European Professional Basketball—Class Is In Session


By Brandon Robinson

Ring, Ring, Ring! Do you remember that final bell ringing on Friday around 3:00pm in high school? That day was usually the day when you and some of your buddies would go to the park and play basketball. Maybe you were the one who “took the competition to school.”

Taking people to school is something that prep school products Jeremy Tyler and Brandon Jennings have been doing during their middle and high school careers. Brandon Jennings, a talented point guard, from Los Angeles, played his high school basketball career at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. Jennings, whose game resembles Kenny Anderson and Allen Iverson, was slated to attend the University of Arizona as a freshman this season.

Unfortunately, last summer, numerous red flags were raised in Jennings SAT’s scores: too low to become a student-athlete at the University of Arizona. “He was a big time recruit. Arizona could have used him, says Ian Eagle, sportscaster for CBS, in a recent phone interview. “Perhaps if Jennings was there Lute would still be there,” he continued.

Jennings was in a dilemma. You see, he could not just enter the NBA after graduating his senior year of high school, either. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement states that in order for a player to be drafted, he must be a year removed from his senior class. Brandon was only a few months removed from his high school class. What would he do?

“Brandon had no choice because of the circumstances that happened,” says Jamar Nutter, an international basketball player who played professionally with the Bakken Bears from Denmark in the first league Danish League and the S D Portland Gmund in Germany Pro B League.

Jennings consulted with Sonny Vaccaro, a long time sports marketing executive with Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. Sonny’s insight and expertise has helped guide the careers of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. “Sonny is the engine behind all this, he is set in getting rid of the age requirement in the NBA,” says ESPN senior writer Chris Broussard, in a recent phone interview. “He does not think it’s fair, and nobody is going to Europe at least without Sonny,” he added.

“Well, it’s very obvious; this is sort of the beginning,” said columnist Jemele Hill, in a phone interview from her office in Orlando. “This situation is forcing people to be creative, people will always find a way to get around it,” she said. “The bottom line is that the NBA and basketball is a worldwide game now,” added Hill

Jennings is currently on the roster of Virtus Roma, a team in Italy. During his time “abroad,” he has had a tough transition, but it seems it will be all worth it. “I think a kid going to Europe will be more prepared than going to college for a year. Playing in Europe professionally is more difficult than playing division one basketball,” said Broussard.

In a recent phone interview at his home in California, Sonny Vacarro expressed similar sentiment: “He went to Rome and practiced with older and stronger people four to five hours every day,” he said. “It makes you a better professional. He’s not playing against kids, he’s playing against grown men,” Vaccarro added.

Recently, Jeremy Tyler, a 17-year-old high school junior, committed to the University of Louisville for the recruiting class of 2010. A couple of weeks ago, however, he decided to forego his senior year of high school and move to Europe to play basketball and develop his game. There are many mixed feelings about this decision. It is the common belief amongst basketball purists that a kid his age should be worried about the prom, rather than playing professional basketball.

“The same people who say that are the same people I’d like to ask about their feelings about how they feel about the country sending kids to Iraq,” says Vaccaro. “Does the kid who fires a gun need to be prepared? He wasn’t prepared to shoot a gun,” he continued.

By no means is anyone advocating firing a gun. God bless those who serve our country in Iraq. Perhaps there is such a thing as a right place, and right time. “The situation has to fit well,” says Bomani Jones, an on-air sports personality for WRBZ and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. “Tyler has an uncle and dad in his support system able to check in on him while he’s overseas,” he continued. “For a lot of these kids, they may only have one parent in the household, so they are on their own; the kid has a good support system to help him succeed,” added Jones.

Perhaps we could even label the European training a “basketball study abroad program.” According to the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, “Academic study and travel outside the U.S. is referred to as “Study Abroad.” Additionally, the student might be a part of a four-year international program with the intent to complete a degree at the international university.

“I think it’s a good thing,” says Jamar Nutter.” Players overseas come over here to play, so why not. Education is the evolution of your mind. The test of education is in oneself, says Vaccaro. “I’m a living testament to doing something that I was not prepared for,” he added.

One thing is certainly clear. This idea is becoming more and more popular. “You will see at least one player a year go to Europe, because a). Get some money, b). Get experience, and c). It keeps your name out there and remains part of the mix for scouts,” says Ian Eagle.

One thing is for certain, whether an athlete is dominating on the playground or at the prep school someone will be taken to school. Class is in session gentlemen!


  1. paulmbanks says

    Great sources here! You must have JUICE to obtain them

  2. David K. says

    Sonny Vacarro seems like a shady dude… I mean, can you really trust anyone named Sonny???

  3. Very interesting story!

  4. paulmbanks says

    i’ve never met a Sonny who was wholesome, also never buy anything from anyone with a city or a color for a first name

  5. Cano's Cards says

    unless her name is Dallas or Charlotte, and you have a lot of singles…

  6. A careful candidate wopuld certainly calculate the
    exact answer neqrly ass (a) eight. GMAT definitely is the abbreviation for our Graduate Organization Admission Test.

  7. You mmight supect invisible mold iff your basement smells moldy, but you can’t see
    the source. Some people scoff at the thought of using vicks for toe nail fungus, and
    some say it did not work for them.

  8. Baking soda makes a superrb cleaner and deodorizer. Sprinkle the
    corn meal about the soil underneath the plant and out to the drop line.
    You can use kill mold spray to really have a straight forward tidy up.

  9. If this seems weird, see the passage again.
    Yoour protection and your health bbe determuned by it.

  10. Assist in discussing the students problems along with help them out.
    You won’t have much free time as believe. There’s a constant demand for qualified
    surgeons and phuysicians iin united states.

  11. The more this cew contains people who have great go through the greater effects.

    Upon approval, the funds is going to be transferred into your checking oor savings account within tthe week.

  12. You will notice there are many choices and upwards choosing one you
    do not like. May make it happen an individual can also choose another path.

    Do halt affected by them orr take them personally.

  13. There are many places for rent, owning your house is are thhe ones goal.
    Real estate agents can use both clientele. By typing “literary agent” into a quest engine, you’ll find sites that list components.

  14. Assymmetrical beaars will ppear a lot more like pears. Set iit in a strong platform of
    silver tto prevent the ring from getting misshapen.
    However, more folks are using it to dssign the
    artists in their wedsing rings.

  15. Comme interact what I call “march madness”, where
    in actuality the mayhem is just a trip to the Quad.

    They’ll be shown for customer ballots and the champion will
    get an unique award offer.

  16. It appears like a courtesy check which it’s, but there’s far more to it.
    Attempt them, and appreciate designing your new home, addition or remodel.
    Theee are new sites with all thhe new electronic Television

  17. It simply covers things that are obvious and available. That
    sail or resort is nothing when you paidfor the update can beat identified,
    when you make it. Assessments inform you what
    you get on your cash.


  1. […] McGrady and Kobe Bryant to Adidas deals. Vaccaro also challenged the NBA’s one-and-done rule by advising Brandon Jennings to play overseas in Italy for a year before declaring for the NBA […]

  2. […] Vaccaro most notably got Michael Jordan to sign with Nike and signed Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant to Adidas deals. Vaccaro also challenged the NBA’s one-and-done rule by advising Brandon Jennings to play overseas in Italy for a year before declaring for the NBA Draft. […]

  3. […] Vaccaro most notably got Michael Jordan to sign with Nike and signed Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant to Adidas deals. Vaccaro also challenged the NBA’s one-and-done rule by advising Brandon Jennings to play overseas in Italy for a year before declaring for the NBA Draft. […]

Speak Your Mind