Travis Black fights to get back on the floor

Travis Black got the chance that so many young ballers spend their lives working for. He got a scholarship to play basketball and get an education at the same time. Half-way through his college career, that’s all in jeopardy because of a NCAA ruling. Emmet Ryan spoke with the Irish baller about his fight to regain his eligibility from the NCAA.

It was quite the leap. Travis Black spent his teenage years playing for Swords and Ard Scoil Ris in Ireland before getting the chance to go to the US at 17. The Dubliner had to leave his family behind to try his hand at pursuing his dream. Black didn’t immediately go to college, despite finishing second level in Ireland because he was told he had to do more to qualify.

“I was told that since I graduated from secondary school in Ireland, moving to America I did not have the credentials to be considered a American high school graduate. So I was classified as a Junior in high school,” Black told

“After graduating I attend a Prep School for a year to strengthen my academics where I also participated on their basketball team.”

Black first made it into the juco ranks, helping the Spartanburg Methodist Academy to the NJCAA Final Four. From there he got an offer to play Division II ball with Clayton State. That’s when the NCAA stepped in.

“They declared me ineligible for my final two years so basically I’m done playing but with all this publicity maybe I can get the case reviewed again. If that does not work I might have eligibility to play NAIA which is another Division but I’m waiting on word regarding that situation,” said Black.

“I receive a great amount of support from my teammates. The coaching staff has let me continue to practice with the team and allow me to have a major role within the team.”

Essentially Black is being punished for furthering his education. By finishing his Leaving Cert in Ireland and then going on to complete high school in the US, the Dubliner has done all he can to make sure he was eligible to play at the NCAA level. The governing body doesn’t see it that way.

“The NCAA always promotes students first and athletes second. I’m just a young Irish lad trying to get my bachelor’s degree, while pursuing my dream of playing college basketball,” said Black.

“Not only is my eligibility taken but my opportunity to have school paid for which is worth $40,000 for the next 2 years,” he said.

Black’s fight came to BiE’s attention following a massive social media campaign last weekend. The Black family back in Ireland has mobilised the basketball community locally and their efforts have seen support come in from across the globe. Black recognises the importance of this kind of backing.

“The more the NCAA is being publicized in a bad way, the more chance they might review the case. Like I said because there such a big organisation in America so they don’t want to have a bad name,” said Black

“To have so much support from people I don’t even know gives me hope and shows that the people who have been there for me since day one is great to see as well. I would like to give a big thanks to everybody that has supported me,” he said.

“To all the people I do know and for the ones who I don’t know, it means a whole to me and my family. All I ever done since I have been in America is work hard, represent my family, my friends and last but not least my country. In doing this my way of paying back my family, friends and country was not only playing college basketball at a high level but earning a college degree as well. I kind of felt ill letting them down but there is nothing I can really do. I still plan on reaching those goals though because I have come too far to stop now and with all this support from back home and around different places I know I’ll get it done.”

You can show your support for Black by tweeting with the hashtag #LetTravisPlay


FGCU 78, Georgetown 68: The dunk, upset and prediction of the year

Cinderella, March Madness, instant history, the excitement of college hoops, etc. etc. So Florida Gulf Coast University destroyed what was left of BallinEurope’s NCAA Tournament bracket after the (sigh) University of New Mexico debacle plucky Harvard victory on Thursday with a thrilling 78-68 win over heralded no. 2 seed Georgetown. Unfortunately, the troika of FGCU’s European players didn’t do much, but who cares? The basketball upset of 2013 has been accomplished.

Therefore, the immediate YouTube-based reaction and clips, for posterity’s sake.
First off, let’s give props to a guy named Hebrew Hammy. Ol’ Hammy went on something called Collision Sports Talk a couple of nights ago, making the truly fearless prediction of the Eagles overcoming the mighty Hoyas. At least this part of the guy’s bracket ain’t broke…

And sure, here’s the dunk everyone’s gonna be discussing, posting, tweeting and retweeting today. Welcome to your 15 seconds of viral fame, Mr. Chase Fieler!


Poll: Who are you cheering for in the 2013 NCAA Tournament?

After trawling the rosters of teams invited to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, a.k.a. The Big Dance, a.k.a. the cause of March Madness, BallinEurope has decided to divide its loyalty among three European-accented college squads.

And you? Who do you like in the big bracket? Vote below, vote early, vote often. And let the Madness begin!

Who are you cheering for to win the 2013 NCAA Tournament?

  • My alma mater (33%, 5 Votes)
  • Duke (20%, 3 Votes)
  • Any team except for Duke (20%, 3 Votes)
  • Gonzaga (13%, 2 Votes)
  • New Mexico State University (13%, 2 Votes)
  • Florida Gulf Coast University (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Any underdog (1%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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March Madness: Three teams (and nine players) to support in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

Can Harris, Gonzaga continue to ride the wave?

Can one website support three teams in a single competition? Hey, it’s March Madness, so why not? Earlier, BallinEurope took a brief look at half the European players set to compete (or not) in the 2013 NCAA Tournament; today, nine more – and a bit of a conundrum Though some 18 names on Big Dance rosters represent the Continent in this year’s tourney, three teams have each amassed a European triad – not to mention a few certain NBA draft picks and difference-makers in the tournament.

The easy choice for the European basketball fan would of course be Gonzaga. With a realistic shot at winning the whole enchilada and having perfected that up-tempo style for which this basketball program has become known, why not get on the bandwagon? After a topsy-turvy season during which it felt like a new no. 1 topped polls weekly, the Bulldogs finally emerged atop the ratings, only to see that ranking immediately erased thanks to bracket-building.

Of course, one could eliminate the Zags from contention for your Tournament-time devotion on a technicality. Guy Landry Edi’s hometown according to the NCAA and media sources is Paris, France. However, serious followers of FIBA ball will recall that, after playing with Team France in the U16s, he then suited up – thus changed his eligible nationality in FIBA terms – for Côte d’Ivoire in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (and subsequently the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship).

So could it be that Edi is finally worn down? Or, put another way, what happened to this guy in 2013? Since the New Year’s Eve game at Oklahoma State, Edi has totaled nearly as many personal fouls (11) as points (16, including seven in the Seniors Day Game blowout against Portland). Heck, he hasn’t scored a point since January 24, since going 0-for-13.

BiE wonders if we’ll ever see this player again (and thinks, yeah, maybe in Pro A next season):

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March Madness a la Europe, Part I: Walk-ons, bench guys, standouts

OSU's Della Valle: It's gotta be the hair...

OSU’s Della Valle: It’s gotta be the hair…

The easy way to introduce a piece like this: Are you ready for March Madness? But of course that’s a rhetorical question as – despite the morphing NBA playoff picture and the Euroleague Top 16 round homestretch – the basketball world’s attention turns to the U.S. college game.

Fans of international ball will be pleased to note the distinct foreign accent in the 2013 NCAA Tournament: 47 of the 60 sides with spots clinched in the competition list non-U.S. players on the roster. And while Canadians and Australians (including three on Albany and two with Luc Longley’s alma mater the University of New Mexico) lead the bunch, 18 European players remain on tourney team rosters.

Below runs a brief look at the first half of Europe’s representatives in the big bracket; with the other nine set to play for one of three tournament teams, BallinEurope will pay particular attention to these guys in an upcoming article.

First up: The two guys listed on rosters who will not see action. Notre Dame’s Eric Katenda (France) announced this summer that he was ready to get onto the court for the Fighting Irish after suffering a freakish potentially career-ending eye injury while still officially a recruit. Unfortunately, this comeback story has only a bittersweet ending thus far: While coach Mike Brey has stated that Katenda’s scholarship will be honored, the Frenchman did not suit up for the team this season.

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Hire Dre Baldwin (the Best Unsigned Basketball Player Alive)!

Sure, BiE’ll help out a longtime player, if only for his awesome and audacious marketing skills. An email arrived in the BallinEurope inbox entitled simply “The Best Unsigned Basketball Player Alive: Dre Baldwin” (has Allen Iverson heard about this?) and included quite a nice résumé compiled over seven years.

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American Education: An Associated Press veteran’s takes on five Europeans in NCAA basketball

Auda “will be a big factor” for Seton Hall

European, NCAA and youth basketball fans will definitely want to check out episode five of heinnews/ BallinEurope’s “Taking the Charge” podcast series posted today; in short, it’s a ton of information on prospects and the NCAA game courtesy (in the first half) of Jim O’Connell.

O’Connell has written for NCAA basketball for the Associated Press since 1978 and has just recently completed his 3,000th game writeup for the wire service. His CV is way too long to detail here, but let’s just say it culminates with entry into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

So who better, BiE figured, to get some insight from on a handful of European prospects in American college basketball in 2012-13? Below run O’Connell’s insights into Patrick Auda of the Czech Republic; Patrick Heckmann and Elias Harris of Germany; Deniz Kilicli of Turkey; and Will Yeguete of France – plus video clips!

(Teaser: O’Connell reckons one of these guys is destined for an all-American-level year…)

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Twenty years ago today: Champions in Europe and USA, 1992

In celebration of certainly still the most significant year in international basketball history, BallinEurope today begins the “Twenty years ago today” series in which we’ll peer back in time through the lens of YouTube to that era of morphing European national teams and Dream Team dominance.

In the wake of that Greatest Basketball Team Ever Assembled, much of the 1991-92 professional seasons themselves get the short shrift in the history books, but some quite interesting stuff was nevertheless happening on the Continent.

• The Euroleague boasted a cliffhanging thriller in Partizan Belgrade vs. Joventut Badalona. Badalona brought Harold Pressley (with averages of 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per EL game) and Rafael Jofresa, while the Black-and-Whites boasted local products Predrag Danilovic and Aleksanda Djordjevic. It was the latter who’d deliver the European championship to the storied franchise for its first and, to date, last such title ever.

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British Basketball announces 21-man national team roster, dubbed “strongest Team Britain ever”

Head coach Chris Finch and the British Basketball Federation today released a preliminary roster of 21 players to compete for spots on the host team’s 2012 Olympic team. Given the fairly short modern history of FIBA-level basketball on the ‘Isles, the claim from the federation that this is the “strongest-ever preliminary GB men’s squad” isn’t very debatable.

Said roster draws on quite an international reach, consisting as it does of NBA players Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons) and Byron Mullens (Charlotte Bobcats); Liga Endesa’s Kieron Achara (Manresa), Robert Archibald (Zaragoza), Dan Clark (Asefa Estudiantes), Joel Freeland (Unicaja Malaga) and Devon van Oostrum (Tarragona); European professionals Ogo Adegboye and Kyle Johnson (Apoel Cyprus), Eric Boateng (Peristeri), Matthew Bryan-Amaning (Hacettepe), Mike Lenzly (CEZ Nymburk), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Besiktas Milangaz), Sullivan Phillips (Prievidza); the BBL’s Nate Reinking (Sheffield Sharks) and Andrew Sullivan (Leicester Riders); NCAA players Andrew Lawrence (College of Charleston), Alex Marcotullio (Northwestern), Ovie Soko (University of Alabama-Birmingham); and current free agent/San Antonio Spurs draftee Ryan Richards.

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