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Is Sasha for real?

Jazz clear up confusion over 2 Alek Pavlovics

Published: Sunday, June 29 2003 12:08 a.m. MDT

Conspiracy theorists might suggest the worst. In reality, it seems to be a classic case of simple mistaken identity. Certainly, it is an intriguing tale of who's who.

Will the real Aleksandar Pavlovic please stand up?

"I know what this is about," Marc Cornstein, the American agent for Pavlovic, a.k.a. "Sasha," says over the phone.

Cornstein has been through this all before, with officials of the NBA.

It seems Sasha, the 19-year-old whom the Jazz selected in the first round of Thursday night's NBA Draft, is not the only Alek Pavlovic who shoots hoops.

There is another, from Yugoslavia, who played at LaSalle University in Philadelphia during the 1999-2000 NCAA season, then later played at Shippensburg University, a small school also, like LaSalle, located in Pennsylvania.

Only one problem.

According to a biography that is posted on the page for the Budocnost club team of the Yugoslav Basketball Association (YUGO League) at the much-visited eurobasket.com Web site, the player the Jazz drafted Thursday did play at LaSalle in 1999-2000.

That, the aforementioned conspiracy theorist would suggest, means Sasha either played for LaSalle as a 16-year-old — highly unlikely — or he is older than the 19 years of age which the Jazz believe him to be.

Neither, however, seems to be the case.

"I think we can get this resolved quickly," said LaSalle athletic communications director Kale Beers, who called play-by-play of Explorers basketball in that '99-00 season.

"Our guy," Beers said, "(transferred) to Shippensburg. Your guy (the Jazz's Pavlovic) did not play at Shippensburg."

Cornstein, the agent, also was quick to insist his client never played at LaSalle and is indeed still just 19.

The Web-site info, he suggested, simply is wrong.

"I can't be responsible for everything that's on the Internet," Cornstein said.

"Our Sasha," he added, "has only been to America twice."

Once, he went to Dallas for an international tournament.

The only other time Cornstein's Pavlovic has set foot in the United States has been in preparation for last week's draft, a journey that in part had him working out in Salt Lake last Tuesday, attending the draft itself in New York on Thursday and flying back to Utah for a news conference at the Delta Center on Friday.

The Pavlovic who played at LaSalle, and most recently Shippensburg?

He stands 6-foot-6, just an inch shorter than Sasha. He can score, much like Sasha. A nice small-college player, apparently, evidenced by his stats against schools like East Stroudsburg, Mansfield and Bloomsburg.

But not exactly NBA talent.

Oh, and one other thing:

The Jazz's Pavlovic, who plays in the former Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, spells his formal first name Aleksandar.

The other kid? Aleksander.

"That," Jazz basketball operations vice president Kevin O'Connor said, "is another player."

So Aleksander Pavlovic, please sit down. Sasha, it seems you should stand.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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