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Sitting down with Tulsa 66ers guard Mustafa Shakur

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Now in his second stint with the Tulsa 66ers, guard Mustafa Shakur is getting noticed for his play on the court and recognition for how he has been a key piece of Tulsa’s recent turnaround.

History with the Tulsa 66ers
On November 5, 2009, Shakur was drafted by the 66ers. He earned a 10-day contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder later that season, and then re-signed with the Thunder at the end of that March. Shakur has also played for the Washington Wizards.

On January 22, 2014, Shakur returned to Tulsa after being traded by the Erie BayHawks.

Recent honors
Shakur was recently named NBA Development League Player of the Month for games played in February. The University of Arizona product led Tulsa to a league-best 8-2 record, including a 5-1 record on the road and a five-game winning streak following the All-Star break. He averaged 20.4 points on .462 shooting, to go along with 7.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.0 steals. His 30 steals in February were a league-best. Shakur scored in double figures in all 10 games, including five games where he scored at least 20 points.

On Feb. 11 against the Iowa Energy, Shakur posted career highs with 32 points and 11 rebounds. It was one of his four double-doubles for the month (three points-assists and one points-rebounds). On Feb. 8 and Feb. 21, Shakur recorded season-highs with 12 assists, in a 102-95 win over the Delaware 87ers and 144-120 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, respectively.

Shakur’s +/- average of +9.5 was the fourth highest in the league in February. The interesting part is that the only three players ahead of him were all his teammates (Reggie Williams, Andre Roberson, and Grant Jerrett).

Through games of March 5, Shakur is averaging 16.9 points, 6.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals.

Exclusive interview
I recently had the chance to sit down with Shakur and ask him about his honor and his recent play.

Henry: Congratulations on the Player of the Month honor. Were you surprised when you heard you had won it?
Shakur: I was somewhat surprised. I hadn’t received a weekly honor yet so I was surprised when I got the monthly honor. A lot of it has to do with our consistent play and the way we’ve been winning. I think the winning month helped a lot. I really consider this a team honor because I don’t believe I would’ve won it without our team winning like it has been doing.

Henry: What has sparked Tulsa’s turnaround?
Shakur: We’re focusing on the details and sticking together, no matter what. I think our defense has been a big part of turning things around as well. When you play good defense, you give yourself a chance to win. I think we have all of the pieces on this team. We have a lot of guys who can make plays offensively. If we get some stops, we can win games with this offense.

Henry: When you knew you were coming back to the 66ers this season, what was your reaction?
Shakur: I was very excited. Everyone could hear it in my voice. It was the happiest I had been in a while because I knew the Tulsa organization and I knew it was a great organization. It’s really at another level in the D-League. The training, coaching, and recovery aspects after a game that we have in Tulsa aren’t things that you see in a lot of places around the league. I have won here before, and this organization has won before. We all know what it takes to get to where we want to be.

Henry: During the season, Tulsa has signed both you and Reggie Williams, giving it a pretty formidable backcourt. You guys had some great battles in your first time here (when Williams was with Sioux Falls). What is it like for you guys to be on the same team?
Shakur: It’s great. We’re very familiar with one another and we have a mutual respect for each other. We worked out together over the summer so that’s been great. When we played our first game together, it really felt good to be out there on the court together.
Note: Reggie Williams is currently with the Oklahoma City Thunder after signing a 10-day contract on March 6.

Henry: You and the 66ers are making a run at the postseason, but the season is also quickly winding down. Every game is important so how are you and the team looking at the calendar?
Shakur: Coach gives us an overview every day, but we’re still taking it one game at a time. We don’t want to focus on anything other than the next game.

Henry: And what about your personal goals for the rest of the season?
Shakur: I always want to move on to the highest level possible, wherever that may be. I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to play for the 66ers and I want to help this team in every way that I can.

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