Cougar Hoops: Alumni round up

AFTER PLAYING limited minutes for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Summer League, Cougar great Derrick Low opted to sign a one-year deal, worth an estimated $70,000, with the Sydney Spirit of Australia's pro league, the Honolulu Advertiser reports. And that's just the beginning of the news that former Cougar hoopsters are making these days.

"It's a good feeling, it's cool, it's a new step for me," Low told The Advertiser. "I made a good decision. I'm excited to go."

In a story last week, Low said his agent talked to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and assistant Dwane Casey and they suggested getting overseas experience and then trying the NBA. Low also has a variety of offers from European pro teams.

Low said the Sun and Timberwolves have expressed interest in inviting him to fall camp, but the longer he puts off his overseas suitors, the less money they will offer. The Australia offer is enticing for several reasons: Sydney has pledged to play him 40 minutes a game and give him the green light to shoot; the salary is tax-free; and they provide housing and transportation.

He'll report to training camp next month. The 30-game season runs from Septemeber to February.

LOW'S COUGAR BATTERYMATE, Kyle Weaver, a second-round pick by Charlotte last month, also played in the Summer League. He averaged 17 minutes, 6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Bobcats. Weaver is one of only two Bobcats not yet under contract. First-round picks D.J. Augustin and Alexis Ajinca recently signed, as did backup center Ryan Hollins, thus leaving just Weaver and center Emeka Okafor as the only unsigned players.

The minimum salary in the NBA is $442,000 and the first-year amount paid to the No. 30 pick in the first round is $717,000, so look for Weaver -– as the No. 39 overall pick -– to be somewhere above the minimum but less than $700,000. As a second-rounder, his deal won't be guaranteed the way it would be if he had been taken in the first round.


Training camp opens in October.

THOMAS KELATI, AN All-Pac-10 guard for the Cougars in 2004-05, is making headlines in Europe. While he was on the Los Angeles Lakers' Summer League roster this month, that wasn't the big news. A standout for the last three seasons with a pro team in Turow, Poland, he's apparently close to a new deal that will have him suiting up for a team in Spain this season. The Walla Walla product averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists per game as a Cougar senior in 2004-05.

Kelati's old Cougar sidekick, Jeff Varem, was on the Denver Nuggets' Summer League team. He averaged 14 minutes of playing time in the team's five games, averaging 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 points per outing. Since his WSU days, Varem has played in Europe and in the NBA Development League.

JAMES DONALDSON, A, 7-foot-2 Cougar standout under George Raveling in the late 1970s, announced this month that he's tossing his jersey into the political arena. The former NBA All-Star who played 15 pro seasons, including three in Seattle, will be running for the Seattle City Council in 2009. Seattle has been Donaldson's home since 1981. He operates a series of fitness centers around the region and says, if elected, he'll be attuned to the needs of small business owners.

His NBA experience will serve him well, he recently told the Seattle Weekly: "I was a team leader, a locker room stabilizer," he says. "I negotiated and worked to resolve conflicts between people. We worked on our goals as a team."

Another one of the brightest stars from the Raveling era -- Craig Ehlo -- has been busy this summer at the LeBron James Skills Camp, where many top high school and college players come to perfect their games. Ehlo was on hand as a quality control consultant, monitoring the work coaches were doing with the players. Also participating was former Cougar coach and current Boston Celtics assistant Kevin Eastman.

Word on the street was that Ehlo's son accompanied him to the camp and -- ironically -- was clad head to toe in Michael Jordan garb. For you youngsters out there who aren't old enough to remember, Ehlo and Jordan engaged in some highly memorable, though hugely one-sided, battles during Ehlo's 14-year NBA career.

Don't know how we missed it earlier, but this factoid resurfaced through the paper blizzard the other day and struck us as downright notable: When Robbie Cowgill earned first-team Pac-10 All-Academic honors back in March, he became just the second Cougar ever to achieve the honor three straight seasons. The other basketball brainiac was Carlos Daniel, who starred for the Cougs in the late 1990s. In addition, Daven Harmeling's selection to the first-team marked the second straight he's been picked. Only four Cougs have accomplished that feat. The other three were Cowgill, Daniels and late 80s standout Brian Quinnett.

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