Why European Basketball Players Should Go Play in the NCAA

Irene Gari (Spain) played for UTEP and Georgia Tech and currently plays for Valencia Basket in Spain where we were teammates last year

Over the years, there have been an increase in NCAA teams recruiting European basketball players. Having been blessed to have been an NCAA D1 athlete myself and to currently be a professional basketball player in Europe, I strongly encourage young European ballers to take their talents to America and play in the NCAA.

It’s not about America being better than Europe or anything like that, besides that’s for you to decide, it’s about the access to bountiful resources, facilities and learning a different style of play as well as the personal growth you will experience by overcoming the challenges of being so far away from home and loved ones.

If you’re good, you will be recruited by NCAA teams. And you will quickly see the amount of resources that will be available to you. You’ll be playing against some of the most talented players in your age group for up to four years and getting an education at the same time. And you will have unlimited access to resources when it comes to your health and well being. We’re talking top of the line facilities, treatments, trainers, weight rooms, coaches and even translators who will help you with your transition.

As an NCAA student athlete you will have a lot of support unlike many of us American players who leave college and go overseas right away. For most of us we’re thrown into a new environment and we have to learn how to manage it and just get through it. So don’t let something like fear prevent you from going because depending on the school you choose you will have all the things you need to be successful.

I played with Elisa in Italy at Battipaglia two years ago and now she’s playing at USF

When European players who have learned and played the European style of play all their lives go to America they will get the best of both worlds since they’ll be learning the American style of play too. It can only make you a better overall player. There are elements of the American game that are good for Europeans to learn. And often European ballers go play in the NCAA in America and return to Europe as a more valuable asset.

There are a number of ways for European players to get to America to play ball. And one of the best resources for information on how to get there and where you should go is often right in front of your face. Since so many American women pro players also play in Europe you should definitely ask them for advice and get feedback on what schools and conferences would be good for you. Every American playing pro in Europe has played in the NCAA. Who else would be better to give you the real lowdown on what it’s like to play in the NCAA than someone who already has? Many of them should still have strong relationships with their schools so you never know if they might be able to connect you with them.

If you don’t connect with the players, there are several companies and people that really pride themselves on helping Europeans get to America the right way. One of them is Go Global Recruiting. I personally vouch for them. Companies like them can not only help you get there but they can help you get to a team that’s right for you. For example, just because a team did well last season doesn’t mean it’s the best place for you to be. There’s a lot of information out there, you just have to be willing to go and get it.

Now NCAA, like everything involved withs sports, isn’t perfect. There are a lot of rules you have to follow as an NCAA athlete and if you’re not careful the actions you take will not only be detrimental to you but to your team. So no taking gifts, no having someone pay for even a meal, no signing with agents. You are considered an amateur athlete until you graduate or leave the school and sign with an agent. This is one of the most important things to remember as an American college athlete.

On top of that, being a student athlete is no joke. You have practices, home games and road games, there’s a lot of traveling and you still have class and exams. And you better do well in them or you won’t play. If you do real bad you won’t even be on the team. And somewhere in between all of that you will also likely be figuring out who you are as a person.

Sabina Oroszova (Slovakia ) graduated from Eastern Illinois and we played against each other in Italy

Now for some of you, perhaps your coach, president or owner of your team may strongly advise you not to take your talents to America. But if you have the opportunity make sure you look out for yourself and make the best decision for yourself. Europe will always be there. If you don’t like it in America for whatever reason, you can always go back to Europe, they will be happy to take you back.

I promise you.

It’s a great option for European athletes to play in the NCAA. It really can be a best of both worlds and it will toughen you up for life not just on the court but off it too and by the time you graduate after banging and going head to head with the strong and quick bodies of American athletes, you will be more than ready to take on professional basketball, anywhere in the world.

Are you a European who has played NCAA? Would love to hear your thoughts on your experience. Feel free to comment below.

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