Each spring the National Basketball Association holds it annual player draft, and for the past few years that has consisted of just 60 selections.
And not every player drafted makes the roster of his NBA team that season.
Throw in non-drafted free agents, who sign with a team, and there are perhaps one or two spots that open each season with an NBA team.
With few opportunities in the NBA, many American players, with a Division I history, head overseas each year to begin a pro career.
Two players with ties to Laurel have played in Europe this season: Rodney Glasgow, Jr. has been in Slovakia while David Kadiri has been in Serbia.
Kadiri lived in Laurel as a teenager and played at Coolidge High in Washington, D.C. for head coach Vaughn Jones, a former standout at DeMatha Catholic High in Hyattsville and at George Washington University.
As a freshman, Kadiri played at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and saw action in 27 games, with 10 starts.
Kadiri went on to play at South Plains Junior College before committing to the University of Buffalo. He finished his college career in 2017 at Buffalo and was part of a team that won the Mid-American Conference title in 2016.
Last season, he played in England for the Manchester Giants in his first season overseas.
The Germantown native has played this winter in Uzice, Serbia.
The town of about 60,000 people in western Serbia is the home of several notable soccer and basketball players and was heavily bombed by NATO forces in 1999.
“I am playing in Uzicé which is a pretty small town in Serbiá surrounded by mountains,” he wrote from Serbia. “It’s pretty nice, tranquil, and the people here love basketball. In my free time I love going to to the coffee shops. I go sightseeing in the mountains, and I also have my 4-month old pitbull terrior with me so he keeps me company as well.”
Kadiri, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged nearly 10 points and 4.5 rebounds in his first 19 games this season in Serbia. He had a season-high 27 points on Feb. 2 in a win over Beovuk 72.
“Playing basketball after college was something I was always interested in,” according to Kadiri. “I had an interesting two years at Buffalo and just kind of battling partial tear in my quadriceps tendon and playing through that. A lot of rehab and perseverance I was still able to overcome that, enjoy my time there, win a MAC championship with them, and still pursue professional basketball.”
There are more than 100 Serbian men playing basketball at colleges and at the pro level this winter in the United States, according to EuroBasket.com.
One of the Serbian players in the NBA is Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 20.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.7 assists for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.
“The biggest difference I notice from NCAA and Europe ball would be the different pace and just the style of play,” noted Kadiri, one of just 10 or so Americans to play in the pro league in Serbia this season.
Glasgow spent part of his youth in Laurel and Odenton and attended The Bullis School in Potomac before transferring to Good Counsel in Olney so he could play in the Washington Catholic Athletic Association.
Point guard Glasgow, 26, headed overseas after playing in the fast-paced offense for head coach Duggar Baucom at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia through 2014.
He played in Switzerland and Belgium and has spent the past two seasons in Slovakia.
“I always knew I wanted to play basketball professionally, but my senior year was when I really decided to accept going overseas. My college coach told me he would help me get there if I committed and he kept his word all the way,” Glasgow wrote from Slovakia. “Love coach Baucom (now at The Citadel). And it was just my family getting ready for it. I think they were worried and nervous the first time but they are fine now and always supported me.”
What are the biggest challenges of playing in Europe?
“The biggest challenge I had playing on the court overseas, would be adjusting to the European game,” according to Glasgow. “You have to be efficient at your position, and have IQ offensively and defensively at a quicker speed especially as a guard. The language barrier can also be something if you have a coach who can't speak English really well when they break down plays or a game plan.”
“And teammates, because every country will have there local players and imports can be from anywhere. So respecting everyone’s culture is a key. Off the court I would say just being in a different country alone. It makes you mature faster and you have to adjust to the time, food, language, and how the life is. That's why some guys can't do it.”
Mikal Cekovsky, who is from Slovakia, played for the Terps of Maryland from 2014 to 2018.
He is now playing as a pro in his native Slovakia but is not on the same team as Glasgow, one of about 25 American men to play in a pro league in Slovakia in the last two seasons, according to EuroBasket.com.
Glasgow is playing in Prievidza, a town of about 50,000 in central-western Slovakia. He was averaging 9.0 points and 2.6 assists in early February.