VIDEO: Space Coast Sports Hall of Famer Sasha Kaun Was Late Bloomer In Basketball
By Alan Zlotorzynski // April 17, 2016
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Sasha Kaun’s dedication and hard work in the face of tragedy and adversity personify the character of many Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
2016 PROFESSIONAL INDUCTEE
• Member of the Cleveland Cavaliers
• NCAA Champion With Kansas University
• State Champ At Florida Air, Finishing 29-0
FLORIDA PREP GRADUATE
To say that Florida Air Academy (now Florida Prep) graduate Sasha “Alexander” Kaun was a late bloomer in the world of organized basketball would be understating the facts, but basketball alone doesn’t begin to define or tell the story of a kid from Tomsk, Russia, who is still playing a game he never knew he was destined to play.
Kaun’s goal wasn’t to play basketball professionally. Instead, Sasha wanted to move to America and live out the American dream.
“I just came to get an education, to get a degree, because there are more opportunities in America to get a job,” Kaun once told a local reporter.
At age 13 Kaun’s father, a computer programmer for a Russian bank, was found dead – murdered, some believe.
He matured as fast as he could for his mother but fell into the trap that every teenager does, especially one without both parents.
A standout performance at the Boo Williams Invitational catapulted him near the top of college want-lists across the country. In the end, Kaun chose to play for Bill Self at the University of Kansas.
The summer before his sophomore year, Sasha received a call from a friend who’d just graduated from a high school called the Florida Air Academy.
Once Kaun arrived, everyone except Kaun knew he’d be on the hardwood before too long.
Standing 6 feet 10, Kaun was easily the tallest kid at his new school.
“He was chasing his dream – just like his daddy,” said Aubin Goporo, FAA’s legendary basketball coach.
“The first time I met him I asked him what he wanted to be and he said, ‘A computer engineer.’ I asked him what else he may want to do and he said, ‘I don’t know, maybe own my own business.’”
There was another reason he’d called Sasha into his office that day. “Did you ever think about making a living playing basketball?” Goporo asked Kaun. No, Sasha said. Never.
Goporo would convince Kaun how his height and hard work could pay off and Sasha was sold. He didn’t develop overnight, but under Goporo’s tutelage, Kaun’s roundball skills developed quickly enough to help Goporo’s Falcons win the state title in 2003 finishing 29-0.
After two years of organized basketball, Kaun began excelling on the summer AAU circuit.
Kaun played for four years in Lawrence for the Jayhawks. During his college career he shot an impressive .568 from the floor, tallied 830 points, pulled down 526 rebounds, blocked 150 shots and helped lead Kansas to four straight Big 12 regular-season titles and the 2008 NCAA title.
Kaun was also selected as a Three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection.
He was selected with the 56th pick in the second round by the Seattle Super Sonics in the 2004 NBA Draft.
However, Kaun did not make his NBA debut until this past October for the Cleveland Cavaliers who obtained his draft rights on the same day Seattle selected him.
Since then, Kaun has played professionally in Russia where he has been a part of five championship teams and won the 2014 league defensive player of the year award.
He retired from playing basketball overseas and on September 9, 2015 signed a multi-year contract with the Cavaliers worth $2.6 million.
Kaun’s dedication and hard work in the face of tragedy and adversity personify the character of so many Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.