Toyama Grouses small forward Satoru Maeta was named the Rookie of the Year while Texas Legends player Yudai Baba received the Break the Border Award on Saturday during the second day of the B. League Award Show, which is being held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 23-year-old Maeta, who made his debut in the 2018-19 campaign, averaged 11.5 points with a 3-point shooting percentage of 39.9 in the coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 season.
“This is what I’ve been aiming at since the beginning of the season and there’s only one time you could win it in your basketball career. So I’m happy,” said Maeta, who helped the Grouses finish with a 17-24 record for third place in the Central Conference.
Teenage sensation Yuki Kawamura was selected on the all-rookie team along with Maeta. The 172-cm point guard signed with the San-en NeoPhoenix while still a student at Fukuoka Daiichi High School in late January via the league’s early entry system. The 19-year-old racked up 12.6 points, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game while starting in seven contests.
Having played in just 11 games, Kawamura said he was surprised he was chosen but that he was “excited” about the first B. League accolade. The Yamaguchi Prefecture native, who enrolled at Tokai University this spring, insisted that he hopes to get back to the pro court as early as next season using the same system.
Chiba Jets Funabashi guard Koh Flippin, SeaHorses Mikawa guard Ko Kumagai and Shiga Lakestars forward/center Avi Koki Schafer joined Maeda and Kawamura on the all-rookie team.
Baba, the 196-cm forward/guard who played for Alvark Tokyo through the 2018-19 season, is looking to become the first Japanese player to make the leap from the B. League to the NBA.
In his first season in the developmental NBA G League this year, Baba played in 41 games — including five starts — for the minor-league affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 6.3 points and 2.5 rebounds.
“I’m honored to be given such an award in the first year of my challenge (to the NBA),” the Toyama native said. “But I have a dream that I haven’t accomplished, so it would be great to win something like this when I do achieve my dream.”
Cue4, a basketball-shooting robot developed by Alvark Tokyo owner Toyota, also received the Break the Border Award, while Sunrockers Shibuya shooting guard Kosuke Ishii was given the Best Tough Shot Award via fan vote.
The remaining award winners, including the league’s Best Five and Most Valuable Player, will be announced on Sunday, the online event’s third and final day.