After having one of the best single seasons in program history as a senior at Arizona in 2004-2005, Salim Stoudamire was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 31st pick of the 2005 NBA Draft. Just three years later, he was struggling to find a team that wanted to sign him, and that has been his story ever since. I’ve been wondering this since 2008: Where did this guy disappear to?
After high school, Stoudamire decided to follow his cousin Damon’s path and play college basketball at Arizona. Salim’s other cousin is Kentucky’s sophomore forward Terrence Jones. At Arizona, Stoudamire established himself as one of the nation’s best shooters. This man could light it up from downtown. Once he hit one or two in a row that meant he was heating up and you better push up on him as soon as he crossed the half court line. He had no problem pulling up from 25 feet to drain one in a defender’s face. His shooting form looked kind of awkward, but his sweet lefty stroke looked so good after the ball swished through the net about three times per game. He was never afraid to take the last shot and always wanted the ball in his hands in the final seconds. He had that confidence that every great shooter needs. Salim was willing to take any defender one-on-one with the game on the line.
“He’s about perfect when it’s down to that last shot.” Legendary coach Lute Olson, once said about his star player. Check the video for one of his best single-game performances.
As a senior, Stoudamire led his team to the Elite Eight. In the Sweet 16 game against Oklahoma State, he hit a game-winning fade-away with less than two seconds remaining. When you talk about the greatest shooters in the history of college basketball, you have to include Salim in the conversation. This man went 342-for-747 (45.8%) from distance for his career, and he broke Arizona’s individual three-point field goal percentage record in his senior year when he shot an unbelievable 50.4%. The previous record was held by Steve Kerr. He was also one of the best free-throw shooters in the nation in college, shooting 87% over the course of four years.
When Salim first got drafted in the second round by the Hawks, scouts questioned what position he would play because he was too short to play shooting guard and he wasn’t that good of a ball handler or distributor to play point. He was really just a flat-out scorer, hoping to do the same in the NBA. As a pro, Salim had his most productive year as a rookie, playing 20 minutes per game and scoring 9.7 points per game. For the next two seasons, his minutes decreased and so did his numbers. He was released by the Hawks after the 2007-2008 season due to injuries, and no team has been willing to sign him since. He finished his NBA career averaging 8 ppg, shooting 40% from the field. It’s puzzling to me why no team has given him a second chance. I know he’s bounced around from training camp to training camp, but teams cut him. I can’t imagine why teams cut him. Per 36 minutes in the NBA, he averaged 17 points per game. He can definitely be a spot-up shooter for a contending team today, like Daequan Cook is for the Thunder.
In late 2010 at age 28, he attempted an NBA comeback when he entered the NBA D-League. He was drafted by the Idaho Stampede in the 2010 NBDL Draft. After nine games with the Stampede, the team let him go. A few days later the Reno Bighorns picked him up from the available player pool. His numbers weren’t that impressive in the D-League because Salim is past his prime and he had been out of action for a while. In nine games with Idaho, he averaged 13.2 ppg and 3.7 apg. In 33 games with Reno he only averaged 9 ppg and played a lesser role on a playoff team. After the season ended, he didn’t resign with any team.
So what is Stoudamire doing now?
The latest I heard about Salim was that he was going to try out for a team in Italy called Banca Terca Teramo. After the workout, the team decided that they weren’t going to sign him because he was out of shape.
It’s unfortunate that injuries have to derail promising careers every year, but that is part of sports. I just hope that Salim can get healthy and into better shape so that he can play the game he loves once again at a high level, wherever that may be.