BBL LOGO 568Durham Wildcats’ Kirk Crecco never gave up hope of achieving his dream of becoming a professional athlete and is hoping his book can inspire others to follow in his footsteps. 

The 24 year-old decided to share his experience and wrote ‘Living the Dream: How to Get Recruited to Play Professional Basketball’ during his first season as a pro.

Crecco said: “My main motivations behind the book were that I felt that there were a lot of players in America who were definitely capable of continuing their playing career overseas but they just didn’t know how to go about it. I felt that there was a market for the book and hoped it would be of help to aspiring players.”

By his own admission, the Italian-American’s underwhelming college career left him facing an uphill battle to land his first professional contract. However, despite averaging just 2.6 points per game in his senior year on a struggling NCAA side and without an agent, Crecco’s perseverance and know-how led him to successive deals with a team in Luxembourg and now in the BBL with Durham.

I never signed with an agent and I’ve been able to secure both the contracts I’ve had myself so I just feel like that there are things (players) can do in addition to signing with an agent. So many players sign with sports agents and become 100% dependent on them finding an opportunity.

Crecco nearly moved away from the sport he loved before a late opportunity presented itself to take him to Europe for the first time. BBC Grengewald Hostert offered the 6’4″ guard a trial and he seized the chance to prove himself on the court by leading the Nationale 2 side to the verge of promotion on the back of 28.6 points per game.

Education was a major pulling factor in luring Crecco to the UK for his second season as a pro with the added bonus of obtaining a Masters degree.

“I was really interested in continuing my education and Durham provided the best of all worlds,” Crecco said. “I get to play basketball at a really high level and the opportunity to get my Masters degree in financial management. I’m really enjoying it, getting to do both was the biggest advantage Durham had to offer.”

Amongst playing for the Wildcats, Crecco fits in studying as well as also representing Durham’s university team during the week. The dual national is well aware that anything can happen in sport which is why he believes that education is so important in terms of providing a plan for life after basketball.

He said: “It’s good to prepare for life after basketball because you never know when you’re going to get injured or when you’re going to move on. I’ve always wanted to make sure I’m prepared for life after basketball to do other things and pursue other interests aside from basketball. Education has always been important to me.”

And the Dartmouth graduate believes that similar programmes will persuade more Americans to make the switch across the Atlantic to further their playing careers.

“A big advantage to coming to England is getting your Masters in one year whereas in America it’s typically two years. It’s great and a lot of players value the international experiences as they can become really flexible by adapting to different cultures and different ways of living. It will become more and more popular.”

On the court, Crecco has been finding his groove in recent weeks with the highlight being a scintillating 28-point haul to help Durham down the defending champions on their home floor. He’s registered double figures in points in six consecutive games and puts his gradual progression down to a number of factors.

“There’s definitely been an adjustment period to both the league and life in England. I’ve played slightly out of position due to a couple of injuries earlier in the season so it’s been a case of getting used to that.”

He added: “The level of competitiveness in England is higher than in Luxembourg. The native players there were a lot more technical and didn’t rely on athleticism as much but the style of play here is similar to America where a lot of the guys are big, fast, strong and more athletic.”

The Wildcats are in their third BBL season and have yet to reach the post-season but Crecco believes his side can be the surprise package come crunch time. They currently occupy eighth spot with a 10-12 record and recent victories on the road against London and Leicester will have proved Durham’s threat.

“I think we can achieve more than a lot of outsiders would have seen coming. If we keep playing the way we are, we have the chance to not only make the play-offs but advance when we get there.

“We have to keep working hard and stay focused. The win against Leicester was pretty big for us and it’s important to carry on the momentum. I think we have one of the faster teams in the league so we need to utilise our speed and play to our strengths.

Head-coach Lee Davie, assisted by the guidance of veteran Ralph Bucci, has retained faith with his original roster of 12 players- a rare occurrence in the BBL. Crecco joined the Wildcats along with fellow Americans Mike Allison, Devin Ginty and RJ Evans for their first seasons in England and the Gilford-native believes the squad retention is crucial.

He said: “I think it’s huge. In Europe, there’s so much changeover now in professional basketball that I think sometimes the pressure gets to certain players. It’s difficult to perform when you know you’re constantly being watched and analysed so I think the fact that Coach Davie has shown confidence in all of our guys has helped us be more confident.”

“Our team bond has certainly benefited and being together since the summer has helped us form better relationships and that is starting to show on the court, especially recently.”

As well as hoping to make history by leading Durham into the BBL play-offs for the first time, Crecco is also aiming to complete another book. The work in progress is 75% done and is targeted at a broader audience, geared towards helping high-school athletes in America and Europe make it into college.

Kirk Crecco’s ‘Living the Dream: How to Get Recruited to Play Professional Basketball’ is available to buy as an e-book on Amazon’s UK site as well as Lulu. 

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