With so many good basketball stories stateside, whether NBA, WNBA or College, we tend to lose sight of the overall scope of the game. The International game seems to only get some love every 2 years or so with the Olympic Games and the FIBA World Cup alternating slots. With that being said, there is a lot of great basketball being played outside of the United States and Canada. With great basketball comes great players.
None may be hotter right now than Justin Dentmon, a good friend and a Society Favorite. That name rings a bell doesn’t it? Dentmon was a starting PG for Lorenzo Romar’s University of Washington Huskies from 2005-09. There were many ups and downs during his college career, but he capped it off by winning the Pac-10 conferences Most Improved Player Award and 1st Team All Pac-10 after a stellar Senior campaign that saw him regain the starting role he had lost a year earlier, but also average a career high (14.4 PPG). Next stop would surely be the NBA right? WRONG… Dentmon was overlooked by all 30 teams, and wound up in Israel. What would happen next surely set him on his current career path. JD would find himself in the basketball purgatory that is the D-League. Instead of sulking and complaining, he set the D-League ablaze in 2011-12, winning MVP as well as leading his Austin Toros to the D-League Championship. Now the path was set for NBA stardom right??? WRONG again… Dentmon earned himself a few call ups to the big leagues, notably with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, but nothing was concrete.
Justin Dentmon, never one to look back, looked ahead. Ahead to Europe. His 2013-14 campaign in Lithuania with Zalgiris Kaunas was simply spectacular. The 6’0 PG wowed fans alike with his fiery play on both ends of the floor, clutch shooting and will to win. He also unleashed his patented JD 1 Leg shot on a seemingly nightly basis. Dentmon would win several Euroleague MVP of the Week Awards en route to leading his Kaunas team to the LKL Championship in his lone season in Eastern Europe. Averages of 16.8 PPG on 45% 3 Point Shooting didn’t hurt either. This hot season, set the stage for an international bidding war that culminated with Justin taking his game further East, to China. Thus far, he’s averaging 29.2 PPG in China for the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles. Mr. International’s game has definitely sustained his level of play at each stop.
Not only has Justin Dentmon chartered his own career path, he’s created a new lane for aspiring ballplayers to earn a living. The NBA is the ultimate goal for any serious basketball player, but it is not a definite for everyone. A lot of factors go in to making it to the association, and any player who’s career does not ultimately end there or stay there, is not a failed one. JD’s persistence, courage and humility have afforded him the luxury of traveling the world and doing so through basketball. Would he love to play night in and out against the world’s best? Surely… But if you ask JD, he’s doing just fine where he’s at.