Shakur: Expectations at UA "not like other schools"

2010-09-29T13:22:00Z 2010-09-29T13:25:09Z Shakur: Expectations at UA "not like other schools"Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star

Young players on the fringe of making the NBA typically face a tough decision: Take the money in Europe or maximize your exposure by playing NBA style basketball in front of NBA personnel in the D-League.

Mustafa Shakur did both, and now he may have his best chance yet to make the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets.

Along the way of a career that has meandered through Poland, Spain, Greece and Oklahoma, Shakur has particularly improved as a shooter, averaging 19.2 points and 6.2 assists for Tulsa in the D-League last season.

He has also attended NBA camps with Sacramento and Minnesota, making the Kings for a day in 2007 before Sacramento cut him and going to camp with the Timberwolves last season.

"I think I made a lot" of improvements, Shakur said today on a phone interview from Louisiana. "My senior year in college I started to get my confidence back but it wasn't always there. My first year in Poland, I started to regain my confidence because you really have to shoot when you get an open shot there.

"I would say I was very confident in playmaking and in running the show but now I can also take the open shot," Shakur said. "Before I didn't want to hurt the team."

Shakur entered UA in 2003 as a McDonalds All-American - as was Chris Paul, whom Shakur is now vying to serve as a backup point guard for - and faced high expectations from the moment he took the ball for the Wildcats as a freshman. But he said the pressure wasn't a problem for his confidence.

"I really didn't think about it," Shakur said. "The expectation for everybody was to win a championship. All four years we had respectable years but not for the expectations of Arizona. You really can't fall short of that. It's not like at other schools."

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Greg Byrne beat the drums in Yuma.

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UNLV's Tre'Von Willis will miss at least three games this season after a plea bargain agreement stemming from a felony domestic battery charge. Willis dropped 25 points on UA in the Rebels' overtime win at McKale Center last season.

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