With the NBA playoffs entering the second round, we figured it would be a good time to catch up with some St. Joe’s basketball’s most illustrious alumni who are continuing their careers on the professional hardwood.
The conversation—much like just about any other discussion of St. Joe’s basketball—starts with its most famous alumni, Jameer Nelson.
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The Orlando Magic point guard had to contend with injuries again this season and saw his numbers drop from last year’s career season. He finished the regular season averaging 12.6 points and 5.4 assists in 28.6 minutes per game over 65 games; all three totals were slightly above his career average.
He was slowed by torn knee cartilage in November that caused him to miss 17 games. But he averaged 13.8 points per in the 47 regular season games since returning to action on Dec. 19 and has assumed his usual role as a vital cog in the sixth-highest scoring offense in the league for the Southeast Division Champs.He has turned it on so far in the playoffs, almost doubling his regular season average in the first round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats, averaging 23.8 points per. He logged 36 minutes per game, and twice poured in 32 points.
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Joining Nelson in the playoffs is former backcourt mate Delonte West. He appeared in 60 games during the regular season, almost exclusively off the bench, averaging 8.8 points and 25 minutes per game. He also chipped in 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Through six postseason games, he’s averaging 8.0 points and 3.3 assists in 27.5 minutes per game for the Eastern Conference regular season champions Cavs.
His numbers were down from last season, in which he averaged 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 33.6 minutes per game over 64 starts. He was slowed by a number of nagging injuries that kept him out of eight of the Cavs’ first 18 games, and a back ailment that has kept him on the sidelines in two of the season’s final five contests. He had some well-publicized off-court incidents during the offseason, but appears to have put those behind him, by and large.
Dwayne Jones recent signing by the Phoenix Suns has completed the trifecta of Hawks in the NBA. He tore it up in the NBA’s Developmental League, making 48 starts for the Austin Toros in the NBA Development League. He averaged 17.6 points and a league-leading 16.0 rebounds per game. He had 44 double-doubles on the season and scored in double-figures on all but two occasions.
He was named to the All-Star team in the D-League, and attracted interest from the Suns to provide cover for their injury-hit front line as they head into the playoffs as the third seed in the Western Conference. He played in two of the final five regular season games for which he was on the roster, logging seven total minutes and grabbing two rebounds without attempting a field goal.
He has played in two games in the postseason, both lopsided wins by the Suns over Portland, and had five points and five rebounds in nine minutes.
Jones was undrafted out of St. Joe’s and logged 80 total games with Minnesota, Boston, Cleveland, and Charlotte. He was rumored to be close to a deal with Filipino national team Smart Gilas, which would have included naturalization as a Filipino citizen and a chance at the 2012 Olympics, but was drawn to the chance to try his hand in the NBA again.
Joining Jones in the D-League after several successful seasons in Europe is Pat Carroll, ’05. The university’s all-time leader in three-pointers is back within screaming distance of the NBA with the Iowa Energy.
In his first year back in the US, he has excelled with the farm team of the Bulls and Suns, averaging 10.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game in 50 contests, all starts. The sniper has continued to make three-point shooing his bread and butter, shooting 42.4 percent from beyond the arc.
He has upped his game in the first round of the playoffs, averaging 14.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in 42.2 minutes per game in six playoff games for the Eastern Conference runners-up.
Carroll previously played professionally in France and Spain.
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It’s time to hop overseas for the rest of the pro Hawks, led by John Bryant, ’05, who is currently starring with Ratiopharm Ulm in southern Germany.
Bryant has been one of the most consistent performers this season for a team placed 13th of 18 teams in the 1.Bundesliga, the German first division. He’s played in all 30 of the team’s games, one of only three players to do that, and has been a quality role player, averaging 3.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He’s second on the squad in rebounding and leads the team with 29 blocked shots.
He played several years with the Vermont Frost Heaves, then in the American Basketball Association, leading them to back-to-back ABA titles in 2007 and 2008. He spent last season with the Newcastle Eagles in the British Basketball League.
Joining him in Germany is Rob Ferguson, ’08. The forward was putting up big numbers in Germany’s second division, the ProA League, with the Noerdlingen Giants prior to a season-ending knee injury.
When he went down after 17 games played, he was second on the team in both scoring (14.4) and rebounding (7.6) average. He’s now back in that states rehabbing and gearing up for next season.
The Giants have gone into the tank over the last few months of the season, losing their last 10 games and dropping to last in the league.
The highest profile new addition to the Hawks’ European ranks this season was Ahmad Nivins, ’09, who elected to play in Spain’s top league, the ACB, after being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 56th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
He got off to a strong start with Suzuki Manresa, averaging 7.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 13 games before he too suffered a knee injury that required surgery and prematurely put an end to his season.
The former Atlantic 10 Player of the Year is back also back in the States working his way back into playing shape. Nivins was in attendance at several St. Joe’s games this season, and definitely looks stronger and leaner than he did just a year ago. I spoke to him and he said his rehab is going well, and he plans on being back on the court in time for summer league play.
Nivins classmate Tasheed Carr, ’09, has had a somewhat different experience abroad, already making stops in two fairly exotic basketball nations.
The guard started the season with Ironi Nahariya in Israel’s top division, the Israeli Premier League, a league which has attracted a number of former A-10 stars, including UMass’ Tony Gaffney and Gary Forbes and Temple’s Dionte Christmas.
But Carr struggled to fit in from the start, averaging 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.5 turnovers per game in eight games. He was shooting just 42.6 percent from the field and a lowly 6.3 percent from three-point range.
He made the change at midseason, and joined up with China’s Jilin Northeast Tigers in the first division, the CBA. He acclimated very well on the court to the new surroundings despite being the one of the only foreign-born players on the roster, and averaged 18.5 points per game in 18 games, the second highest total on the team. He also averaged 5.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 31.3 minutes per game.
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Pat Calathes, ’08, (or “Kalathis”, as his name appears in the Greek spelling) has also continued his career abroad, where he’s in the second season of a three-year contract with Maroussi BC, who’s had a surprisingly successful season for the third placed team in the Greek A1 top division.
Calathes has played only a bit role in that success, averaging 3.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 19 games this season. He’s only averaging 10.3 minutes per contest, but he’s made the most of that time, shooting 50 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from three-point range.
When it comes to European stalwarts, no one comes to mind more than Dmitry Domani, ’97, and Rashid Atkins, ’98.
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Domani has long been a star in his home country of Russia. This season, even at the age of 35, has been no exception for the forward. He’s played in 17 games for Russian power Dynamo Moscow in the A-Superleauge, averaging 7.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game.
It’s his highest scoring average in the last three years. He’s also shooting an impressive 63 percent from the field and an uncharacteristically high 42.6 percent from the field.
Domani has spent the last eight years with Dynamo after five seasons with cross-town rivals CSKA and has been a regular fixture on the Russian national team for the last decade.
Atkins, formerly Rashid Bey in his time at St. Joe’s, has been more well-traveled in his European career, but successful none the less. He has played for 11 different teams in seven countries, including three different Turkish squads, two in Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Belgium, Israel, and most recently, Cyprus.
His role has been diminished with APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus’ Division A, participating in just three games and averaging eight points, two rebounds, and three assists per contest.
Elsewhere in Europe is 2000 graduate Andre Howard. The transfer from Pittsburgh who spent two seasons at Hawk Hill has established himself in Spain over the last few years after several season of bouncing between teams.
He started the 2009-2010 campaign at Lagun Aro Gipuzkoa in the ACB, Spain’s top division. In December, the 6-foot-7 forward moved on to Basquet Mallorca one league down in the LEB-Gold and averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in four games over two months.
Howard switched teams again in February, joining LEB-Silver (third division) side Huelva where he has averaged team-high 11.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 10 games.
In total, he’s played for 13 teams in Spain over nine seasons to go along with stops in Luxembourg, France, Argentina, The United States Basketball League (USBL), and the now-defunct National Rookie League in the U.S.
Christopher Cologer has also continued his career in France. He’s excelling with Get Vosges in France’s NMI (third division), averaging 10.5 points per game. His 8.0 rebounds per contest lead the team.
Pete Kathopoulis is also still playing overseas with Greece B-League (third division) team Apollon Kalamarias after spending last season Aias Evousmou (stats unavailable).
We end with a few Hawks at the end of their respective careers. Dwayne Lee, ’06, has called time on his professional basketball days. The guard, who spent parts of the last three seasons playing in Slovenia, Germany (shown here with Sellbytel Baskets Nuremberg), Cyrus, as well as a stint with the Frost Heaves in the ABA, has moved back to the States.
I spoke to Lee at the St. Joe’s men’s basketball banquet last week, and he said he’s enjoying his time back in the U.S. The native of St. Anthony’s Prep is back in his hometown of Jersey City as a teacher and is looking to get into coaching basketball eventually.
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Also ending his career will be Bill Phillips, a member of the class of 2002 and a recent inductee into the St. Joe’s men’s basketball hall of fame. The power forward and native of Nice, France has plied his trade on the European circuit for the better part of the last decades, making stops in Greece, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany.
He played in just six games this season for Italian Lega 2 (Italy’s second division) side Carmatica Pistoia, averaging 6.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game. His season was ended early due to a bone spur in his heel that caused ligament damage and required surgery. He accepted his induction to the SJU hall of fame at the men’s basketball banquet three weeks ago, and told me that his playing career is likely over.
He broke into the professional ranks with Maroussi in Greece in 2002, but spent time with two other squads in Spain that season before settling in for two year in his native France. His best season in terms of statistics came in 2007-08 for Giessen in the German 1.Bundesliga when he averaged 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Also discontinuing his playing career is Arthur Davis, a 1997 graduate. He had been playing in Romania, but retired at the end of the 208-09 season.
– Matthew De George ’10