Two Hoyas Head to Europe, Working Hard on Their Shot
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Jeff Green knows that his life will change at some point on Thursday night in New York City, when he hears his name called during the NBA draft. The Georgetown forward and Big East Conference player of the year knows that he will be playing professional basketball and making a lot of money to do so.
Sead Dizdarevic will go to Dulles International Airport this afternoon and board a plane for a trip that he hopes will change his life. The 6-foot-9 forward, a teammate of Green's for three seasons at Georgetown, is going to Italy in pursuit of a professional basketball career.
He intends to participate in an invitation-only tryout camp for European teams in Treviso later this week -- as of yesterday, he was still waiting to hear that he definitely had a spot -- and he does not have a return ticket yet, because he does not know when he will come back.
"It all depends on how well or how bad I play," Dizdarevic said. "Hopefully on how well I play."
His is a different kind of hoop dream, one that does not involve the NBA. There are plenty of opportunities to play basketball abroad -- the Web site Eurobasket.com covers 466 leagues in 192 countries -- but it is a difficult process for players who were not collegiate stars, players such as Dizdarevic and Kenny Izzo.
Dizdarevic and Izzo, the only two seniors on last season's Final Four team, rarely played for the Hoyas. Izzo, a 6-8 walk-on forward, played a total of 32 minutes and scored four points in four years. Dizdarevic, who was on scholarship, scored 46 points in 209 career minutes.
"It would be a great opportunity for me to explore something I've never been a part of and learn a new culture," said Dizdarevic, who came to the United States as an exchange student from Montenegro when he was 17. "To fulfill my dream to play basketball basically, because I didn't have a chance to play as much as I wanted to the last four years."
Dizdarevic, a government major who speaks Serbian, English and Russian, spent last summer as an intern in the office of Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.) and hopes for a career in politics or international business. He sees basketball as an opportunity to help better himself; he would like to learn another language and possibly attend graduate school in Europe.
Izzo would like to see the world. He double-majored in finance and management, and had he chosen to follow that path, he would likely have a job in investment banking or a spot in business school. Instead, he has spent the past month at home in Chicago, working at his mother's insurance firm and also at a local cruise line to earn money to help fund his search.
He has been spending a couple of hours a day on this quest. Since Izzo has not signed with an agent -- usually the first step for a player who hopes to play professionally -- he is doing all of the legwork, pursuing leads and making calls. He has sought advice from former teammates such as RaMell Ross, who played last year in Ireland, and even former Georgetown coach Craig Esherick. He asked several people from Georgetown -- assistant coach Robert Burke, strength and conditioning coach Augie Maurelli and former teammates Green and Roy Hibbert -- to write recommendations on his behalf.
"It is chaotic," Izzo said. "It's been a ton of work, like another job, basically. You can't really afford to make too many mistakes; you definitely have to do your research."
Izzo's plans change constantly; he considered attending some exposure camps on the East Coast, but decided they weren't worth the money. Now he plans to fly to Europe on July 20 to meet up with Dizdarevic in either Montenegro or Italy -- or wherever Dizdarevic ends up. Together, they plan to travel and hopefully try out for a couple of teams.