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A catch-up on Japanese hoop news and features, all courtesy of the JT’s Kaz Nagatsuka:

  • Kenichi Sako, an iconic figure in Japan’s basketball history, has been elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame, it was announced Tuesday. Sako, dubbed Japan’s “Mr. Basketball” for winning a series of league and individual titles as a point guard, is only the second Japanese person to be inducted.
  • Fifteen-year-old Shawn Marion Williams turned heads at the 2020-21 B. League U-15 Championship, which wrapped up Tuesday. He’s determined to scale the same heights as Rui Hachimura. Biracial like Hachimura and soon to attend the NBA star’s alma mater, Williams appears to have a greater skill set than his idol did at that age, in part thanks to the team at Earthfriends Tokyo Z.
Earthfriends' Shawn Marion Williams competes during the third-place game of the 2020-21 B. League U-15 Championship at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Tuesday. | KAZ NAGATSUKA
Earthfriends’ Shawn Marion Williams competes during the third-place game of the 2020-21 B. League U-15 Championship at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Tuesday. | KAZ NAGATSUKA
  • The B. League has been allowing more young amateur players to compete in the circuit through a specially appointed player system for the past few seasons. League officials, however, may be forced to re-evaluate the process in the wake of significant injuries suffered by some players this year.
  • Teen phenom Yuki Kawamura’s second season in the B. League with the Yokohama B-Corsairs was the most underwhelming of his young career, he says. The 19-year-old remains determined to learn from players he felt bested him last season and achieve his long-held goal of playing for Japan.
  • Veteran forward Michael Parker is still going strong as he braces for turning 40 this year. Seen by many as the “heart” of the Gunma Crane Thunders, he played for five different teams — in the bj-league, NBL and B. League — before landing in Gunma, and entered the season as Japan’s all-time leader with 12,196 points and 6,193 rebounds.

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