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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

BJ-LEAGUE

Takushi drafted No. 1 by Golden Kings


By ED ODEVEN and HIROSHI IKEZAWA
Staff writers

To build a house, you need to start with the foundation. To build a basketball team from scratch, you need a point guard — a capable floor leader.

News photo
Toshimitsu Kawachi, center, the bj-league commissioner, poses with 2007 draft selections (from left to right), Bryan Simpson, Shoji Nakanishi, Ken Tanaka, Naoto Nakamura and Naoto Takushi on Tuesday at Mita NN Hall in Minato ward. Takushi was the top draft pick of the expansion Ryukyu Golden Kings. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

The expansion Ryukyu Golden Kings made point guard Naoto Takushi the No. 1 pick in the 2007 bj-league draft on Monday at Mita NN Hall in Minato ward.

Takushi, 25, was a member of the JBL's Aisin Seahorses last season.

"Takushi is a very intelligent player and has a great knowledge of basketball," Golden Kings coach Hernando Planells Jr. said in a statement.

The 182-cm Takushi starred at Hosei University from 2000-03 and was one of the top collegiate scorers in Kanto.

Okinawa general manager Tatsuro Kimura said he expects Takushi to become the team's go-to player and leader.

The league's other expansion team, the Rizing Fukuoka, picked ex-Takamatsu Five Arrows point guard Kazuyuki Nakagawa with the No. 2 overall pick. Nakagawa had previously played in the United States Basketball League and the American Basketball Association.

The Tokyo Apache, meanwhile, chose shooting guard Naoto Nakamura, formerly of the two-time champion Osaka Evessa, in the first round, but traded his negotiation rights to Osaka for point guard Masashi Joho.

In the second round, the Okinawa-based Ryukyu squad, which named Planells as its coach last week, selected guard Ken Tanaka, a former Toyota Motors (JBL) player.

Tanaka attended Van Nuys (Calif.) High School and Whittier College, earning Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference accolades in 2002 and '03.

"We like his playing experience in the industrial league," Kimura said of Tanaka. "We thought as an expansion team we needed to add experienced players."

Fukuoka followed by taking Ryuichiro Nakazono, who previously suited up for the Fukuoka-based Fukutaro club team. The Apache drafted Shoji Nakanishi next.

None of the league's other teams made second-round selections.

Teams are not required to draft players, a somewhat peculiar aspect of the league's draft structure.

In the third round, Okinawa selected 197-cm forward Bryan Simpson, who was named the Pacificwide Open Holiday Tournament MVP last December while playing for the Kadena Air Base team in Okinawa. Simpson helped Kadena post a 31-2 record and win the first-ever Okinawa Joint Military Athletic Conference title.

Said Kimura: "Bryan Simpson is very athletic and will fit the up-tempo scheme we are aiming for."

Before the regular draft, Fukuoka selected Tsuyoshi Kawazura, Diagne Thierno Seydou Nouro, a Senegalese center who played sparingly for Takamatsu last season, and Korean Uem Sunming in the expansion draft.

Ryukyu, however, made no expansion picks.

Thirty-three players were put on the protection lists of their respective teams, including eight by the Oita HeatDevils and six by the Niigata Albirex BB, and were not available to be picked by Okinawa or Fukuoka in the expansion draft.

The Toyama Grouses made point guard Takanori Goya the league's No. 1 draft pick in 2006. A year earlier, forward Jo Kurino was selected No. 1 by the HeatDevils. He was traded to the Tokyo Apache last season.



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