Editor's Note: Professional basketball player Josh Wilson checks in with us here at Stepien Rules for part three of his Hooping on Foreign Hardwoods series. For parts one and two, click here and here.
After finishing my last blog I hoped on my last flight from Warsaw to Budapest and drove a two hour drive to my new home in Kaposvar, Hungary. My family and I have just settled into our new home and everything is great so far. I was on a two week tryout period and have successfully made the team for this season. My goal is to catch everyone up to speed on what’s going on in Hungary. I have a ton of interesting stuff to write about not only from a basketball standpoint but everything pertaining to life as an expatriate. My wife and I just found out that we are having a boy this March and I couldn’t be more excited! I think it will make for some great writing material.
A common question I often get is what is the average day like for an overseas professional basketball player? While I can’t answer for everyone I can make an attempt to paint a picture of what my day was like in Germany and now here in Hungary. Typically you have two practices a day, one in the morning and one a night. You usually lift weights sometime in between and that’s all your basketball obligations for the day. So that might take up oh, 4-6 hours. That leaves around 8 hours to do whatever you feel like. In Germany sometimes we’d only have 1 practice a day and weights on your own so I was really not busy. This can actually be a huge problem for guys coming from college. College is unbelievably hard. You go from 8am to 10pm everyday nonstop. So going from that to the pros leaves you a little… BORED. Some guys handle it well, some don’t. Spare time for some usually entails XBOX, movies, Skype, and lots of Facebook. I’m guilty of movies and maybe sometimes Facebook but I’m not really a fan of the rest.
With my experiences here practices are great, the perfect amount of time. You get in work hard but don’t feel completely drained. This is important for me personally because I like to feel that I still have the energy to work on things on my own. Keep my shot hitch free and try to sharpen my ball handling skills. In college it’s near impossible to get in that extra work. You have rehab, a test in the morning, and you have to get to the cafeteria before it closes. I think college coaches would be wise to chill out on being so crazy. Your players need to be rested and have the opportunity to improve themselves because they want to not because you forced them to. There is a huge psychological advantage to working hard and getting better because you want to not because you were told to. In the pros if you want to make more money and move up you have to do well. The only way I know how to do that is by practicing. I’m thankful I’ve been in two places in the pro’s that allow me to do this.
I try to get out of the house and walk around as much as possible. It usually ends up being an interesting story. On several occasions I’ve been stopped and talked to for what seems like hours. I still have no idea what they were getting at. They usually end up mad as I said no sprechen deutsch. It’s amazing how well you can communicate without having a clue what the other person is saying. Lots of pointing usually gets the trick done in about any store. My favorite part of having some free time is seeing all the beautiful sites of Europe. Last year my manager Nico took me on trips to The Cinderella Castle (the one Disney is modeled after) in southeast Germany, Berlin, and the Dachau concentration camp. As a history major in college I am constantly blown away at the sites and history. In Ehingen I was driving one day and parked in front of this little building downtown that said it was built in 1692. That one insignificant building was older than the United States. Hard to imagine.
I think the hardest part about it for most Americans is not the basketball practices or games. Not your coach or teammates. But when you’re here by yourself sometimes you feel entirely alone. This is especially true in the beginning. You don’t really know your teammates well enough to kick it with and you have all this time that you are not use to. You can’t always call back home because the time difference, most people are at work or school. It can be a hard thing so far from home. My wife and I found out the hard way that there is only so much time you can spend starring at a computer. I guess my advice to anyone over here who feels that way… get married. Alright well maybe that’s a little far but it’s been awesome having my wife with me. I hang out with her and my daughter all day go play hoops twice for a couple hours and come back to a home a cooked meal. Pretty sweet. It’s much better than last year’s frozen pizzas, peanut butter and jellies and endless amount of pasta (the only thing I know how to cook).
I personally try to take advantage of the spare time. With technology now anyone can go to school for about anything from anywhere. I am currently working on a Masters in Business Administration and very slowly on a Masters in Education. I like moving toward something and I know basketball won’t last forever. Going to school now works great for me. Other than basketball, school, hanging with the family, and adventuring out, I read and watch movies. I don’t think it can get much better than that.
I’m not sure if that gives the best image of overseas hoopers but it’s what I do daily. I love my job. I finished out last year averaging 14.6 points and dishing out 6.0 assists a game. My team finished in fourth place two spots away from moving up a division. I would have loved to have been a part of giving Ehingen the chance to play at a higher level but we fell just short. I have nothing but good things to say about the Ehingen Steeples program and I wish them the best. I know they’ll move up to Pro A real soon. In my next blog I’ll let you know about my summer maybe some of my workouts and everything leading up to coming to Hungary.
To learn more about Josh Wilson visit his website: www.joshwilsonbasketball.com
You can also check Josh Wilson's game out here: YouTube - Germany highlight tape 2009-2010