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Shinshu signs former MVP Parmer; Aomori adds three

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Shinshu Brave Warriors endured back-to-back losing seasons in 2011-12 and 2012-13 as the franchise got established.

There were growing pains, coaching changes (Motofumi Aoki, Takatoshi Ishibashi), injury setbacks (Wayne Marshall) and a lot of ups and downs.

Now, under new coach Ryuji Kawai, the Brave Warriors have made their first major offseason acquisition, signing 2010-11 regular-season and playoff MVP Jeff Parmer, who helped lead the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix to a championship in his awards-winning season and a title runnerup finish the next season. The deal was announced on Wednesday.

Parmer’s leadership skills have been widely praised since he began playing in Japan in 2010, both from his teammates and opponents, as well as from former Phoenix coaches Kazuo Nakamura and Kawai.

Parmer’s versatility as a player is one of his main strengths, with a solid knack for setting up on the perimeter and battling inside under the basket, too.

The Florida Atlantic University product brings a winning mentality and a major boost to the Warriors’ locker room as a proven leader in this league.

“I want to send a big thank you to Ryuji and the rest of the Shinshu organization for welcoming me to the Brave Warriors family,” Parmer said in a statement released by the team Wednesday.

“I’m very blessed and honored to be playing for an up-and-coming organization. I know the first two years in the league has been a roller coaster ride for Shinshu and the fans. My mission is to be a key piece that takes our team to a new level. A level the fans and organization has yet to see.”

Building blocks: The Aomori Wat’s have added three important pieces to the team’s roster for their inaugural season: big men Anthony Kent and Abdullahi Kuso and guard Eric May.

With these recent signings, the team’s roster is taking shape with several bj-league veterans — Yuki Kitamuki, Makoto Sawaguchi, Yuta Kojima, Daisuke Takaoka, among others — already competing for key roles on the new squad.

Head coach Koju Munakata added a pair of big men in Kent and Kuso who have competed in this league in past seasons.

Kent, a 209-cm Ball State product, suited up for the Akita Northern Happinets last season. He averaged 11.7 points and 8.6 rebounds in 41 games.

Kuso, a 206-cm Gonzaga alum, joined the now-defunct Miyazaki Shining Suns near the midway point last season. He contributed 17.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 31 games. He has also played for the Ryukyu Golden Kings and Rizing Fukuoka.

May completed his college career in April, when the Iowa Hawkeyes lost to Baylor in the NIT championship game. Iowa had a 25-13 record in May’s senior season.

Reflecting on May’s impact for the team, Hawkcentral.com‘s Rick Brown wrote, ” . . . May was the glue that kept the team together. His defense was relentless. His unselfishness, passing, momentum-changing dunks and clutch jumpers were a constant theme all year.”

The 196-cm May appeared in 38 games for Iowa last season and 133 total contests as a Hawkeye.

He was honored as a co-winner of Iowa’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

Excellent opportunity: Former Saitama Broncos head coach Natalie Nakase recently caught up with The Japan Times to discuss her experience working in July as a video coordinator at the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Here’s how she summed it up: “The experience in Vegas was 100 percent productive. I got to meet a lot of NBA scouts, coaches, and video coordinators. The best was being able to observe and help out in private NBA workouts.”

Nakase completed her first season as a Los Angeles Clippers video coordinator when they were ousted from the playoffs. She will have the same job under new coach Doc Rivers for the 2013-14 campaign.

As a springboard for her future — Nakase aims to be the first woman to serve on an NBA team’s coaching staff — working at the Summer League found her in her element.

“It was also a great opportunity to reunite with a lot of basketball friends from Japan and Germany,” the former UCLA and pro point guard said, noting she met the Hamamatsu and Toshiba Brave Thunders coaching staffs and some players she knew from Japan while there.

While in Las Vegas, she reunited with former Tokyo Apache assistant coach Casey Hill, former Tokyo coach Bob’s son. Nakase was an assistant on Bob Hill’s staff during the 2010-11 season, and his positive impressions of her work ethic, high basketball IQ and professional dedication helped her land a spot with the Clipppers.

Casey Hill, meanwhile, served as one of two NBA D-League Select Team assistant coaches during the Summer League.

“It was great to catch up and get some advice for the next season,” Nakase said of meeting with Casey Hill last month.

And as for working on Rivers’ staff, Nakase said, “I am excited to learn from our new coaching staff,” she said.

Preseason contest: The Kyoto Hannaryz will face the NBL’s Hyogo Storks on Sunday in the first bj-league exhibition game of the 2013-14 season.

A 2 pm. tipoff is scheduled for the game at Himeji Municipal Central Gymnasium in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture.

Transactions: The Shiga Lakestars have signed big man Shelton Colwell, bringing him back after he made a solid impact for the team last season.

He averaged 15.4 points and 7.9 rebounds in 26 games for the club last season.

Also, the team has signed forward Marshall Brown, who scored 16-plus points per game for Miyazaki before moving on to the Akita Northern Happinets last season. Brown poured in 19.7 ppg in 32 games for Akita.

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