Catching up with a few of our local stars

Former NBA star Amare Stoudemire is continuing his basketball career in Israel.

You may have heard that Fort Meade's Andrew McCutchen is a New York Yankee these days.

But you might have missed the update on a few other local athletic stars from our area, including Lake Wales native Amare Stoudemire, who despite retiring from the National Basketball Association still hasn't hung up the hoop dream altogether.

Stoudemire, who a few years ago made a sizable donation to help rehab and reopen the basketball court he used to practice on in Lake Wales while growing up, will be playing for Hapoel Jerusalem, a team which he is also part owner.

He played this summer, and showed well and was healthy while playing in the BIG3 league, which sparked some interest in a return to the NBA. Stoudemire said recently that part of him suiting up in the Israel Premier Basketball League.

Another Lake Wales pro, pitcher Justin Shafer, saw his big-league debut last just 8.1 innings this past season with the Blue Jays, who drafted him off Highlander Hill in 2014 as an eighth-round selection. After minor league stops in everyplace from Lansing, Michigan, to Buffalo, Shafer got the big league call in August, making his big league debut with a scoreless inning at Yankee Stadium of all places.

A slightly balky elbow shut him down after six appearances, so Shafer will spend the winter learning whether the Jays will keep him on their 40-man roster, or if not, another team might be interested in his right arm for 2019.

If baseball is a field of dreams, Josh Allen lived out one of his this summer. The Fort Meade resident and one-time police academy cadet spent five years in independent league baseball before, basically out of the blue, the New York Mets signed him and placed him with the AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies, where he showed well before being slowed by injury. His last game came Aug. 1, and then he too was shut down for the rest of the year with a lower-body injury.

Of course, in his last game, he was 3-for-3 at the plate. There's a tremendous story about Allen's journey on the website www.milb.com. At 27, Allen isn't sure what's next. The Mets released him in late September, but the journey might still not be done.

“As long as somebody wants me, I'll be here putting in the work,” Allen told the website.

Tony Bradley, the Bartow NBA'er, will be in his second season with the Utah Jazz. He's made appearances in all the team's pre-season games, but it hasn't been determined yet whether he'll stay with the big club, or head back to the G-League's Salt Lake City Stars. Remember, he's only 20, so starting and playing regularly in the G-League wouldn't be the worst spot for Bradley, who dressed for nine games with Utah last year.

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