July 11, 2012
Life in college is all about preparing to enter the job market. The Oakland basketball program has done just that for a number of former players, who now make a living playing worldwide in the professional ranks. In this edition of “Summer Notebook”, ougrizzlies.com takes a look at all of the players from the Oakland basketball program currently playing professionally.
Keith Benson (2007-11)
- Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2011 NBA Draft (48th pick).
- Three games played with the Golden State Warriors in 2012 where he averaged one rebound per game.
- Benson is scheduled to play for the Atlanta Hawks Summer League team.
“Keith made me a better player,” said former teammate and current professional player Will Hudson. “Getting to go against him every day in practice was the best thing that could have happened to me. There is no doubt he helped me raise my game.”
Melissa Jeltema (2006-10)
- Spent last season with Chemnitz in Germany.
- She recently signed a contract with Tapiolan Honka in Finland to play next season.
- Jeltema scored 19.8 points per-game, grabbed 6.2 rebounds and shot 49.8% from the floor for Chemnitz.
“Her junior year was the first time I knew she could be a professional player, she dominated practice and the league,” said women’s basketball head coach Beckie Francis. “She asked to get in the weight room every day. That work ethic is what set her apart.”
Sebastien Bellin (1999-2000)
- Spent last season in Belgium with Mons Hainaut.
- Bellin played in 34 games and had three double-digit scoring efforts, including 17 points in a Eurocup game against PGE Turow.
Derick Nelson (2005-08, ‘09-10)
- Nelson spent last season with the Lansing Capitals of the IBA
- Played for the Hobart Chargers of the Australia State League.
“Derick goes to the glass and rebounds like nobody I’ve ever seen,” said former teammate and current professional player Larry Wright. “He’s 6-5 and built solid like a rock.”
Will Hudson (2007-11)
- Hudson played last season with the Gold Coast Blaze of the National Basketball League in Australia, where he averaged 9.5 ppg and six rebounds
- Scored 18 points in his professional debut.
“I thought I could be a pro after a summer workout my sophomore year,” said Hudson. “We were working out on the hill and some people were struggling. I knew that I could work hard enough to make it.”
Hudson also says that he is taking a look at all of his options for next season, after signing a one year contract with the Blaze last season.
“I’m taking a look at Europe as well as some teams in Australia. The NBA is always the dream, I just have to keep working. There is a place in the NBA for a player like me.”
Larry Wright (2009-11)
- Wright spent last season with the Frankfurt Skyliners of the Bundesliga in Germany where he averaged 16.7 ppg and shot 42% from three point range.
“I always thought I would be a pro basketball player, ever since I was in high school,” said Wright, who is currently a free agent and is looking at offers from other teams. “There is a team in Romania that might have some interest.”
Wright also credits the Oakland coaching staff for preparing him for the professional game. “Playing point guard at Oakland really helped my career. I played a lot of point in Germany. The coaches told me it would help my game and they were right.”
Cortney Scott (2002-05)
- Scott played last year for CS Otopeni in Romania where he scored 12.9 PPG and shot 46% from the floor.
- As a player at Oakland, he was an integral part of Oakland’s run to their first-ever NCAA Division 1 tournament in 2005.
Rawle Marshall (2002-05)
- Marshall spent last year with BC Astana in Kazakhstan.
- Marshall averaged 16.8 PPG and shot 53% from the floor, leading BC Astana to a perfect 20-0 record in league play.
- Marshall was the first player in Oakland history to play in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks in 2005-06.
“Rawle and Cortney were on a different level talent wise,” Said Oakland Associate Head Coach Jeff Tungate, who joined the coaching staff in August before the duo’s senior year. “Those guys put in the work to go with the talent and it really is no surprise to me to see those guys have the success they have had professionally.”
Mike Helms (2000-04)
- Helms averaged 11.5 PPG and shot 88.9% from the free throw line for Toros Nuevo Laredo in Mexico in 2011.
- Helms has played professionally all over the world with stops in Argentina, Australia, Singapore, Israel and Mexico.
- He was the third leading scorer in the country during his time at Oakland University.
“Mike is currently enrolled in Oakland taking classes to finish his degree,” said Oakland Head Coach Greg Kampe. “He also wants to try to play at least one more year in professional basketball.”
Johnathon Jones (2006-10)
- Jones played last season for Komarno in Slovakia where he averaged 16.3 PPG, 5.3 assists per game and shot 52.6% from the floor.
- Jones led the nation in assists his junior year at Oakland.
“Jones was a consummate leader and everything you want in a floor general,” Oakland Associate Head Coach Jeff Tungate said. “He played the point for four years and did everything you could ask.”
Kelly Williams (2000-04)
- Williams played last season for the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters of the Philippine Basketball Association, averaging 8.3 ppg and seven rebounds.
- Authored a book, “Rising Higher: Faith and A Little Bit of Roundball”