Japan-based star Julian Mavunga retires from basketball aged 33

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Julian Mavunga

US-bred Zimbabwean star Julian Mavunga has retired from professional basketball after a successful career spanning over a decade.

Mavunga, who was on the books of Japanese second-tier club Utsunomiya Brex last season confirmed his retirement in a statement on his social media platforms on Tuesday.

The gifted power forward has been based in Japan since 2015 establishing himself as a household name for clubs such as Shiga Lakestars, Kyoto Hannaryz, Toyama Grouses and his most recent side Utsunomiya Brex.

Prior to going pro, Mavunga played four seasons of college basketball in the US for Miami University, where he broke the university’s career games record at 124 appearances from 2008 to 2012.

After not getting any takers during the 2012 NBA Draft, Mavunga on a professional career which saw him featuring for several clubs in Italy, Ukraine, Israel and Kosovo from 2012 to 2015 before heading to Japan where he has been based for the past eight years.

His consistency saw him earning post season All-Japanese honours in the second tier league to carry on from his brilliant run from Sigal Prishtina, who he helped win the Kosovo Super League title while also reaching the Kosovo Cup final.

Prior to the move to Japan, Mavunga also played nine matches for Sigal Prishtina in Balkan League where he had 10.2ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.3apg and 1.0spg with his contributions helping the team win the Balkan League championship.

A former national title winner with Ironi Nahariya in Israel, Mavunga had been earmarked to represent Zimbabwe for the first time at the Afrobasket Championship held in Tunisia in 2017.

He, however, suffered an injury ahead of the continental championships, where he could have teamed up with compatriots France-based star Vitalis Chikoko — the only other Zimbabwean playing top top-level basketball.

Mavunga was born in Mutare and attended Blakiston Primary School in the capital before relocating with his family to the US where he proceeded to Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana, and later Miami University for his tertiary education.

The 33-year-old power forward is the older brother of former WNBA player Stephanie, who now plies her trade in Poland for BC Polkowice while his younger brother Jordache Mavunga plays for the Bambitious Nara in Japan’s second-tier B2-League.

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