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Saturday, June 9, 2007

BJ-LEAGUE

Palmer weighs future


Staff writer

For David Palmer, winning back-to-back championships with the Osaka Evessa will always be an unforgettable memory.

News photo
Osaka's David Palmer holds the MVP trophy after the bj-league final victory in April. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

Will he return to Japan and help the Evessa vie for a third straight title?

That remains to be seen.

But this much is clear: Palmer is again doing what it takes to become a better player — and to stay in basketball shape — during his vacation time.

Last offseason, Palmer and Evessa teammate Lynn Washington exercised in Sacramento together and competed on the court against NBA players Bobby Jackson, Kevin Martin and Matt Barnes and several northern California-area college players.

Palmer is back in Sacramento now, putting in the same long hours in the gym and on the hardwood.

The slender Californian admitted that he continues to weigh his options for next season; he hasn't signed a new contract with the Evessa yet.

"I might try to get on an NBA summer league team or at least an NBA DL (Development League) team," Palmer told the Appeal-Democrat, a Marysville, Calif., newspaper. "But the only problem is the money is not very good in those minor leagues. I want to give it a shot because I never went after it. . . . I might try to stay here and create a name for myself."

In Japan, he's developed an ever-growing fan base.

But years ago The Land of the Rising Sun was an unlikely destination for Palmer. He attended little-known Southern Utah University after playing ball at Yuba City (Calif.) High School and American River College in Sacramento.

"We weren't that successful," Palmer told the paper, reflecting on his two seasons at SUU. "It was a walk-the-ball-up-the-floor game and I just find that a little too slow. I like to get up and run."

And so he fit in well in the Evessa's fast-paced offense for the past two seasons. How well? He scored 33 points in the bj-league title game on April 22, capping a season in which the super sub scored double figures in 36 straight games and leading Osaka to the team's second title in as many seasons.

But how did he make the quantum leap from Southern Utah to a fledgling pro league in Japan?

One of Palmer's SUU teammates, a Slovakian named Lubor Olsovsky, helped him make contacts in the Czech Republic, which enabled him to hire an agent and take the steps to secure tryouts with pro teams, the paper reported.

Palmer blossomed as a first-year pro during the 2004-05 season in the Czech Republic.

"I learned quite a bit about being a professional player and what I needed to do, especially being a foreign American player," he told the newspaper. "In those leagues, you are expected to do quite a bit if you're an American. You're expected to be the leader of the team.

"As a rookie, I didn't fully understand how aggressive I needed to be. . . .It was a learning curve for me."

Palmer matured as a player and didn't shy away from being a guy Evessa coach Kensaku Tennichi expected to make clutch shots.

Now, Palmer insists, "I get to be a leader and I'm expected to score, especially when the game is on the line."

Expect more of the same if he returns to Japan.



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