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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

In midst of lockout, Budinger eyes Europe

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Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat

The NBA lockout opened doors for players to stay active while pursuing a passion outside of basketball, and for former UA standout Chase Budinger, that passion is volleyball.

Budinger was the 2006 Mizuno National Player of the Year and dusted off those skills on Aug. 20 and 21 when he teamed up with pro Dane Jensen at the Corona Light Wide Open tournament in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

“It was good exposure and fun playing out there,” Budinger said in an exclusive phone interview with the Daily Wildcat. “I was a little rusty but I was still able to compete against the guys.

“I’m going to try and play as much as I can and get into as many tournaments as I can because it’s great cross-training and I love playing volleyball.”

Budinger’s said he’s enjoying beach volleyball for the time being, but he could trade that in for a basketball gig in Europe any day now. He said he’d love to play in Spain or Italy and his agent is doing his best to make it happen.

“I told my agent that I’m very interested in going overseas if it’s a good league, so he’s definitely searching for jobs for me over there,” Budinger said.

Budinger went on to talk more about the lockout, playing with former UA teammate Jordan Hill, and Luke Walton joining Josh Pastner’s staff in Memphis.

On how life’s been during the lockout: “It’s been good. Just working out as if we had a regular season. It’s just tough because we have no idea when the season’s going to start. I wish there wasn’t a lockout and it doesn’t look like anything’s moving along so it’s kind of like just wait and see.”

On the pros and cons of going overseas: “If I do go, it’s a chance to just play basketball, to practice every day with the team and I think it would be pretty cool to experience a new culture and live the lifestyle over there. The cons are it’s not the NBA, it’s European ball, it wouldn’t be a typical NBA schedule and wouldn’t be played the same way an NBA game would be.”

On the bigger names going overseas: “I think they’re doing it for the same reasons. They just want to play basketball. If you can’t have an NBA season here, why not go over there?”

On his first two years in the NBA: “I think I’ve done well for my first two years. (Former Houston Rockets) coach (Rick) Adelman gave me an opportunity to play and I think I’ve done a good job so far. My only goal is to improve each year.”

On playing with Jordan Hill: “It’s been great just because we know each other so well and we’re so used to each other. When he got traded to Houston it was an easy fit.”

On how Hill has done: “He’s going to be just fine. He’s a confident player and he’s a great ball player. There’s been games when he’s done great and games where he knows he could have done a little better.”

On the UA basketball program: “It was fun to watch them in the tournament. I keep up with Arizona basketball. I try to catch as many games as I can. Sean Miller’s doing a great job with the guys over there bringing back Arizona basketball to where it should be as one of the top basketball schools.”

On whether he keeps in touch with former coaches and teammates: “I still talk with coach (Lute) Olson and Josh Pastner and still keep up with Kyle Fogg and Nic Wise. It’s a big family that Arizona has and you definitely keep in touch with everybody.”

On Luke Walton coaching at Memphis: “That’s pretty neat. The running joke right now is it’s like Arizona East at Memphis. All the Arizona coaches and players are coaching over there now. It’s a good chance for Luke to get into coaching. Josh is a great coach and he’s got some really good recruits coming in and (I’m) hoping to see them do big things in the next couple of years.”

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