20 January 2015
2014 was quite the journey for me.
It's crazy to think I am here now playing professional basketball in Holland when around this exact moment one year ago I thought my career as a basketball player about was to be over after my senior season at Harvard. As most people reading this already know the start of last year for me was very very challenging. For those who I don't know, I'm going to explain. After sitting out the 2012-2013 season due to a controversial issue named "Intro to Congress cheating scandal", I returned to campus eager to get back on the court for my final season. I worked harder in my year off and this had been the best I had ever felt both physically and mentally during my whole college career.
Preseason went very well and it seemed as if I was poised to have a great season. I had a very good game in our season opener against Holy Cross at the TD Garden and finished the game with 14 points 4 rebounds and 6 assist. I never expected what would happen next. After taking a shower I walked post game to get my towel and felt a sharp pain in my achilles. I thought maybe it was a false step but then I realized I couldn't put much pressure on it so I had to limp back to my seat. My achilles had been bothering me all preseason but it never felt like this before. After ice, I figured it would be fine after a day off. I was wrong. I was limping on it two days after and had to sit out practice. This was the first time in my career I had ever missed a practice and I thought it would be my last...nope. I spoke with Coach (Tommy) Amaker and he told me if there was a game I could afford to miss it was the game against MIT, so I sat out that game. I tried to comeback for the next one but midway through warmups I pulled myself out because the pain was too much, so I ended up sitting that game as well. I made an appointment with a doctor who told me I had achilles tendonitis from overuse of the calf muscles.
My summer training was very intense and I did not do enough stretching and service on my body while putting it through the many hours a day I was working out. I was now paying the price. Th doctor told me I had two choices: I could rest it for two weeks to let the pain subside and then manage it while I played on it all year or let it take 6-8 weeks to heal completely, meaning I would miss the first half of the season. Of course I went with the first option. I missed two more games and sat out for two weeks until we played Colorado, which was one of the biggest games of the year for us. I played in the game but barely made it through. Midway through the game I realized this was one injury I could now play through. My whole entire career up to this point, I've had pain everyday from playing. I had tendonitis in both knees and even had to get surgery on my left one for a torn patella after my freshman year. I also had other several smaller injuries which all athletes play with throughout their careers. No matter what though, I never missed one practice or game and that's something I took tremendous pride in. To make matters worse we lost to Colorado. After the game I was in my room talking to the trainer and broke down into tears after we spoke -- I had to sit out for an extended period of time to let this injury heal. All the hard work I put in over the last year while I was gone and now I felt as if summer was for no reason.
So I sat out for five long weeks.
I returned right at the end of December and worked my way back slowly into game shape. Rightfully so, I moved into a reserve role and was the first person off of the bench. The team moved into a good rhythm and it was best for the team for me to come in and provide a spark off the bench. As hard as that was, I've only wanted what was best for us as a team and that was to win. Getting back into game shape and finding my rhythm was tough. I did my best to get my shot and handles back but I definitely did not feel like I did when I came back to campus after a hardworking offseason. It was then that I wondered if this would indeed be the last basketball games I would play.
I knew that since I did not play last year at all my future depended on my numbers this season. On top of that, I was feeling pretty bad physically. Nevertheless, I did the only thing I know how to do and that was adapt and go 100%. Funny how things always work out. We had another historic year and I ended up finishing up the season very strong. I Had to take another five weeks off to let my achilles heal up since I came back early and during that I time I decided what agent I wanted to work with: Gerrit (Kersten-Theile) and Scorers 1st. I Was impressed and blown away completely with Gerrit's presentation and the map for my career. I felt I could trust him immediately and everything has worked out great. Deciding on an agent was a tiring process since it's hard to know what agents are for real and who are just blowing smoke in your face. I had great people around me who I could ask for advice and that greatly helped me a lot. Major thanks to everyone who helped me out!
The next major event for me was graduating from Harvard on May 31st.
By far one of the greatest accomplishments I will ever experience in my life. They say college is the best four years of your life and I could not agree more.
All the experiences I had at Harvard have impacted me tremendously and for the greater good. I have put so many extraordinary people and made some everlasting friendships. Being around so many driven and passionate people only made me raise my level. Harvard is truly a special place and you really can't understand what I mean unless you go there and see it for yourself. As I closed one chapter of my life, another one was about to open: the start of my professional basketball career.
Quickly I got home to North Carolina and got to work. I absolutely loved putting in the work to get better. I trained harder this time I ever and the goal was to train smarter. My injuries taught me a lot and I wanted to avoid making the same mistakes. It was a nerve racking experience to sit and wait while not knowing what the future had in store for you. When I finally got the call from Gerrit telling me me the SPM Shoeters in Holland were offering me a contract I can not fully explain the joy I felt. My dream was coming true. I was officially a professional basketball player. Few people are able to get paid to do what they love the most and I am one of those few and I do not take it for granted.
As many of you know, the beginning of my pro career in Holland did not go according to plan. Shortly after arriving in Den Bosch, my father passed away and I had to travel back to the States. It was a very hard time. I was home for one week before traveling back to the Netherlands so I could be ready for my first professional game. Then I pulled my groin the first practice back making me miss the first month of the season. Sounds like the same old story.
My experiences at Harvard taught me so much and I was reliable to handle this setback much better. Soon, I was back on the floor and found a good rhythm and now feel the best I've ever felt in my life and playing at a high level. I feel that I have matured five years worth in just this short year. Every setback for me has been a learning experience I have become even and continue to learn and grow each Day. When I make a mistake on or off the court, I get better from it -- 2015 is about to be a special year for me. I can feel it.
Make it a special one for you too.
Until next time folks.
Deze blog stond eerder op de website van Scorers 1st en is hier te vinden.