So you’re thinking of leaving us to pursue your basketball oversees. While the US route is well-travelled for UK top’s young ballers, the Euro route appears shrouded in mystery and foreign language confusion.
It isn't usually going to Europe post-US college or even post-18. Usually, the European clubs want to develop you long term and work with you during younger ages, starting sometimes as young as 14 (that’s the age Dan Clark was when he went to Estudiantes in Madrid, Spain). Unlike the US, the idea is that you are there for the long term and not just for a few years. It’s exactly like the football clubs contracting younger players (different amounts of money are involved) but see it as Arsenal and Manchester United trying to develop talented players rather than having to pay expensive transfer fees later.
Post-18, going to a European club means playing professional basketball. There are no basketball scholarships to attend University.
Scouts, agents, and club scouts try to identify talented players whom they feel have the potential to be 1st team professional players later on. They scout at international tournaments or will come to games if they hear something.
The big question. Who do you trust? What about the agency, what about the club, what’s the process? The big agencies have impressive websites and credentials—ask for them. Talk to players who are with the agency and maybe some who have left. Talk to the high-performance staff at Basketball England.
FIBA has strict regulations for transfers below age 18. And only a limited number of players from a country will be allowed to transfer. None of those regulations exists for transferring to the US. All cases are treated on an individual basis and FIBA has to give permission. Rules can be downloaded here.
The transfer of players under 18 do have some extra conditions. They are as follows:
1) If the proposed transfer is not linked to basketball, the transfer may be authorised.
2) If the proposed transfer is linked to basketball, the following criteria shall be taken into account when making the decision on the authorisation of the transfer:
a. The player’s new club shall guarantee adequate academic and/or school and/or vocational training which prepares him for a career after his career as a professional player.
b. The new club shall provide appropriate basketball training in order to develop and/or further the player’s career as a professional player.
c. The new club shall demonstrate that it conducts an appropriate training programme for young players of the nationality of the club’s home country.
d. The new club shall make a contribution to a Solidarity Fund established by FIBA to support the development of young players.
e. The young player, his parents, the new club, and the new national member federation shall declare in writing that, until his 18th birthday, the player will make himself available for his home country’s national team and, if necessary, for the preparation time as well as for training camps provided that they do not interfere with school activities.
f. The transfer does not disrupt the player’s schooling.
3) Not more than five outward transfers of players under the age of 18 can be approved in any one year from any one national member federation; similarly, not more than 10 such transfers inward can be approved for any one national member federation.
The player will continue her/his secondary education at a school in that country.
It’s either a public school or an international school. After that, there are options to go to University, but it’s likely to be part-time.
It’s tough being in a foreign language environment. However, you’ll be astonished at how quickly and well you will adapt if you’re open for it. It is a huge assist to be multi-lingual and will remain an asset for life.
Again, there are different situations. It can be a type of dorm overseen by adults; a host-family situation; a host-family situation with more players.
It will typically be an all expenses paid situation, with some pocket money. Provision will be made for several return flights and visits from friends and relatives.
It’s important to understand the idea of long-term development. In many professional sports, there are rules about the number of non-domestic players; however, if a player has practiced and lived in a country for three consecutive years between the ages of 14-19, she/he will qualify as a domestic player. This is very important to clubs, who must field a minimum number of domestic players. This is why it is less interesting for club to scout players who will not be able to obtain that three-year requirement. A player going to Europe post 18 and post US-college, for example, will always compete with the other Euro slots or American slots.
A club makes a huge investment into the player’s development; it’s not about winning for the club or anything like that; they need to provide the player with the skill and everything that’s involved to become a first-team player.
The opportunities for development in this situation are unrivalled. Often, players will have a personal club coach for the ‘scholarship players’ who just works on individual skill, usually daily. In addition, there are all the team practices (usually daily). It’s busy! Learning a new language, trying to integrate into the school, and working so hard on basketball is a pretty exhausting life. The opportunity and the odds to become a professional player (often the goal for young basketball players) post-18 are excellent in this situation.
The educational pathway can be a qualification for UK and US Universities, depending on your choice. Players can go from Europe to US college for example, if they want to (Dylan John’s has gone from Fuenlabrada to Texas A&M, for example).