August 24, 2010

Men’s Basketball’s Big Four Prepare for Careers in Pros

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Over the summer, four members of Cornell basketball’s decorated senior class signed professional contracts, with three of the four deciding to take their talents overseas. Ryan Wittman ’10 and Jeff Foote ’10 were both familiar faces on the NBA workout circuit and even worked out for the New York Knicks together on June 15. Foote also worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers, while Wittman, son of former NBA player and current Washington Wizards assistant coach Randy Wittman, worked out for his father’s team on June 1, and the Sacramento Kings on June 7.The Sun’s Athlete of the Year was also scouted by 23 NBA teams –– the Knicks among them –– at an open workout hosted at the New Jersey Nets’ practice facility on June 11. Wittman was among 36 players invited to participate, and the only Ivy Leaguer. However, both Witt and Foote went undrafted in the NBA draft on June 24, while five members of Cornell’s Sweet 16 opponent Kentucky were selected in the first round.  Foote would go on to sign a three-year deal with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, a team that plays in the top European and Israeli first leagues, the highest division in Europe.Wittman, meanwhile, signed NBA Summer League deals with both the reigning Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, and the New York Knicks. The Celtics, who lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals, played in the AirTran Airways Pro Summer League in Orlando, Fla., which went from July 5-9 (see sidebar). Second-round draft pick Luke Harangody, an All-American out of Notre Dame, was among Wittman’s teammates in Orlando, as was Northeastern standout (and fellow Minnesotan) Matt Janning.  Following his stint in Orlando, Wittman headed west to Sin City to join former Syracuse guard and 38th overall pick Andy Rautins and the Knicks in the Las Vegas summer league from July 9 until the 18th (see page 27).In an ironic twist, Rautins donned No. 20, which was Wittman’s number during his four years at Cornell. Witt has yet to decide where he will be playing basketball next year, but has said he would consider going to Europe.Speaking of men’s basketball alumni heading overseas, Foote will have company in Israel, as his fellow tri-captain Jon Jaques ’10 has also signed a deal to play for Ironi “Eldan” Ashkelon, which competes in the highest division of Israeli basketball. Jaques is a former member of the Sun’s editorial writing board.  Finally, Louis Dale ’10 signed a contract with German team BG Göttingen.“We are very happy that he joins us and we are looking forward to see him play in the German Beko BBL as well as in the prestigious Eurocup competition,” the team’s public relations officer Björn-Lars Blank stated in an email.“Our head coach John Patrick points out that (for him) Dale was one of the best PGs in the NCAA Tourney. Also saying that Louis is a bright and intelligent person who fits into Göttingen very well.”Göttingen is a town well known for its university, with many of the 120,000 inhabitants being students.

Original Author: Alex Kuczynski-Brown