Rickey Young (204-F/C-90, college: W.Virginia Tech), the young American forward who is currently averaging 12ppg and 11 rpg for Centar Bijelo Polje ( MNE 2nd Division) shared with eurobasket.com his thoughts about European basketball and his ups and downs in Montenegro this year. Like everybody else here in Montenegro, Ricky also experienced surprising hard weather conditions in the last couple of days.
Hello Rickey, I have to ask you first how do you like the snow here in Montenegro? You are probably not used to it?
The snow here in Montenegro is unbelieveable!! As you know I am from the south ( Atlanta,Ga) so Ive never experienced snow like this, its up to my knees..
Its not a usual thing to see an American in Montenegin Second Division. You signed a contract for one of the top teams in Montenegro, Ulcinj, at beginning of the season and then you moved to Centar, a small club from Bijelo Polje. What do you think about your new club and your latest performances? It seems to me that it did not take you long to conquer the hearts of fans in Bijelo Polje.
My new team ( KK Centar) is a young team, but they play hard everyday and I respect that. My last few performances have been solid, three consecutive double-doubles. And yes the fans here in Bijelo Polje have been great.
However, you and your ex teammate Paul Kirkpatrick (208-C-89, college: Howard) were the first Americans in Ulcinj's history but you did not settle in well. Both of you left the team after a couple of months. Is there a specific reason or you just did not feel it was a perfect situation for you?
Im not sure if I can say there was one specific reason why things didnt workout in Ulcinj, it was just the wrong situation at that stage of my career. I needed time to adjust to this game and playing with foreign players, but the management in Ulcinj are very ambitious right now and needed someone who could step in right-away and lead that team to good results.
Considering the fact that your first professional adventure in Ulcinj did not proceed as you planned, could you explain us how difficult it is to get used to living in a different culture, in a foreign country? It must be hard for a 21 year old, fresh out of college.
It is very difficult to adjust to life in a foreign country. The biggest obstacle would have to be communicating with the people on a daily basis.
You played in a small NAIA school. It would be interesting to know more details about your 'road to Europe'? Who helped you to get a deal in Montenegro? Why did you choose Montenegro?
Yes I attended a small NAIA school ( WV Tech). I played two seasons there before pursuing a professional career. My road to Europe has been an unlikely one! I only played one season of high school basketball, my last two at tech,and this is only my fourth year playing organized basketball. My agent (Sejo Cokrlija ) got me a deal here in Montenegro. we choose Montenegro because he is actually from Bijelo Polje, and felt that this would be a good place to begin my career.
As I said before, this is the first step in your professional career. Could you tell us more about the impact of european basketball on you? How did you adjust to the european style of play?
The European game is very different from the game I got used to in college. from the game rules, to the spacing on defense, and just the overall flow of the game. This game has really impacted me mentally, because it is a different game! Earlier in the season I was over-thinking and making mistakes on the floor. Now that I have adjusted to the game I'm thinking less and back to playing good ball.
Is there a significant difference in basketball level between US college league where you played and basketball in Montenegro, considering the fact that most teams in Montenegro have young teams?
Yes there is a big difference between the leagues. The players in America are much more athletic and physically stronger than many of the players here. But Ive noticed that there are much better shooter here in Europe even the big men can step out and make jumpshot.
How do you get along with local people? Did you have any problems with them?
The people here in Bijelo Polje are great! They welcomed me in from the first day I arrived, I havent had any problems since Ive been here.
What are your plans for the future? After a season in Montenegro you will probably want to move to a stronger league?
My plans for the future include finishing this year strong, and helping kk centar get to first division. As far as longterm, I plan to continue to get better and play in one of the top leagues in Europe. Hopefully sooner than later.
Thank you Rickey for taking the time to respond to our questions. Eurobasket. com team wishes you a good season and many success in your overseas career .
Acie Earl (208-F/C-70, college: Iowa), former Boston Celtics draft pick and the second player ever, after Jerome James (216-C-75, college: Florida A&M) who signed in Montenegro with NBA experience on his resume, is talking to Eurobasket.com about his NBA experience, ups and downs in Europe and ambitions for the future [read more]
Acie Earl (208-F/C-70, college: Iowa), former Boston Celtics draft pick and the second player ever, after Jerome James (216-C-75, college: Florida A&M) who signed in Montenegro with NBA experience on his resume, is talking to Eurobasket.com about his NBA experience, ups and downs in Europe and ambitions for the future.
Hello Acie, most true basketball fans have heard about you- at the University of Iowa, you were a 3 year starter, Playboy Pre Season All American, Chicago Tribune's Big Ten Player of the Year plus 2nd leading career scorer at Iowa and All Time shot block leader at Iowa. But I would like to hear how did it all start? Have you always considered basketball as your dream job?
As a kid in the 3rd grade I saw Magic Johnson (207-G-59, college: Michigan St.) play on tv and I wanted to play since and I followed the NBA and college on tv growing up, even collecting basketball cards.
I was supposed to go lottery that year but the draft lottery had a lot of underclassmen come out of college as the 1st 7 or 8 picks were underclassmen, if they had not come out then I would have been a lottery pick, so to actually have David Stern say my name was unreal and the walk across the stage and shake his hand a dream come true.
You played 4 years in the NBA with the Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors in the 90s. The 90s were considered the era of Michael Jordan (199-F-63, college: N.Carolina) but also the golden age of big and talented post players. Who was the toughest opponent you have faced in your NBA career?
In January 1998 you moved to France and signed with Racing Paris, a very ambitious club at that time, mostly known now as Tony Parkers first club. How hard for an experienced NBA player like you was the transition from NBA rules and comodity to European game?
However, your overseas career lasted eight years in notable basketball countries such as Spain, Greece, France, Turkey. You won many individual awards such as Turkish League MVP in 2001 and Kosovo League MVP in 2004. Considering your enormous experience could you tell us which league was most competitive and where did you enjoy playing and living?
Australia was fun and good life, France also, Austria truly most interesting . Russia most wild, China so different.. all had such ups and downs , Poland Serbia ect.
The Buducnost team was cool. It was fun to play on such as famous euro league team ,but they were on the downward fall and I was brought in late to help but it was too late, the coach was okay, not great not bad, he felt a lot of pressure and I think they fired him after they then let me go.
Adriatic League is now considered as one of the best leagues in Europe. Back in 2003/2004 how competitive it was and did you like the level?
It was okay then, hard play but a lot of young prospects with Red Star and the other big team in the capital of Serbia. I could see it big now as the players could always dribble, shoot and were big, and also played a very smart floor game.
In August 2004 you suffered a career ending injury (torn Achilles tendon), just a week after you signed with Zadar, another Adriatic League team. How hard it was to quit basketball and what were the alternatives at that time?
It wasn't hard to quit, mentally I was drained, at 32 I was starting to feel it and could see myself retiring. I just was not ready off the court yet, also most of my friends were coaching in the states at college or semi pro, so I thought to do that but really after seeing it close up I didn't want to coach at a high level.
Your basketball program (more info at http://www.venomsportstraining.com) is proven for success. You have been running your own kids camp for 3-12th graders for years in Dubuque, Iowa. and also held individual workouts for past Iowa Hawkeyes who wanted to prolong and start their pro careers such as Glen Worley (203-F-81, college: Iowa), Duez Henderson (201-F-80, college: Iowa) and Jason Price (184-G-77, college: Iowa). What are your plans for your coaching career? Would you like to return to Europe as a coach?
Buducnost is the new champion of Erste Basketball League! Actually, its not a big news in Montenegro knowing that the club from Podgorica won all league titles since the independence in 2006 but this time was a bit harder against a solid Sutjeska. Anyway, the third game was not as tied as the games before (67-51) but Dusan Dubljevic 's guys can not regret because they fought bravely against a much more experienced team [read more]
Buducnost is the new champion of Erste Basketball League! Actually, its not a big news in Montenegro knowing that the club from Podgorica won all league titles since the independence in 2006 but this time was a bit harder against a solid Sutjeska. Anyway, the third game was not as tied as the games before (67-51) but Dusan Dubljevic 's guys can not regret because they fought bravely against a much more experienced team. The game was decided after the first half when Buducnost got a big lead and burried Sutjeska's hopes to make a surprise in Podgorica. A curiosity of the game played tonight is that nobody scored in double digits for the winners but all players besides Danilo Nikolic (205-C-93) scored at least two points which proves that Buducnost has a deep rotation. The top scorers were Gerald Lee (208-C-87, college: ODU) and Vladimir Mihailovic (193-G-90) with 9 points each. On the other side the situation was the same, but the guests scored less points all together and thats was the main difference. The leading scorer was Radoje Vujosevic (209-C-89, agency: Interperformances) with 8 points.
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