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Gunma hires longtime NBA assistant Parker as new coach

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Charlie Parker, who spent more than a decade as an NBA assistant coach, this week was named the Gunma Crane Thunders’ new bench boss.

Entering their third season, Gunma handed its coaching reins to a well-traveled, experienced mentor to build a winning foundation.

Parker received a one-year contract to coach the Eastern Conference team.

The Crane Thunders went 13-39 last season, They had a 15-37 record in 2012-13, their inaugural campaign.

“I am looking forward sincerely to be a coach in the bj-league,” Parker said in comments posted on the Gunma website.

He added that the goal is for the team to play an exciting NBA style of basketball, including aggressive defense.

Parker, 65, served as an assistant coach for the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends during the 2013-14 season. (Parker worked alongside former Saitama Broncos head coach Dean Murray, a Legends assistant coach.)

From 2011-13, he coached Al Muharraq to one Bahrain League title and one championship runnerup finish.

He also led the Chinese Basketball Association’s Foshan club from 2010-11.

He served as a Dallas Mavericks assistant from 1996-2006, and worked for the New Orleans Hornets in that same role from 2007-10, during which he also guided the club’s Summer League team in Las Vegas

In the collegiate ranks, he was a head coach at the University of Southern California in 1995-96. He was named the interim head coach as Trojans mentor George Raveling’s successor the previous season. Parker was on Raveling’s USC staff for six seasons before the promotion.

Before his move to USC, Parker was head coach at Wayne State, an NCAA Division II school in Michigan, from 1982-88. He compiled a 120-56 record in that time. He collected two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year accolades while at Wayne State.

Parker started coaching in 1972 at the University of Findlay (Ohio) as an assistant and spent four seasons at the school before a six-year stint as an assistant at Bowling Green.

News from Akita: Power forward Ruben Boykin, who had a terrific 2013-14 season for the championship runnerup Happinets, will play for Ludwigsburg, the top-flight Basketball Bundesliga (Germany) club, this coming season.

The 29-year-old Boykin averaged 13.9 points and a league-high 13.5 rebounds for the Happinets. He had 183 assists against 93 turnovers with 52 steals.

In his one season in Japan, Boykin quickly emerged as one of the bj-league’s premier all-around forwards.

Akita recently announced it has re-signed high-scoring forward Richard Roby.

Firebonds update: Expansion club Fukushima has signed its first two foreign players, big man James Hughes, who split last season between Sendai and Gunma, and forward Nick Thompson.

Hughes played 21 games for Gunma (7.0 points, 5.9 rebounds) and 24 games for Sendai (8.8 points, 6.8 rebounds) last season.

The 211-cm Northern Illinois product said, “I would like to thank Fukushima and Coach Theo (Hiroki Fujita) for giving me the opportunity to return to Japan. We look forward to show the fans hard work and excitement for their support.”

As a rookie pro last season, the 206-cm Thompson averaged 9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 28 games for Finke Baskets in the German ProA League.

“My wife and I are very excited about this opportunity, and can’t wait to move to Japan and get started,” Thompson said in a statement posted on the Fukushima website. ” I’m grateful to be part of the Fukushima Sports Entertainment family, and am looking forward to getting there and working hard to help the organization have a great first season.”

Thompson completed his college career at Utah Valley State after stints at Oklahoma and College of Eastern Utah.

Returning to Kyoto: As expected, forward David Palmer will be back with the Hannaryz for a third season.

Kyoto made the official announcement on Wednesday.

Palmer, 32, averaged 13.9 points per game for the Hannaryz last season. The sharpshooter made 41.8 percent of his 3-point shots, 46.2 percent from inside the arc and 87.2 percent at the free-throw line.

Frontcourt addition: Forward Olu Ashaolu has joined Hamamatsu for the upcoming campaign.

The 200-cm University of Oregon product was born in Nigeria. He lists Toronto as his hometown.

Ashaolu, who wrapped up his college career in 2012, played for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He has previously competed for pro teams in Spain and France. He is a former member of the Canada junior national team.

“I’m very excited for my arrival and to be a part of the club,” Ashaolu said in a statement issued by the team. “I am looking forward to having a great year with all the teammates, coaches, sponsors and fans.”

Before attending Oregon, Ashaolu went to Louisiana Tech.

Susanoo Magic addition: Shimane filled a spot on its roster by signing 211-cm post player Brandon Hassell.

“After playing in Europe last season for the first time, I’m excited to play my first season in Japan,” Hassell, a Penn State alum, said in a statement.

“I’d like to thank the Shimane Susanoo Magic organization for giving me this opportunity.

“I am going to come in, work hard, and do the best I can to make an impact on the court and help this team.”

Hassell began his pro career in 2008. He played for Swedish club Eco Orebro last season, averaging 13.9 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds in 36 games, according to eurobasket.com.

Bambitious pickup: Nara has added veteran forward Michael St. John for next season.

The 203-cm La Salle University product played for Norwegian League team Tromso Storm last season, providing 18 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 23 games, eurobasket.com reported.

Johnson, 30, has also played in Poland, Denmark and Romania.

Staying in Gunma: Guard Kenya Tomori has finalized a deal to return to the Crane Thunders for a third season.

He began his pro career in 2007 with Ryukyu.

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