Where the Love of the Game Can Take You ft. Drew Gordon

Where the Love of the Game Can Take You ft. Drew Gordon

April 08, 2021

By Ellie Lieberman

Drew Gordon has played for professional basketball teams in Serbia, Italy, Turkey, France, Lithuania, Russia and Poland, not to mention in the NBA and G-League. He’s seen the Eiffel Tower and Milan, and carved out a niche himself in the VTB United League in Russia, in which he’s played here for three years on four different teams. He’s averaging 15.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this year in the league, and is here to explain just the grittiness of play overseas. 

“There are a lot of respectable teams… it’s just more challenging to play here,” Gordon said of life in the VTB League. “You don’t play the same amount of games as in the NBA so every game is a bit more crucial.” 

Of the current talents in the VTB League, they include Nigel Williams-Goss, Errick McCollum, Kevin Pangos and formerly Andrei Kirilenko. 

“It’s fun to see everyone is still pursuing their dreams of becoming a professional basketball player,” Gordon said. 

The physicality and ruggedness of the game in Europe is something that Gordon says has helped improve his game. In particular, he feels his decision making “has taken leaps and bounds” and also credits the competitive play for giving an edge to his court vision as a whole. 

Intensity of the league and greater EuroCup landscape aside, Gordon is the first to admit that playing overseas can be challenging especially without family and friends, and in sub-zero weather. 

“Make sure you love what you do. The grind over here especially in the dead of winter and you’re away from your family and friends for a significant amount of time, unless you love what you do and know basketball is what you want to do, buckle up. It’s definitely rewarding if you can get your mindset right and appreciate the different places you’re going because you’re literally getting paid to travel which is a huge perk. I saw a lot of parts of the world that I likely wouldn’t have been to,” Gordon said. 

Playing overseas has the duality of giving way to amazing travel experiences like Gordon describes when he speaks about going from Moscow to the Eiffel Tower in a matter of hours. With that said, it doesn’t mean it’s not lonely at times. Most teams are structured with a practice in the morning and evening and free time in the day, if it’s not a game day, and that means staying busy in other ways. Gordon is currently working on getting his real estate license.

Though Gordon has no questions asked, made the most of his time overseas and adapted to each new landscape, he doesn’t sugar-coat the experience. Instead he urges players to think about what motivates them when times get tough.

“There’s a reason why you’re over here. You’re playing for the love of basketball but you’re also playing for your family and trying to set your kids up for good things later in life. If you’re having a bad day and reflecting on your “why” and why you’re over here helps a lot.” 

Perspective has taken Gordon to great heights while playing overseas and his steady mindset will not only propel him but many others who follow in his footsteps.




Also in News

Player development coach, Ashley Hawkins, takes her training to the University of Illinois
Player development coach, Ashley Hawkins, takes her training to the University of Illinois

October 14, 2021

On to Hawkins’ second workout of the day, that was when Illinois women's basketball players Sara Anastasieska, De’myla Brown and Solape Amusan joined the session. During that workout they focused on different combo moves into finishes such as the eurostep, spin moves and step throughs. They also worked on ball handling and shooting, working from the midrange and then moving out to the three-point line. Hawkins said the workout was close to the traditional UPB workouts she normally does at the facility.

Read More

Senior Makayla Moore from Archbishop Mitty High School commits to Seattle University
Senior Makayla Moore from Archbishop Mitty High School commits to Seattle University

October 07, 2021

“I would say committing felt unreal. Since I was four years old I've always dreamt of playing basketball at the next level,” Moore said. “I would say it just feels amazing to be able to play at such a high level.”

Read More

Devon Brookshire proves that mental training is the key to a long lasting athletic career
Devon Brookshire proves that mental training is the key to a long lasting athletic career

September 30, 2021

Brookshire credits much of her success and accomplishments within her professional career overseas due to training her mindset and training at UPB’s facility that centers both physical and mental training. She said having a sound mind and strong mindset has helped navigate her through obstacles that have come up and has helped her feel good both on and off the court.

Read More