View Full Version : Where are they now? J. P. Batista and ?

04-11-2008, 09:58 AM
With the season over and nothing to do, it seems, but wait for news about recruits, my thoughts turned to former players and curiosity about where some of our former guys are and what they're doing. (And where the heck is my old friend BBSkorer, who has such a knack for digging up gems about former players? Hasn't logged on the board since February!)

J.P. Batista - March 22, 2008 - Barons/LMT Riga Interview (http://www.bbl.net/index.php/b19sYW5nPWVuJm9fc2Vhcz0xOCZvX2xlYWc9OCZmdXNlYWN0aW 9uPWludGVydmlld3MudmlldyZpZD0zNTEy):
26-year-old Joao Paolo Batista started this season in Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius club, but later on was traded to Barons/LMT Riga team. Always with a smile on his face J.P. Batista played very well in his new team so far. He performed in 3 games and averaged 17,3 points along with 7,3 rebounds and 2 assists.

- Whose initiative it was to leave the team - J.P.Batista or Lietuvos Rytas?

- The Club initiated the trade. I signed a 2-year contract and was willing to play exactly that time.

- When you finished Gonzaga, you chose to play in Vilnius. Now maybe you regret making that decision? Maybe your career could’ve turned differently?

- I don’t regret on my decision to play in Vilnius. They offered a good contract and it was the best situation for me coming out of Gonzaga. I’m very careful taking decisions and I believe it was the best one at the moment. I’ll definitely be more careful next time a team offers a multi-year contract.

- In Lithuania you played about 2 years. What memories will remain in your mind about Lithuania, Vilnius, Lietuvos Rytas?

- Definitely the fans and friends I made while I was there. The fans reminded me a lot of Gonzaga, very supportive and don’t matter where we’re playing our fans were right there to show some love and support, Rytas fans are the best.

- When you traveled to Latvia, you became SEB BBL player of the month. Maybe in Lietuvos Rytas the coach didn’t try or couldn’t use you on the court?

- I got hurt in the beginning of the year in Vilnius, and was out for 2 months, but when I was ready to play, nothing happened. It’s all about opportunities. For some reason there were not many this year in Vilnius for me. The only thing I could do was take care of myself, keep working hard, try to get better everyday and wait for chance to play.

- How do you feel in Latvia, what can you say about your new team?

- I feel great here in Riga. The team welcomed me like I belong here. We only lost one game since I’ve been here, we have a very talented group of guys and we’re playing very well together. Read more here (http://www.bbl.net/index.php/b19sYW5nPWVuJm9fc2Vhcz0xOCZvX2xlYWc9OCZmdXNlYWN0aW 9uPWludGVydmlld3MudmlldyZpZD0zNTEy) on the SEB Baltic Basketball League Website.

What happened with JP with Lietuvos Rytas seemed so peculiar to me. He seemed to do so well his first year, but then the coach got fired, a new guy came in, JP got injured, and it seemed as if he didn't fit in with the new coach's plans.

Now that I've found J.P. again, I need to track down info on how he's been doing since his arrival. This looks like a nice start with his new team: "He performed in 3 games and averaged 17,3 points along with 7,3 rebounds and 2 assists."

There's more to read from the interview here (http://www.bbl.net/index.php/b19sYW5nPWVuJm9fc2Vhcz0xOCZvX2xlYWc9OCZmdXNlYWN0aW 9uPWludGVydmlld3MudmlldyZpZD0zNTEy).

04-11-2008, 11:04 AM
Riga is a fun place to be, the winters may be a bit harsh, but the rest of the year is great. They celebrate spring like nobodys business, and are huge into flowers. Everyone gives flowers when you come to visit, its nuts. There are some former soviet blimp hangers in the town that have been converted into markets. One is meat, fish, cheese, and a pastries one that blows my mind. Tons of amazing cakes, muffins, everything, and you can get a whole cake for less than $2.

The dollar goes very far in Riga, so I am sure JP is living large. You can also tour former soviet missle hangars/war rooms/and shoot off old soviet weapons (AK-47 in particular). History is still being made in many of the Baltic states, and its one of the few places in Europe where Americans are still loved.

04-11-2008, 01:16 PM
How about I pay for some fake ID for Batista and he re-enrolls at GU under the name JB Patista and helps us get back into the killer crunch mode. The more I watch the endless procession of slender GU guards and small forwards flittering around the court and throwing up (and missing) 18 foot jumpers, the more desperate I become for a power forward that actually knows how to play basketball.

04-12-2008, 11:55 AM
Cory's Idaho Stampede have clinched the top spot in the West Division of the NDBL and will play the first playoff game in Boise on April 18th. The stampede's last regular season game is today vs. Iowa in Boise.

Cory's Player Page (http://www.nba.com/dleague/idaho/playoffs08.html) for the Stampede

From a March 18 game against the Utah Flash:


Good luck to Cory in the playoffs.

04-12-2008, 12:50 PM
I spent an hour chatting with Cory last year. Still among the nicest kids we've had. JP is/was a dream player. I do appreciate you digging this post player information up ZN.
I alway agree with 75. We need some good big men like we had in these 2. They really had the college game down. Nice fellas with lots of talent. I hope they become wildly successful.

04-12-2008, 01:31 PM
Errol has been with the Bellingham Slam this spring. The Bellingham Slam is affiliated with the International Basketball Leage, whose playing season falls in the springtime, from March to June. The Slam plays nearby teams in the PNW and Canada.

Schedule here (http://www.bellinghamslam.com/2008schedule.htm).

Roster (http://www.bellinghamslam.com/roster.htm)

And our guy, #3, in a Bellingham Slam uni:


Hope those knees are working good as new and that Errol and his are happy and doing well. My computer photo album is stuffed with amazing pics of Errol. He just personified joy in Gonzaga basketball!


Next game will be Tuesday, April 19, atainst the Vancouver Volcanos.

04-12-2008, 03:09 PM
I think Axel has been playing for the Adelaide 36ers for a year now. His page on the team's website is here (http://www.adelaide36ers.com/36ers/team/players/Axel_Dench/).

Axel as a Zag, scoring 17 points against St. John's in second round of the NCAA tournament March 23, 2000:

Looks like Adelaide was done for the season in February.

Note: The photo above is different than the one I originally posted, which identified Axel in the caption. Some folks said here it was actually Casey. You decide:


I think Casey's number is actually 31. Can't tell in that photo whether the last digit is a 1 or a zero.

04-12-2008, 06:33 PM
Are you sure that's Axel, Zagnative? It looks more like Casey to me. Just wondering if my memory of Axel's looks is off...

04-12-2008, 07:22 PM
That's definitely Casey, anyone know where he's playing now? Last I heard he was over in a Japanese league?

Man do I wish we had a JP/Cory/Casey back for next year.... Each had completely different games but really brought it night in night out and solidified the post for the Zags. Three of my all time favorite zags.

04-12-2008, 09:54 PM
I edited the post to include a player who is (I think) definitely Axel, followed by the one I originally posted. You decide who #2 is. The top photo came from here (http://gozags.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-gallery-final.html), but the links there are broken now so you can't enlarge the photo. Too bad, because it includes this great photo of Mark Few leaping into the arms of someone it identifies as Mark Spink but who people here said is actually Casey. I saved it to my hard drive before the album links got broken. ;)


ZN has no idea. There aren't many photos of Axel as a Zag out there on the net, unfortunately.

Incidentally, I loved this description of Axel from a New York Times story (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E1DB133AF93AA25750C0A9669C8B 63) of the St. John's game:
After falling behind, 36-33, at the half and losing the war of rebounds, Gonzaga, behind the willowy 6-11 Axel Dench and the broad-shouldered 6-8 Casey Calvert, bounced Anthony Glover, Reggie Jessie and Postell up and down the court.See? We've done pretty well with tall, skinny guys in the past. We just didn't call them "skinny" back then, apparently.

04-12-2008, 09:56 PM
Ummmmmmmm, sorry guys, but that's Axel.

Casey is working for construction company in Spokane. Showed up on "The Best Doggone Zag Show" this winter.

04-12-2008, 10:54 PM
might not recognize the players that easily. It's hard to imagine though, how anyone can mistake Axel for Casey if they were watching the 98-99-2000 seasons at all. But the photo is Axel raising his arms and the other photo is Few is jumping into Casey's arms. You can see Axel's face in the upper left corner of that photo as well.

Axel was a wookie in the second Star Wars movie. He is easily recognizeable on the big screen!:D

04-12-2008, 11:06 PM
From this story (http://www.smh.com.au/news/Film/Fan-slam-dunks-his-Wookie-role/2005/03/19/1111086064648.html):


04-13-2008, 12:33 AM
Derek Raivio:There was a great thread started by ZagMania earlier this year about Derek and his Köln 99'ers in Germany. I don't know if there's anything new on this. It's hard for me to track Derek and Sean Mallon because most of the info I find is in German. Zagmania's thread is here (http://www.guboards.spokesmanreview.com/showthread.php?p=170365#post170365).

Maybe Zagmania or someone else can nutshell anything new on Derek's situation.

Here's a photo of Derek as a 99'er:


And I have no idea if Derek is in this video I found on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLb-IyhbLyQ), but the 99'ers look like they have a heck of a Kennel Club.

Sean Mallon: Here is Sean's page on the Düsseldorf Magics website (http://www.duesseldorfmagics.com/index.php?id=6&mainid=6&uid=43). He's looking quite handsome in that pic, if a little bit tipsy.


Looks like their next game is vs Lich on April 19th? I'm not even going to try to figure out anything more from that website. My sister is an excellent German speaker and reader (she reads Agatha Christie in German, for fun, fer cryin' out loud!) but isn't, I think, as fluent in basketball lingo, or else I'd sic her on some interpretation. Sorry Sean.

Good luck to both Derek and Sean! I wonder if they get together at all ... From www.viamichelin.com, it looks like Köln is only 27 miles from Düsseldorf. So many great places to visit in Germany! What a beautiful, neat country. I'd like to think those two Zags suit up and hit the road together to see some of the German countryside - maybe a jaunt down to Baden Baden to hit the Casino.

04-13-2008, 01:20 AM
From the '96 - '98 Zags, Bakari Hendrix:


From www.biblio.org (http://www.ibiblio.org/craig/draft/1998_draft/Players/hendrix.htm), some predraft stats and background:
Bakari Hendrix, a 6-8 forward/center from Gonzaga, was the 1997-98 West Coast Conference player of the year. A true power forward, Hendrix played most of the season at center for the Zags. Hendrix's strongest offensive weapon is a deadly jump hook in the paint. He is a good enough outside shooter that defenses have to play him honest beyond 15 feet. Hendrix improved dramatically improved his game over the past two seasons. Hendrix averaged just under 20 ppg. in '97-'98 and was among the top 20 nationally in points per minutes played.Bakari plays now for the South Dragons of the NBL in Australia, where he's played against John Rillie's Townsville Crocodiles.

Bakari's team page (http://www.southdragons.com.au/default.aspx?s=playerprofile&id=830&team=dragons): (Be with someone you love when you open this page, because you will be skeered!)

Bakari as a Dragon:


04-13-2008, 08:30 AM
Love the Mallon Photo ZagNative. I think his hair is different. What ever it is, me likey. Former Zag Tyler Amaya also plays on the same team as Sean.

Speaking of former Zags you can't forget this guy:

image credit to ZagNative

or these 3:

04-13-2008, 11:29 AM
From page 150 (http://books.google.com/books?id=HA_j7eXp6xsC&pg=PA150&lpg=PA150&dq=Mike+Nilson+Gonzaga&source=web&ots=g9HfFoN5F4&sig=zGI--z4MMQntMIsoIbHMaYKDDtM&hl=en#PPA150,M1) of Dave Boling's Tales From the Gonzaga Hardwood (Amazon.com order page (http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Gonzaga-Hardwood-Dave-Boling/dp/1582612722/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208108473&sr=1-1)),

Spink’s Toughest Zag: Mike Nilson

Mark Spink spent a lot of time in the paint being pinballed around by the powerful Casey Calvary, but for the toughest teammate he could name, it was Mike Nilson, whom he claims to be the strongest man, pound for pound, he’d ever seen.

When he popped his Achilles tendon, there was hardly a tear out of the guy,” Spink said. “All he said was, ‘My season is done, you guys have to step it up.’ That just showed the mental toughness this guy had.”

Interesting to me, Mike was part of one of those "Anywhere, Anytime, Any Place" Gonzaga squads, a team that endured some big-time losses, to #1 Cincinnati and #19 Temple in Chicago. But they learned from their mistakes and traveled to UCLA to hand the No. 11 UCLA to its then lowest point total ever at Pauley Pavilion in a 59-43 victory. The Sports Illustrated game story (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/college/news/1999/12/11/gonzaga_ucla_ap/index.html) didn't even mention Mike Nilson, but how much of a role did he actually play in holding UCLA to am amazingly low point total?

One of the few photos I've been able to find of Mike as a Zag is from that UCLA game:


In 2000, he would be named WCC Defender of the Year.

Mike is now the Zags Strength and Conditioning Coach, as this Coach's Corner story (http://gozags.cstv.com/genrel/092605aac.html) explained an 2005. It's not a new story, but the Media Guide for '07-08 still lists him in that position. Steve Hertz' Coach's Corner column reminds us of an amazing moment at the end of Mike's career as a Zag:
I don't think I will ever forget Mike's last game in The Kennel. His response on that floor is so characteristic of the kind of "Zag" Mike is. In his last game, with the outcome firmly decided in our favor, Coach Few respectfully calls timeout to get some of the seniors their due applause from the grateful Zag faithful. And Mike, in what I will always remember as one of the truly great all-time Zag responses, goes to mid-court, kneels down on all fours and kisses the Bulldog. Are you kidding me? How beautiful is that?! He not only carried us to heights we never thought we would ever experience in our wildest dreams with his incredible effort in every game, but he, in my opinion, tied the most gorgeous "blue ribbon" around a fabulous career. I will never forget it as long as I live.Another of the rare Mike Nilson pics I found on the net captures that moment:


Mike's Professional Basketball Career: From that Coach's cornier Column:
After graduating with a business degree, Nilson spent a season and a half playing professional basketball in Dusseldorf, Germany, with Zag teammate Ryan Floyd.

"My goal was not to play basketball as a career. I wanted to play oversees and see the world," Nilson said. "I had a great experience."
Get out of here! Sean Mallon's team? Whoa!

Nilson also is co-owner of U-District Physical Therapy (http://www.udistrictpt.com/templates/udistrict/index.html), specializing in physical and sports therapy. The site describes itself as "Proud sports training providers for Gonzaga University Athletics." Browse that site and you find all sorts of interesting services offered.

NBC Camps Speed Camp Training for Quickness, Speed, Vertical Jump and Strength Training: According to their website, Mike is a Master Teacher in "Speed Explosion Training (http://www.nbccamps.com/camps/basket_ball/camp_sub/speed.htm)."
Master Teacher
Mike Nilson is a strength and speed training coach for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. the founder of the U-District Institute of Sports Performance, and the strength and speed training coach of Gonzaga University's athletic teams. Mike played on Gonzaga's Elite 8 and Sweet 16 teams. He received Defensive Player of the Year in the WCC and played professionally in Germany for 2 years.Benefits of the camp, per the web page cited:

What are the benefits of attending?

Improve overall athleticism
Increase your vertical
Improve your quickness
Improve your transition
Eliminate wasted motion
Increase your speedMike Nilson - Great Zag, and Gonzaga's still got him!

04-13-2008, 03:23 PM
Mike has done a great job with U-District. My son has gone through a few sessions there and they do an amazing job. Even though he's not my son's trainer, he always takes the time to greet him by name each time and joke around with him. You can also catch former Zags working out there from time to time.

Kudos to Mike...Recently published in a Men's Health issue regarding a strength training regimen.