It was encouraging to see Salim Stoudamire at ease with himself and confident as usual on the basketball court at the Sporting Chance Center on Saturday morning following his participation with the Lute Olson Fantasy Basketball Camp.
The previous image I had of Stoudamire in person was him writhing in pain and appearing emotionally upset on the court during the 2009 NBA Summer League at Las Vegas.
I was there to do a story on Stoudamire’s effort to get back in the NBA after three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. That report unfortunately had to be scrapped.
A free-agent acquisition by Milwaukee earlier that spring, Stoudamire’s NBA career effectively came to an end with a serious groin injury suffered in the summer league game. The Bucks waived him about three weeks later and he never returned.
For the first time since then, a decade later, I had the good fortune to watch Stoudamire, 36, play again. He was going through a personal workout at the Sporting Chance Center after the former Wildcats and participants of the Lute Olson Fantasy Camp had departed.
Stoudamire’s shooting touch has not escaped him and he is in excellent shape as a vegan. A resident of Atlanta now, he and his wife, a vegan chef, are raising a son who is 8. I observed Stoudamire make 10 pull-up jump shots in a row. Making three straight is an accomplishment. Ten straight is practically unhuman.
Salim Stoudamire still has it when it comes to shooting. In town from Atlanta as part of the Lute Olson Fantasy Basketball Camp. pic.twitter.com/iS2FTqY7Xp
With a shot like that, his basketball dreams are still vibrant.
I asked him if he has a return to the Big 3 in his sights after he played with the 3-Headed Monsters last summer. True to his confidence, Stoudamire views himself on a different stage.
“Big 3 is half-court, three-on-three basketball. I’m looking to play five-on-five full-court,” he said. “But I like the Big 3, though. I don’t want to say anything negative about it. I love Big 3 (commissioner) Ice Cube.”
Ask former Arizona teammate Andre Iguodala who is the best shooter in college basketball history — not only Arizona history — and he’ll say it is Stoudamire, as Iguodala wrote in his book The Sixth Man.
“Salim Stoudamire is the greatest 3-point shooter ever in college history,” Iguodala writes. “It is a fact you can argue all you want.”
This coming from a guy who played under Steve Kerr and was a teammate of Steph Curry with the Golden State Warriors.
Iguodala describes how Stoudamire, as a senior in 2004-05, made 50.4 percent of his shots from 3-point range, 91.0 percent from the free throw line and 50.4 percent from within the arc.
“His true shooting percentage — that’s field goal, free throw and 3-pointers combined — was 68.9,” Iguodala writes. “That’s insane. By comparison, Steph Curry’s true shooting percentage in his best college season was 64 percent. … There has never been, and never may be, another shooter as purely good as Salim Stoudamire.”
Stoudamire is Arizona career leading 3-point shooter with 342 made. He is second to Kerr in career 3-point percentage at 45.8. Kerr’s 57.3 percent mark was based on 199 attempts, while Stoudamire tried 747.
Stoudamire, a cousin of former Arizona great Damon Stoudamire, has heard the talk of him being the best (or most consistent) long-range shooter in Arizona history. When I mentioned that to him, he immediately responded with, “Steve Kerr … I will always put Steve Kerr at the top.”
“I always think about the older guys who paved the way,” he said. “I will never speak about myself when it comes to Arizona history and tradition.”
Arizona could use a shooter like Stoudamire these days. Who couldn’t? He has kept an eye on Sean Miller’s program, which recently has experienced turmoil with the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. Miller and the Wildcats have Stoudamire’s full support despite the “chaos” lately, he said.
He went so far as to say: “I’m putting positive energy in the air and I know that they will turn it around.”
Coming from somebody who can’t miss, that’s good news for the Wildcats.
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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.