Donaldson pursues hoop dreams despite tough road

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by Malik Vincent

Pittsburgh has had its fair share of basketball “greats.” They’ve ventured through the city’s landscape from court to court and have proven that they have what it takes to make it to the game’s highest levels.

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HARD WORKER—Jakim Donaldson is seen at West Park on the North Side before a workout.

Jakim Donaldson, 26, is a 2001 graduate of Oliver High School currently playing for Ciudad de La Laguna Canarias, of the LEB-Gold league in the Spain organization.

He is a 6-8”, 220 lb. forward who acknowledges that he wasn’t the most “highly-touted” among players at his position in the Pittsburgh City League at the time of his high school graduation.

“I had to work hard and listen to the people around me,” Donaldson said. “There were plenty of good players whenever I came out and I won’t lie, I wasn’t even ranked among the best, but I was determined to get there and I ran into some good opportunities along the way.”

The fall after he graduated, he attended Edinboro University where he played four seasons for the Fighting Scots. He went as a walk-on, and earned a full athletic scholarship in his sophomore season.

“He was a tremendous player on numerous levels for us and other places,” said Edinboro head basketball coach Greg Walcavich. “He had the absolute best attitude for playing; great rebounder, could score in (many) ways, a tireless defender and he was the perfect teammate.”

He capitalized on those aforementioned opportunities by concluding his career as the only player in Edinboro history to score more than 1,000 points and pull down more than 1,000 rebounds. He finished with 1,355 career points and 1,100 career rebounds, the top figure in school history.

Donaldson received many accolades while attending Edinboro including being named the PSAC West Player of the Year as a senior. He then went on to earn first team NABC All-American honors, along with first team Basketball Times All-American and first team Daktronics All-American acknowledgement, plus second team Division II Bulletin All-American respects. He averaged a double-double in three of his four seasons, with 14.3 ppg. and 10.8 rpg. as a sophomore.

All of his accomplishments on the collegiate level gave him an opportunity to extend his career in Portugal in the LPB league for the Barreirense/Unilogos basketball team. He stayed there for his rookie year in the 2005-06 season and then moved on to Spain where he’s been for the past four campaigns.

While a part of the Ciudad de La Laguna Canarias team in 2010, he gathered some honors there as well, including both the LEB-Gold League Defensive and Import (non-Spanish) Player of Year. His 10.9 rebounds and 17.7 points were each good for the first and second-best marks in the league.

“When it didn’t seem so bright at first, I looked at things differently and it gave me a brighter perspective,” Donaldson said.

Most recently, Donaldson competed in the NBA Summer League with the New Jersey Nets and in his final game he scored 15 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes of play.

“I was really excited to go out there and play with the Nets,” Donaldson said. “It felt good to get out there with those guys and experience the energy of the league.”

Donaldson hopes to make the Nets’ roster this season, if not, he hopes to go back to Spain and compete in the ACD League, the highest level in that nation’s organization.

(Malik Vincent can be reached at malikvincent@gmail.com.)

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