Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Where Are They Now?: Lonny Baxter

Ever wonder what happened to those college stars that couldn't catch on in the NBA? The guys that put up the great numbers or the guys that left early, and were never heard from again? Every Wednesday, we at BIAH will take a look at a former college star that never made it in the NBA, and we will update you on where he is playing or what he is doing. We're guessing the results will surprise you. To request a player, leave a comment in the comments section.

Lonny Baxter, Maryland

Lonny Baxter bounced around Washington, DC as a high schooler. The Silver Spring native attended Richard Montgomery High School as a junior before transferring to Anacostia High School for his senior year. There, he led Anacostia to the DC city championship (where he was named MVP of the Finals after scoring 35 points and grabbing 12 rebounds) as well as the DCIAA championship (where he scored 30 points and had 8 rebounds in the championship game). He attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia for a post-grad year before moving on to Maryland.

Baxter had a great career at Maryland. He had a decent freshman year, averaging 6.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg, before becoming a first team All-ACC selection as a sophomore, posting career highs of 15.6 ppg and 8.8 rpg. As a junior and a senior, he would average very similar numbers (15.6 and 7.9, then 15.2 and 8.2, respectively), earning second team All-ACC honors both years. As a senior, he teamed with future NBAers Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, and Chris Wilcox to bring a national title to College Park.

Baxter was a second round pick in 2002, going 44th to the Chicago Bulls. He would play for the Bulls in 2002-03, seeing action in 55 games while posting averages of 4.8 ppg and 3.0 rpg. He would suit up for three teams in 2003-04. He played 14 games with the Bulls before being traded to the Toronto Raptors. He was waived after 36 games, but latched on with the Washington Wizards for the remainder of the season. All told, he played in 62 games, averaging 4.0 ppg and 3.0 rpg. Baxter was one of 19 players selected by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2004 expansion draft, but wasn't signed and thus became an unrestriced free agent. He signed with the Atlanta Hawks in October of 2004, but was cut before the season started. He ended up playing with the Yakima Sun Kings of the CBA (who had drafted him in the CBA draft in 2002 out of Maryland), but ended up getting picked up by the New Orleans Hornets. He only managed to stay with the Hornets for four games before being cut.

In January of 2005, he headed to Europe, as he signed on with Panathinaikos in Greece, where he wasn't a starter but was a big factor in the team's 2005 Greek League championship. In 2005-06, Baxter played in 41 games with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Bobcats, but only averaged a combined 2.9 ppg and 2.9 rpg. That would be his last season in the NBA. During the summer of 2006, Baxter ran into legal troubles. First, he was arrested on August 16, 2006, after firing two rounds from a glock handgun in the air two blocks from the White House (video of the arrest here). He would end up being sentenced to 60 days in jail. There were still more repercussions from that incident. The gun Baxter shot near White House was one of four that he shipped FedEx from Houston to College Park, with out notifying the shipping company that he was transporting firearms, which is a federal crime. In August of 2007, he would again be sentenced to 60 days in jail, as well as receiving two years supervised released and a $2,000 fine (Ed. Note: Baxter just so happened to major in Criminilogy and Criminal Justice while at Maryland).

The legal issues did not effect Baxter's playing career much. In 2006-07, he signed with Montepaschi Siena of the Italian League, where he averaged 8.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg to help his team win the Italian League title (players of note on that team - Joe Forte from UNC and Romain Sato from Xavier). Even after his second conviction, Siena wanted to renew Baxter's contract, but he decided to sign with DKV Jovenut in Spain for the 2007-08 season before eventually ending the year with Panionios in Greece. With Panionios, he averaged 10.2 ppg and 4.9 rpg in 10 regular season games, but upped that to 12.9 ppg and 6.5 rpg during the Greek playoffs. Panionios finished third in the Greek League, which qualifies them for the 2008-09 Euroleague, and Baxter's performance was enough to get his contract renewed for the upcoming year. He will team with former Kansas point guard Aaron Miles and former Pittsburgh forward Levon Kendall this year.

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