Albuquerque Notes on Day Two
There is no other place in the NCAA Tournament that has more family ties than here in Albuquerque. In all, there are seven players that have connections to famous alumni (or other players in this tournament) from the sports world.
First of all, Arizona has two players that are related to well-known family members. Luke Walton is the son of former UCLA Hall of Famer Bill Walton and the older brother of current San Diego State forward Chris Walton. Obviously his family has some travel issues this weekend.
"Depending on whether (SDSU) wins or loses tonight," Luke says. "That will determine where everybody goes. Right now my mom and cousin are in Chicago to watch my brother, but if (SDSU) loses they'll fly out here for our game Saturday."
After Walton, the other Arizona player with a famous bloodline is Salim Stoudamire, who is the younger cousin of former Wildcat All-American Damon Stoudamire. Salim's older brother Antoine led Oregon in scoring as a senior and also had an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament.
Here are the other players with family ties around the sports world from the Albuquerque sub-regional.
-Miami forward Darius Rice is the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer-to-be and current Oakland Raider wide receiver Jerry Rice. The resemblance is uncanny, especially facially. Imagine if Darius had decided to follow in his uncle's footsteps and hit the gridiron. At 6-10 and 205-pounds, Darius would have made one incredible target for his quarterback to throw to.
-Missouri guard Josh Kroenke is the nephew of St. Louis Blues owner Stan Kroenke. Stan (and indirectly, Josh) is one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune started by Bud Walton (namesake of Arkansas' basketball arena). Josh probably never had to worry much about lunch money growing up with that kind of lineage.
-Missouri forward Kareem Rush is the younger brother of former UCLA star JaRon Rush. This is one case where one would hope that the younger sibling doesn't make the same choices as the older brother. While JaRon was certainly a very good player for the Bruins during his days in Westwood, he made a huge mistake by leaving school early. JaRon went undrafted and is currently bouncing around basketball's minor leagues. Kareem is more talented than JaRon and after a brilliant sophomore season for the Tigers in 2001, many thought he would make the jump into the NBA early. He has that same chance this year but most experts agree that he needs to stay in Columbia for his senior year.
-Ohio State guard Boban Savovic is the older brother of current Hawaii sharpshooter Predrag Savovic. The Savovics and the Waltons are the only sets of siblings playing in this year's tournament.