It looks like Larry Sanders is starting to figure out this NBA thing.
The 24-year-old former VCU star and current Milwaukee Buck is enjoying a breakout season. Selected 15th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, Sanders is beginning to deliver on the promise Milwaukee saw on film and in workouts.
Through a quarter of the season, the 6-foot-11, 235-pound center was averaging career-highs of 8.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Sanders is shooting 54 percent from the floor, and as of this writing, his 3.0 blocks per game average was tied for the league lead.
Last season, Sanders averaged just 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. But a strong preseason and training camp earned him increased playing time from Bucks’ Coach Scott Skiles. Sanders responded with 10 points and seven rebounds in an opening-night victory over the Boston Celtics.
On Nov. 30, Sanders recorded his first career triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in a loss at Minnesota. His 10 blocks tied the franchise record, set by Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar later took to Twitter to congratulate Sanders.
Congratulations @larrysanders of the Milwaukee Bucks for tying my single-game franchise record 10 blocked shots. Great job!
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) December 5, 2012
Sanders followed with 18 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks against the Celtics the next night.
After two nondescript seasons, Sanders has become a game-changer and has the Bucks fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, much to the delight of VCU Coach Shaka Smart.
“I’m just proud of him,” Smart said recently. “He’s doing a great job. We all knew he was capable of doing what he’s doing, but that’s a big transition going to that league. Like any other guy that goes into that league, he had some growing pains, and it’s great to see him this year taking a big step forward.”
Sanders is signed with Milwaukee through the 2013-14 season.
Eric Maynor ’09 (Oklahoma City Thunder – NBA)
Following a 2011-12 season derailed by injury, Maynor has returned to his role backup point guard on one of the NBA’s best teams.
Playing behind all-world guard Russell Westbrook, Maynor has provided a steady hand to run Oklahoma City’s offense with the second unit. Maynor is averaging 3.3 points and 2.3 assists in 13 minutes per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is better than 2-to-1.
With Maynor’s help, the Thunder currently lead the Western Conference.
Bradford Burgess ’12 (Stella Artois Leuven Bears – Belgium-Ethias League)
Burgess is the most recent Ram to sign a professional contract, earning a deal from the Lueven Bears (3-7) in Belgium. Through 10 games Burgess was averaging 6.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game and had knocked down 39 percent (11-of-28) of his 3-point attempts. In his final game before the holiday break, Burgess provided 13 points, six assists and five rebounds in a 98-92 loss to Aalstar on Dec. 22.
Jamie Skeen ’11 (Maccabi Ashdod – Israeli Super League)
For the second straight year, Skeen is playing for a team in Israel’s top division. The 2011 Southwest Regional MVP is averaging 10.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 23 minutes a game for Maccabi Ashdod (3-8). He is shooting 48 percent (10-of-21) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Of late, Skeen’s playing time and his results have been on the rise. In his last three games, he’s averaged 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds while playing more 35 minutes per game.
Skeen landed a roster spot with Chicago Bulls Summer League squad in the offseason, but never saw the floor for more than 13 minutes in five games. He was not offered an invitation to training camp.
Lance Kearse (Lan Mobel Iraurgi Saski Baloia – Spain – LEB Silver)
Kearse played for the Rams during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons before moving onto a solid career at Division II Eckerd College. He is currently second on Lan Mobel (5-5) in scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg).
Michael Anderson ’08 (Fort Wayne Mad Ants – NBA D-League)
NBA D-League veteran Michael Anderson is playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (5-10) this season. Anderson, who averaged double digits each of the last two years for the Dakota Wizards, is averaging 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds through 15 games.
Jamal Shuler ’08 (Sluc Nancy Basket Pro – France – Pro A)
Unfortunately, Shuler’s second season with Nancy may have ended just six minutes into its debut. The former sharpshooting VCU guard tore ligaments in the team’s season-opener in October. He is expected to miss 3-6 months of action. Shuler averaged 13.9 points and 4.8 points per game for Nancy in 2011-12.
B.A. Walker ’07 (Maccabi Hod Hasharon – Israel – National League)
Walker, the leading 3-point shooter in VCU history, continues to make a career out of his smooth long-range stroke. Walker is averaging 18.5 points per game for Hod Hasharon (8-3) in Israel’s second division. He is also averaging 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and is shooting 39 percent (27-of-69) from 3-point range. Walker’s pro career has included stops in Finland, Germany, Belgium and Holland.
Jesse Pellot-Rosa ’07 (TBA – Puerto Rico – BSN)
Pellot-Rosa, whose career has included seasons in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Mexico and Israel is currently a restricted free agent in the Puerto Rican pro league, the BSN. Last season Pellot-Rosa played for San German in Puerto Rico, alongside former Ram Joey Rodriguez, but was limited by a knee injury. He was named MVP of the BSN in 2009 with San German.
Nick George ’06 (Lugano Tigers – Switzerland – LNA)
George, who turned 30 this year, signed with the Lugano Tigers (7-6) of Switzerland’s top division this season. He averaged 7.4 points and 1.8 rebounds in 17 minutes per game before leaving the team in late November after a series of injuries. George has previously played in Italy, Spain and France, as well as with Great Britain’s national squad.