2018 was easily one of my most difficult years to date. I was pursuing a dream that looked impossible, my efforts were met with doors slammed in my face, and I was starting to lose hope that I could become a professional basketball player.
I lost count of how many combines and exposure camps I attended. Those usually provided me with good film, but that’s about it. I made very few connections and most of those events were run by people with fewer connections than me.
I spent over a year and a half at home waiting for my opportunity to come. During that time I acquired an agent, and I thought that was all I needed. I just knew I was finally on my way to signing my first contract and living the dream. After making promises that they’d find me a job during the upcoming season - nothing. We parted ways.
So how did it happen? I played for a small D1 University, I didn’t have people knocking my door down to sign me after college, and most importantly I didn’t have an agent.
Yet, I’m currently on my second contract in Europe playing for a team in Spain.
I’ll be completely honest with you guys. That year and a half of waiting and trying different methods opened my eyes and taught me a lot. What I saw work for other players, didn’t work for me, and vice versa.
The most important lesson I learned was that you have to put your feet to the pavement and invest in your dream before you expect anyone else to believe in you. Most of the time your work will be behind the scenes, but one thing is for sure- you better be ready when your number is called!
Now that that’s out the way, let me tell you my story.
One day I was scrolling through my phone for a reputable combine (I guess I’m a glutton for punishment). On my search I found a basketball academy located in Valencia, Spain called Europrobasket.
The academy caught my eye because they were getting people signed. People who didn’t attend large universities. People who have been out of the game for quite some time. People like me.
I was sold. I made up my mind to attend Europrobasket and what was supposed to be a 3-week program, ended up being 3 days as I had already gained attention from a team in Portugal.
The Europrobasket team supported me every step of the way and even helped me get signed the following season with a team in Spain. I’m very happy with Europrobasket and the route I took, but this is about you. If you’re pursuing a professional basketball career overseas you need the right information to help you on your journey.
Here are four things I want to share with you about Europrobasket.
1 They don’t sugarcoat anything. One of the first things I noticed after being addressed by the Europrobasket team is they tell it like it is. Most of the players who attend Europrobasket are visiting Europe for the very first time. They don’t have accurate knowledge about the process of getting signed. They know very little about what to expect concerning salaries, living conditions, and gameplay. Upon arrival, they were very honest about what we should and should not expect as we moved forward. As a newbie, I greatly appreciated the honesty. The whole goal is to prepare players, not make them think they were about to waltz into a life of luxury.
2. Europrobasket is run by people. I know this should go without saying, but the owners and coaches at Europrobasket are people. Which means they have personalities. Yes, they are there to assess your basketball ability, but they are also paying attention to you as a person. I always say, “people want to help good people.” With that being said many players go into environments such as these stone-cold, without ever cracking a smile. It’s possible to be competitive and still show your personality. This is more important than you know because the teams that ask about you will want to make sure you are a good fit for their team’s chemistry. Don’t make the mistake of isolating yourself. Get to know the coaches, trainers, and the people you are competing alongside. Those connections will go a long way!
3. The academy is not cheap. It’s normal to look at the price of the program and second guess whether you should make that investment. That was one of my biggest hurdles. I spent most of my time and energy into preparing my body for basketball, so I didn’t have time to work a traditional job. So to pay for Europrobasket, I asked for help from my friends and family. I didn’t want to do it, but I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity. Once I got to Spain I understood why the price tag was so high. Europrobasket places their players in a nice hotel, they have top-of-the-line facilities, and professional level staff. On top of that, the location is pretty close to the ocean which is always a plus. Compared to the combines I previously went to, the value Europrobasket provided was through the roof.
4. The program is not easy. I’ve had people contact me about attending Europrobasket, and the first thing I tell them is to make sure you come in shape. Not in pick-up game shape- professional basketball player shape. When I went we had three workouts per day. Two on the court, and one in the weight room. I always joke that I’m glad I got signed in three days because I don’t know how I was going to last three weeks! All jokes aside the first thing that will disqualify you is being out of shape. Coaches will ask, and remember, they don’t sugar coat anything. You also don’t want to get to the academy and injure yourself. Be in the best shape possible to prevent anything from going wrong.
Like I said earlier what works for one player may not work for you, but I highly recommend Europrobasket if you’re looking for a way to enter the overseas basketball market. They are right in the middle of Europe and very well connected. The most important thing is they genuinely care about each of their players.
While I didn’t go through an agent for my first two contracts, I am not against agents in any way. There are pros and cons to agents as well as any other avenue you may take on your journey. The best thing to do is to identify your needs and assess the best route to take.
I’d love to hear about your journey and answer any questions you guys may have! Let’s talk!