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Azubuike with Golden State
|Shooting guard / Small forward|
December 16, 1983 |
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||215 lb (98 kg)|
|High school||Victory Christian
|NBA draft||2005 / Undrafted|
|Pro playing career||2005–present|
|2005–2007||Fort Worth Flyers (D-League)|
|2007–2010||Golden State Warriors|
|2012||→Texas Legends (D-League)|
Kelenna David Azubuike (born December 16, 1983) is an American professional basketball player. Born in London, England and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Azubuike became a standout player during his play at Victory Christian High School, and was eventually recruited to play for the Wildcats of the University of Kentucky. After finishing his junior season in college, Azubuike declared himself eligible for the 2005 NBA Draft, eventually going undrafted that year. Azubuike then played for the Fort Worth Flyers of the NBA Development League, leading the league in scoring during the 2006–07 season and eventually being called up to play for the Golden State Warriors.
Early life and education
Azubuike was born in London, England to Kenneth and Chy Azubuike. Azubuike was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Playing for Victory Christian High School, Azubuike led his team to the state title as a sophomore. He eventually became an All-State selection, averaging 39.1 points and 13.3 rebounds and leading his team to the Class 4A State Championship Game as a senior. He was the top scorer in the state of Oklahoma during his last three seasons of high school, averaging 28.5 points as a sophomore and 38.7 points as a junior. Azubuike finished his prep career with 3,530 points, 89 points short of the all-time state scoring mark.
Playing under coach Tubby Smith, Azubuike said that the biggest improvement to his game at Kentucky was the ability to create offense through intense defense. As a junior, Azubuike was named to the All-SEC Second Team by the Associated Press and the league's coaches after leading the team and ranking tenth in the SEC in points per game, averaging 14.7 overall. Azubuike was named to the 2005 SEC All-Tournament Team after averaging 18.0 points in three contests. During his time with the organization, Azubuike helped the Wildcats to earn two Southeastern Conference titles, two SEC Tournament titles, and two NCAA Elite Eight appearances. Azubuike averaged 10.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in 97 career games at the University of Kentucky, shooting a 48.5% field goal average for his college career. While attending the University of Kentucky, Azubuike majored in business marketing.
In April 2005, Azubuike announced his plans to enter the draft after his junior year, signing with agent Joel Bell and ending his college eligibility. In the 2005–06 season, Azubuike averaged 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in forty-one games with the Fort Worth Flyers of the NBA's Developmental League. Azubuike played with the Denver Nuggets in the 2006 Toshiba Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 16.4 points and finished tied at tenth in the league in scoring. In August 2006, Azubuike was signed by the Houston Rockets as a free agent, but eventually waived by October. Playing for Fort Worth of the Development League again, Azubuike averaged 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.17 steals, and a league-best 26.0 points in 37.7 minutes per contest playing for the Fort Worth Flyers of the NBA Development League, shooting 51.4% from the field and 48.5% from three-point range over twelve games.
Impressed with his play, the Golden State Warriors signed Azubuike on January 2, 2007. Azubuike was the first Gatorade Call-Up of the 2006–07 NBA Development League season, and the 49th player overall to be called up to the NBA since the D-League began play in November 2001. During his second season with Golden State, Azubuike expressed an interest in playing for the British team during the build-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games, but was denied British citizenship under the 1981 British Nationality Act. On July 17, 2008, Azubuike signed an offer sheet with the Los Angeles Clippers for a three-year deal worth $9 million, with Golden State having seven days to match the offer. In the final hour, Golden State matched the offer made by the Clippers on July 24, 2008, allowing Azubuike to remain a Warrior.
On November 17, 2009, it was announced that Azubuike would miss the remainder of the 2009–10 season because of a torn patella tendon.
On July 9, 2010, Azubuike was traded to the New York Knicks along with Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and a future second-round pick in a sign and trade deal for David Lee. Azubuike was waived by the Knicks on February 28, 2011 after failing to suit up the entire season.
On March 23, 2012, Azubuike was signed by the Dallas Mavericks. As part of his comeback, he was assigned to the Mavericks' D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends. On April 9, 2012, he was recalled by the Mavericks. On April 20, 2012, Azubuike played in his first NBA game since November 14, 2009, against the Golden State Warriors. During the 2012 NBA Draft, Azubuike was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was waived by the Cavaliers on October 14, 2012.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
- Statistics correct as of end of 2011–12 season
Azubuike has three siblings: Nonzo, Nesochi and Adaeze. He is a Christian music fan and enjoys creating his own music. During the 2006–07 season, Azubuike made an appearance on Bay Area hip hop station KMEL and conducted an interview while the station played music which he personally produced.
Azubuike has been involved with many humanitarian causes during his time in the NBA. Azubuike accepted a personal invitation from Jakaya Kikwete, the President of Tanzania, to take part in Leon H. Sullivan Summit VIII, a five-day convention held from June 2 to June 6, 2008 in Arusha, Tanzania. The convention brought together many of the world's political and business leaders to focus attention and resources on Africa's economic and social development.
- "NBA.com : Kelenna Azubuike Bio Page". NBA.com. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- Maloney, Mark. "Ex-Cat Azubuike earning respect of NBA peers : KentuckySports.com". KentuckySports.com. Retrieved 2009-07-19.
- "SI.com – NCAA Basketball – UK's Morris remains in draft as deadline passes – Tuesday June 21, 2005". Sports Illustrated. 2005-06-21. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- "InsideHoops.com – Kelenna Azubuike released by Houston Rockets". Inside Hoops. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
- "WARRIORS: Warriors Sign Kelenna Azubuike to Contract". NBA.com. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- Whittell, Ian (2007-12-31). "Blow for Britain as London-born Kelenna Azubuike is denied passport – Times Online". The Times. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
- Stein, Marc (2008-07-18). "Sources: Clips sign swingman Azubuike to three-year offer sheet – NBA – ESPN". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
- "Warriors keep Azubuike, match Clippers' offer – NBA – ESPN". ESPN. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- Marcus Thompson II. "Warriors' Kelenna Azubuike out for the season, C.J. Watson has swine flu". San Jose Mercury News. November 17, 2009. Retrieved on November 17, 2009.
- "Knicks Acquire Randolph, Azubuike & Turiaf". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. July 9, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- Knicks waive guard Kelenna Azubuike
- Kelenna Azubuike to Mavericks
- "Kelenna Azubuike gets call to replace Lamar Odom". espn.go.com. 2012-04-09.
- "Azubike plays in first NBA game in three seasons". allkyhoops.com. 2012-04-21.
- 2012 Draft Day Trade Tracker. NBA.com. June 28, 2012. Retrieved on June 28, 2012.
- Cavaliers Waive Keleena Azuibuke
- "NBA.com : Kelenna Azubuike Career Stats Page". NBA.com. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
- "WARRIORS: Kelenna Azubuike: On A Mission To Tanzania". NBA.com. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
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