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Freshman guard aims to join cousin in NBA

By Jeff Lund

Friday October 26, 2001

A name familiar to Arizona Men's basketball will be stitched above the number 20 this season.

Following in the footsteps of his cousin Damon, Salim Stoudamire will take the floor for coach Lute Olson wearing the same number as his cousin.

Salim maintains that coming to the UA was his choice, and was not all because of his cousin.

"It's always been something I wanted to do," Salim said about coming to the UA. "It wasn't all because of Damon, it was because of the guards blossoming."

As for the number 20, Salim claims it.

"It has always been my number," he said.

Salim, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Lake Oswego, Ore., is one of seven relatives to play college or professional sports. The most famous, of course, is his cousin Damon, a point guard for the Portland Trailblazers.

"(Damon and I) are real close," Salim said. "He used to live down the street."

Salim said the two cousins have played in numerous one-on-one games, but the advantage, by far, goes to the older relative.

"We don't really count games," Salim said. "We just play for hours."

Associate coach Jim Rosborough said he has been impressed with the Stoudamire family over the years.

"Last year when I took over the team, I got a call from one player to wish me luck, and that player was Damon," Rosborough said. "Their father is also very supportive."

Olson said that the support from the family is admirable.

"There is a lot of pride in that family," Olson said. "The family is huge and has been close. The biggest thing is that they are very supportive."

Salim said he is thankful for the influence of his family.

"They give me a positive mind frame, they are very supportive," Salim said. "My family has had a big impact on me."

Salim said he hopes to follow his cousin's road to the NBA.

"It would be weird playing him," Salim said.

Damon, who was inducted into the UA hall of fame in 2000, was drafted in the first round with the No. 7 pick by the Toronto Raptors in 1995, and currently is the starting point guard for the Portland Trailblazers.

Damon came to the UA for the 1991-92 season and made an immediate impact. He was named to the Pacific 10 Conference All-Freshman Team and during his career amassed 1849 career points, fourth on UA's all-time scoring list.

In 1994, Damon led the Wildcats to a Final Four appearance, where they lost to eventual champion Arkansas.

Rosborough said that Salim, along with junior guard Jason Gardner and fellow freshman Will Bynum, have the potential to be a successful trio.

"At the (point guard and off guard) spots we have Will, Salim and Jason," Rosborough said. "At the end of the season, I have a feeling we will be talking about those three kids in the same breath.

"It is a pleasure to coach those three guys."

Olson said that the similarities between Salim and Damon extend beyond both being left handed and sporting matching tattoos.

"They are very coachable," Olson said. "He is a good listener, and quiet like Damon was when he was here."

Assistant coach Josh Pastner agreed.

"(Salim) plays just like Damon," Pastner said. "He has the same type of energy, and can flat out shoot the ball."

Salim has not yet played a minute for the Wildcats, but expectations are already building.

Rosborough said that unlike his cousin, Salim will get the opportunity to test his mettle earlier than Damon did.

"Damon was behind some good guards and had to wait his turn," Rosborough said. "Salim is going to be in a position to get a lot of minutes."

Salim said he is aware that he will be looked upon to contribute and said he welcomes the task.

"I'm just going to go out there and work as hard as I can," Salim said.

"I can handle it. I don't feel any pressure."

While Damon left a legacy at the UA, Salim is hoping to continue that legacy, and get the one thing that Damon did not - a national championship.

"Of course I want it," Salim said. "I'm a winner."

If history is any indication, Wildcat fans should be able to rest easily knowing a Stoudamire is in the backcourt.


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