FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Saturday night former Lumberjack Ruben Boykin started for Vap Kolossos Rodou in Greece against KAO Dramas. Josh Wilson took the court for Kapsovar Kosarlabda Klub in Hungary's A Division. Kyle Landry is playing in Russia, while Ryan McDade is suiting up in Finland. In all 12 former players are currently playing overseas professionally.
The Lumberjacks are representing worldwide, playing the game they love for a living while working in some of the most exciting countries in the world.
"International basketball has been good for me," said Boykin, who scored 20 points in his season debut. "This is my fifth season. I've matured a lot as not only a basketball player but as a man. I have learned other cultures and how to adapt."
The players learn quickly that the international game is very different from college.
"As far as playing basketball, you have to be smart to play out here on a high level team," said Boykin. "The better the team the more you have to understand the game. Also, the older I've gotten I've slowed down on going crazy in practice and worked more on positions in practice rather than attacking everyone all the time and not having any energy on Saturday."
Boykin is just one of several Lumberjacks who have been able to play multiple seasons overseas, improving their playing status in different countries and leagues over time.
Dan McClintock, who starred on NAU's two NCAA Tournament teams, has parlayed a long professional career overseas after being originally drafted by the Denver Nuggets. He is playing in the Ukraine for the third consecutive season.
Kyle Landry is in his first season in Russia after two successful seasons in the Czech Republic.
"The international basketball experience has been amazing for me," said Landry. "I have had some great opportunities to play with some really good teams and players. Basketball has let me do a lot of travelling and see many different parts of the world. Hopefully I will be able to continue doing this for a long time to come."
Landry, who is averaging 13.5 points in the first two games, is playing for Triumph Lyubertsy in Russia, a team that plays in three leagues: the Russian League, Baltic League and Eurochallenge.
"I think the best thing about playing in Russia is the quality of the league," said Landry. "I personally believe that it is one of best in Europe. It just doesn't get talked about quite as much because there are only 10 teams in the top league. But they are a very good 10 teams with lots of guys from the NBA playing here."
Boykin started in Poland after his NAU career and played three more seasons in Italy. He is in his first season in Greece and scored 20 points in the season opener on Oct. 22.
Wilson, who turned down offers to play in countries such as Austria, Finland, and Macedonia, decided to re-sign with Kapsovari KK, where last season he was sixth in the league in scoring while averaging 19.4 points, 4.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. For his outstanding performance, Wilson was selected to participate in 2011 Hungarian League All-Star Game.
"My family and I are very comfortable in Kaposvar and we are happy to be back," said Wilson on his decision to return to Kaspovarc. "The team is on the right track in the preseason games so far and I think we'll have a good chance to finish at the top of the league."
Wilson, who operates a basketball academy known as Roots Basketball, LLC, (www.rootshoops.com) in his hometown, played the 2009-10 season with Erdgas Ehingen in Germany's Pro B Division, where he averaged 14.5 point per game and 6.0 assists per game (3rd in the league) before moving to Kaspovar for the 2010-11 season. He is averaging 19 points per game, tied for the team lead with former Portland guard Nik Ravio to start the season with five assists.
Recent graduates Cameron Jones and Julian Olubuyi are the latest Lumberjacks to start professional careers. Olubuyi plays for Barsy Atyyrau in Kazakhstan-D1 league. Jones, who worked out for the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers before the NBA lockout, played overseas briefly and was drafted by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League on Thursday.
Current Professional Basketball Players
Ruben Boykin, Jr. - Vap Kolossos Rodou (Greece), 2011-12
Zarko Comagic - PBG Basket Poznan (Poland), 2011-12
Casey Frank - Wellington Saints (New Zealand), 2011
Joakim Kjellbom - BC Armia Tnilisi (Georgia), 2011-12
Kristian Kuhn - Cuxhaven Bascats (Germany), 2011-12
Kyle Landry - Triumph Lyubertsy (Russia), 2011-12
Dan McClintock - MBC Mykolaiv (Ukraine), 2011-12
Ryan McDade - Nilan Bisons Loimaa (Finland), 2011-12
Julian Olubuyi - Barsy Atyyrau (Kazakhstan-D1), 2011-12
Michael Seckold - Sydney Coty Comets (Australia), 2010-11
Stephen Sir - Huracanes de Tampico (Mexico), 2011
Josh Wilson - Kaposvari KK (Hungary), 2011-12