Ball Is Life: Windy City’s Spaniards


Last week, I mentioned that I was part of a basketball network at Purdue University Northwest. Apparently, some people within this unofficial fraternity has experienced some unbelievable moments and rare opportunities. A prime example of this is my good friend Angel Martin de Soto, who was the personal assistant of Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic. I’ve known Angel since 2011 when he first came to the United States from Spain.

He’s one of the best all-around basketball players I ever played with (intramural basketball teammates). From his home country of Spain, Angel has been playing basketball since the age of six. He has played with the youth teams of Unicaja Malaga, one of the Top 5 teams in Spain. Angel has also played 4 years semi-pro in the 3rd Division in Spain.

If you don’t know, Nikola Mirotic is from Spain as well. The 6 foot 10 inch forward was drafted by Houston Rockets with the 23rd overall pick in 2011, but his draft rights were ultimately traded to the Chicago Bulls. Mirotic stayed in Spain until 2014, where he and Real Madrid (basketball team in Spain) reached a buyout of his contract.

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I’ve been a Bulls fan ever since I can remember. When Angel first told me about his unusual opportunity back in April of 2015, I was stunned (I actually have that  conversation saved on Facebook).

The reason why I worked for him, it is because Nikola was looking for an assistant that help them with their daily basis in his freshman year. I have a really good relation with his agent and he called me to have a interview.

Even though this job was an experience of a lifetime, just like any job, it came with some hard work and some inconvenient duties.

Everyday was different. It was basically 24/7 on call for whatever they (him and his wife) might need. I usually help them with their personal documents, travel arrangements, game day assistance, like hosting the guests, get their tickets and passes. Also, few times we did some shooting practice in his days off.

On the positive side, just like any job, there are a few benefits that make it worth your time there.

 

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Black Mamba warming up

 

The fact that both Angel and Nikola Mirotic are from Spain was probably the icing on the cake during their time together. To have someone with you from the same country when trying to adjust to another country’s culture makes the transition less hectic. Angel stopped working for Nikola Mirotic this past August to move back to Spain, but he has truly helped Mirotic adjust to the American culture. As long as Nikola Mirotic is a Chicago Bulls player, I will continue to cheer for him, especially knowing one of my friends has assisted him off the court.

JGOOD

Ball Is Life: Alex Richman


When you’re in college, you tend to meet a lot of people. At Purdue University Northwest (formally Purdue University Calumet), we built a network for basketball players for open gym sessions. I’ve seen plenty of talent come and go over the years, but Alex Richman is one of a kind. He’s very instinctive, has a high basketball IQ, underrated ball handling and court vision, and has one the best jump shots I’ve ever witnessed with my own eyes. Richman is a true competitor that doesn’t take kindly to losing and demands the best out of his teammates.

Before coming to Purdue, Alex went to Praire View A & M, a mid-major Division I school. Here’s some footage of Richman against other D1 schools, such as Hawaii and Baylor below:

Richman played for Praire View A & M for two years before ending up at Abilene Christain University and ultimately Purdue University Calumet for his senior season. The Melbourne, Florida native also played soccer (team captain) for the Peregrines during his last year of his college eligibility.

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Alex Richman with former Purdue Calumet Men’s Soccer Coach James Drzewiecki

Basketball after college didn’t stop for Richman, as he played semi-professionally with the Arizona Scorpions of the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the Florida Flight of the Florida Basketball Association (FBA). Here are some highlights below from each team.

As you can see from the highlights, the 6 foot 2 guard has the ability not only to make shots and score the ball, but he has the vision to consistently find his teammates. After his stellar performance in the FBA in 2015 (29.2 ppg, 4.6 apg, six 35+ point games, 2nd consecutive all-star appearance), Richman was able to get a tryout and eventually signed with the Harlem Globetrotters for their international 90th-anniversary world tour.

Yes I’m still with the globetrotters. I’m what they call a “taxi” player. If they need a man for a tour then they would call me. I am still working with an agency as well and would pursue an overseas opportunity if it did end up happening. As of now I’m happily content with the globetrotters because they are one of the best in the business world at what they do and take care of their players with great respect.

Everything that Richman has achieved cannot be matched by many, and that’s a testament to his hard work ethic and love for the game. What makes the Florida native the ultimate teammate is that he started “F.A.I.T.H.” (Faith Allows Innovative Training Here). F.A.I.T.H. is an elite basketball training program in Brevard County, Florida.

My vision is to impact as many lives as I can in the community I grew up in. Brevard county isn’t known for basketball but there is so much hidden talent with no one searching. Not only do I train them to reach their full potential but I’m also a mentor to them and help them get to the next level of basketball they want to pursue. I have a great little circle of college, prep, and aau coaches who keep in contact with me and keep an eye on kids I post.

Alex Richman has worked with several high school athletes to prep them for the next level of their athletic careers. Some of the drills are very unique, but all of them are strenuous.

Richman also doesn’t allow his trainees to establish bad habits such as disrespect, a bad temper, lack of promptness, laziness, and selfishness. These 5 attributes are something that college coaches don’t want to see and will not tolerate from their players.  If you have Instagram, follow his page @faith.basketball and check out the videos of the intense workouts.

When you able to share your talents and gifts to help others become better, you are truly achieving greatness. Personally, it takes a humble person to display such acts. I hope Alex continues to use his resources for the greater good, shows humility, and stays a role model for the younger generation. I wish F.A.I.T.H. and your basketball career nothing but that best. Keep up the good work!

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JGOOD