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Rochester College men’s basketball has made its mark on college basketball over its storied history. With that team success, individual success was bound to follow. After a 29-3 finish and a trip to the NAIA tournament in the 2016-2017 season, Jeroen de Baat, Angelo Griffis and Jaylen Larry all made the decision to play pro basketball overseas in Europe, joining former Warriors Drew Maynard and Stavros Schizas.
Griffis builds off of strong college career
Angelo Griffis enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history last season, averaging 21 points, three assists and just fewer than eight rebounds per game. With this stellar season, he was also named a finalist for the Bevo Francis award, which is handed out to the top non-division one basketball player in the country.
Griffis signed a contract to play in Nassjo, Sweden, for KSM Nassjo Basket, which is in the top league in Sweden.
Griffis says his time at Rochester made him a better player both physically and mentally. “I get to play my game and I love it. RC has taught me to never get too high or too low on emotions and that was one thing Coach [Tom] Webb always stressed. I play with a lot of emotion but I'm getting better with time,” Griffis said. Webb is currently an assistant under Head Coach Klint Pleasant.
Griffis has high goals for his future in basketball over the next few years. “I'm in the top league in Sweden,” he said. “I want to get to the top league in Spain or Italy in the next couple years. I also want to give the NBA D-league a shot.”
Larry makes history in Malaga
The next Warrior to make the jump overseas was Jaylen Larry. The former RC big man became the first American born player in club history to join CB Deportivo Coin located in Malaga, Spain.
“There are certain things that they do here in Spain that they don't do in America. Mostly it’s getting adjusted to the language that they speak and trying to understand what they are saying and holding an actual conversation with them,” Larry said about his adjustment period.
A dominate force for the Warriors during his senior season, Larry averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per game. He did all of this on an impressive 65 percent from the field, making him one of the most efficient players in all of college basketball.
Larry has noticed that communication is one of the main differences between playing for RC and now in Spain. “At RC we were taught to communicate with one another on the floor. It makes things easier for the team and it builds a trust type of thing with each other. Here it gets very quiet on the court and it's usually a lot of hand signs to do things like ball screen or switch defenders instead of talking.”
Larry has also set several goals for himself in the near future as he tries to work his way back to America, “My future goals are to play a couple years overseas but still try to make my way into the NBA. As much as I love it here, I love home even more,” Larry said.
De Baat heads home
Jeron De Baat ended his career at RC last year as the all-time shot-blocking leader in school history, while also averaging five points per game. De Baat who signed a contract to play for the Rotterdam Challengers, a top-level professional team in his home country of Holland.
According to a recent press release posted to rochestercollegewarriors.com, Rotterdam head coach, Armand Salomon, looks forward to de Baat being a defensive force in the middle for the Challengers.
“The game is a lot faster since the shot clock only has 24 seconds on it instead of 30. It does not seem as much but it definitely speeds up the game,” de Baat said.
De Baat also served as a student assistant for the Warriors during last season as he finished his degree. He looks forward to one day returning to the U.S.
“For now I'm focusing on basketball, but if there is an opportunity for me to move back to the U.S. in the near future, I'll definitely take it,” de Baat said.
Maynard and Schizas lead the way
Drew Maynard and Stavros Schizas overseas were two of the first RC basketball players to compete in Europe.
Maynard finished his eligibility at RC in 2013, and since then, he has played professionally in Brazil, Denmark, Greece and Brazil, while he just recently signed a new contract to play in Oviedo, Spain for Oviedo Basket.
Last season he averaged 14 points and seven rebounds per game, making him an all-star in the top league in Brazil.
“I find it near impossible to rank players in terms of their level of success and impact while at RC,” Pleasant said. “I think we’ve had players contribute towards wins and championships that perhaps did not even play much. That said, there is no question that Drew had a lasting impact on our program. His physical prowess was unmatched. He had all the tools and all the skill. But more than anything, Drew made a change internally related to his attitude and character and that perhaps puts him in a category all by himself.” Maynard came to RC after being dismissed from Oakland University's basketball team.
Stavros Schizas also has found success overseas since leaving RC and turning pro in 2014. He has played for three teams in the Greek League and is currently a part of Kolossos Rodu, a team located in Rhodes City, Greece.
The success of Warriors overseas at a professional level is something that has helped Pleasant in recruiting.
“It shows potential recruits that RC is a place where not only collective goals can be achieved but perhaps individual goals as well,” he said.
With RC’s season starting in October, the Warriors will look to continue their past success, with many players on the roster dreaming of one day joining the five former Warriors at the next level.