Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats have 23 players in professional basketball ranks after Nets waive Budinger


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Four members of Arizona’s team last season — Kaleb Tarczewski, Gabe York, Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen — are among 23 Arizona players presently in the NBA or playing professionally overseas.

Tarczewski is trying to find his niche with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and has drawn same rave reviews, while York, Anderson and Tollefsen are attempting to establish themselves in a foreign land. York is in Italy, Anderson in Belgium and Tollefsen in Estonia.

They are three of eight former Wildcats who are playing overseas professionally. All but two of them — Daniel Dillon and Mustafa Shakur — were coached by Sean Miller.

Shakur, 32, played for Lute Olson from 2003 to 2007. He is in his 10th season of professional basketball, playing in Poland, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Germany and now Turkey. He also played briefly in the NBA for Oklahoma City and Washington.

Dillon, 30, played at Arizona from 2004 to 2008. He is competing in Japan after playing in his native Australia, Romania and Poland.

Kyle Fogg was recruited by Olson’s staff in 2008 but never played for him. He is playing in Spain this season after playing in Finland, Belgium and Germany.

The NBA includes 15 former Wildcats currently in the preseason, some of whom are battling for roster spots. Tarczewski is one of them with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is one of nine players coached by Miller playing in the NBA preseason.

Chase Budinger was waived this morning by the Brooklyn Nets. In four preseason games, he played a total of 41.5 minutes and averaged three points and two rebounds a game. In seven NBA seasons, Budinger averaged 7.9 and 3.1 rebounds a game. He played in 407 games and started 50. His best season was his second in the NBA — 2010-11 — when he averaged 9.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 22 starts for Houston.

The six remaining Olson-recruited players in the NBA include Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Jordan Hill, Jerryd Bayless and Jason Terry. They have a combined 69 years of NBA experience (not including this season):

Terry — 17

Jefferson — 15

Iguodala — 12

Frye — 10

Bayless — 8

Hill — 7

Derrick Williams, Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell are notable Miller recruits who have a favorable immediate future. A noticeable name missing is Brandon Ashley, who played in the D-League and Germany last season. It’s likely that Ashley will head to Europe again to play although nothing official has been announced.

Bayless, challenging for the Sixers’ starting point guard spot along with McConnell, has not played in the preseason because of a sore wrist. He is slated to not return by the season opener, which means McConnell will likely start on opening night Oct. 26 against Oklahoma City in Philadelphia.

I just want to come out here and show that I’m capable of running a team,” McConnell told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I just want to come out here and do what I can to help us win. Whether that is on the defensive or offensive end, I do what this team needs me to do.”

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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