Guide to Playing Professional Basketball Overseas
Making it as a professional basketball player is never easy, especially for a scrawny, 5 foot 9 inch kid who initially no one took seriously. However, perseverance, dedication, tenacity, and hard work can go a long way to supplementing natural talent and making a pipe-dream a reality. I went from shooting basketball with my brother at the park, to becoming a local basketball star, to playing D-1 basketball, to signing a professional basketball contract with the King’s Lynn Fury in England.
High School Basketball
Basketball always took precedence in my life, because my passion for the sport knew no bounds. For as long as I can remember, playing in the NBA was the goal. I spent hours in the gym improving my skills, getting stronger and ensuring that I gave myself the best chance to make it in this sport.
Working hard everyday paid off in my senior year of high school. I went from being a good basketball player to a team leader. I averaged 24.5 points per game that was coupled with a healthy assist record. I received a nomination for various awards, including Mr. Basketball and Conference player of the year. I was placed on the All-Uniform, All-Conference, All-Regional and All-Tournament teams and graduated fifth in my class.
Davidson College Wildcats – Men’s Basketball
From 2005 to 2007, I played college basketball for Davidson College. During this time, I faced many challenges that made me wonder whether I had what it took to go all the way. I was cut from the team my freshman year, only placed on the traveling team my sophomore year, and saw limited playing time during my junior and senior years.
I would have liked to become a key role player my senior year, but the superstar Stephen Curry was recruited to the Davidson team. Stephen Curry shocked the entire country with his performances as a freshman and has gone on to a successful NBA career with the Golden State Warriors. My mental strength and resolve allowed me to get through these difficult moments as a bench warmer. Even though I wasn’t a starter, I worked harder than anyone in training to improve my game and be the best teammate possible.
Davidson’s Coach Bob McKillop was a massive fan of my efforts and work habits. My leadership skills, personality, willingness to improve, and dedication to the sport persuaded Coach McKillop to help me find a professional basketball team after college.
Coach McKillop reached out to his contacts in Europe and found me a place on a European basketball team. He spoke with Sean Kilmartin, General Manager of the USA Select basketball association, who helped me find a spot on the Kings Lynn Fury’s team in the United Kingdom. Coach McKillop’s personal recommendation went a long way to making this happen. He spoke to Mr. Kilmartin about my skills as a man and a basketball player.
It might not have been the NBA, but I was thrilled to play basketball in England’s Basketball League, one of the top leagues in the United Kingdom. The sport has taken off in England, and the quality of competition is excellent. More than that, my dream of playing professional basketball had finally become a reality.
Professional Basketball in Europe
I spent a year in Kings Lynn, where I led all point guards in the league in points, assists, steals and rebounds. After that year, I decided to pursue another career away from basketball. I had achieved all my goals. Despite rarely playing in college, I had gotten a professional basketball contract. Davidson College, my hard-work, and persistence set me on the path to achieving my goals and dreams.
Sean Kilmartin and the European Basketball Program
If you are interested in playing professional basketball overseas, Sean Kilmartin helps players fulfill their dreams. Also, check out the below guide to playing overseas.
Tips for Playing Professional Basketball Overseas
1. Get an AgentThere are a lot of professional basketball opportunities for players looking to take their skills to the next level. Europe offers great opportunities for basketball players to play basketball and get paid for it. Don’t stop chasing your dreams to play in the NBA, but you definitely have to keep your options open as a small percentage of the players across the world actually play in the NBA. The thing that you need to do is to understand what this means for someone who might consider playing basketball internationally. Players need to understand the appropriate steps that they will need to take in order to succeed in this venture. Here are some tips that will help players become equipped with the leverage to take control of their future as a professional basketball player abroad.
While there have likely been some basketball players going to foreign countries and playing successfully on their teams without an agent, it only really hurts you to operate without one. Agents have a specific role to play in all of this, and it is protecting your best interests and seeing that you are getting appropriately compensated for what you might have been agreed upon. Your agent is your mouthpiece, your representative, and often times your biggest advocate when dealing with international basketball teams. They will be the ones who are able to generate your tryout opportunities and contracts. They also have other players that they represent and they have dealt with a lot of European teams, so they know how to maximize your contract. Here is a great list of the top European basketball agents.
2. Get Some Film
The very best way to start spreading the news about your skills and accomplishments as a basketball player is to mail off a highlight reel of these achievements. This will give people responsible for the team a chance to see you in action in many different scenarios and appreciate firsthand the kind of impact that you can have as a member of their squad.
Take time with the creation of this highlight tape, and make sure that it is edited so that there are no dull moments. You have got to show new potential teams your assets both offensively and defensively. While everyone likes someone who is a hot shooter and can score a lot of points that is only half of the game. If you do not show them you are capable of defending as well, and that you are the entire package, this could cause them to lose interest. How are you a unique player, thousands of other players are submitting their highlight tape as well. My good friend D Man creates the most inexpensive sport’s highlight tapes on the planet, check him out. You can’t beat a highlight tape that will cost you between $5-$50, most highlight video services will charge you an arm and leg. You can check D Man out on fiverr.com and here is a sample sport’s highlight video of his work.
3. Stay Focused by Continuing to Workout
Making sure you stay conditioned and always ready for a tryout opportunity will be key in landing a coveted spot on a professional European basketball team. Typically, there are only two American players per European team, so you have to be more conditioned than everyone else in the tryout pool. You have to keep working out harder and striving to improve in areas that need the most improvements. When the tryout comes or you sign your contract, it is not an opportunity that will happen twice for the same team barring any extraordinary circumstances. So you have to be at your performance peak to show off everything you are able to offer.
4. Preparing to Go Abroad
So you’ve gotten onto a team and now you are curious what to do next. The very first thing is to get your VISA affairs in order. You have to get yourself approved and eligible to travel abroad and live in another country conditionally by being employed through the team. This might take time, so be sure to act quickly upon the finalization of a contract agreement.
You have an opportunity to play the game you love and make serious money playing basketball overseas. If you work hard and stay at the top of your game, this could be a career move that can have lifelong ramifications, such as future coaching opportunities back in the United States or abroad as well. So work hard and stay focused.