John Neumann gave the green light to bring American forwards Josh Peppers and Michael Parker to Japan. He had a good reason: He needed good players to make Rizing Fukuoka competitive during the expansion team’s inaugural 2007-08 campaign in the bj-league.

An astute talent evaluator, Neumann’s instincts were spot-on about both players. And really, he should’ve known. Neumann, after all, had been a high school superstar and scoring machine at the University of Mississippi, leading the NCAA in scoring with an astounding 40.1 points per game in 1970-71 before a playing career in the ABA, NBA and overseas that led to an extended global odyssey as a head coach in several countries.

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