By David Driver
Used with permission
While Turner and Timberlake are Americans who have had to adapt to European play, several former FDU players have returned to their native countries to play pro ball.
Jonas Sinding, a teammate of Turner on the 1998 title team, now plays pro basketball in Denmark in the town where he grew up. He has also played pro ball in Spain and traveled to Israel for games. He says of his hometown, "It has a population of roughly 300,000. I would say that the level of basketball is about the same as at FDU. Players are bigger and older but not as athletic."
Sinding plays in the top league in Denmark. He has a master’s degree in chemistry, works as a software programmer in his hometown and has a young daughter. How did FDU prepare him for a pro basketball career? "FDU is/was a nice place to develop basketball skills. Coach Tom Green and the rest of the coaching staff were all dedicated coaches and helped me work on my game in the daily practices." Sinding wrote, "My best memory is definitely when we made it to the NCAA Tournament, even though we lost to UConn. The NEC final against LIU still lives in my memories."
Tom Van de Keere, who grew up in Belgium, told FDU Magazine a few years ago that, "Coming to the United States, especially for Europeans, is a big challenge." The same can certainly be said of Americans who go to Europe after college to play pro hoops. Some of the best leagues in Europe are found in France, Italy, Spain and Greece.
Turner has seen the level of play improve during his time in France. Several French players joined the NBA last season, and Turner played against some of them in the French league before they moved up. One of them is Boris Diaw of the Phoenix Suns, whom Turner had to guard in a French league game.
"The French league is actually a lot better. It is not like a power league, where the refs let you bang inside," Turner relates. "I had to adjust my game when I first got over here."
Turner spends his off-season at his home in Atlanta, Ga., while his family joins him in Europe during most of the basketball season. Both of his children are in French schools and are fluent in the language.
Turner’s team provides him with a house and car in addition to his tax-free salary. He has very few expenses; the team pays his utility bills, while Turner has to pay for gasoline for his car and for food. The team played one game per week early in the 2006–’07 season, before it began Euroleague games. Those games are held during the week against teams outside of France, and this season Turner’s squad was slated for Euroleague games in Israel, Lithuania and Spain.
Turner hopes to play a few more years, and would like to move up a higher level — in perhaps Spain, Italy or Greece — before he retires from the European circuit.
Turner said the highlight of his time at FDU was winning the NEC title his senior season. "That has to be my best memory," he says. Now he is making new memories, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.