While it has been rare that CSU has had somebody picked in the NBA Draft, it has been a fairly regular occurrence that Cleveland State players have found post-college homes either in minor leagues here or playing professionally overseas.
The most recent examples of this are Charlie Lee and Jon Harris. For Lee, whose senior year was riddled
with suspensions that include the final game of the season, he has found his way to Scandanavia. It was announced that the 5-8 point guard will be playing for Tromso Storm in Norway’s top-tier BLNO league.
Harris, on the other hand, will be spending his basketball season a little further south in Europe. After a an ankle injury cut short his stint with Gimnasia Esgrima in Argentina’s Liga A, Harris, who finished his college career with the Vikings, will be heading the Germany to play with Chemnitz. While he will start in the second-tier Pro A league, there may be opportunities to move up to the upper echelon Bundesliga Basketball (BBL) as the season wears on.
As two recent Cleveland State players get started on their pro careers overseas, several others are well into theirs.
The most prominent Viking has been Cedric Jackson, who has established himself as a national celebrity in New Zealand. After becoming the first Cleveland State player in nearly two decades to be signed with an NBA team, he spent two seasons in the D-League before finding his way overseas.
His big break came in the 2011-12 with the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian NBL. When he has been on the court, the Breakers have been virtually unstoppable, winning league championships in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Despite playing elsewhere, including an injury-riddle season in Slovenia and spots on several NBA Summer League teams, Jackson has always seemed to find his way back to New Zealand, where he is back to help the Breakers defend their title.
And if you remember Jackson’s heave at the end of the CSU-Syracuse game at the buzzer that won the game for the Vikings, he has the rare distinction of having repeated that feat. It happened at the end of a double-overtime contest against Perth in February 2015. While it was a little closer than the Syracuse shot, it was the same result, winning the game for the Breakers.
While Jackson has clearly found a home in New Zealand, his teammate, J’Nathan Bullock, has played all over the world. After being cut by the New York Jets, Bullock, like Jackson, found his way Down Under, playing for the Geelong Supercats in the second-tier South East Australian Basketball League.
After Geelong, Bullock signed to play with Optima Gent, but ultimately left with an injury. He played in Iceland for Grindavik, where he won numerous accolades including Player of the Year, en route to a championship in 2012. After that, he was in Finland, played briefly with the Main Red Claws of the D-League and spent a season in, of all places, Iraq.
This past season, Bullock went back to Finland to play for Pyrinto in the top-flight Korisliiga. In 13 games games, he score 15.6 points per contest and pulled down five rebounds for a squad who finished in the middle of the league standings at 20-20.
In France, two former CSU teammates are still currently competing, only now against each other. In that country’s lower NM2 division, former Viking center Pape Badiane and point guard Modibo Niakate are still playing at St. Clement and Le Puy, respectively.
But the longest-playing ex-Cleveland State player overseas happens to be the one who probably spent the least time with the team. Giuseppe “Pino” Romano, who appeared in a handful of games during Mike Boyd’s last season as coach in 1995-96, is still very active and has been with Fondi in Italy’s Serie B league since 2009. This past year, the 42-year old was second on the team in scoring, averaging nearly 14 points per game.
While it’s not clear if Romano will be back playing with the team for the upcoming season, he’s listed as the club’s President, so he certainly has something to do after retirement.
Even though most players are overseas, there is one ex-Viking who is, in fact, a Globetrotter. That would be former point guard Carlos English. Dizzy, as he’s called, spent three seasons with various D-League teams before making the Globetrotter’s rookie class in 2015.
And yes, the Globetrotters will travel Europe during the 2015-16 season, so there’s a good chance English will run into a couple of his former teammates.
Women’s Soccer and Volleyball Start Off Hot, Split Pair With Akron
The CSU women’s soccer and volleyball teams have certainly raised a few eyebrows in the early going. For the soccer team, they followed up a 1-1 tie against Butler and a 7-0 romp over Chicago State with wins at Eastern Kentucky and Ohio.
For the volleyball squad, they opened the season at the Middle Tennessee Invitational, vanquishing the host school, then notching big wins over Indiana and Notre Dame before falling to Bowling Green in five sets.
On Tuesday, both teams found themselves in the exact same place – the University of Akron. They split their games, with volleyball taking the Zips in four sets, while women’s soccer dropped their first decision of the season in a 4-2 loss.
The volleyball team returns home this weekend to play Central Michigan, Binghampton and Cincinnati in the CSU Invitational. Women’s soccer, on the other hand, will stay on the road, traveling to Olean, New York to battle Cornell and St. Bonaventure in the Alumni Classic.