Former USC star keeps pro dreams alive

Former USC basketball player David Bluthenthal has more stamps on his passport than a package from the United States Postal Service.

Bluthenthal, a small forward who attended USC from 1998 to 2002, came to the university after leading Westchester High in Los Angeles to the Division I state championship.

Glory days · David Bluthenthal was a key contributor for USC’s men’s basketball team when it made the Elite Eight in 2001. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

Glory days · David Bluthenthal was a key contributor for USC’s men’s basketball team when it made the Elite Eight in 2001. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

After not getting drafted by the NBA, Bluthenthal decided to go to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, a team which faced the Clippers in an exhibition game in October.

Many USC basketball fans will remember the former standout from his Trojan days.

As a sophomore at USC, he was named All-Pac-10 honorable mention.

As a junior, Bluthenthal helped lead USC to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament.

As a senior, he again earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors and finished his career with the third most three-point shots made in school history.

“Playing for [former USC coach Henry] Bibby really helped me,” Bluthenthal said. “He is an NBA person, and he coached us like we were men and NBA players. That personally helped prepare me for life as a man on my own.”

After college, Bluthenthal entered the NBA Draft. He watched as his USC teammate, Sam Clancy, was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers. However, Bluthenthal was not drafted.

“I was very disappointed. That had been my dream my whole life,” he said. “To not get drafted was a very difficult thing for me.”

Because he is Jewish, he was able to obtain Israeli citizenship, which is an advantage because many international basketball leagues limit the number of foreign basketball players that can be on the roster.

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s playing style suits Bluthenthal well; in 2004, he helped lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship.

Over the next few years, Bluthenthal moved around Europe, playing for Dynamo St. Petersburg in Russia, Benetton Treviso and Virtus Bologna in Italy, and Le Mans in France.

Bluthenthal signed again with Maccabi Tel Aviv for the 2009-2010 season.

“I am 29 now, and I feel like I have a lot of basketball left in me,” he said. “Everyday I continue to work towards that dream, while at the same [time] appreciating where I am and what I have. I have traveled the world, made a good living, and I am happy.”

Bluthenthal’s success with Maccabi Tel Aviv caught the attention of the Sacramento Kings, who signed him prior to the 2004-2005 season. He appeared in seven preseason games, averaging 3.4 points per game. However, he was released before the start of the regular season.

“It was a great opportunity to play in the NBA and live the NBA lifestyle,” Bluthenthal said of his time with the Kings. “I had my chances, but I did not stick.”

He was back in Los Angeles in October, playing with Maccabi Tel Aviv in an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. The game was played to raise money for the world’s largest orphanage, Migdal Ohr.

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s offense is suited to Bluthenthal’s style, allowing him to get open three-point shots and easy baskets.

“[They run] a lot more cuts and ball screens than most NBA teams,” Clipper center DeAndre Jordan said.

Bluthenthal made quite an impression against the Clippers, scoring 12 points in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 108-96 loss.

Clippers point guard and former UCLA standout Baron Davis, who played against Bluthenthal in college, called him “a great person with great ability.”

Clippers forward Blake Griffin guarded Bluthenthal for much of the game. Griffin said Bluthenthal “has a nice shot, and he is a strong guy. He showed a lot tonight.”

1 reply
  1. TrojanGuy
    TrojanGuy says:

    Bluuuth! This guy ruled campus when I was a freshman. USC’s Elite Eight run was one of the most awesome few weeks we had in college; students were tremendously excited, and USC actually felt like a basketball school for a month (I can remember we had a class revolt when the teacher refused to reschedule a class that was during one of the games!). It’s something I wish the Trojans got to experience more, March Madness is really something else when your team is flying high in the tourney.

    Interesting factoid: Bluthenthal is a direct descendant of Isaias Hellman, one of USC’s three founders.

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