After you read this, there is much, much more information on my Full Athlete Guides & Tips Page for playing pro basketball overseas. Check it out when you’re done.
FOLLOW-UP To This Post: Your 10-Step Overseas Basketball Plan, Starting Today
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Being that I came from a small college background and never played a second of AAU ball or was ever offered a scholarship, I get a lot of inquiries from players with similar situations as to how they can get their foot in the door of the pros. What follows is a sketch of what, in my opinion, is most important for such individuals to get into the professional ranks. If you agree and/or think this list can/will/did help you, great! Don’t even waste time telling me — get to work. If you disagree with my list, I don’t care.
Make A Fucking Decision.
[“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Tony Robbins]
I decided sometime late in my college years that I would be playing basketball after I graduated. I was 100% committed, even though I had no idea how or where or when I’d get there. There was no Plan B. A player that sits the bench at Duke or Michigan State for four years will get professional offers from teams just based on the fact that he/she was on the roster at one of those schools, even without expressing interest in playing professionally. Some of them can actually play, and some can’t — I have seen this with my own eyes. Some take the offers and some don’t. My point, however, is that a player with a ‘D3’ or ‘NAIA’ or whatever else there is out there on their resume will have to go and create their own opportunities to get a contract. I know many players from small schools who say they wanna play overseas, but their commitment is one of convenience. Meaning, if it is made easy enough for them, enough doors are left unlocked and cracked open, they’ll put in the necessary effort. When the going gets tough, their careers end quietly, and, as Porky Pigs says, ‘that’s all folks!’ I had to knock down doors, and in many cases, build my own, to get where I’m at. And I’m still building doors to this day. And, as that Tony Robbins quote says, the true mark of your decision is when you start taking some action. Sending someone (like me) and email saying, “I want to play overseas, can you give me some information?” is NOT taking action. Asking someone to tell you what to do is not an action step. Real action involves the other steps you learn as you read further…
You Need Film.
If you played in college, collect film of every game you played in that you can get. Nowadays, most schools film their games — get the film ASAP! You never know what may happen — you transfer, fall out with the coaching staff, coach gets canned — make an ally in the athletic department and get your film. The person in charge of the video is usually very accessible. Don’t make a big deal about getting your film — coaches can get antsy about a player wanting his film in the middle of the season — quietly collect those tapes/ DVDs and keep them in a safe place. Never let the originals out of your sight. Make copies. Film is your job interview to pro teams — if they haven’t seen you play in person, and you have no film, your only recourse is to attend an exposure camp — for which you pay for travel, hotel, food and exorbitant camp entry fees (not to say that a camp could not be a great investment). When I was graduating in 2004, my school recorded some games but not all of them. My sophomore year coach had all the 2001-2002 games on film — but he gave the originals away to players when he lost his coaching job. I went online and found contact numbers for the teams we played against my last 2 years, and offered to mail self-addressed stamped envelopes to each them to get copies of game film. It’s that important. If you do go to an exposure camp, any one worth its cost offers film now, either streaming online, downloadable, or for purchase via DVD. Whichever format you prefer, get it and keep it.
Work On Your Fucking Game.
The simplest of all these bullet points. Practice. Train. Improve. Get better. I have stressed this over and over on YouTube to the point that you have probably heard me same that statement before in a video, multiple times. Think about Michael Jordan. He is arguably the best basketball player in the history of the universe. Even at the height of his greatness (the entire 1990s), MJ worked on his game. And he was better than me, you, and the person next to you. So if the best player in the world was still working on his game when he was at the top of the mountain, what makes you or anyone else think they don’t need to put the work in to improve (Don’t answer that.)?
Show Your Game.
(Pro Camp & Combines Guide) A lot of players come to me with their highlight films, as if I am a scout, asking for “contacts” — when the people you need to be showing your video are agents and coaches and managers. Having skills in basketball and not being seen is like having a bunch of money in cash locked in your attic or basement. Yes you are rich, but the power of money is in its use and circulation, not the act of possessing it. I’m not telling you that you have to play in every league or game that takes place. But if you are a good player, you want people to know that, right? Then show up where the other good players are and show ’em what you’ve got. Ask around for where the best players are — anyone that lives in a town that plays basketball at all knows where the best games are, whether they themselves play there or if they know better than to embarrass themselves trying. Point is, they know. Soccer players know where other guys play soccer. Lawyers know which bar other legal workers go to get drinks. Basketball players know where the tough games are taking place.
Sounds simple, but many players don’t do it. There are millions of people in the world who want to play basketball for money; not all of them will. You are not the only one. Ask around — your local gym; coaches you know; players in your weekly pickup games — there’s always somebody that knows somebody. Trust me. If you’re a male, female friends know other guys who play ball. Find out where good players work out or where they play pickup or what leagues they play in the summer. Diffidence or arrogance when it comes to approaching others won’t help you here — the simplest way to make a new friend is a smile and a “hello.”
Nobody Owes You A Thing.
Including me. When it is all over, whatever you accomplish (or don’t accomplish) is credited 100% to you. Not your college coaches, not your girlfriend or teammates, not your agent. No matter what anyone else does or doesn’t do for you, promises and doesn’t come through, ‘hates on’ you, it’s your life and career. I once heard a smart businessperson rhetorically ask, “What’s your IQ?” He wasn’t referring to intelligence — this IQ stands for “I Quit.” What has to happen for you to give up? How far will you go? How much can you take? If you reach out to someone for help and they decline to help you or let you down, is that your excuse for giving up? If you want to make it, you will. If you want to find an excuse, you will. If you need help, start by looking in the mirror. Ask yourself what you’ll do if (and when) no one helps you.
FOLLOW-UP To This Post: Your 10-Step Overseas Basketball Plan, Starting Today
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- How Good Do You Have To Be To Play Overseas/Professionally?
- Can You Go Pro/Overseas Coming from a NCAA D3 School?
- How I Got My First Overseas Basketball Contract
- Choosing The Right Pro Exposure Camp or Combine | Follow-Up Post: What I Know About Pro Camps
- Professional Basketball Camp Reviews (Of Camps I’ve Been To)
- Overseas Basketball And Money: What You Should Know
- Advice and What to Expect at Your First Camp
- Working a 9-5 While Preparing to Play Pro/Overseas
- Do Not Give Money To Scam Artist John Jordan to Play Overseas. Ever.
- Videos On Overseas Basketball