Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two weeks into the season, and we are 2-0!

Two weeks into the season, and we are 2-0!


Well, since the last time I posted we started the regular season, I’ve started to feel more at home, and I finally know the feeling of what it to be a “professional” basketball player. I have also learned where NOT to park your cars on the weekends, and a lot reasons of why I need to learn Spanish.

Firstly, the season has finally arrived. After a month of two practices a day, every single day, and four preseason games, we get to enjoy the beginning of a long regular season. What better way to do it then to have our first game/road trip on the island of La Palma! We set out on a Thursday morning at around 5am, which was kind of rough. We head to the airport in the capital city of Spain, Madrid. If you have never been to the airport in Madrid, it is definitely something to see. There are many different terminals, but the newest one is terminal six. Not only does it take 20 minutes to walk from one side to the other, it has the most unique architecture that I have ever seen in a airport. Large yellow columns with a roof much like the gym on Guilford College’s campus. Well the first thing I do when I get there, obviously, is get some American food. My teammate and I head to McDonalds where they were serving breakfast!! The McDonalds in Pamplona does not serve breakfast, and it’s kind of far away from my house, so I really never go over there. Finally, I get to enjoy a nice hot breakfast, and not plain boring cereal. As a couple of my teammates and I were walking around the airport looking in stores and what not, our other teammate comes up and says, “Dennis Rodman is here.” At first we were all like yeah, yeah, whatever, but he said no, he’s really right over there. So we walk, and walk, and walk, finally at the end of the terminal we spotted him. He was sitting there with his assistant waiting on his flight to Rome. Well, we all stood there waiting for one of us to ask him for his picture. Eventually, everyone decided that it really wasn’t worth looking dumb in front of a lot of people to ask him for his picture. So we ventured back to where our other teammates were and told them about him being in the airport. My teammate Inaki decided in fact that he really did want his picture, so we headed back down to the end of the terminal again. When we got there Inaki got out his phone and handed to us to take the picture for him, and he said “Dennis, Dennis, can I have a picture?” Well apparently Dennis had been on a redeye to Madrid, and definitely was not feeling too hospitable, and quickly denied my friend Inaki in a abrupt manner. We all laughed, and finally headed back to our gate and waited for our flight. Fast forward a couple of uncomfortable hours, and we are there! The beautiful island of La Palma, it’s covered with banana plantations and black beaches, yes black beaches. We settle in and get rested up for our game the next day.

It’s the next day and game time rolls around, and to tell you the truth I’m a little bit nervous. At this point there is a lot of pressure on me to perform well, not only for my team to be successful, but this is a business as well, and the more productive you are the more successful businessman you’ll be. Now, we get there about a hour and a half before the game, people are starting to come in the gym. The game atmosphere is definitely a little bit different than at home. It was quite possible the loudest game I’ve ever played in. We had multiple drums, horns, and a lot of screaming fans heckling us the whole game. This is my teams first year in the the 2nd division of Spain, it’s a really tough league and people are really unsure of how we will do, but this game we were really ready to play. We come out and go up about twenty points, and I’m feeling really confident about winning this game. All of a sudden, three pointer, three pointer, turnover, turnover, turnover, layup, and they are back in the game. It came down to the wire, but we ended up winning! I had 13 and probably 12 rebounds, but in Spain especially on the road your stats tend to get skewed a bit, but I guess it’s apart of paying my dues a rookie. We headed back to the hotel, and enjoyed our night, and headed back the next day..unfortunately the airline lost my bags. I’m not really sure how, because there were 12 other bags just like mine, but they lost mine which ended up being kind of a pain. The next game was at home, and we didn’t play the best, but were still able to get the win. I had 13 and 8 in that game. This was huge for our team, because in the four year history of our organization, which has been very successful, they have never been able to start the season 2-0. This week we play a team called Burgos which is only about two hours away. We played them in the preseason and won in overtime, so hopefully we’ll be able to win this game as well. They have a really good player named Micah Downs, he played a Gonzaga, and played a key roll for them. It’s going to be a tough game, but hopefully we can it done.

Other than basketball everything has been pretty normal. I’m really settling into my place, and I’ve got myself into a good routine. I definitely still miss home a lot, but I’ve been put here for a reason and I’m going to make the most out of it. Right now the worst thing about my situation is definitely the parking. Literally there is never anywhere to park. Luckily I live a little outside of the city, so my situation at my apartment is not terrible. However, I parked my car at a teammates house the other day, and I come back, well it was gone. In Pamplona they have different zones to park in, some are paying, some are free, and some are for residents of different buildings. Well, I parked in a blue zone during a weekend thinking it was free. However, I quickly found out that was not the case, costing me a nice 100 euro in the process.

My Quakers start practice Friday, and I’m really excited for my boys TC, Martin, Tobi, and Jake to start their senior year. I hoping they have really fun and successful season! It’s going to feel weird not being apart of that, but I’m happy for them and I’m really thankful for having great teammates like them and the rest of the guys. I’ll definitely be keeping up and praying for the team and Coach Palombo and Kimbrogh as they set out to do big things!!! I also wish the best for Coach Parke as well, as he starts his first season as a head coach at Averett.

If you would like to contact me, which I definitely encourage..You can Facebook or email at I also have a new skype number where you can call me from your phone for free…336-429-5774.

God Bless!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lesson Learned

Hello World! I’m back, again writing about my experiences here in Spain. This blog is a little different, but just bare with me. As a kid I never really thought about playing professionally, or even at the collegiate level. My first love, as many kids, was baseball. I was a catcher, obviously I eventually outgrew that position pretty quickly. I always played on the local all-star teams, and was one of the better players in my hometown. As I grew older and grew taller, I moved to play first base…this as I look back was the beginning of the end of my baseball career. I was in my sophomore year in high school and was playing in a fall baseball league. I remember the game like it was yesterday. It was a really cold October night in Statesville. I was playing my ‘new’ position at first, and the batter hit a pop-fly…as it went up I looked at it as every other routine pop fly…but this one was different, for some reason, it was different. I looked up and waited for it to come down, and waited, and waited, and then POP…yep, the ball totally missed my glove and hit me in eye/face/nasal region. Wow, how did this happen? I’m still not really sure as to how it happened, but looking back now I’m glad it did. As soon as it happened, I tried to be a big tough guy, and shake it off. Well, that ended pretty soon, especially when the blood started to flow from my nose. This pretty much spelled the end of my baseball career. I decided that I would play a game where ball didn’t hurt quite as bad. So, at this point, being about 6’5 and an overall big kid, I figured that basketball would be the best bet.

From then on basketball was my primary sport. I played, and played, and played everyday…I loved the game, but I wasn’t really sure how to get better. I started doing a lot of different things to try to expand my game, including waking up at 6am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to play with a group of old men. At Guilford we have something like this, it’s called the geezer league. These guys were just a bunch men who loved to play the game. I was new to the club, but I think they loved having the youth around. Here, is where I learned a lot, not only about basketball, but about life, and about myself. Lesson one: don’t mess with John..John was about 6’8 and 260 pounds, everybody called him “big John.” He played collegiately in California, and he had been a guy who would come around my high school team to help out a little. Well, John was an extremely competitive guy, and this was one of the best things for me. At first when I just started going, John pretty much dominated me in every facet of the game. He was stronger, more skilled, and just had a better feel for the game. However, as I started getting better, and more skilled..I started to give John some problems. Occasionally I would block his shots, score on him, and then it became more frequent, and eventually it was the norm. John was not ok with this, daily John would curse, kick balls across the gym, and generally just get really irritated with me. This is what learned from John: He was the first person to give me a challenge, and that’s something that everyone needs, a challenge. I had always been bigger than everyone, and typically had my way. He was one of the reasons that I wanted to get better, and as I started to improve, it was feeling that is hard to duplicate. Lesson hard and you will reap the benefits. One of my best friends dads also played with us in the morning. He was also my High School JV coach, and had an overall huge impact in my life. He started to tell me about his days as a player, and how at first he wasn’t that good, but with hard work he got better. I think he was one of the first to see what kind of player I could or really should be. Here I was a chubby(to put it nicely), tall, awkward kid who liked the game, but wasn’t really ready to make the sacrifices to get where I wanted to go. He started to drill into my head, run, shoot, lift, run, shoot, lift, repeat, repeat…I would go to my friends house and spend the night on weekends, and in the morning his dad would come wake me up, just me, while everybody else slept, and we would go outside and shoot, since he had a full basketball court in his backyard. We worked on free-throws, hook shots, everything. OK…so now we have the working hard part down, how about the reaping the benefits? The first benefit was having the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, something that I had never really given much thought, but fortunately it happened. Guilford is where I continued the hard work part, and I had a vision, unlike in high school I knew where I wanted to be. It might have been considered unlikely, and very difficult especially coming from such a small school, but I wanted to be a professional basketball player. Four years later, and here I am. I’m a professional basketball player; I’ve been so blessed to have family and friends to give me so much support over the years. My college coaches were the best, they pushed my teammates and I when we didn’t want to be pushed, but in the end it was definitely for the better. However, the biggest supporter, and she has been my whole life, is my mom. My mom is my rock, and she is the reason that I wake up and do what I do everyday. I’m not living the glamorous lifestyle of an NBA player, but I do wake up and go to the gym everyday as a job. Not only do I get to play basketball, I get to live in a different country. I get to experience a different culture, see new things, and learn life lessons that I could not elsewhere.

So, lessons learned…everyone has problems, and two everyone need a challenge. Being here is a challenge, playing against bigger and stronger players is a challenge, waking up and going to two practices a day is a challenge, being away from the ones I love is a challenge, but this is what life is about, finding a challenge, and not only adapting to the challenge, but overcoming it as well. I think that basketball is a great teacher of life lessons. My whole life I have been challenged, not only with basketball but with everyday life as well. You learn a lot about yourself. You learn how bad you want something, and how much something might be worth to you. You want to be in shape for the season? Run this extra or last sprint. You want to be the best player on the team? How hard are you willing to work to do this? You want to lift two times a day, and play pick up, and go to workouts? The final question is…HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? If you want it bad enough, you can obtain a lot. At the end of the day, I just want to be the best me I can be. If I can do that, it’s a successful day, no matter what happened if I put the effort into the day to do the best I can, it’s a day that I can reflect upon as a productive day.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in the past four years is that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Haha you might be thinking, ok, well what does this mean? It’s one of the quotes that our coaches would put in our practice schedule as a “quote of the day.” At the end of practice they would ask us…what does this mean? We would stand there and look dumbfounded, and they would say OK, well tomorrow have an answer. I never really understood what this really meant until now. You can’t get something for nothing…you are always going to have to pay the price, are you willing to pay it? That is what you must ask yourself everyday, am I willing to pay the price?

If you stuck with me as I rambled on, thank you!

God Bless

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two Weeks:


Two Weeks:

I’ve been in Spain for about two weeks so far, and for the most part it has been great. The first couple of nights it was hard to get adjusted to being away from home and not being able to communicate regularly with my family and friends, due to the fact that my club has not put internet in my house yet, and I can’t use my Spanish phone to call home. So every time I want to use the internet I have to go outside to the park behind my house and steal a WIFI connection. I draw some attention in the crowded park speaking English talking on skype…it’s pretty funny.

Other than the whole living in a new country, things have been pretty normal. My team is in its first year in LEB Gold, which is the second division in Spain. It’s has historically been a very competitive league, and I think it will be pretty strong this year as well. As a rookie (especially coming from such a small school) it’s a really good opportunity for me. There are two other Americans on the team. They are both older, and have been in this league for quite some time. They have been such a big help getting me adjusted. The basketball part has been pretty easy, it’s a lot like what I’ve done in past seasons as far as training. We have two practices a day, every day! It’s getting kind of old, but I have been promised after the pre-season the workload will diminish a little. A typical day normally consists of weights in the morning, which can be a little “different” as a lot of times we end up doing different types of aerobics…then we have our first morning practice. This practice is mostly for shooting and working on our plays. Then we come back at night and practice for about two hours, it’s a little more intense. The best part about our practices is that we don’t have to run a million sprints! Unlike the past four years at Guilford (thanks coach Parke!)

So far we have had two pre-season “friendly’s.” The first friendly was against an ACB team, which is the top division in Spain. It is commonly thought of as the best European league in the world. I didn’t start the game, but soon after it started, the coach called my name. Typically, I’m not someone that get’s nervous (especially for basketball), but I have to admit I had some butterflies going. It felt like the first time I stepped on the court for Guilford. The game went pretty well, it was close the whole way, but we ended up losing. I had nine points and nine rebounds in about twenty-five minutes. I received a very positive reaction from the fans and media. The next week we played a team in our own league, and I STARTED! It felt like things were back to normal, and I played that way. I felt comfortable on the court, and was able to play my game. The highlight of the night was a put-back dunk I had over another player. It was such a great feeling, and I was happy to know I could still jump after my body had been beaten for the past two weeks full of two-adays, not to mention a practice the morning of the game. I ended up have a double double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Here is the link to the article in the paper:

Other than basketball I keep myself busy with a lot of naps. I love naps, and Spain is the perfect place for people who love naps. Every day from 2pm-5pm everything shuts down for “siesta” time. Sometimes it can be annoying because I have things I need to do, but normally it’s really nice just to relax during this time. The club gave me a mid-2000 BMW, which has a manual transmission. This typically can be a problem, because I normally stall out at least three times a day in downtown traffic. I’m pretty sure I’m the most hated driver in Pamplona. Another problem with the car is it’s too big. Yes, a car, too big for me. In Pamplona, parking is miserable, not to mention that my parallel parking ability is not so great. Having a big car just adds to the problem. So normally I end up parking entirely too far from the gym or any other destination that I’m going to just avoid parallel parking. Other than that, I really have no problems here. I bought a slingbox, which I recommend for anyone who is going to be traveling to a foreign country and wants to keep up with television at home. You just hook it up to the cable box at home, and it sends the connection to your pc wherever you are…it has been a big help in me keeping my sanity.

This week we have three more pre-season games. Hopefully I’ll perform well in all of them. I have been so blessed to have this opportunity, and I am going to continue to try to make the most of it. I miss everyone back home, and it’s really hard sometimes to think about not seeing my friends and family for so long. However, I just look at this as an opportunity to continue my dream and I get to play basketball for a living, it doesn’t get much better than that! Next month my Mom is coming to visit, and I’m really excited for that. It’s going to be nice to have her around for a while. It’s going to be fun to share some of my adventure with her!

God Bless!

You can keep up with me and my team at and please send me your skype contact information at tyler_sanborn. You can also email me at haha ok I’m done!

Thursday, September 2, 2010



Well, since my last post so many things have changed in my life. Firstly, I don’t live in Greensboro anymore for the first time in four years, and two, I don’t even live in the same country for the first time in my life. It’s has been quite a change for me..

My last night in the USA was spend packing and re-packing(thanks mom), and spending time with my family for the last time for a while. Friday morning I woke up and feeling pretty unsure about the situation loaded my luggage into my moms car, and we headed to Greensboro. I decided that I should have a “last meal” since I didn’t know if I would be able to buy the things I liked in Spain. So, I decided on eating at chipotle(one of my favorite resturaunts). Then it was time to head to the airport, where I said my last goodbyes, and walked through security trying to hold back tears. It was the first time that I actually understood the significance of not being able to see my friends and family for such a long period of time, this was something that I had always been able to do. As I sat in the terminal in Greensboro, I thought to myself “what am I doing?”

My first flight was to Philadelphia. That one was not too bad, but the next flight however was miserable. As I boarded the plane, I figured that I would be little cramped and uncomfortable. As I walked further back and saw my seat I almost fainted haha. It was about the size of a elementary school’s desk. I sat down, and my knees were literally up to my chest. This was not going to work, so I quickly started to look for a new seat. Fortunately I was able to find two seats beside each other that were unoccupied. This was a lot better, but still very uncomfortable. Fast-forward 9 hours I land in a sunny Madrid, Spain. Now onto the next problem, I haven’t slept in almost 24 hours, and I had a 8 hour layover in Madrid. Plus, I don’t have my boarding pass for my next flight. I am supposed to find the airline desk, and have it printed off after retrieving my luggage and going through customs. Wow, I didn’t know it was going to be this confusing, not being about to understand except about half of what was going on around me didn’t help either. Well I find my luggage, and get a cart and proceed to the terminal gate to get my boarding pass. Oh wait, of course my flight is not in the same terminal, instead it’s at another terminal about a mile bus ride away…Great! So I find the bus, load ALL of my luggage onto it, and head to the next terminal. I get there, find the airline, and get my boarding pass. Now, finally time to relax! FOR EIGHT HOURS…Finally my flight to Pamplona takes off, and I’m headed for my new home.

When I finally landed after some 20 hours of travel, I am greeted the President of the team, multiple team representatives, and the press. From there they took me to my new home, and I’m finally be able to get some sleep. As I laid there in bed, I strongly considered the possibility of going to the airport and buying a ticket home. I just felt terrible, so homesick already, I didn’t know if I would be able to do it. However, from there it got a lot better, especially when the basketball started. I met my American teammates, and they very cool and fun. They are older, so I think they can teach me a lot about being a professional in Europe. The basketball is good, we have practice in the morning followed by lifting and running, and then we have another practice in the evening. They really aren’t that tough, it’s just a lot of time in the gym. I’m not sure how long the 2adays will last, but it’s look like at least until our first real game in October. Which is pretty much a bummer for me, since I’m a fan of getting an adequate amount of sleep, or more. Today, we went running through the park, which looked over most of the historical part of Pamplona. This is where they have the running of the bulls every year. It is a really beautiful city, and there is a lot of history and culture here. I think as I learn to find my way around, and find out more about the city, it’s going to be a great place to live!

This is a picture of my arrival to Pamplona:

One of the highlights of my week was finding a store named “Carrefour” it’s basically the Spanish Walmart. There they have everything, and I’m pretty sure this is where I’ll do most of my shopping during the year. It’s so hard to get around in the city though, because not only are there a lot of scary drivers, but I’m not used to the parallel parking or the multitude of traffic circles. Spain is a fun country, but I really miss my friends and family back home. It’s funny to think about the things I have taken for granted for so many years, and now that it is not readily available to me, it’s hard to live without. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot this season, a lot about myself especially, and hopefully I’ll play well and we as a team will win a lot of games. It’s certainly going to be a great adventure!

God Bless!

If anyone would like to email me to catch up, since I don’t really have a phone to call the US…my email is

Or you can skype me: tyler_sanborn

Friday, August 13, 2010


Since my last blog, there really has not been many eventful things happening in my life. I’ve been in Greensboro, mostly just working out and playing basketball everyday. It’s nice after a busy summer schedule to actually get to breathe a little, and take a step back from all the traveling. I had a lot of fun, but now I get to enjoy summer a little bit, while working hard to improve my body and skill set for the upcoming season.

Two weeks from today, I’ll board a plane and head to a country that I’ve never been to, or even know anyone who lives there. It is a very bittersweet feeling. I know I am so blessed to have this opportunity available to me, but at the same time I know I’ll miss my family and friends back home. It’s definitely going to be an eye-opening experience when I get there to be “on my own” with no one as a crutch, and adjusting to living by myself. However, this is my job, and I will treat it as such. I am being paid to play basketball to the best on my ability, and win basketball games for this team.

I am optimistic that there will be a lot of people there that will be able to help me adjust to the culture, and will be able to help me along the way with things I might need. There have been many people from Pamplona who have already contacted me via Twitter and Facebook. They all are very nice and seem enthusiastic about me being on the team. I am hopeful that my team and myself will perform well this season.

I’ve never been one to really get homesick, but at this point I have so many emotions going through me, it’s hard to tell how I’m going to feel when I get there. I am hopeful that I adapt well, and keep in daily contact with my friends and family back home. Sunday, a lot of my family and friends are coming to my house for a going away party. This is going to be the last time I see them for a while, most likely until Christmas. It’s going to feel weird saying goodbye to them, and knowing that I wont be able to see them for so long. I know they‘ll be thinking about me, and praying for me as well. My mom is already planning a trip to come visit and watch me play, and some of my friends have talked about doing the same. So hopefully between skype and visits from friends and family, I’ll be able to enjoy my time to the max while in Spain.

At this point in the process, I’m getting a little anxious to go ahead and get over there. I’m excited to get the season started, and found out today that our first pre-season game will take place five days after I get there, against a first division team. So, I’m expecting to learn a lot in the first couple of days there, and look forward to playing in an real game so quickly. My next post will be coming to from Spain, so until then, God Bless!

Here is the link to our team website: (If you copy and paste it into can “google translate” it!)

You can also follow me on Twitter:

Friday, July 30, 2010

The NBA Experience and the Next Step:


Since my last blog a lot has taken place, mostly a lot of basketball. I’ve been away from home for almost twenty days. It has been a great twenty days, filled with a lot of learning and memories that I’ll never forget. When I went to Los Angeles I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew that it would be a struggle, but I also knew it would be fun.

While participating in mini-camp I learned a lot about myself. I learned not only was I not the big fish in the pond anymore, but if I wanted to make it to the NBA level I’d have to make a lot of adjustments. It was a brutal wake up call every morning waking up and going head to head with one of the Lakers draft picks. Derek Caracter was a star at UTEP after transferring from Louisville before his Junior year. I thought I was a big kid, unitl I played against Derek. He is about my height, but at least 30 pounds heavier. Needless to say it was battle for me everyday just to be able to match his physicality and strength. However, I think this is what I need. I needed to see what it was like to face a possibly legitimate NBA player, everyday.

During mini-camp I started out a little slow, not really sure what role I should take. While at Guilford I demanded the ball, and when I got the ball I typically shot it. Here, I was nervous about out stepping my boundaries as a player. I wanted to show what I could do, but I wanted it to come within the offense. Speaking of the offense, that was one of the biggest learning curves of the trip. The famous triangle, it is one of the most potent offences in all of basketball, but it is also one of the hardest to learn. I was in a crash course, speed session of the triangle offense, using terminology that I had never heard, and I struggled a bit. It really messed with me, because I thought more than I actually played. I was so worried about where I was supposed to be, and got away from playing the game. As mini-camp progressed so did my understanding of the offense, as well as my confidence playing against bigger and stronger players than I have ever played against before. After ten days of camp, it was time to go to Las Vegas as a team, and participate in summer league.

We get to Las Vegas, and checked into one of the nicest hotels that I have ever stayed at. I pretty much had my own apartment looking over the Las Vegas strip, so I didn’t really have any complaints about the accommodations’. We started the week with a game verse Detroit, and I didn’t get to play. This really was a dagger to my confidence, I thought that my scrimmage performance would at least get me on the court for some, even if only a little playing time. I didn’t really know what to think, I was disappointed, but at the same time I was thankful for having the opportunity I did. The next day we had a game against Denver, and I got the call towards the end of the first quarter to go in. At this point I really wasn’t sure what to think, I was really nervous, about like the first time I ever went into a game at Guilford. After I got onto the court, it was all basketball again. This is the game that I saw the most playing time, for the whole week. I played decent, but I definitely could have done better. The rest of the week was kind of a blur with games and practices. I really didn’t get to see that much playing time, but I understood why. I’m probably not a player that the Lakers are wanting to look at for a legitimate chance to be signed, while the rest of the players on my team, who were older and more experienced might have had a better shot. They were all very good players, and I honestly learned a lot from each one. This whole trip, like I said, was a learning experience. I learned what it takes, and what I have to do to be able to play consistently at that level. I definitely have a lot of work to do. I’m just thankful and blessed for this experience. If you had told me two months ago that I would be playing summer league with the LA Lakers, I definitely would have laughed in your face.

Now it’s time for the next step! I recently signed a contract to play with a team in Pamplona, Spain. The team, which is located in the city that is most famous for the annual festival of the running of the bulls, is in a transitional period as they move up from LEB silver to LEB gold, which basically means they are moving from the third to second division. Last year they did well, and finished fourth in their league. I could have taken a couple other offers, which were at higher levels in different countries, but this opportunity for a first year player is really good. Spain is one of the top foreign countries to play in. If I do well, I’ll be able to possibly move up to the top league in Spain. Hopefully I’ll be able to showcase my talents, and improve my game as I move forward with my career. I am blessed to have this opportunity, and I’m anxious to get there and get to work!

Here is a Link to the Teams Website:

God Bless

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Beginning: 6/30/10


To preface this, I’m really not sure how to write a blog, but here is my best shot!

The past two-month’s has been two of the most interesting, fun, and eye-opening time period in my life. So many things have happened in the past two-month’s that will last in my memory, forever. I have been very blessed to have the support of great friends and family to help me along the way.

To begin with, I GRADUATED COLLEGE. After four years of class, papers, and homework I finished up my bachelors degree, and officially “walked across the stage” on May, 8th. It was by far the best for years of my life. I walked in as a very naive eighteen year-old child, and I feel as if I walked out as more conversant and intelligent grown man. In my four years, I learned the value of hard work. Hard work in the classroom led to good grades, and hard work on the court led to the gradual growth of me as a basketball player. The day I walked into Milner hall and began my college career at Guilford College, I knew that I had to do one thing if I wanted to be an effective player there, word hard. So, that’s what I did.

I came in as a baby-faced 285 pound little boy, physically speaking. As soon as school started, my coaches, who are like father figures to me, got me started (as well as the rest of the team) on conditioning and lifting routines. I took this as an opportunity to get better, and work hard, which was something that I wasn’t really used to. Right away I began to see the difference, not only in my body, but on the court as well. I lost about 40 pounds in the first two and a half months. This made me feel a lot better, not only physically, but it gave me a mental boost to let me know that I could do it. Basketball wise, well, it was definitely starting to come around. Especially from the summer, where I played summer league with the team in the “Triad Pro-Am.” When my teammates first saw me, I don’t think they were really too thrilled to have me on the team. I couldn’t make a lay-up, jump shot, and still can’t really make a free throw. However, I think that was a turning point in my life. I couldn’t settle with being bad or even mediocre.

Everyday, I worked on my game. I was in the gym either shooting or running every chance I got. The things I was doing really changed the perspective, and my teammate’s perspective of my game on the court. I still couldn’t make a lay-up, but I could run up and down the court, as well as rebound and play defense, and most importantly I was progressing. This was all I really needed to do, because I playing behind the National Player of the Year, Ben Strong. I thank the good Lord for having Ben at Guilford College, everyday. He took it to me every chance he got, with no mercy, and showed me just because I was good at the High School level, did not mean that I could even compete in DIII. Luckily, I was playing against the best player in the country everyday, and I got a lot better because of him, and games did not really seem quite as hard. Towards the end of my freshman year, after a lot of improvement, my roll on the team became a lot more prominent. Ben and I played more together, especially in the NCAA tournament. I single-handedly almost lost us our “Sweet Sixteen” game versus Lincoln with a wide-open missed lay-up, fortunately Jordan Snipes was able to make a buzzer beater, and Ben scored only 59 to help carry us to the victory.

After my freshman year, it kind of dawned on me what I could actually do. I could definitely improve, and maybe become a decent basketball player. Summer league before my sophomore year was drastically different than the year before. I actually competed, and not only did I compete, I did pretty well. So for my sophomore year, I started every game, until I had a hamstring injury. I was out for a month, and that was very difficult on me. I felt all the work I put in, was being wasted. I couldn’t do anything, expect ride the bike for 10 minutes a day. Finally, I recovered and took my spot back as a starter. The year ended kind of dismally. We lost in the first round of the play-offs, with arguably the best team we had at Guilford in my four years. I took it really hard, I remember crying my eyes out after the game, I knew that I not only lost the game, but four of the best friends and teammates I could have ever had. Caleb, Eric, Ray, and Ben were like my four big brothers. They showed me the ropes, looked out for me, and were true friends to me. Plus, the future was unknown, we were losing “the core” we didn’t know what kind of team that we were going to have the next two years.

Well, the next two years turned out decent, I guess you could say. In these two years we went the NCAA tournament both years, and went to the Final Four both years as well. We also won a conference title, and a lot of games, and had great records. My junior year, I transitioned into more a dominant role, and wasn’t really sure of how I should take on this roll. As the year went along, I started to figure things out a little more. By the NCAA tournament I felt like I figured it all out, but that wasn’t reality. However, I performed very well, and we went very deep into the playoffs. I was recognized with all kinds of accolades, which were definitely secondary to the success of the team. I enjoy winning, and hate to lose, and we were winning, a lot! My senior year, it was more of the same. Going 30 and 3 definitely wasn’t our goal when we started, but it most certainly was a nice surprise. We ultimately failed to reach the “ultimate” goal, again. Coach Parke told me, “not only do you have to be really good to win a national championship, but you have to be really lucky as well,” and I figured out the truth to that in the semi-final game against Williams. Those guys shot the lights out, seriously, I think some lights actually lights when out. This was the most devastating loss in my life, it was over, I would never put on a Guilford College uniform again. Coach Palombo and Parke could never yell at me again at practice, Coach Nick couldn’t edit tapes for me to have “constructive criticism” in film, and most importantly I could never play with my “family” again.

As much success as we had my senior year, I was recognized with a lot of different accolades at the end of the year. It was really nice to see my name in the paper, and for me get some of the “spot light,” but without my teammates I would never had ever become close to winning those awards. In April, I got to experience the Final Four in Indianapolis, as apart of being named the National Player of the Year. Basically, I got a free trip, for accepting an award, and making a terrifying speech in front of the who’s who in college basketball. After this nice vacation, it was time to get back to work.

The day after I played in the D-III All-Star game, I got back to work. In the weight room, on the court, and finishing up my requirements to graduate. I was in the gym with one of my mentors for the past four years, Coach Ken Allen. Coach Allen is one of the best men I have every met, plus he can really coach. We worked out close to three days a week, and I played, lifted, and lifted again everyday. I knew what I wanted to do, and that was to play basketball. I didn’t know at what capacity, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to stop lacing up the shoes. I talked to Ben who had played in Israel for the two previous years, and asked what the process was that I needed to follow. It definitely was a complicated process, but the first step was finding an agent. This was a difficult, and I was going in pretty blind to what I needed to do. I fielded a lot of different agencies that wanted to represent me, some foreign, some here, and they all sounded pretty good. However, I didn’t really have a front-runner, until coach Allen reached out to one of his former players, who played at NC State. He suggested an agent out of Raleigh, so I called him. He had heard about me, and watched some highlights of me on YouTube. He was definitely very interested in representing me. So I met with his partner in Greensboro that night, with coach Parke. I felt like this was the best fit for me, but I did not want to make a fast decision. I thought about it for a few days, and knew this would be the best situation for me, because they were local, and I could speak with them daily, or see them whenever I needed to, I felt very comfortable with my decision.

Post Graduation:

I started working out with a personal weight trainer, and definitely noticed a significant difference pretty quickly. One day my agent called, and wanted to take me to Raleigh to workout at NC States facility with some of his guys. I performed pretty well, and he noticed my athleticism and skill. During the workout he was on the phone, and in a week I had a workout in LA with the Lakers. Nervous was an understatement as I journeyed to Los Angeles. However, I was able to perform really well in the workout, and sat down and interviewed with the GM and team officials. I came out of this workout with a sense of achievement, I realized that the Lakers definitely weren’t going to sign me to a multi-million dollar contract, but I did as well as I could, and I felt comfortable with my performance. After this, my agent got me a couple more workouts with other NBA teams, and I realized that “hey, maybe I can’t play in the NBA, but I can compete with these guys.” My outlook on basketball grew exponentially. After the draft, I knew the teams I worked out for would be making their summer league rosters, and I knew that my agent was pushing for a spot for me. Luckily, the Lakers had an open spot, and as I was playing in a French Euro Exposure Camp in Washington DC, I got the call from my agent. I missed two of his calls, but he sent me a text message. The text said “summer league baby, LA!” after reading this I was in disbelief. I called him as soon as I could, and he confirmed that I would be flying out of DC the next day, to LA.

Well that brings me to today; I woke up this morning in an overcast, cold, and not so inviting Los Angeles. I walked to the Lakers practice facility behind my hotel, and went to work for the first time as a basketball player. I do not have words that can accurately describe what is going through my head at this moment. It is the best feeling that anybody could have. I went from a guy that couldn’t make a lay-up, to playing summer league with the Los Angeles Lakers. Somebody once told me ”the harder I work, the luckier I get.” This statement has never meant more to me than right now. For the next two and a half weeks, I’ll be living a dream. I’ll be in LA until next week for mini-camp, and then I’ll be headed Las Vegas where summer league will take place until the 17th. DREAM COME TRUE

I promise the next blog will not be this long, but I wanted to give a little background on my story since I’ve been at Guilford. I hope you enjoyed…