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Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Hannaryz lay down groundwork at bj-league draft

Staff writer

As the bj-league's newest team, the Kyoto Hannaryz are building the foundation for their future.

News photo
New beginning: (From left) Kyoto Hannaryz general manager Junya Goto, No. 2 draft pick Taizo Kawabe, No. 1 pick Kyosuke Setoyama, supplemental draft pick Jun Takaku and head coach David Benoit will try to build a winner in Kyoto as the team begins its inaugural season in October. ED ODEVEN PHOTO

Led by general manager Junya Goto and head coach David Benoit, the Hannaryz were also the league's busiest team on Monday, otherwise known as draft day.

Kyoto made 187-cm shooting guard Kyosuke Setoyama, a former Tsukuba University and Aisin Sea Horses player, the No. 1 pick in the draft, which was held at a Tokyo hotel. He played in 10 of Aisin's 35 games last season in the JBL.

The Hannaryz added 190-cm veteran Taizo Kawabe with the second pick. Kawabe, 26, starred for Konan University in Kobe and previously played for the JBL's Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins.

Benoit described Setoyama and Kawabe as good ball handlers and good defenders. "And of course, they are decent enough shooters," added Benoit.

He added: "We just really wanted to get the best skilled players and have a starting point that we could just build upon."

The 26-year-old Setoyama called Boston Celtics veteran Ray Allen his favorite NBA player. He also said Boston is his favorite NBA club.

"Defense is my specialty, my weapon," said Setoyama, who was born in Miyazaki Prefecture and served as team captain as a college senior. "Every coach likes and cares about defense, and I want to demonstrate my defensive ability."

Setoyama, who played for Japan in the 2003 World University Games, said he welcomes the challenge of playing for a new franchise in Kyoto and wants to give the local residents a "special original team." He also said he must express leadership for the new team.

The Toyama Grouses, coming off an 11-41 season, made ex-Tohoku Gakuin University and Rera Kamuy player Makoto Kato the No. 3 pick. The 192-cm veteran saw limited action (144 minutes) in 28 games with the JBL club last season.

The Shiga Lakestars, last year's expansion team, chose Reina Itakura with the No. 4 pick. Itakura, 28, previously played for Mitsubishi after a collegiate career at Hosei University. He made 19 starts for the Diamond Dolphins in the 2008-09 season.

For the No. 5 selection, the Osaka Evessa picked up Michael Katsuhisa, a 25-year-old guard who went to Senshu University. A Tokyo native, Katsuhisa played high school ball in Bellevue, Wash.

Persistence paid off for Katsuhisa. He attended league tryouts during the 2007-08 season and sustained a hip injury. After undergoing surgery, he returned to Japan for recent tryouts and caught the eye of the Evessa.

Katsuhisa thanked his family and friends for supporting him and added, "I wouldn't be here without you," reciting the same message in English and Japanese.

The Takamatsu Five Arrows used the sixth pick to select former Senshu University player Keishiro Tsutsumi, who is 181 cm. He turns 23 next month.

In the expansion draft, the Hannaryz selected point guard Naoto Takushi, who played for the Ryukyu Golden Kings for the past two seasons, and guard Jun Iwasa, a backup with the Tokyo Apache.

Takushi, who turns 28 in October, was the Golden Kings' No. 1 draft pick in 2007. He led the league in assists in 2007-08 (5.8 per game). Ryukyu went 41-11 and won its first championship this season, with Takushi playing in all 52 games (48 starts). Takushi, a 2008-09 bj-league Best Five player, averaged 9.7 ppg and was fifth in the league in steals (1.9) and seventh in assists (4.4). Among the league's Japanese players, he is one of the top rebounders.

Takushi and Iwasa were not placed on their previous teams' respective protection lists before the draft.

"I didn't ever think he would leave Okinawa's team," Benoit said of Takushi. "But we don't know all the details about everything that happened. He was available, so I was, of course, going to take a guy like that, because he's one of the premier players in the league."

Kyoto also picked up former Hosei University and Link Tochigi Brex player Jun Takaku in the supplementary draft. The 194-cm veteran only played in six games for the JBL squad last season. (There were five players picked in the supplementary draft, three of which saw time in the JBL last season.)

"We really just want to build a real strong mental team," Benoit said. "I think all these guys are really talented enough and they are real competitive, but they are really good people so I think that's real important for the team from the beginning."

Supplementary draft players receive lower salaries than players picked in the regular draft. Essentially, they compete for the final positions on a team's roster, and can move up on the depth chart by outplaying teammates in practices and/or games.

Noteworthy: Teams are not required to draft players, which is what the Ryukyu Golden Kings, Tokyo Apache, Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, Sendai 89ers, Niigata Albirex BB and Saitama Broncos opted to do in the main draft. On the other hand, prospective players can be invited to team tryouts and then be offered a reduced-salary contract.

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