After a busy week in training camp with the New York Liberty, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and the Liberty are set to open WNBA preseason with back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the 2016 WNBA Champion Los Angeles Sparks and the Chicago Sky.
Follow the Liberty and their preseason action, along with their offseason news and updates during training camp and preseason games at their official website.
Nayo was a guest on the Liberty podcast last week, where she shared her journey from playing at Simon Fraser University, to professionally in Switzerland, Germany, Australia and most recently France before going into camp in New York -- you can catch that full interview here. Head coach Bill Laimbeer also shared his thoughts on the versatile "rookie" with rich international experience including the 2016 Rio Olympics as a member of the Canadian National Team.
“She’s quick and really athletic,’’ said Laimbeer. “And she understands the game. Some of that probably comes from playing on the national team.’’
Read more from Coach Laimbeer here (MSG Networks)
Tip off at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut is set for 5pm EST start time on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
My first season as a pro has come to an end, and what a season it was. I don't think I have been through a season with so much adversity to overcome. Despite all the ups and downs and a few minor injuries, here I am a better player than I was coming in after finishing up school at Cape Breton University and beginning my pro career last summer. The most important part of it all: Gaining and embracing experience.
As a team coming in with the top four scorers all being rookies, a new coach, losing players throughout the season to injury, we had so many different situations we had to adapt to playing in Holland for Aris Leeuwarden.
The toughest part of it all was the physicality. Coming from Cape Breton, I was used to being the biggest and most dominant player. That all changed when I came to Aris Leeuwarden (12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1 assist per game -- FG% 57, FT% 67). Having to face much bigger and stronger players I had to adjust my game in season to cater to my strengths and mask my weaknesses. I now can take what I've learned this season to help train myself to become a better player both from a game standpoint and IQ. I am now officially back in Canada and the cold weather hasn't been the best to me but like they always say, there's no place like home -- although I would call Leeuwarden a second home to me. I loved that place and being able to start my career in Holland. Being back home, the time adjustment wasn't as bad as I thought it would be so that has been great. I spent some time the first couple weeks visiting my girlfriend, her family and some friends in Nova Scotia, before heading back to Ontario to see my beautiful family.
This summer my plan of attack is to improve my body, rebounding, and midrange shooting. During the summer, I usually play at different gyms and train with different guys, and believe different trainers can have something different to offer, so getting knowledge of the game from different people would be something I am more than willing to do. There are a few men's leagues I usually like to be a part of to help me stay in game shape. My favorite men's leagues are the Pro-Ams because the level of competition is much higher and I get to compete against other pros who are usually seasoned, so I tend to have my hands full but it's great training to help keep me on my toes.
I have a good friend in Toronto who has connected me with some skills camps that I would be volunteering in the summer. I think it's important to give back to the community especially kids because the knowledge we have should be passed down to those who will come after us as athletes. We play a big part as role models to be a positive examples to young athletes. Like those who came before me, I follow that same lead. I hope to become a much more well-rounded player and while I know everyone loves to score the basketball, but how many really like to defend and do the dirty work? Defense has been something over my university career that I have made a staple of how I play and I can't wait to keep working hard to make a defensive impact as a pro.
My first year playing pro ball was a bit of an adjustment but I'm ready to take my game to the next level.
I believe firmly in being a two-way player because you have more value to any team, so little things like working on my strength, my bounce, and strengthening my core will help take my game to the next level athletically. An underrated part of being a pro is having something to fall back to help provide motivation and support along the way -- from family, a ritual, or something important to you when times get rough. For me that is my faith. I'm a Christian and a strong one and my faith has helped me out of the most adverse situations I've found myself in. Faith has also put things in life into perspective for me and helped keep me level headed. My faith is something I will take with me everywhere.
In the coming months of this offseason, this will be a summer full of hard work on the court and off of the court, with friends, family, developing my game and being thankful each step of the way. Thank you to Scorers 1st Sportmanagement for their guidance and support and the great fans in Holland with Aris Leeuwarden. I will never forget my first full season as a professional and I am excited to keep getting better this summer.
At Scorers 1st, we take pride in getting to know our players and help them grow as people both on and off of the court.
Since turning professional, Sidney Parsons has gone from the University of Bridgeport, to playing in Germany, to overcoming some health setbacks and flourishing as a point guard for the Southwest Metro Pirates (Queensland/State League) as well as an aspiring player development coach in Australia. Last season, Parsons led the league in scoring (26.8 points per game), while also averaging 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
Thanks to Sidney for taking the time to share more about her time in Germany and Australia and how she remains focused on giving back through the game of basketball through her coaching.
You have a really interesting professional career since coming out of the University of Bridgeport…how would you describe the past few years of playing overseas?
It certainly has been an interesting path for me along the way! It has been a dream come true and, although there have been plenty of ups and downs along the way, I’ve loved the journey it has taken me on and led me to where I am today.
To be honest, my first few years were pretty tough. From an inconsistent season my first year to a mid-season coaching change my second year that resulted in me switching clubs and moving to another team in Germany, my professional career didn’t exactly get off to the start I had imagined. However, the change was one of the best things to happen, as I stepped into a new role that suited me and helped me have a much stronger second-half of the season. It motivated me to pass up on my offer to take a full-ride scholarship to law school back home and to take an offer from a new team and continue to pursue my professional career.
Just as things were picking back up, I went in for a standard operation for a scope and clean-up in my right knee, during which my femoral nerve was damaged, resulting in a femoral nerve palsy in my right leg. I had lost almost all feeling and control in my leg and wasn't able to do something as simple as lifting my leg up on my own. Doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to run again for at least a year and that I might not ever be able to play again. After being told that, I decided I would do anything to make sure that I could play again.
It was one of the most physically and mentally challenging processes I have been through, but after a summer of extensive rehab and work with my amazing physical therapist and trainer, I slowly started regaining the strength in my leg. I gradually re-learned how to walk, balance and eventually jump again and, only four months after the operation, learned to run again (it was more like a hobble for the first few months!) I was nowhere near fully-recovered, but I did everything I could to try and get myself ready and back into shape and headed back to Germany for another season with a partially functioning right leg.
That season back was probably the hardest thing I have ever been through as a player. I often questioned why this all had happened to me and if playing was still worth all the pain I was going through. It wasn’t by any means my best season, but I wasn’t willing to give up and knew that if I kept pushing myself, it would eventually get better and would all be worth it. After losing the strength and control in my leg for a year and realizing how suddenly it all could be taken away, I had a whole new drive and passion for the game and an appreciation of my health and fitness.
Almost exactly a year after the operation, I started regaining most of the feeling back in my leg and spent the summer building the strength back up and getting back into shape. I went back to Germany stronger than I had ever been and had my best season up until that point, which led to me getting a contract in Australia with the Pirates and getting signed by Nördlingen for the next two seasons in Germany. Since going through my knee injury, the past few seasons have been better than I could have imagined. I had two great seasons playing for Nördlingen, was leading scorer of the QBL in Australia this past season and am still playing and living my dream in an amazing country. Although it hasn’t been the smoothest path getting here, it’s been a rewarding one that has taken me all over the world, has introduced me to such wonderful people and has taught me so much about myself and about the game of the basketball.
How have you grown as a person and a player during this time?
I look back on the things that happened during my first few years overseas and, while I didn’t understand it while it all was happening, I know now that I wouldn’t be the same player or person I am today without having had it all happen. Even though the injury was one of the hardest things I have been through as a player, getting through it and coming out as a stronger person and player was one of the best things that happened to me. I was at a stage in my career before it all happened where I was losing my passion and wasn’t sure if playing professionally was something I wanted to continue to pursue. After nearly having it taken away from me, it helped me find my love for the game again and to never take my health for granted. I came out of the injury stronger and more motivated than I had ever been; the drive I felt after I was told I might never be able to play again is what has pushed me everyday in my career since then and it’s something I try to instill in the players that I coach and can hopefully pass it on to.
What’s the biggest word of advice you would give to another college senior exploring their options to play professionally abroad?
The biggest piece of advice I would give to another college senior looking to play overseas would be to pursue your dreams and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
The same goes for any player looking to play professionally, at the collegiate level or even going out for their high school or representative team. I’ll never forget when I was getting interviewed for our state newspaper, the reporter asked me what my biggest dream as a basketball player was. When I told him I wanted to play college basketball and eventually professionally, he laughed, looked at me and said, “You? You’re way too small. You should focus on soccer and academics or something more realistic instead”.
Looks like I might have gotten the last laugh instead! I love proving to people that I can do something they say I can’t do, so it’s comments like that that have always motivated me to work that much harder and to prove that I can do it. Don’t be afraid to set your goals and have dreams for yourself and to put them out there, no matter who thinks you can or can’t achieve them. And once you put them out there, do everything you can to work your hardest to make sure those goals and dreams come true.
From playing to Germany to now in Australia, what have you learned the most from the experience of playing for a club like the Southwest Metro Pirates?
I’ve learned a lot from every association I’ve played for and have taken a lot of different little things away from everywhere that I’ve played. This upcoming season with the Pirates will be the longest I have played for an organization and -- from my first season in 2014 until now -- I feel like I have learned so much as a player, a person and as a youth coach. I’ve been lucky enough to work with the club in organizing events for our QBL team and in getting to coach at various levels, from helping out at local schools, coaching camps and clinics for rep players, and with individual skill development. Being a part of all of these aspects has really opened my eyes to all the effort that goes into allowing us to play the game and has really inspired me to be a part of it all and in the development of the future players.
Along with playing professionally, can you share more about your coaching and player training/development you are currently teaching in Australia?
Yes, along with playing I am also working as a coach and with individual skills development and personal training.
On the skills development and personal training side, I am currently working with numerous basketball players throughout the local area. My youngest player is seven years old and the oldest is thirty-two; the level ranges anywhere from players who are just beginning, playing at the club/representative level or players who aspire to play in college or professionally. I meet with them throughout the week, sometimes individually or in small groups, and help them develop their skill-set, their understanding of the game and their over-all fitness. I have been working with some of the players for over three years now and being a part of all of their development as players and people has been such a rewarding experience. I feel very luck to call it my job!
Besides the individual coaching, I am also contracted as a coach for six different teams at the representative and school level. I am currently coaching the U7/U9, U15 and U17 girls, U17 and U19 boys and Sheldon College and the U21’s girls’ representative team for the Pirates. Throughout my professional career, I have always coached one team during the season; however, I’ve never coached this many teams at once! But I’ve absolutely loved getting to work with the different teams and the different age groups and do more outside of just the individual development side of the game. Working with all of these teams certainly keeps me on my toes and has taught me so much more about the game outside of just being a player.
I am also contracted by my organization at various schools throughout the area to teach the kids basketball during their P.E. class or after school through the Aussie Hoops program. It’s much different than coaching individuals or a team, but it gives me a chance to help the sport grow and to have fun while teaching the game to the kids! Outside of the individual and school/rep coaching, I have also been volunteering as a coach with the local Special Olympics program and also with the Ivor Burge program, which has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences I’ve had as a player and as a coach.
Is coaching something you’ve always been interested in? Who are the coaches who have helped influence you the most and why?
Yes and no. I’ve always been so passionate about basketball and started volunteering at camps and with other teams when I was a freshman in high school. I started working a couple of players out when I was in college and coached a youth team during each of my seasons in Germany. However, it wasn’t something I seriously considered doing until I had to choose between law school or continuing my basketball career. I graduated college at the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA and always had aspirations to become a lawyer after my basketball career.
During my second professional season in Germany, I had applied for and was granted a full-ride scholarship to a law school in Los Angeles. After going through my knee injury during that off-season, I decided I wasn’t ready to end my career on that note and forfeited the scholarship to rehab my knee and come back for another season. Before I knew it, one more season turned into four more seasons and eventually got me out to Australia. I knew I wanted to coach at some type of level, but it wasn’t until I came out to Australia that I have been able to figure out what exactly I want to do with the coaching. But I think I’m on the right path now!
I’ve been so lucky to have had some really amazing coaches throughout my playing path and it’s been those coaches who have inspired me in so many different ways to try and be the best coach that I can. I had an AAU coach who really challenged me and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Any time I ever felt like giving up on a sprint or towards the end of the game, she always pushed me past that point. My high school coaches were (and still are) some of my best supporters and, whether it was letting me into the gym at 6am or staying an extra hour after a game/practice to recap, they taught me to always put in the extra effort.
My most influential coach has been my assistant coach from the University of Bridgeport. Coach P was there for me from my first day of college, to my first start as a freshman, to scoring my 1,000th point and to seeing me graduate. Extra individuals, pre-game and post-game feedback, constant encouragement, criticism when I deserved it, mentoring on and off the court -- Coach P was the most passionate coach I ever had and helped me develop into the player, person and coach I am today. I’ve taken all of the things that each of these coaches have taught me and try to pass it on to the kids I now get to coach.
What are some points you try and stress and work on the most as a coach or when helping develop a player?
I put a lot of focus on the fundamentals, breaking down the basic components and different skill sets and on establishing good training and playing habits with my players. I spend a lot of time on building up the basics of ball-handling, finishing and shooting and on getting my players to understand not only how to do certain things, but why they learn them and how to use them in a game. As the players develop, the skill set we work on grows and I add new components to their training, while still emphasizing the fundamentals.
I really like to focus on the mental side of the game and on communication. Each of my players has a notebook they bring to their training every couple of weeks where we add different things into it to reflect and to track their progress. One of the big things we focus on within the notebook is goal setting, whether it’s goals for the year, for the rep season, for the upcoming game or even for the week of training. The players also receive feedback from their games or from training, “homework” (whether it’s reflecting on something from training or looking up a player and relating it to themselves), different types of workouts, or motivational articles. I really enjoy the skill development side of the game and the feeling of teaching a player how to do their first perfect left hand lay-up or swish five three-pointers in a row; but I find that helping a player become mentally strong and being a positive influence in their mental development and understanding of the game is just as rewarding.
During the offseason, you often return home to Arizona and help put on cross training and basketball camps. Why is it important to help give back to the game this way?
When I do get the chance to go home during the Christmas break, I always make sure to devote time to going back and visiting my high school to meet the new team, catch up with the coaches and staff and to help with any practices, clinics or tournaments they have on. Throughout high school, college and in between my first three seasons in Germany, I was lucky enough to have coaches (from both the girls and boys teams), physios and a strength/conditioning coach that all looked after me and that always made me feel like a part of the program. I find it so important now not only to help give back to the people who were always there for me, but also to help continue to improve the program for the current and future athletes and hopefully to be a positive role model for any of the players who aspire to play in college or professionally.
Another program I always try and give back to is my soccer organization. I grew up playing both club soccer and basketball and in high school became the first athlete to play both sports during the same season at the varsity level. While most teams usually make an athlete decide between one sport or the other, my soccer organization always encouraged me to pursue both sports and did everything they could to ensure I was successful in both. I believe that a lot of the things I picked up from soccer helped me become a better basketball player and, while basketball was always my passion, soccer was always fun for me and helped me stay balanced as an athlete.
The club I played for now puts on a clinic once a year when I come home for any of the girls who want to play both basketball and soccer and they have even formed a team that won their first grand final against an all-boys team recently! Giving back to a program like this is so important to me not only just to give the players a chance to learn and develop in basketball, but also to encourage them to pursue both basketball and soccer and show them that they don’t have to give up one sport for the other.
*photo courtesy of little champs photography
It's hard to believe we are two months into 2017 and so much has happened already here in Slovenia. I guess that's what you get when you play in three basketball leagues as a pro overseas.
Playing in the Premier A Slovenian Basketball League, we are in 6th place with an overall record of 10-6. After suffering a devastating overtime loss on the road to the number one team in the league, Zlatorog Lasko, we bounced back to get a much needed win the following week at home in our gym against Sencur.
In the second league we compete in -- the Alpe Adria Cup (AAC) -- we play against four other European countries to form the league. We advanced to the quarterfinals of this league, where we play another team from the Slovenian league, Sixt Primorska, in a two-game playoff. The team that has the highest total scores combined from both games advances to the semi-finals. We won the first matchup at their place by 15. The next game is at our place and as long as we don't lose by 15 or more, we will advance.
And finally the FIBA Basketball Champions League (52 top teams from 31 countries), we finished with a 2-12 record, which put us 7th out of 8th place. We got a big win in Denmark to start off, fell to Banvit in Turkey and then eventually closed out the season against Nymburk in the Czech Republic. While we did not do as well as I would have wanted, it was a great experience to travel to so many different countries and play so many high-level teams. Just being one of the teams to be able to compete in this league is an accomplishment in itself since this league is one of the strongest competitions in all of Europe.
I learned a ton and this experience has made me a better player. So now we are only competing in two leagues for the rest of the year.
Life off of the court is going well too. Part of writing this blog is being able to share more about myself as a player and a person. For me, it helps to set and achieve goals and that is my focus in 2017. They say if you want to accomplish something you must first write it down and then have others around you hold you accountable. So by writing these here, I am putting myself out there to be held accountable by you to get these done.
I have already shared my biggest goal for 2017 in my other blog I write for Full Court Peace (read here), a (501c3 non-profit) that unites communities and cultures through basketball in the US and around the world. Since 2006, FCP has done great work through basketball in places like Belfast, Juarez, Havana and throughout Connecticut, where they are based. While trying to save for one student to attend a Full Court Peace outreach missions trip to Cuba is my main goal, here are three other big goals I have to make 2017 the biggest year of growth for me:
Building My Faith, Getting Closer With God
I have not touched upon this subject much in my prior writing, but I am a proud Non Denominational Christian. God is the head of my life and there is no doubt that I would not be where I am today without the blessings he has bestowed upon me. My faith is the biggest reason why I feel that I can handle any adversity that comes my way. When I moved from New Jersey to North Carolina before the start of high school, I started to attend church regularly. I will not lie and say that I was a big fan of having to wake up early every Sunday at 8 am to attend church for two hours. Yet, every service I would walk away feeling reinvigorated. It was as if the pastor knew what was going on in my life and the message was meant for me almost every time. Since then, my faith, knowledge of the bible and relationship with God have grown tremendously. I have had several spiritual mentors who have really helped me to better understand His teachings and their lessons have had a profound impact on my life.
I need to make a better effort daily in spending more time with God. I read the Bible just about every day, mainly using the "Bible" by YouVersion on my smart phone. I love the daily plans they have and reading the Bible is the first thing I do upon waking up. However, I felt that I did not spend enough time in prayer and talking with God. So now I try to incorporate more moments in my daily schedule to just simply talk with Him.
I start and end my day with prayers to Him while making sure to pray for at least one person besides myself. Instead of listening to music while walking to gym in the mornings (I live less then 5 minutes away from it) we have a conversation. Lastly, on off days, I'm planning to listening to a church sermon since I am unable to attend church while out here. It's only been a few weeks of these simple little things but the positive difference in my life is already noticeable!
Instilling A Daily Practice Of Meditation
Yogi Berra, one of the greatest (and funniest) baseball players of all-time, was once quoted saying, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical."
Yogi was also well known for his witty remarks, yet this quote perfectly explains how important the mind is in all of sports, not just baseball.
Now that I have been overseas for three years I understand the importance of training the mind as much as the body. At this level the physical differences between players is negligible. For the most part (of course varying for each position) everyone is fast, can jump high, and is very skilled. The mental edge is key. Being able to stay focused and present in the moment is much easier than done. Being away from home in a foreign country, the pressures of having to perform as an American (more on that subject another time), the ups and downs a season has, and having to adjust to certain coaches and systems every year, make it hard for some players to perform at their best.
The Yogi Berra quote came from the first sports performance book I ever read back in my senior year at Harvard, "Mind Gym" by Gary Mack and David Casstevens. Since then I have read countless other sports performance and "mindfulness" books. In every book the core principle is having a daily meditation practice. Being the world class procrastinator I am, I have waited three years until finally making the commitment. It's never too late to get started! After I get done with my bible reading and prayer I put my head phones on to do a 10 minute guided meditation session using the app "Headspace". It is nice to take a few minutes to really just be present in the moment. With all the craziness we deal with daily, combined with the worries of the future, being able to just be present has become sort of a lost art. So far, any improvements from this meditation practice has been subtle, but I believe that this is something that will pay dividends in the long run as long as I continue to stay with it. Somewhat like a daily workout routine that shows tangible results in months, rather than in days
Reaching A B2 Proficiency Level In German
Learning new languages is a new goal I started last season. Last season in Germany, my team offered free once-a-week German language lessons for anybody who was interested. I took a few of the classes, and even though we did not continue them for the whole season, it was enough to spark my interest. I looked at ways in which I could possibly learn German in my own time.
One thing I love about playing overseas is the amount of downtime players get. Even with all the games and practices, and my personal workout schedule, this is by far the most unscheduled time I've ever had. I want to make the most of this time and I also feel that this is a great time to learn a new language while playing abroad. A B2 proficiency level in a language generally means that you have reached fluency in that language and therefore can speak with the natives on a broad range of topics, get around in the country with no problem, etc.
I have been on and off with the learning process since last year. I've dabbled with a few different apps and websites trying to find which ones best suit me. Also, I've invested some money into the process with paid subscriptions and seminars on how to best learn new languages. One thing that keeps me serious about something is if I put money into it because then I feel like I then have an obligation to get my money's worth. My two apps I use for my German lessons are "Memrise" and "Innovative 101". Memrise is a great app that teaches you vocabulary and grammar rules using mnemonics. Mnemonics helps you to better remember things you learn by creating an association that will make the recall process much easier.
For example, "die Sache" in German means "the thing" in English. When I came across the word for the first time the app had a picture of The Thing, the popular superhero from the Fantastic Four, along with the word. Now whenever I hear "die Sache" I automatically think about the picture of the superhero and remember its meaning. Innovative 101 is a language podcast library in which I have purchased a two year subscription for the German Podcast. These podcasts have really helped with my listening comprehension which is one of the toughest aspects of learning a language. I have no doubt that I can reach B2 proficiency by utilizing these two tools on a daily basis.
These goals are not only part of my daily approach, but also serves as a direction to move forward and build myself up, while also doing the same for others in my life in 2017 and beyond.
I always love to hear from you guys, so don't hesitate to reach me here with any questions, for more information and also share on social media.
Brandyn's Bonus Point: Downtime in Slovenia
While playing in three competitive leagues is definitely a lot to handle it still amazes me just how much free time I still have on the daily basis.
This is something I do not take for granted because I know for a fact not many people have this luxury. A typical day for us here is to have some form of team practice or optional individual practice from 10am-12pm. Our official team practice is from 6 PM-830pm. So basically, every day I have a 5-hour period to do whatever I wish.
Since we are playing so many games we have a good number of mornings off and sometimes a complete day off. For the most part this downtime is a consistent part of every professional player's schedule with it varying of course. Players for teams in other countries or even here, who only play one game a week or who do not like to practice means, have almost twice as much free time as I do here! So, you know me. I want do things to make my time meaningful here. You see the three ways I'm making use of this "extra time" through the goals I listed above. Then, when my girlfriend Christina comes to visit we like to explore the historical and most well-known sites in the city I live in. Just enjoying every moment I'm getting to live my dream!
When I was coming out of college at Cal Poly Pomona back in 2009, I thought I had a great opportunity to head overseas to play professional basketball, but I also had a lot of questions and anxiety about where I would start my career and even the steps to make that happen.
I also didn't know how the basketball market worked, how my abilities would translate or even how I would receive my contract to play? But even with these questions and concerns, I always knew that I needed exposure to those overseas markets, teams, and begin to get my name out there. I knew I needed that opportunity to showcase my skills and get noticed. That's when I learned about the Scorers 1st Showcase. It was held on the UNLV campus at the same time as the NBA Summer League in front of coaches, GM's and scouts and it was at that point that my worries and stress withered away, and was replaced with confidence and determination.
It's all part of the learning process around the game and in the business. Someone is always watching, even if they are not in attendance in a gym. I remember that from my first Showcase. That year it didn't seem like there were a lot of people to start the event, so I just focused on playing the best basketball I could once the games got underway instead of worrying about who was there or not.
The beauty of the Scorers 1st Showcase was that it was not one of those camps or events that are bombarded with 150 players, with 10-12 players per team like in some offseason or exposure camps. Instead, there's more of a focus on the individual -- 7 to 9 players per team, playing 3 to 4 quality games of basketball. Another benefit is, you have professional coaches from Europe also coaching the teams so, they are not only there to help guys learn about systems overseas but also to evaluate players and get to know them. There were also active pro players at the Showcase so you can kind of gauge your skill level to theirs and see where you stack up. The opportunity was there before me during my first Showcase and I made the most of it and signed to play in Holland. Until this day, I don't know if anyone from the team was in the gym that day or maybe it was the work of Gerrit Kersten-Thiele and the staff at Scorers 1st, but I do think the Showcase was a great way to get my name more known, to network, and learn from the experience. That time helped launch my pro career from Holland, to Austria, Korea and now two stints in Germany.
I have now attended the Showcase three times over my career and the event gets better every year -- it's a great way to start your career or build upon your experience as a professional.
One thing I have learned on this journey in basketball : if you want to be regarded as one of the best and have opportunities in this business, than it is always important to invest in yourself, both as a rookie and even as you continue in professional basketball.
I'm glad I did.
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