That’s why I always say, “Keep Bangin! Someone will answer the door.”
When it comes to getting your answer, timing is everything. Be in the right place, and do the right thing, at the right time and in front of the right person, and BAMM!! The door swings open. And then you’re in there!
But there comes a time in the year when it gets alot more difficult to be in front of the right person. Why? Because most of teams have started their seasons, and most of ‘the right people’ are coaching and managing their teams and players they’ve already signed.
BAMM! That time is now.
From here on out, the only time a team or agent will need to come looking for you is if the player they signed gets injured, stops producing, gets into an altercation with the coach, gets culture shock, gets homesick, gets caught taking penis enlargement pills (HUH?!!!) Or for whatever reason, just doesn’t work out. Then they start their search.
Alot of ‘ifs’ right?
But in the case that ‘if’ does happen, (because it always does), then where you are at, and what you are doing will determine if you are the one that gets found or not. You could be found this season, or even the next, but if you spend the year sitting at home, you may be at the wrong place, at the wrong time, forever.
ALL US SEMI-PROS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
US semi pro teams are a great way to go. But they’re all not built the same.
We all know about the NBA Developmental League (‘D-League’ ‘NBDL’). How some teams conduct their tryouts is one thing. (more on that at below) But If you DO end up playing for in the NBDL, then you are definitely on the right path. 132 current NBA players have NBDL experience. Thats right off their website. Even I had to do a double take at that stat.
After the NBDL, its hard, if not impossible to find a league in the U.S. that is better for your pro career than even the 2nd and 3rd division teams in most countries in Europe and other places abroad. Not because of the competition. Nope. This is still the Best Country in the World to Play basketball. US Semi pro is still pretty competitive. There reasons are relevance and visibility.
I tell players all the time, until you:
1. Are Recommended to a foreign feam or agent,
2. Play in front of one in a camp or tour,
3. Or impress them with a scouting package by mail or email,
then people overseas have absolutely no clue that you even exist. You can sit at home waiting for a call from a team or an agent all you want, unless you are actively doing something to attract their attention, then in essence, you’re not on the market.
VISIBILITY, BOOST AND BUZZ
By playing US Semi-Pro, you immediately do two things. 1. You bump yourself up into a higher category of players. You’ve taken the next step and are no longer considered an unsigned rookie out of College. You are now a semi-professional player in the best country in the world for the sport of basketball. No matter what level of college you played, and no matter what they paid you to play semi-pro, that’s still a big difference in the eyes of people overseas. 2. You stay visible and get some buzz. If you play, Semi-Pro in the US, then you have the chance to get the ‘word of mouth factor’ working for you. During the early parts of the season, I usually hear of ABA players getting swept away in contract offers to Europe. That just goes to show, that even if the coach or agent isn’t physically in the building to see you play, then you still have the chance that a video, a news release, a stat sheet, or a strong word of recommendation still has the chance to connect you to the right person. And in some cases. BAMM! you get your breakthrough.
The other part of playing semi pro is this. It keeps you relevant! One of the worst things that can happen to a player is to lose an entire season, especially a player that is straight outta college.
It happened to me. Kinda. My first year out of college, I was released by the NJ Nets, then Grand Rapids in the CBA, then the IBL, then the USBL, and then after almost a year and a half of trying to get on. BAMMM!
Losing a season brings so many doubts into the minds of agents and teams. In the next offseason, you almost have to shine twice as much. even if you prove that youre better than all the rookies fresh out of college, and you still have to answer tons of other questions..why didnt he sign last yr?. Was he injured? Is he a character issue? ‘Or maybe he just isnt that good but todays his lucky day. You gotta be a special kinda player to overcone those kinds of odds. But again, it DOES HAPPEN (go Derek! Go Shamika! Go Brandon and Joe!!)
NOT ALL SEMI PROS ARE BUILT THE SAME
The ABA, APBL, and IBL are some of the most recognized and more established leagues. Other leagues are popping up and disappearing all the time.
I was really pleased to see that Joe Newman, the CEO of the ABA are now listing their teams and rosters on Eurobasket. That doesn’t mean I’m totally flattered about the ABA league structure, but one cannot argue that the league has produced real opportunity for players that have come through the system. This move, makes it even better. The APBL has been doing that for years. Now If we can just get streaming video and real stats for the players, then all these leagues will be doing it really big!
When it all comes down to it, if the semi pro team you play for isnt recognized by FIBA, then its almost as bad as if you didn’t play at all, because once again. they wont know about it. and again you dont exist. !!
AND THEN THERES THE LEAGUE TRYOUTS
Sifting thru the millions of tryouts for semi pro teams, and tours, and camps can be a daunting task. If you aren’t doing your research, you can easily get fooled into thinking you are signing up for a real opportunity. Hopefully, you watched my man Dre All Day talk about a recent NBDL tryout in the video above.
Don’t get me wrong, there are organizations that are doing the right thing. Dallas Comegys, and the Palmieri Jeans Destroyers team in the APBL is almost too reserved. Dallas has funded alot of games and trips out of his own pocket and very rarely holds tryouts. He recruits the players he wants, goes out and gets them, and then helps them do what they have to do to raise money to fund the season. He’s been the one of the winningest coaches in the APBL for as long as I can remember, and his players love him to death. Guys like him, former NBA lottery picks and overseas superstars who really dedicate their lives to give back to the sport are really hard to find.
There are other organizational leaders that I have to just give the benefit of the doubt. Doug Overton of the Springfield Armor (Brooklyn Nets D-League team) and the newly founded Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers NBDL) run by Malik Rose are two of those guys. These are two of the most solid individuals you will ever meet. I wouldn’t expect anything less than the most professional tryout they could possibly manage.
And then there’s Embry Malone of the Georgia Gwizzlies (ABA) and Kevin Young, Head Coach of the Iowa Energy (NBA D-League). These are some of the guys who I have seen first hand going above and beyond their call of duty to ensure their players are taken care of.
HELP EACH OTHER MAKE IT
Scams for Camps, tryouts, player contracts, and team contract issues is a huge topic for a whole new discussion. I’m so glad that active players like Keith Langford (Kansas / Italy) are speaking up. His idea of a European Basketball Union is getting some buzz on the internet, but its one that deserves some real attention AND your full participation. When you comment about your own experience, your contribution can help save players time, money, and sometimes their livelihood. Some players spend every dollar they have and sometimes take huge risks to raise the money to pay for opportunities at a pro career. Let’s help each other by talking about what’s real and what’s a robbery out here.
Your time, effort, and hard-earned money are on the line in every choice you make. So if you commit to an opportunity, you want it to be one that gives you a real chance to be successful. Not one that sets you up to be robbed. Ok Im done. for Now.
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