East Coast All Stars help NCAA players experience basketball in Europe
For the past seven years, Coach Guy Rancourt, head coach at Lycoming
College (D3), has assembled a team of top-level college players for a European
basketball experience that aims to prepare student-athletes for possible professional careers
overseas. Competing against some elite-level national teams from Europe,
Rancourt’s goal is to educate players in foreign cultures and provide an
introduction to international hoops.
Rancourt founded The East Coast All Stars in the summer of 2006 while working
as an assistant coach at Stony Brook University (D1) in New York. Since then the
team has visited and competed in Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Austria,
Slovakia, the Czech Republic, France, and Switzerland. Abroad, the ECAS get
the opportunity to study the international game and its subtle rule changes.
This summer they departed to Estonia for the Four Nations Cup – a four-team
event held in Tallinn, Estonia. The competition field included the Republic
of Georgia, the Czech Republic, led by Jan Vesely (#6 pick by Washington Wizards in
2011 NBA Draft) and the host country, Estonia. The Republic
of Georgia alone had three players drafted into the NBA. On top of that, the
Republic of Georgia’s lineup included college stars Jacob Pullen from Kansas
State and former Villanova guard Corey Fisher.
The size and speed of the Europeans shocked some of the East Coast All Stars, who featured
some undersized players. Jerald Williams is a 5-foot-8 point guard, who starts
for Coach Rancourt at Lycoming College and is among the leaders in several
statistical categories, including assists and steals.
“Our players were surprised of the size and physicality of the game,” Rancourt
said of Williams’ experience overseas. “The speed of the game took him by
surprise... A shooting guard Jerald is going up against would be 6-foot-7 and be just as fast as him.”
Some of the players who stood out for the E.C.A.S were Duke teammates Quinn
Cook and Marshall Plumlee; Juwan Staten, who led the Atlantic 10 in assists and
then transferred to West Virginia, and Nick Faust from Maryland who led the
team in scoring.
Having to deal with some last minute roster changes due to academics, the
ECAS struggled against the competition for a fourth place finish. In a double-overtime win over the Republic of Georgia, Quinn Cook from Duke University, had 29
points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals, including the buzzer-beating floater that sent
the game into a second overtime. Cook – who will be a sophomore for Coach K’s
Blue Devils – was also named to the All Cup Team.
Although the ECAS came in fourth place, the players got some valuable
experience playing against grown men and were offered a taste of what
professional basketball overseas might be like. Which is the main goal of the entire experience.
“Brad Redford in particular stood out to me, as he summed it up, as for someone
who has the desire to play after college and the NBA not being accessible,”
Rancourt said. “He gained valuable experience of playing overseas and knowing
what areas of his game he has to work on.”
The All Stars are invited back to compete next year in the Four Nations Cup.
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Photos by An Rong Xu