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Former Loper basketball star Jura shines bright overseas
Clayton Kush
Antelope Staff
Photo courtesy of alucinormedia.com
After only his second season in Spain, Jura was in the top 10 in a number of statistical categories. Points per game, rebounds and steals were a few of the categories Jura became one of the best in the league in statistically. Jura is now playing for the Dandenong Rangers in Australia.

It’s 24,060 kilometers, or 14,956 miles from the cornfields of Columbus to the dusty, dry outback of Dandenong, Australia, but that is how far former Loper basketball standout Dusty Jura traveled to continue his dream of playing basketball professionally. For most college athletes, college graduation is a time of leaving athletics behind and pursuing a new goal in life, but for Dusty Jura, that road became a bridge across the ocean as he was offered a chance to continue his basketball career in Spain with the Cajasur Cordobas following his graduation from UNK in 2007.

 The decisions haven’t always been easy for Jura, and there have been a few dead ends, but the former RMAC Player of the Year hasn’t disappointed since taking his game to another level, the professional level.

Jura started racking up awards and honors while playing basketball at Columbus Lakeview high school. He helped lead Lakeview to a state championship in 2001 and was an All-State basketball player in 2002.

 After graduating from Lakeview High School in 2002, Jura was recruited to play basketball for the Northern Iowa Panthers. The jump from class C1 basketball here in Nebraska to Division I basketball became a little too much for Jura. “I realized I wasn’t quite ready for Division I and became homesick,” Jura said. While looking for a smaller school that still had a good basketball program and wasn’t too far from his hometown of Columbus, UNK became the most obvious choice.   

Jura burst onto the scene with an outstanding freshman year in which he was named the RMAC Freshman of the Year in 2004. Jura continued his dominating play all four seasons at UNK, collecting more awards. Jura averaged nearly 21 points and 10 rebounds per game his senior season and was named the RMAC Player of the Year for the 2006-07 season along with being named to the RMAC First Team.

His memories of playing at UNK expand past more than just what happened on the court as he developed very close relationships with people in the program. “Looking back at my career at UNK, what I really valued the most was how good of friends I became with of all of my coaches and teammates. I feel that continuing my basketball career at UNK was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Jura said.

Jura didn’t have to go far to seek advice on playing basketball professionally overseas as his father, Chuck Jura, played professional basketball in Italy for 14 years during the 70s and early 80s.

Chuck had only a few, but very meaningful words for his son when he took the offer to play in Spain. “I told him to enjoy this time, as playing professional sports is a very short period of time in your life,” Chuck said.

He said that the leagues in other countries have expanded a great deal since basketball has become a global game and that there are more opportunities for young players like Dusty. “In the 70s, if you left the United States to play professional basketball, it meant you were going to either Europe or South America,” Chuck said.

It appears that success has followed Jura overseas as well. The 6-foot, 7-inch forward averaged 24 points per game last season with the Cajasur Cordobas and was named the winner of the Jim Roberts MVP.

After two seasons playing in Spain, Jura seems to be doing well, but admits that it was a little hard to get adjusted to basketball in a different country. “Basketball in Spain is very different than in the United States, in both the style of the game and the way the games are run. Teams do not play at as much of an up tempo pace,” Jura said.

This has also been a big off-season for Jura as he has been imported to play for a new team, the Dandenong Rangers, who play in the Australian Basketball League. Jura is looking forward to the new experience and chance to play Australian basketball, which he claims to be faster paced like the American game.

It’s been quite a journey for this former Loper basketball star. His hard work and determination have helped him become successful in every step of his basketball career, and he isn’t planning on changing anything when the season tips off March 21.

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