Basketball / BJ-League

Ex-NCAA star Abdul-Rauf signs with Kyoto Hannaryz

by Ed Odeven

Ex-NBA shooting guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who rose to national prominence as one of college basketball’s most prolific scorers, will play for the expansion Kyoto Hannaryz this season, the team has announced.

Abdul-Rauf, 40, joins a team that will play its first game on Oct. 3 at home against the Shiga Lakestars.

Indisputably, Abdul-Rauf is the most well-known player to join a team in the bj-league, which is entering its fifth season.

Last season, Abdul-Rauf suited up for Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia two decades after emerging as an instant star at Louisiana State University when he was known by his given name, Chris Jackson. He converted to Islam and changed his name in 1993.

In the third game of his college career, Jackson scored 48 points in the 1988-89 season. In his fifth game, he had 53 points.

He had another 50-point game that season, averaged 30.2 points per game and was named to The Associated Press’ All-America First Team.

In a 1989 interview with Sports Illustrated, then-Georgetown University center Alonzo Mourning praised Jackson’s offensive abilities, dishing out this poignant commentary: “I think he’s the best shooter in the country.”

As a college sophomore, Jackson averaged 29.0 ppg and again was named to AP’s All-America First Team.

After his sophomore season, he opted to turn pro. He was selected by the Denver Nuggets as the No. 3 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft.

All told, Abdul-Rauf appeared in 586 NBA games (336 career starts) and averaged 14.6 points per game while playing for the Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Vancouver Grizzlies.

Abdul-Rauf won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 1992-93, when he made 81 starts and averaged 19.2 ppg. In ’91-’92, he was primarily a backup (11 starts) and scored 10.2 ppg.

He also was a superb marksman at the free-throw line. In ’93-’94, he made 219 of 229 free-throw attempts (95.6 percent). It is the second-highest single-season percentage of all-time; Houston’s Calvin Murphy holds the all-time mark of 95.8 percent, established in the 1980-81 season.

Since appearing in his final NBA game in 2001, Abdul-Rauf has been a journeyman player, though he spent the 1998-99 campaign with Fenerbahce in the Turkish League. He also didn’t play in 1999-2000 and from 2001-03.

Abdul-Rauf came out of retirement in 2003 and spent the season with Ural Great Perm in Russia, then moved on to Sedima Roseto in the Italian League the next season.

In 2006-07, he suited up for Aris Thessaloniki of the Greek League. After sitting out the ’07-’08 season, he moved on to Saudi Arabia to play for the aforementioned club.

The Hannaryz have signed two other newcomers: forward Josh Bostic and forward/center John Clifford.

Bostic was the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II Player of the Year in 2008-09 after leading the University of Findlay to a 36-0 record and the national title. The 198-cm standout averaged 18.6 points and 6.2 rebounds as a senior. In Bostic’s four seasons at the Ohio school, his team went 118-12, including a 69-1 record at home.

The 208-cm Clifford attended Southern Utah University, where he posted nearly a double-double in his final college season (10.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg).

In other league news, the Oita HeatDevils, named Brian Rowsom as their new head coach on Thursday.

Rowsom, who turns 44 on Oct. 23, coached the Al-Ahli Sports Club in Qatar last season.

A second-round pick of the Indiana Pacers in 1987, Rowsom, a forward, played four games for the team as a rookie before being released. He spent two more seasons in the league, however, appearing in 78 more games with the Charlotte Hornets. He played college ball at UNC-Wilmington.

Rowsom’s playing days included stops in Israel, England and Japan before his retirement in 1999. He played for Toshiba from 1995-98 in the JBL.

As a coach, Rowsom has worked in the ABA and the USBL and served as a sports talk-show commentator in Baltimore.