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Former Largo Resident Has European Adventure

Devin Sweetney played last year in Iceland and Latvia after starting out in NBA Developmental League.

During his time at St. Francis University in Pennsylvania, Devin Sweetney once spent six weeks in Mexico and earned seven academic credits. That summer experience gave him confidence before heading to Europe last basketball season.

After finishing his college hoop career in 2010, the Riverdale Baptist graduate played last season in Iceland and Latvia after he appeared in the NBA Developmental League.

Of course, Sweetney would love to play in the NBA, but getting paid to play basketball is still a blessing. 

This summer, Sweetney works out each weekday at the Laurel Boys & Girls Club under the direction of trainer Joe Connelly, who grew up in Baltimore and has worked with several players with NBA experience.

Sweetney has worked with Connelly for several years and likes his work ethic. "Look at his motion! Joe never takes a play off," said Sweetney, while watching Connelly work with two post players. "He is one of a kind. That is what separates him. Joe does it for the love of the game."

Hundreds of American players head overseas each year to play pro basketball. In European leagues such as Italy, France and Spain, top imports are provided free lodging, transportation and have a salary that is not taxed by the host country.

Six-figure salaries for former Division I NCAA players is not unheard of for American players in western Europe.

Sweetney told Patch on Tuesday he has yet to sign a contract for the 2011-12 season, but his North Carolina-based agent is looking into jobs in France, Germany, Israel, Spain and Turkey.

"Tulsa holds my rights in the D-League. I know it is going to be a slow market" due to the NBA lockout, he said.

And what about the D-League? "I love it," Sweetney said. "If I get a great offer I will go."

A 6-foot-6 shooting guard/small forward, Sweetney averaged nearly nine points and three rebounds in 11 games at the end of last season in Latvia.

He admits the NBA lockout could limit the job options overseas this coming season if some NBA players head to European leagues. That is why players like Sweetney, second cousin of former Georgetown and NBA player Michael Sweetney (Oxon Hill High), are willing to work hard for Connelly.

The session on Tuesday, in addition to post players Braxton Dupree (Towson) and Ricardo Marsh (ODU), attracted former Morgan State standout Reggie Holmes, ex-UMass star Ricky Harris of Calvert Hall in Baltimore, one-time VCU standout Mike Anderson and several others.

Other players who have worked out in the past at the Laurel club include Josh Selby, who played last year in college at Kansas and was drafted last month by Memphis; former Georgetown standout Chris Wright; rising George Mason sophomore Jonathan Arledge; ex-Pittsburgh star Jermaine Dixon; former NBA and Maryland player Juan Dixon and former NBA player DerMarr Johnson, who played at Parkdale High in Riverdale and in college at Charlotte.

Sweetney was a senior at Riverdale Baptist in 2004-05 and his teammates included Michael Beasley and Nolan Smith, both of whom finished their high school careers at other schools.

Beasley played one season at Kansas State before he was drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft by Miami. Smith finished his senior season this spring at Duke and was drafted last month by Portland of the NBA.

Devin Sweetney averaged more than 16 points per game as a junior and senior at St. Francis. He was an all-Northeast Conference player as a senior in 2010 and was drafted by Tulsa of the D-League that year.

bckarn July 13, 2011 at 01:18 PM
The title of this article was misleading. I looked forward to an account of Sweetney's year in Iceland but found a description of his current status as an NBA hopeful.
P July 13, 2011 at 03:38 PM
I absolutely think that Devin has a shot at the NBA. I had the pleasure of watching him play at St. Francis. His work ethic and commitment to improving his skills is second to none. Devin also has a strong understanding of teamwork and through his leadership on & off the court, he raises the playing level of the entire team. Obviously, it won't be easy to make it to the NBA, but if Devin continues to work hard and improve his skills he will be prepared when/if the opportunity arises.

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