Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thames Drafted By Raptors, Traded To Nets; Larson's Day At Kentucky Short

Former Pleasant Grove basketball star Xavier Thames may have achieved something very rare amongst ex-Elk Grove Unified School District players. We believe he is just the second EGUSD graduate to be drafted by the National Basketball Association.

The only other player we know of who was selected by the NBA was Elk Grove High School star Bill Cartwright. The 7-1 center who played his college basketball at the University of San Francisco was the top draft pick, the third selection overall, in the 1979 Draft by the New York Knicks. He played in the pros for 15 seasons including six years with Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and the Chicago Bulls.

To the best of our knowledge in the 35 years since, there have been a number of EGUSD basketball players go to the collegiate ranks, but none were drafted by the NBA. Even DeMarcus Nelson, who graduated ten years ago from Sheldon as the leading scorer in the State and went on to play at Duke, was a free agent signing by Golden State in 2008. 
Ex-Pleasant Grove guard Xavier Thames

Nelson played only 13 games with the Warriors, was sent to Bakersfield in the D-League and then released by Golden State. He was signed at the end of the 08-09 season by Chicago, but did not play for the Bulls. Nelson was released by the Bulls in July of 2009.

Thames was the 59th, the next-to-the-last pick, of last week's NBA Draft. He was drafted by the Raptors, but his rights were sent to the Brooklyn Nets. In his final season with San Diego State, Thames averaged 17.6 points and 3.2 assists a game.

Thames told Newsday in New York that he's looking forward to teaming with Deron Williams in the Nets' backcourt.

"I played against him. He might not remember," Thames told Newsday on Saturday, "but I remember because he's De- ron Williams. But when he was in San Diego a few summers back, I got a chance to see him up close and personal, one of the best point guards in the NBA. So I'm just blessed and thankful that I get to play with him and a Hall of Fame coach in Jason Kidd. So it's just great."

There is a rumor Kidd may be on his way to the Milwaukee Bucks however, the notion to play with a solid club like the Nets is attractive to Thames, who also worked out with the Sacramento Kings prior to the Draft.

"I just like Joe [Johnson] because he's real smooth," the 6-3, 187-pound Thames said. "I'm kind of the same way. I'm not going to show a lot of emotion out there. He just plays the game the right way, and that's what I like about him."

Thames was the Mountain West Conference's player of the year. He played his freshman season for Washington State and transferred to San Diego State.

Larson Blows Tire, Hits Wall At Quaker State 400

Kyle Larson's race at Saturday was a fairly short one. After starting sixth at the green flag of the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway, Larson blew a right tire and that sent his car into the wall of turn number one, ending his day.

Officially, he finished in 40th place.

Larson was in the top five for the first 20 laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race, but had a poor pit stop during a caution flag and dropped back to 20th place. He was in the 18th position when his tire went out on the 77th lap of the race.

This weekend  Larson and his Target #42 Chevrolet crew are in Daytona for the Coke Zero 400 race.

Batson Pulls Hamstring At USATF

Deondre Batson has had issues with his hamstring muscles throughout his stellar track and field career, but the University of Alabama sprinter had it flair up on him at the most inopportune moment Saturday. In the finals of the 100 meter dash at the USA Track and Field Championships at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium, Batson pulled up lame and limped across the finish line in last place.

On Friday, he won his heat in a time of 10.08 seconds.

Batson had a hamstring injury his senior year at Laguna Creek High School during the Delta Valley Conference championships that ended his high school career early. That year Batson had the State's best time in the 100 meters and he was in the top five times in the 200 meters but was ineligible to advance beyond the DVC meet.

Batson went on to set records at American River College and earlier this year won the 200 meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field championships running for Alabama. The hamstring bothered him near the end of the outdoor season and thus he couldn't compete to anything close to his potential late in the year.

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