A Smooth Trip from B-School to B-Ball

Michigan State basketballer Christopher Hill's business degree helps him do more than just count points as a pro player in France

I do not have a typical job for a business school graduate. Leaving college, I knew I wanted to play basketball professionally, so I hired an agent who marketed me to teams in the NBA and abroad. In July 2005, I signed a one-year contract with a team called ALM Evreux in Evreux, France -- a small, rural town about an hour west of Paris.

Christopher Hill

Professional basketball player

ALM Evreux (Evreux, France)

BA Class of 2005, Michigan State University Eli Broad School of Business

I played basketball on scholarship during my four years at Michigan State University Eli Broad School of Business. Facilities and gear are markedly different between the top Division I Michigan State program and the smaller ALM Evreux. It was also difficult adjusting to living in another country because I didn't know anyone and lacked phone and Internet access for six weeks. However, now I am friends with my teammates -- who are all between the ages of 22 and 29 -- and it has become exciting to live and work in a new place. Here in Evreux I live in a two-bedroom apartment (paid for by the team), which includes satellite television so I can catch delayed NBA games.

Here is a typical day in my life:

9:15 a.m. -- I wake up and have a breakfast of cereal and bread. The French consume an enormous amount of carbohydrates.

10:00 a.m. -- My morning practice consists of shooting, working on ball handling, and short, two-on-two games. These drills focus on individual skills and technique. I am lucky that my coaches and most French players on my team speak English well.

Noon -- Lunch calls. I head to the town center for a sandwich.

1:00 p.m. -- I lift weights at the local fitness center with one of my American teammates.

2:30 p.m. -- I get into bed for an afternoon sieste (French for "nap"). The French take rest and leisure very seriously. Who am I to argue?

4:30 p.m. -- I go to a team meeting and film session. The coach guides us through watching and re-watching certain plays from the last game. Today, a player disagrees with what the coach has said about a "mistake" he made during the game. The coach gets pretty angry and gives us a speech about the team not trusting coaches and things needing to change.

5:00 p.m. -- Evening practice is much more intense than morning practice. We work on team-oriented drills, defenses, offenses, and scrimmaging. We play a few five-minute games to work on our different defenses and offenses. Sometimes we have conditioning at the end, along with abdominal workouts. Today is one of those days.

7:15 p.m. -- I visit the team osteopath, who helps to realign my body, focusing on the hips and back.

8:00 p.m. -- I'm home for the evening. Unfortunately, there are very few restaurant options at this time of night since the town is small and rural. I am forced to cook, which has been a learning experience filled with trial and error (mostly error).

10:00 p.m. -- I check my e-mail and try and maintain somewhat of a constant rapport with business contacts I have made outside of basketball, who may have future work for me. I also talk to my friends online. With a six-hour time difference, coordinating times to talk is always a challenge.

11:00 p.m. -- There are no rules about how often team members can go out, so it's up to us to be responsible and get the right amount of rest needed to perform in practices and games. Though I sometimes go to clubs in Paris with teammates, tonight is a weeknight and I need my rest. I head to bed.

Believe it or not, my finance major plays an important role in my career. I pay my agent to market and sell me to the most profitable employer. It has also been challenging to maximize my earnings. Since I play in France, I am paid in Euros and must make decisions about how I receive checks, and monitor the constantly changing exchange rates.

If I were to do to college over again, I would take another international finance class. It was the most difficult class I took and I hated it while I was there, but it has been the most helpful for my life. I also would have taken French classes since I am living in France without any knowledge of the language.

For students looking to play professional basketball, there are many opportunities for college players of all levels in Europe (see BW Online, 5/22/06, "Le Basket Struggles to Score"). It's great because you get to travel, live in a different country, and experience a new culture. Plus, you're getting paid to play.

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