SHULER CONTINUES TO SHUUUUT FOR NBA

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Former Ram Jamal Shuler, pictured last season with French team Nancy, is still chasing the NBA.

Former Ram Jamal Shuler, pictured last season with French team Nancy, is still chasing the NBA.

RICHMOND, Va. – Unless you’re a dedicated NBA fan, you probably don’t know who Chris Copeland is, and you probably don’t know that after a breakout rookie season with the New York Knicks, that he signed a multi-year contract with the Indiana Pacers.

But Jamal Shuler knows all about it.

After five seasons playing professionally in Germany and France, the former VCU star knows that if Copeland – a former teammate in Germany – can make it to the NBA, then maybe he can too. The 27-year-old Shuler says the success of Copeland, who played for four teams in Europe, as well as the NBA D-League, will serve as inspiration. The same goes for a guy like former Towson star Gary Neal, who Shuler played against while at VCU. Neal played in Turkey, Italy and Spain before signing with the San Antonio Spurs three years ago and has become one of the best shooters in the league.

So if you ask Shuler if he still has a fire in his belly to someday play in the NBA, he won’t hesitate.

“There definitely is, man. There definitely is,” he says.

Shuler’s desire to play in the NBA is one of the reasons you can find him back on the VCU campus every summer. In addition to his work in the weight room, Shuler, who lives in the Richmond area in the offseason, works out and plays pickup games with an impressive group of pros and former Rams at Franklin Street Gym. Eric Maynor has been a fixture in the games for years, as have former Rams B.A. Walker, Brandon Rozzell and a host of others. This summer, Reggie Williams of the Charlotte Bobcats is said to have been involved. It’s that type of training environment that Shuler says will keep his dream alive.

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RAMS IN THE PROS: SANDERS SURGES

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Former Ram Larry Sanders (center) is averaging 8.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game this season.

Former Ram Larry Sanders (center) is averaging 8.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game this season.

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.

Sanders followed with 18 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks against the Celtics the next night.

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