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Ishizaki planning to continue playing career in Europe

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Contrary to some speculative chatter in recent days that guard Takumi Ishizaki is on the verge of retirement, the word out of Germany is that the Fukui Prefecture native has his sights set on extending his overseas career.

A German basketball expert contacted by The Japan Times on Wednesday and Lothar Hermeling, Ishizaki’s German agent, revealed that the latter has spoken to first-division clubs in the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and elsewhere about Ishizaki.

In an email to The Japan Times early Thursday morning, Ishizaki confirmed his desire to remain a European-based player.

“I’m still looking for the team that I will play for next season,” the 29-year-old Ishizaki wrote. “Some clubs from overseas have interest in me, but looks like they need some more time. I would like to stay Europe . . . “

Ishizaki spent the past two seasons with the German second-division Chemnitz 99ers. He was the team’s leading scorer (12.8 points) and passer (3.7 assists) in 30 games last season.

Ishizaki played for the Shimane Susanoo Magic in the 2010-11 season for bench boss Zeljko Pavlicevic and appeared in the All-Star Game. Two-time league MVP Lynn Washington of the Osaka Evessa and then-Tokyo Apache head coach Bob Hill, who previously led four NBA teams, spoke highly of Ishizaki’s all-around skills and leadership abilities at the All-Star Game in Osaka in January 2011.

This was Washington’s glowing assessment of Ishizaki in a post-game interview:

“He’s the best Japanese basketball player I’ve ever played with, the best in this league. I’ve played with other national team players, but by far he’s the best.

“He doesn’t turn the ball over. He knows how to find players on the fast break and in the halfcourt sets. And probably the most important thing that he does is that he knows how to finish over Americans, and that’s very rare here in Japan.”

At the time, Ishizaki became the first active bj-league player to earn a spot on the Japan national team, which was previously only open to JBL players.

Hermeling is a former general manager of TBB Trier, a German first-division club. In the past few years, he has worked to expand his reach into Japan since becoming an agent.

His clients last season included Joe Werner, standout forward for the Chiba Jets, and forward Terrance Woodbury, the Ryukyu Golden Kings’ stellar sixth man.

Building blocks: The expansion Bambitious Nara have signed guard Joe Chapman (Marquette University), swingman Jamar Abrams (East Carolina), forward Anthony Brown (Oklahoma State) and forward Levi Giese (Lafayette) for their inaugural season, the team announced this week.

Chapman, who wears jersey No. 32, attended Marquette, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade’s alma mater, from 2002-06. Before spending the past four seasons with the Newcastle Eagles of the British Basketball League, Chapman’s pro career included stops in Colombia, Mexico, Czech Republic and Chile.

The 193-cm veteran was Newcastle’s second-leading scorer (15.7 points) and finished first in assists (5.3) while also averaging 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 35 games last season, according to online reports.

“Joe Chapman will be one of the best shooters and scorers in the bj-league next season,” a league source predicted in a Wednesday night conversation with The Japan Times. “He is a steal for the new Nara team.”

Bambitious coach Koto Toyama’s squad will look to Brown to provide the type of productivity he delivered for Pertevniyal Istanbul, a Turkish second-division squad, last season. In 34 games, he averaged team-best totals in points (13.9) and rebounds (8.4), and also converted 53.4 percent of his shots from the field.

Abrams, 24, split the 2011-12 season between the NBA Development League’s Maine Red Claws (nine games, 5.2 ppg) and Canadian squad London Lightning. Last season, his second as a pro, included time with the Lightning (preseason) and ABA team Richmond Elite. He averaged double figures in scoring in his final three collegiate seasons.

The 23-year-old Giese, a civil engineering major, is the third-leading shot blocker (109 rejections) in Lafayette history. He is embarking on his first pro season.

Around the league: Jeral Davis, the 216-cm center who led the league in blocked shots for each of the past three seasons, is exploring his options in the Korean Basketball League, a basketball insider said Wednesday evening. The Talladega State product starred for Shimane from 2010-13, and has not been signed by a bj-league team for the coming season.

On the move: Former Niigata Albirex standout Will Veasley, who played under Brad Stevens at Butler University, is now the Illinois State men’s basketball team video coordinator. He served in that capacity last season at IUPUI.

Look for more details on Veasley’s career aspirations in an upcoming notebook.

Meanwhile, former Saitama Broncos coach Natalie Nakase stayed busy at the recent NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. She handled video coordinator duties during league, which ran from July 12-22. While in the Nevada entertainment capital, the ex-UCLA point guard was in a prime location to network and meet key contacts from around the league. She has stated her future goal is to be a coach in the NBA, and working in the Summer League adds another layer of experience to her resume.

Nakase was the Los Angeles Clippers video coordinator last season.

Back in the game: League legend Lynn Washington, the retired Osaka Evessa star and three-time champion, is lending a hand at San Jose City College as a men’s basketball consultant and advisor.

Before starring at Indiana University under Bob Knight, Washington played at SJCC. Now he’s reunited there with his former coach, Percy Carr, who is now the winningest coach in California community college history.

Interestingly enough, Washington also played for the man who was tops on the NCAA Division I victory chart — yep, the aforementioned Knight — until Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski surpassed him with victory No. 903 on Nov. 15, 2011.

Carr, one of Knight’s good friends, has coached at SJCC since 1975. Now, with Washington back around the program and living in San Jose on a year-round basis, he may be positioning himself for a future as a full-time coach in the high school or college ranks, or at least getting his foot in the door as a possible assistant on one of the many programs in the area.

Knowing how much of a fierce competitor Washington is and how passionate he is about the game, it would not be outrageous to suggest he’d like to have Carr’s job someday.

Returning to Osaka: Well-traveled guard Takanori Goya will return to the Osaka Evessa for the upcoming season. He briefly played for the then-three-time-reigning champs in 2008, when Kensaku Tennichi was the bench boss. Now, Shunsuke Todo is the man in charge.

Goya, who turns 30 on Aug. 26, spent the past two seasons with the Shinshu Brave Warriors. He was with the Tokyo Apache from 2009-11. The oft-injured guard began his pro career with the Toyama Grouses in 2006 as the No. 1 pick in that year’s draft. The Okinawa native left the Grouses in 2008 to join Osaka. He completed the 2008-09 season on the Rizing Fukuoka squad under fiery mentor John Neumann.

Newest Happinets: Former Northern Arizona forward Ruben Boykin and ex-Oklahoma City College player Elhaji Wade have OK’d contract offers to play for coach Kazuo Nakamura’s club in 2013-14.

A native of Senegal, the 203-cm, 22-year-old Wade attended Hachioji High School.

Boykin averaged 7.7 points and 5.8 rebounds in 42 games for Anwil in the Polish League last season. His career has also included stops in Greece and Italy. He was a three-time All-Big Sky Conference selection.

As an NAU Lumberjack, Boykin had 17 double-doubles as a senior in the 2006-07 season, which was third among NCAA Division I players. A guy named Kevin Durant, then a University of Texas freshman, was No. 2 on that list with 20.

More signings: The Sendai 89ers have added James Hughes to their roster, the former Northern Illinois big man agreeing to a deal earlier this week.

The 211-cm Hughes began his pro career in 2007 for Energa Czarni in Poland, followed by stints in Israel, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Sweden and Slovakia. . . . Guard Kazuyuki Nakagawa, who played for the Takamatsu Five Arrows and Rizing Fukuoka in past years and, most recently, for the JBL’s Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Dolphins, has joined the NBL’s Tsukuba Robots.

Keep an eye on . . . longtime JBL star Takuya Kawamura, who failed to latch on with an NBA team for the Summer League in Las Vegas and is now a free agent.

One well-connected source predicted that the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix may be in the running to acquire Kawamura. The head coach, Tomoya “Coach Crusher” Higashino, served as a Japan national team assistant for several years, so Kawamura, a longtime national team player, is familiar with him.

While one source sees Kawamura, who has also been linked to a move to the NBL’s Toyota Motors Alvark, in the bj-league next season, another is convinced he’s a selfish player.

“One big problem with Kawamura is that not many people seem to like him,” the longtime basketball observer told The Japan Times on Wednesday. “I’ve talked with two of his former head coaches who had very negative things to say about him, calling him selfish among other things.

“Another coach pointed out that when he played in the Vegas Summer League a few years ago — I saw one or two games — he never cheered for his teammates, and basically seemed uninterested in the game, unless he was playing — very true from what I saw.”

Spotted in Las Vegas: During recent days, Higashino, the Hamamatsu coach was seen in Las Vegas attending various basketball-related events, as was Phoenix assistant coach Seiichiro Kage, a Japan Times source said.

Iwate Big Bulls coach Dai Oketani also spent a busy week in the Nevada city during the NBA Summer League, making preparations for the coming season.

Incoming Yokohama B-Corsairs coach Michael Katsuhisa went to Las Vegas, too. (Former Yokohama coach Reggie Geary, the new Chiba Jets bench boss, was also there.)

The KBL organizes extensive tryouts in the desert city with bright lights and big casinos, and teams from other international leagues have an opportunity to watch dozens of potential signees in action.

Feedback: Got a story idea about the bj-league? Send an email to edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp