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Friday, June 29, 2012

BJ-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Warriors to give Burrell shot in Summer League


Staff writer

Power forward Justin Burrell has accepted an invitation to play for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Summer League in July.

This will give the Warriors a pair of recent bj-league standouts in the Las Vegas-based camp, with Burrell joining Jeremy Tyler, the former Tokyo Apache post player who recently completed his rookie season in the NBA with the Warriors.

Burrell earned the bj-league MVP award and led the expansion Yokohama B-Corsairs to the Final Four last month at Ariake Colosseum.

"We're extremely proud of Justin for putting himself in this position through all the hard work he did this past season and over his life," Reggie Geary, the bj-league's 2011-12 Coach of the Year recipient, told The Japan Times on Wednesday.

"With Justin's age, size and skill, he will be a great pickup for coach (Mark) Jackson and the Warriors organization," the coach added.

"Justin's career path in coming to Japan straight out of college and now having this opportunity speaks volumes as to how the perception of the bj-league is improving around the world. Justin's participation with the Warriors is another historic event in Yokohama B-Corsairs history."

The Warriors' NBA Summer League schedule is as follows: July 13 (Los Angeles Lakers), July 14 (Denver Nuggets), July 18 (Miami Heat), July 20 (Chicago Bulls) and July 21 (New Orleans Hornets).

Burrell earned the Big East Conference's Sixth Man of the Year award in 2010-11 while suiting up for St. John's in his native New York. He now has his sights set on making the big jump from the bj-league to the NBA.

"I'm not even thinking about anything else but the NBA," Burrell was quoted as saying by the Middletown Times Herald-Record, an Empire State newspaper in his hometown. "What I accomplished in Japan gave me a lot of confidence. It showed what I can do. I think Golden State could be a good fit for me and I'm looking forward to next month."

In the Times Herald-Record's Wednesday article, summed up his emotions this way: "I'm excited. If I make it, it will be my biggest accomplishment other than getting a college degree. I'm very, very confident and, most definitely, I expect to play in the NBA. I know I can do it, (now) all I have to do is prove it to everyone else."

The chiseled 207-cm Burrell started all 52 regular-season games for the B-Corsairs and averaged 18.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

A solid performance in the NBA Summer League could prompt the Warriors or another club to sign Burrell to a contract.

The B-Corsairs, meanwhile, formally renewed Geary's contract for the 2012-13 season on Tuesday.

Around the league: The Osaka Evessa, Miyazaki Shining and Toyama Grouses still have coaching vacancies as of press time.

In a Wednesday phone conversation, a team spokesman confirmed the Grouses are currently holding contractual negotiations with a coaching candidate. He declined to offer any more specifics. . . .

One hoop observer said the Chiba Jets' decision, which was announced last Saturday, to bolt from the bj-league to join the JBL's re-branded top league for the 2013-14 season was not a big shock. He said the upstart franchise's original plan was to play in the Japan Basketball Association's new venture.

But before joining the "new JBL" the Jets will have played two years in the bj-league before jumping ship to the rival circuit.

Ex-Miyazaki frontcourt star Brandon Cole offered a ringing endorsement of new Ryukyu Golden Kings coach Koto Toyama, his former bench boss during the Shining Suns' inaugural season (2010-11).

"I think Toyama has a chance to do some special things in Okinawa," Cole wrote in an email, sizing up the reigning champion Golden Kings' new leader. "I was always fond of his youth, his eagerness to learn and his passion for the game.

"Given the support of such a first-class organization like Okinawa, I'm sure he will have the resources at his disposal to continue their winning tradition."



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