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Davis, Singleton teaming up in Shimane

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Houston Rockets’ Twin Towers — Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon — helped pave the way for the team’s trip to the 1986 NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics, the superior squad, won the series, but the big men were instrumental in Houston’s success that season.

Nearly 30 years later, the Shimane Susanoo Magic hope to replicate the Twin Towers concept by teaming up big men Jeral “Stretch” Davis, a 216-cm veteran and the bj-league’s three-time reigning blocked shots king, with fellow 7-footer Rashaad Singleton, another premier shot blocker with a solid low-post offensive game.

The 213-cm Singleton’s signing by Shimane was announced earlier this week. With Davis and Singleton, the Susanoo Magic will likely have the tallest twosome in the 21-team bj-league.

Greek bench boss Vlasios Vlaikidis, Shimane’s new coach, will be able to team up the potent duo in the low post as a last line of defense and concoct offensive schemes that capitalize on their size and free up space for the team’s wings and guards.

Singleton appeared in 12 games for the Singapore Slingers of the fledgling ASEAN League in 2013, averaging 13.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.4 blocks.

In the 2011-12 season, Davis took home his second blocked shots title in the bj-league, averaging 3.8 per game. Singleton, then playing for the Sendai 89ers, was No. 2 in the league at 2.9.

Davis, a Talladega State (Alabama) product is eager to work on a daily basis to help the Susanoo Magic vie for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance.

“Yeah, I’m excited to see what we will do,” Davis told The Japan on Wednesday. “Me and him are like brothers so the chemistry will be there from the jump, but our defense is going to be tough.”

Davis and Singleton are also roommates in Tampa, Florida, and have challenged each other during grueling offseason workouts, on-court drills and games for several years.

In a 2012 interview with The Japan Times, Singleton, who completed his college career at Florida Southern, revealed how focused both men are during the offseason to work on their game.

“We work out on a strict schedule, sometimes starting at 5 a.m. depending on the exercises,” Singleton said at the time. “We do a lot of cardio and weights in the afternoon, then we concentrate on basketball drills and getting up shots. We then usually meet with other pros, NBA and overseas, and play pickup (ball) in the afternoon and get up extra shots at night.

“Me and Jeral both share an extreme passion for defense. . . . We take our summer workouts very seriously. We both feel like we are only going to become much better in the years to come.”

Shimane forward Kazuya “J.” Hatano, a three-time title winner with the Osaka Evessa, is one of the most experienced players in the league, a scrappy, hard-nosed hustler who should augment the aforementioned big men.

On the move: Center Rick Rickert will suit up for the NBL’s Wakayama Trians this season, according to a source familiar with the to-be-announced transaction.

A former Minnesota Timberwolves draft pick, Rickert played for the Osaka Evessa last season and helped the Kyoto Hannaryz reach the Final Four in the 2011-12 campaign.

Namizato’s challenge: Guard Narito Namizato, who spent several weeks this summer working out in California and competing in the Drew League in Los Angeles, is pursuing a dream to compete in the NBA Development League.

The All-Star has not re-signed with the Ryukyu Golden Kings as of press time, the team he played for the past two seasons.

Now 24, Namizato has utilized his quickness to excel in the bj-league. Will his all-around game be good enough to earn a spot on a D-League team? There are plenty of skeptics, but time will tell.

Rebuilding efforts: Big man Wayne Marshall and post player Marquise Gray will be added to the reigning champion Yokohama B-Corsairs roster in the coming days, league sources have confirmed.

Marshall suffered a season-ending injury (left patella tendon) in early January while playing for the Shinshu Brave Warriors. He was with the Osaka Evessa for two seasons before joining Shinshu.

Gray split the season between the Niigata Albirex BB and Chiba Jets.

Sharpshooter Wayne Arnold is also on Yokohama’s radar and a deal may materialize, sources said. He played for the Shiga Lakestars last season and Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix (2010-12), but is also weighing his options in other leagues.

Lottich update: Longtime bj-league guard Matt Lottich has been hired as an assistant coach for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team.

The Division I university, located in the hoops hotbed of Indiana, competes in the Horizon League.

“Our basketball program is very excited to have Matt Lottich join our coaching staff,” Crusaders coach Bryce Drew said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to having him work with our team, as his energy and experience will really benefit our program as we head into this season.”

This will be Lottich’s first college coaching position. As a player, he was recognized as an on-court leader as a heady point guard and standout for the three-time champion Osaka Evessa. He also played pro ball in Germany and closed out his pro career with the Oita HeatDevils in 2012.

Most recently, he worked for the National Collegiate Scouting Association as a Chicago-based head scout.

One longtime bj-league coach said he’s delighted Lottich has been given the opportunity to impart the wisdom he’s gained to the next generation of players.

“Not surprising, Matt seems like a perfect fit,” the coach wrote in an email to The Japan Times. “No doubt he’ll do really well.”

New Cinq Reves players: Forward Edward Morris, the league leader in dunks per games the past two seasons while with the Brave Warriors, has officially finalized a deal to play for Tokyo this season.

Joining Morris in the frontcourt is 215-cm, 135-kig big man James Davis, who played for the Saitama Broncos in the 2007-08 season. He averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 42 games for Saitama in his rookie season as a pro. The Lamar University product has also played in the ABA, Hungary and Qatar since leaving Japan.

Davis worked out with the Bulls, Celtics and SuperSonics before the 2008 NBA Draft, according to published reports.

Evessa signings: Osaka has added four foreign players as rebuilding efforts continue under new coach Shunsuke Todo.

Point guard Marcus Capers, swingman Kevin Galloway, power forward Zach Andrews and center Dillion Sneed, the team announced this week.

Capers, 23 completed his college career at Washington State in 2012.

He played in Finland last season for Torpan Pojat, a Helsinki-based, second-division team. He appeared in 23 games and averaged 16.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks.

In a recent interview with washingtonstate.scout.com,, Capers said he’s fired up about the coming season.

“I’m in a better league and I’m going to be able to make more money this year,” Capers was quoted as saying. “Hopefully I can go out and keep improving this year and keep on getting better.

“I have the dreams of playing at the highest level,” he added. “I’ll stop playing ball when I’m not having fun or my body won’t let me anymore. I’ll give it a couple of years and if it doesn’t pan out, I can say I tried. I don’t want to look back on my life with any what-ifs.”

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