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Rafael Araújo (basketball)

Rafael Araujo
No. 66 – Pinheiros
Position Center
League Novo Basquete Brasil (NBB)
Personal information
Born (1980-08-12) August 12, 1980 (age 35)
Curitiba, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
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Career information
High school Padre Anacleto
(São Paulo, Brazil)
College Arizona Western (2000–2002)
BYU (2002–2004)
NBA draft 2004 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8th overall
Selected by the Toronto Raptors
Pro career 2004–present
Career history
2004–2006 Toronto Raptors
2006–2007 Utah Jazz
2007–2008 Spartak St. Petersburg
2009 Flamengo
2009–2010 Paulistano
2010–2011 Flamengo
2011–2012 Franca
2012–2014 Mogi das Cruzes
2014–present Pinheiros
Career highlights and awards

Rafael Paulo de Lara Araújo, nicknamed "Baby" and later "Bàbby" in Brazil,[1] (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʁafaˈɛɫ aɾaˈuʒu]; born August 12, 1980) is a Brazilian professional basketball player. He played for three years in the National Basketball Association, a career largely marred by major failure.

College career

After attending Padre Anacleto High School in São Paulo, Araújo went to the United States to play college basketball, attending Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona. In his freshman season (2000–01), he averaged 12.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.[2] Araújo later explained that AWC coach Kelly Green gave him $400 to get his visa and establish himself in Yuma, despite coaches being forbidden to do so.[1] As a sophomore, he tallied 17.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game,[2] leading the Matadors to a 28-3 record and a top ten national ranking among junior colleges.[2] He was named Region Most Valuable Player and 2nd Team NJCAA All-American.[2] At the same time Araújo was drafted for the Brazil national basketball team at the 2002 World Championships, as NBA player Nenê could not attend the tournament.[1]

After finishing his junior college career, Araújo moved to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where as a junior (2002–03), he averaged 12.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game[3] (second in the Mountain West Conference). In his senior season, Araújo led BYU in scoring (18.4 points per game), rebounding (10.1 rebounds per game), steals (43 total), and blocked shots (25).[4] He was named Co-Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference, sharing the honor with Air Force's Nick Welch.[5][6] He was named 2nd Team NCAA All-American by Basketball Times and Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press.

With his size and strength, the 6-foot-11, 295-pound Araújo impressed many pro scouts during his senior season. On December 6, 2003, he dominated a tough Oklahoma State team, totaling 32 points and 17 rebounds in BYU's 76-71 upset victory.[7] He concluded his collegiate career with a 24-point, 12-rebound performance in the Cougars' 80-75 loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.[2][8]


During the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, Araújo tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He was given a 24-month suspension from international play. He was subsequently found clean during tests while a player at BYU, and the NBA did not test players for steroid use.[9] Araújo explained that the tests went positive because at the time he consumed a dietary supplement containing androstenedione, but he could still play because he was only suspended by FIBA, who does not sanction college basketball.[1]

Araújo was involved in multiple on-court incidents during his senior season at BYU. On March 6, 2004, Araújo was reprimanded by the Mountain West Conference (MWC) for hitting UNLV guard Jerel Blassingame during an 89-88 win.[5][6] Six days later on March 12, in a 54-51 loss to Utah, Araujo was charged with a technical foul for elbowing the Utes' Andrew Bogut in the head in the MWC Tournament.[10]

Professional career

The Toronto Raptors selected Araújo with the eighth pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, making him the first college senior drafted that year. His NBA career was mostly disappointing with him seeing limited action as a rookie, averaging 3.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game.[11] He set a career-high with 14 rebounds against the Sacramento Kings on January 5, 2005. Days later, on January 9, he scored a career-high 14 points against the Golden State Warriors. He later matched that total against the Kings on November 25, 2005.

In the 2005-06 season, he again struggled through a disappointing year and had trouble getting playing time, averaging 11.6 minutes a game, 2.3 points, and 2.8 rebounds while shooting a dismal 36.6% from the field. Shortly after that season, Toronto GM Rob Babcock was fired, and it was rumored that the firing, in part, had to do with the drafting of Araújo.[12] The player claimed he did not play much with the Raptors because then-coach Sam Mitchell held a grudge against Babcock, and thus he did not want to put Babcock's draft pick on court.[1]

On June 8, 2006, Araújo was traded to the Utah Jazz with an undisclosed amount of money for Kris Humphries and Robert Whaley. Many viewed this as a new beginning for Araújo, a chance for him to change the direction of his career. He worked hard in Utah, dropping his weight from 295 to 275 in an effort to improve his athleticism.[13] He also expressed much interest as he already played in Utah during college. However, he did not fit in well in Utah's offense, which was already set with Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur,[1] and Araújo played sparingly during the 2006-07 season. He averaged 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 28 games, averaging only 8.9 minutes per appearance.

Araújo's rookie contract expired after the 2006-07 season, and Jazz owner Larry H. Miller said publicly that he liked Araújo and hoped he could return to the team the following season.[14] Araújo played for Utah in the 2007 Rocky Mountain Revue, but the Jazz signed 7-foot-1 Kyrylo Fesenko during the offseason, filling the roster spot that Araújo held previously. With that opportunity gone, and his NBA career likely over, Araújo signed a 1-year, $500,000 contract to play for Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia.[15] Araújo claimed that despite the easy adaptation, his lack of European passport and Spartak's underperformances lead to him to leave.[16]

Araújo was in training camp with the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves for 2008 but was waived before the 2008-09 season.[17] He claimed that this happened because of the arrival of Kevin Love,[1] and because Araújo was not in top shape due to an injured knee.[16]

After a brief and failed stint at the Shanghai Sharks,[1] in January 2009, Araújo signed with Brazilian club Flamengo for the 2009 season. The details of his contract were not revealed. He became the star of the club's team alongside Marcelinho Machado.[18] Six months later, at the end of the 2009 season, he signed a deal with Paulistano for the 2009-10 season, and on June 2010 he transferred back to Flamengo signing a two-year contract. For his second stint at Flamengo, Araújo, for numerology reasons, changed the spelling of his nickname to "Bàbby" and his jersey number from 55 to 66.[1]

Araújo made headlines in January 2011 by shattering a glass backboard with a powerful dunk during a game in the FIBA Americas League. Video of the play was widely circulated across the Internet.[19]

In June 2011, he signed a deal with Franca Basquetebol Clube. In 2012, Araújo decided to retire, though he was open to return to basketball if he had a good proposal.[1]

In October 2012, Araujo returned to basketball, signing with Mogi das Cruzes.[20] He moved to Pinheiros in 2014.

NBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
(Correct as of 30 May 2009)[21]

Regular season

2004–05 Toronto 59 41 12.5 .434 .333 .782 3.1 .3 .4 .1 3.3
2005–06 Toronto 52 34 11.6 .366 .000 .536 2.8 .3 .5 .1 2.3
2006–07 Utah 28 0 8.9 .415 .000 .621 2.4 .4 .2 .1 2.6
Career 139 75 11.4 .405 .250 .679 2.8 .3 .4 .1 2.8


2006–07 Utah 5 0 5.6 .375 .000 .417 2.2 .2 .2 .0 2.2
Career 5 0 5.6 .375 .000 .417 2.2 .2 .2 .0 2.2


External links