Jeff Monfort: “Work hard every day and Europe Basketball Academy will find a job for you. That’s a fact!”

Interview with Jeff Monfort, Europe Basketball Academy player, that just started this week his professional basketball career in Europe in Spain. Jeff is one of the better and most professional basketball players we had in the academy during the year 2017. His goal of playing overseas basketball became reality after his 2nd European professional basketball tryout and as being a 5'8'' point guard, his story is one of the most inspiring and shows that it is not necessary for the player to be tall, so to play basketball in Europe on a good professional level.

Where you started to play basketball and if you may explain your basketball background?
I started playing basketball at the age of 6 in Salisbury, Maryland and have been in love with this game ever since. From age 6 to 12 years old everything I learned from basketball was pretty much self-taught so the passion was always there even at a young age. Finally, at the age of 13, my Dad and I had an agreement that if I got good grades that year that he would sign me up to play basketball at the Salvation Army and that's exactly what we did. At that age, my skill set was definitely not where it should have been a 13 year old and my basketball IQ wasn't all the way there either. But that only motivated me to work harder and learn more about the game. Fast forward to my 8th-grade year I had worked really hard over that summer because I knew making the team wouldn't be easy. So I not only made the team but I was also able to land the starting point guard position as well and at that moment I knew as long as I worked really hard anything was possible long as I put my mind to it. Ended up moving to Connecticut that same year where I immediately joined the middle school team and took the starting position and won my first basketball Champion. My Freshman year I was the only Freshman on Varsity but started on the JV team as well for Norwich Free Academy. Sophomore year because of my attitude and inexperience I was forced to play JV again and sit Varsity and after that season I decided to move back to Maryland where I played for Wicomico High School my Junior and Senior year. Which didn't go very well in my favor either because my minutes were cut very short for the rest of my high school career but I didn't let that stop me and I was determined to continue improving. Freshman year of college I attended Georgian Court University but missed the first half of the season due to eligibility rules and had an alright second half of the season, then transferred to Hood College in Maryland the very next year to be closer to home. My first season in a Hood College uniform came to an end after I fractured a bone in my ankle in the very first scrimmage and missed the entire season. Junior year of college was really my last year playing because it took time for me to get my confidence back on that foot and in order for me to go pro I knew I would have to build the strength back in that ankle.

What problems to get in the European market you faced before you came to play in Europe first time?
The problems I faced to get in the European market before I came to play in Europe the first time was everything. I'm a 5'8 point guard so every single odd there is out there it's already against me. Not only that due to the fact my college career didn't go as well as it shouldn't be I still lacked stats and film to be able to really have anything to show for in the European market even though I started out playing at the NCAA Division 2 level.

Why did you decide to join Europe Basketball Academy? How did you hear about it? Who recommended it to you?
I decided to join the European Basketball Academy because I knew with my lack of statistics and film if I wanted any real shot at playing at the professional level that I would have to put myself in a situation where I'd be playing right in front of scouts, agents, and European coaches and that's exactly what the European Basketball Academy did. I actually heard about the Academy their social media, I did my research on it, asked a few people about it that have already attended the academy and knew this would be the perfect opportunity for me to go pro.

Did you attend some other camps and if you did can you explain the difference between those camps and Europe Basketball Academy?
Yes, I attended one camp and there were many differences between that camp and the European Basketball Academy. For starters, these camps in the USA are usually for a day and that just isn't enough time to show that you can really play because let's say you have an off day. You now have wasted time and money all because that day you weren't able to really show who you were. Whereas in the European Basketball Academy you have a minimum of 30 days to show that you belong to play at the professional level and improve your game physically and mentally each and every day.

What is the difference between playing in Europe and where you played before coming to Europe?
The difference between playing in Europe and when I played in college is that at the end of the day playing professional basketball is a JOB! So just like any other job if you don't perform well then you will get sent back to the USA. Not only that, in Europe, there is rarely a time where you see one on one basketball being played. Yes, you will still need players that can score the ball but in Europe basketball is very team orientated where the ball is constantly being moved around and good decisions have to be made quickly.

How did the days look for you at Europe Basketball Academy? Describe the regular day you were going through? Describe what new you learned about European basketball in Europe Basketball Academy?
My days started pretty early 5 days out the week (Monday-Friday). We would all get up early enough to eat breakfast that was delivered to us then immediately have to walk to the gym and prepare our selfs for the first practice. Right after the first practice ended we would walk straight to the fitness center where I would run an extra 2 miles before I started working out. At around noon we would head to the restaurant we were served lunch which gave us enough time to eat then shower and take a nap before we had to get ready for the second practice. Once we finished the second/ last practice we would stretch then head back to the fitness center where we had the choice of either working out again or you could get into the steam room, hot tub, or sauna which actually helped relax your body and muscles especially after a long day of training. What I learned about European Basketball at the European Basketball Academy is how independent you are far as taking care of your body. At the professional level, you don't have someone telling you its time to stretch before and after training, when to lift, different exercises to help strengthen your muscles, none of that. At the academy, it teaches you all these things there so that when you are a professional you'll know the right things to do in order to have a longer basketball career. Of course, there are different levels of basketball in Europe and there will be many places you go where situations are different but for the most, your basketball career is in your hands.

Your advice to players that are considering joining Europe Basketball Academy? What are values that we share? What kind of player should enter academy?
My advice to players that are considering joining the European Basketball Academy is that this is not a vacation away from home. Here you can't cheat the grind. If you're serious about your basketball career then this is the place to be. The academy puts you through a serious of test both physically and mentally so that the weak minded player will easily want to return home. The good thing about this is that for the players that are serious this will prepare you to start your professional basketball career in ways that you didn't even know you could put your body through. With that being said hard work is what you have to bring each and every day that you get out of bed. One of the most important values the academy shares is eating healthy. The way people eat in Europe is way different than how we eat back in the USA. In the USA we eat a lot of processed food whereas in Europe almost everything is organic and its a lot easier to make a meal with fruits and vegetables and here at the academy they teach you these things.

Share some interesting situations that you experienced in the academy that you will remember and that made a strong impression on you.
An interesting situation that I experienced in the academy that left a strong impression on me is the whole experience of being in Europe. As a kid, my dream has always been to play professional basketball and the Europe Basketball Academy helped that dream come true. Here you not only learn things about European basketball but you also get to experience the Spanish culture which is different but great in my option. Like I said before, you learn to eat differently, interact with each different and really learn how to carry yourself as a professional in a community. Also, the drills that we did at the academy will definitely be drills that you have never seen before which is why it prepares you for any situation you may be thrown in.

Where you ended up after you attended Europe Basketball Academy?
I'm currently playing for CB Granollers in Spain

Here you may write some finishing comments what you find important to share.
Coming to the European Basketball Academy was not only a smart investment for my career but it also was a great experience. Since we decide to fly across the world to pursue our basketball careers the people at the academy do their best to make sure that you're being taken care of while you're there. As mentioned before if you're the type of player that comes in and gives 110% every day. I don't mean work hard sometimes or when you feel like it but actually working hard every day the coaches will notice and they will find a job for you. That's a fact!

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