October 20, 2012 in Professional
Former Michigan State star Kalin Lucas returned to Banvit Basketbol Kolobu, the team in the Turkish League that he finished last season with after starting his pro career in Greece. Lucas started and scored six points and had two rebounds in the team’s first game this season.
The team features a few familiar names. Former Detroit Pistons draft pick Sammy Mejia, former Holy Cross player Keith Simmons and former Alabama player Chuck Davis are also members of the team. A handful of former Michiganders have played well in Turkey, including former Michigan State player Marquise Gray and Flint native and former McDonald’s All-American Olu Famutimi. Lucas was briefly with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Summer League.
Jorge Sierra, who covers international basketball for HoopsHype, recently wrote that both Turkey and China have become the top destinations for American players who play abroad because of those leagues’ reputations for taking good care of the players:
China and, to a lesser extent, Turkey have emerged as alternative destinations. Between 2006 and 2010, only 6.4 percent of the players that joined foreign teams during the NBA offseason inked deals with Chinese or Turkish clubs. The number grew to 21.2 percent in 2011 – including players like All-Star Deron Williams, who competed for Besiktas of Istanbul for two months during the lockout. This offseason more than half the players going international (52.9 percent) enrolled Chinese or Turkish sides.
Sierra noted that problems in leagues that traditionally used to draw a lot of Americans in places like Italy, Spain and Greece have caused the shift.