At 34-years-old, Chase Budinger is still in the prime of his athletic career, even if it’s in a sport different than basketball.
Budinger is gearing up for a run at the 2024 Paris Olympics in beach volleyball, according to insidethegames.biz. Budinger, who has played beach volleyball professionally since 2018, recently switched to ready for Olympic qualifying.
The Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2007, Budinger played three seasons for the Arizona Wildcats (2007-09), averaging 17 points and 5.8 rebounds for his collegiate career.
Budinger competed in both basketball and volleyball at La Costa Canyon High School in Encinitas, Calif., but gave up competitive volleyball to play for Lute Olson. A McDonald’s All-American, Budinger was one of the most highly touted players to ever sign on to Olson’s program.
In 2009, Budinger was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and immediately traded to the Houston Rockets, where he played the next three seasons. Budinger then bounced around the NBA, playing for Minnesota, Indiana and Phoenix before retiring in 2017.
Budinger’s decision to play professional volleyball was always more than a gimmick. Over the last five years, Budinger has consistently been among the top players on the AVP Tour. He’s won three AVP events and racked up more than $128,000 in career earnings.
The 6-foot-7 Budinger and his former partner Troy Field were ranked No. 56 in the world. Budinger is leaving Field to play with Miles Evans, a seven-year veteran of the AVP Tour.
“Everything about the partnership makes sense,” writes Volleyball Magazine. “Chase Budinger is an excellent left-side blocker –he also proved talented on the right with Field as well, but the majority of his success is on the left — while Evans is an elite right-side defender. Both have international and domestic points.”
To qualify for the Paris Olympics, Budinger and Evans would need to among the top two U.S. teams in the FIVB World Ranking.
Even as a young father with Olympic aspirations, Budinger makes time to watch the Wildcats. He was recently spotted at McKale Center during Arizona’s game against UCLA last month.