The Rizing Fukuoka are in pursuit of a former Chinese Basketball Association star to fill their coaching vacancy, The Japan Times has learned.
Mack Tuck, a high scoring guard for Shandong during his playing days, is a leading candidate to replace the departed Atsushi Kanazawa, a basketball insider said on Saturday.
The Rizing, who joined the bj-league in 2007, appeared in their first championship game on May 19, dropping the final 101-90 to the Yokohama B-Corsairs. Kanazawa is now employed as a head coach by the TGI D-Rise, a squad in the NBDL, formerly called the JBL2.
Like a diplomat, Tuck has had his passport stamped in numerous locales around the globe. His career has included stops in Bulgaria, Venezuela, Portugal, Dominican Republic and the Netherlands.
According to online reports, Tuck averaged 28.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 42 games in 2008-09 for the Shandong Lions. As a college player, he attended Colorado and NCAA Division II Central Oklahoma. The Associated Press reported in May 1996 that Tuck was dismissed from the Colorado basketball team for violating team rules.
Tuck, 38, served as an assistant to Bob Weiss, when the former NBA bench boss led Shandong (2010-11).
As temperatures heat up, rosters are being cobbled together during the busy offseason. And many bj-league teams will have an almost entirely new cast of players for the 2013-14 season.
The list of well-known standouts who are on the move is also a work in progress.
Here’s a rundown on recent moves, all first reported by The Japan Times:
■ High-flying, high-scoring forward Thomas Kennedy has signed a deal to play for the Shimane Susanoo Magic. He reunites with new Shimane bench boss Vlasios Vlaikidis, the first Iwate Big Bulls head coach in the 2011-12 season. Kennedy averaged 18.8 ppg for the champion Yokohama B-Corsairs.
■ Forward Wendell White is a top target of the Sendai 89ers. The UNLV alum was limited to 32 games, split between the Oita HeatDevils and Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, in 2012-13 due to foot fracture. Sendai’s new coach, Shuto Kawachi, served as a Phoenix assistant in 2009-10, when White was the league MVP and helped carry the team to its first of back-to-back championships.
■ Big man Gyno Pomare has finalized a deal to play for Iwate.
Pomare averaged 12.2 points and nearly 10 rebounds for the Kyoto Hannaryz, helping the club reach the Final Four for the second consecutive season. He has previously suited up for the 89ers and Phoenix.
■ Versatile big man Lawrence “Trend” Blackledge, a Marquette University product, will be back with the Big Bulls for a second season.
■ Veteran forward Josh Peppers, an instrumental part of the Rizing’s championship runnerup finish in May, is also on Iwate’s radar, a source familiar with the situation stated. The well-traveled Peppers pumped in 16.3 points during the regular season, thriving as a sixth man.
■ Center Anthony Kent will suit up for the expansion Aomori Wat’s. The Ball State product average 9.7 ppg for the Akita Northern Happinets in 2012-13, his first season in the bj-league. (The Japan Times previously reported that former Yokohama stars Draelon Burns and Chas McFarland are headed to Akita for the upcoming season.)
■ The Rizing are pursuing former Oregon State standout swingman Seth Tarver, whose father John was a running back for the New England Patriots (1972-74) and Philadelphia Eagles (1975).
Fukuoka is “very close to finalizing a contract,” a source familiar with the situation said of the NBA Development League veteran.
The 25-year-old Tarver was named the Pac-10 Conference’s 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year. The only other Beaver to receive the accolade was future NBA superstar Gary Payton, in 1987.
He suited up for the NBA Development League’s Idaho Stampede from 2010-12, and for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Stampede last season after going undrafted by NBA teams.
Tarver was invited to Portland Trail Blazers preseason training camp in 2010, but didn’t make the team. In 140 D-League games (80 starts), Tarver averaged 9.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals.
In related news, veteran forward Reggie Okosa, who starred for the Big Bulls last season, is poised to join former bj-league club Chiba Jets, which has defected to the NBL.
Meanwhile, the Rizing and 89ers are both interested in acquiring the services of big man Dzaflo Larkai, who has collected a pair of championship rings as a key contributor for the Phoenix and Ryukyu Golden Kings.
Larkai spent two seasons with Ryukyu, and the team went 81-23 in the regular season during that time. One of the league’s most polished post players, Larkai brings valuable playoff experience to whichever team he suits up for.