see accompanying video).
He served as the appointments secretary to President Gerald Ford during his time as a White House Scholar. He has served as CEO or chairman of 17 companies and on the board of directors for 50 public, private and not-for-profit organizations.
“Character is defined by how you treat those who can not help you and can not hurt you,” Rustand says in the video. “It’s how we treat those people who don’t have the power to influence us in any way. It’s the wait staff that help us at our tables. It’s the people who make our beds in our hotel rooms.
“It’s the homeless person on the street that we have the power to choose to help or not help.”
Rappis, a point guard who could also shoot, was also a two-time All-Academic selection in the WAC. He was a model of perseverance in his UA career because of numerous injuries.
He fractured an ankle as a freshman and still managed to play nine games. He suffered a ruptured appendix at the beginning of his sophomore year and had a series of ankle injuries but still played in 24 of 26 games. Another ankle injury when he was a junior forced him to use a cane off the court throughout the season. He underwent surgery to correct a spinal disc before the 1975-76 season and was in grave danger of losing his life when he contracted peritonitis.
In the 1976 West Regional Semifinal — one of the most thrilling games in UA history when the Wildcats beat Jerry Tarkanian and UNLV 114-109 in overtime — Rappis injured his left heel with 5:57 left in the first half but continued to play despite being hobbled throughout. He finished with 24 points and 12 assists against the Running Rebels. His 12 assists were more than what UNLV produced as a team.
“Jimmy is the epitome of courage,” UA coach Fred Snowden was quoted as saying by the Tucson Citizen afterward.
His heel injured limited him to only four points against UCLA in the West Regional Final, lost by the Wildcats 82-66 at Pauley Pavilion. Rappis was still selected to the NCAA West Regional all-tournament team.
Rappis, 55, is retired and lists residences in Tucson and his hometown of Waukesha, Wis.
Other No. 15’s of note include Joe McLean of the 1994 Final Four team and team captain in 1995-96, and Ron Davis, who averaged 19.6 points a game in 1980-81.
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