Jules Dang-Akodo was ranked #1 at DENGTOP50 in 2014 where he has been in European pro set ups since 14 years old.
He is now the current top scorer for Burgos in Spain-EBA averaging 15.0 PPG, 4.0 PG & 2.4 APG. This is his story!
I remember attending the Rising Stars tournament in London and watching the European teams thinking to myself they are so much advance in terms of the style of play 17-18 year old playing like grown men.
My decision to go Europe wasn’t based on the fact that everyone else went to America. I wanted to improve every aspect of my game, I knew Europe was the right place for me.
It started with me going to summer basketball camps in Serbia learning the fundamentals of the game how to read different types of defence timing of a pass just having a better understanding of the game all together. Players my age back then had a greater understanding of the game than I did. I didn’t just want to be a skilled basketball player I also wanted to be a smart one, so when the opportunity came to go to Slovenia came I didn’t think twice.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable
This is something I learned very early. Coaches always say to work on the things you’re not the most comfortable with – that’s how you get better, going to Slovenia was one of those things for me going. Somewhere I’ve never been, somewhere I won’t get complacent, somewhere there’s no distraction and basketball is the only thing that matters. That’s the only way I thought I would focus and get better.
I think a lot of time young players want to go where it feels like home. Where a friend is which isn’t bad but that sometimes results to losing focus or getting of track because you get too comfortable.
I think the European system is as good as going to America. Because the programs invest a lot in young players, a lot of individual sessions playing against some of the best players your age and getting the opportunity to play up with Mens. Me personally it has help me a lot, especially on the mental toughness side being composed and calm leaning from the older players picking their brains.
You learn how to be a pro! Being a pro isn’t just about getting a check at the end of the month it’s about how you conduct your self and your attitude. You might not feel like practicing some days but you come in and put 100%, getting in the gym early before practice after practice to get shots up. Watch game tape, not just to see how you played but to see how you can get team mates easy shots how you are being guarded – that’s all being a professional.
Your attitude determines your altitude
You could be a great player but if you have a bad attitude and you are not coachable, no coach will want you on their team. Coaches would rather have good player thats coachable with a great attitude than a great player with bad attitude.
I got my first taste of home sickness in 2010-2011 when I was 14 years old. When I was offered a 4 year junior contract in Slovenia by Union Olimpija, to be honest I didn’t know what to expect leaving home at such a young age to a country I bearly knew about, living alone no family no friends but I was just excited for the opportunity. I loved the idea of just playing basketball everyday, that is any basketball players dream.
My first 2 months must have been the hardest I remember wanting to leave and go home, but I thought to my self that not everyone gets this opportunity, ballers older than me would do anything to be where I am so I decided to stay and it was the best decision I ever made.
Sacrifice, reppin’ the UK and constantly proving yourself
I quickly learned that if you want to be successful in anything, some type of sacrifice has to be made. And for me it was leaving family friends and social life behind. As I grew older it became normal when summer ends it’s time to get back to work that’s how I approached it every year.
The best thing about being abroad is that you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re representing your family and your country. Being from the UK playing overseas it’s mostly playing with a chip on your shoulder constantly having to prove yourself, but that is what motivates me even more!
One thing I learned is to be level headed especially on a pro team. Never get to high and never get to low on yourself. No matter what happens I keep working.
I always get asked if I regret not going to America and my answer is No! Staying in Europe is everything I thought it was going to be – a challenging learning experience which never stops and most importantly growing as a player continuing to improve.
Article Tags: DengCamp UK, Jules Dang-Akodo, Players' Voice