This column appeared in The Japan times in October 2016.

Armstrong extends career in Japan


The Chiba Jets’ home gymnasium is far from the ultra-bright lights and mammoth-size arenas that dot the NBA landscape.

But, in its first season, the new B. League offers rookies and seasoned veterans the same opportunity: a chance to play the game and earn a living.

For 211-cm Jets center Hilton Armstrong, a fierce desire to compete and improve has ignited a long career in the pros. The journeyman pivot was the 12th overall pick by the Hornets in the 2006 NBA Draft and has also spent time with the Kings, Rockets, Wizards, Hawks and Warriors, appearing in 292 NBA regular-season games and participating in the postseason for New Orleans in 2008 and ’09, for Atlanta in 2011 and Golden State in 2014, the season before the team’s stunning run to an NBA title.

In the NBA Development League, Armstrong played 61 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors over the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. In that span, he averaged 12.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 assists.

Armstrong played on the University of Connecticut’s title-winning squad in 2004. And he graduated from Peekskill (New York) High School, where Elton Brand attended before going to Duke University and becoming the No. 1 pick in the 1997 draft.

The 31-year-old veteran big man made a quantum leap between his junior and senior seasons at UConn, setting the stage for a career in pro basketball. He was named the Big East Conference’s 2005-06 Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 9.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks a game. (The previous season, he scored 3.8 points per game, grabbed 3.4 rebounds and blocked 1.2 shots.)

What did that award mean to him?

“For me personally,” he told Hoop Scoop, “it was personal pride for me. That’s one of the few individual awards I’ve ever had in my college career, high school career, anything, and I take that to heart. I’m very proud of it. That’s something that I will never forget.”

As a college senior, Armstrong reflected on his maturation as a player and improved productivity.

“I’ve done more than people expected,” he told The Journal News, a suburban New York newspaper, in a 2006 interview. “But you know what? I still have a lot more to accomplish. I want this to be the beginning of something, not the end.”

Then-UConn coach Jim Calhoun marveled at Armstrong’s development as a player during his four seasons as a Husky.

“He has matured as much as any kid I’ve ever had,” the college coaching legend told The Journal News. “I have so much respect for what he has done because he never complained, he just worked.

“He’s a product of what college basketball used to be about, when a kid would come in and get better and better. I’m really proud of him.”

Full article: Armstrong extends career in Japan | The Japan Times