/ |

White, Washington, Sparks pick up April honors

by Ed Odeven

Since scoring 32 points in his bj-league debut, Wendell White has been a tone-setter for the Eastern Conference’s top team.

The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix standout averaged 16.2 points and four assists per game in April, helping the club win six of eight games and maintain its spot atop the standings.

When he wasn’t scoring, White, a steady leader and fundamentally sound player, was getting his teammates involved on the offense. If he wasn’t credited with an assist, he often made a pass that led to an assist.

But White is one of the league’s most talented scorers. He’s No. 3 in that category (22.0 ppg). His finest offensive performance of the month came against the Niigata Albirex BB on April 17, when he scored 28 and sank 15 of 16 free throws.

White shared The Japan Times’ Offensive Player of the Month award for April with Osaka Evessa power forward Lynn Washington.

The Evessa solidified their position as a title contender in the month, getting big-time production and leadership from Washington at both ends of the floor. The two-time MVP averaged 23.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists in the month, capped by a 43-point outburst on April 25 against the Oita HeatDevils.

Osaka also posted a 6-2 record in April.

Shiga Lakestars shooting guard Masashi Joho also received consideration for the award. He averaged 15.6 ppg in April, including four straight 20-point games. It’s a sign of his continued maturation as a player, and his development as a role model for Japan’s future pro players.

Top defender: Tokyo Apache guard Rasheed Sparks is The Japan Times’ Defensive Player of the Month for April.

Proving that he can still have a game-changing role at both ends of the floor, Sparks’ defensive contributions were a key factor in Tokyo’s 6-2 April, which propelled the team into the playoffs.

The 32-year-old Sparks collected 19 steals and blocked seven shots in the month — doing what he’s always done, that is. What’s more, his high-energy play on defense limited opponents’ scoring opportunities. And it seemed that Sparks was always in the right place at the right time on defense, with alert eyes, quick feet and active hands.

Sparks is No. 3 in the league in steals (2.2 per game).

One of the league’s best rebounding guards, Sparks grabbed 51 defensive boards in those eight games. By doing so, he often helped jump-start the Tokyo offense in the blink of an eye.

Apache center Julius Ashby, who had five double-doubles in seven April games (he served a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul), also garnered consideration for the award.

He averaged 12.0 rebounds per game, blocked 10 shots and altered the trajectory of numerous others.

Ashby is No. 3 in blocks (1.8 per game).