Limitless: What’s next for Pitt State ballers
Tim Spears | reporter
Courtney Ingram may have never thought that one belief could potentially send him halfway around the world. But that is exactly what he along with three other senior Gorillas could be doing following graduation.
Ingram, senior in physical education, has played for Pittsburg State men’s basketball team the since transferring from Drury University in 2010. Four years of collegiate basketball in the Midwest, and one conviction, could completely change his life after graduation.
“I do believe that I can play professional basketball,” Ingram said about making the choice of whether to pursue a traditional career path after graduation or trying to generate a living off the game that’s defined much of his life. “I would try out for some overseas teams,” Ingram said.
Fellow physical education major and two-year starter Rico Pierrevilus, as well as senior in communication and four-year starting forward for the Gorillas, JaVon McGee, both plan to pursue a career abroad.
“No particular leagues [in mind], just playing overseas,” McGee said about the European leagues. “I’m not really familiar with any specific teams, but something along those lines,” Ingram added.
Pierrevilus wasn’t exact on which league he would look to enter, but said Spain was his preferred destination.
None of the players offered any details as to how they would break into the international market. All three plan to get an agent or some form of management after school to help the job search, but all have been prevented from talking to teams or agents due to NCAA regulations. While it’s not a major issue during their collegiate careers, athletes are at a huge disadvantage looking for a job compared to other fields where students may be sending applications before the start of their senior year.
“When it comes to pro ball it’s all about who you know, what connections do you have and how can you get your foot in the door for an opportunity,” said former Pitt State guard Adrian Herrera who chose to step away from basketball and enroll in graduate school. “It’s every basketball player’s dream to play professionally one day, but like most people know, your chances are very slim and that’s at any level of competition. For a D-II player that chance is even smaller.”
Pitt State’s Office of Career Services offers tools for students seeking employment like resume critiques and mock interviews. But when it comes to helping collegiate athletes play professionally, there’s not much offered. McGee said that he doesn’t know of any of that help here, although he wasn’t sure about the football program.
This, in effect, creates a double-whammy for students who pursue collegiate athletics. Making time for training, practice, home games, road games, community service, possible postseason games and everything else that comes along with being a player puts athletes at an academic disadvantage as well as limiting opportunities to gain practical opportunities in their major. In addition, for those wishing to continue sports professionally, NCAA regulations prevent athletes from preparing for the transition while attending school in any serious manner.
“After four years of college basketball I didn’t have much work experience to put on my resume,” Herrera said. “Most companies either look for work experience or education, so I chose to further my education in hopes of gaining an advantage over future competition.”
With this in mind, Ingram is still focused on getting his degree before worrying about professional basketball.
“First off, after graduation I plan to complete my internship,” Ingram said. “I would like to pursue a career in fitness and wellness if I can’t find a team to play professionally on.”
“After graduation I’m going back home to do some more basketball training,” said McGee, the only senior from this year’s team to play his entire career at Pitt State, McGee is confident his degree has more than prepared him for a life after basketball.
“In the communication world I can do anything I want. I have my degree. I’m capable of being productive in the communications world, no matter the aspect [whether it’s] marketing, public relations, or broadcasting.”
“It wasn’t hard giving up basketball because I felt that I had used basketball for all it was worth,” Herrera said. “The main goal in college sports is to finish the race and get that degree. If a person can accomplish that, then they’ve already become successful because many kids won’t ever have that same opportunity. For every player, the ball will eventually go flat one day and when that time comes, what’s the next step? This is why education is so important because your chances at going pro are few and far between and it’s something that I stress to the younger kids back home.”