Go east, young men.
Two basketball players who starred in Alaska, one in high school and one in college, are traveling to Eastern Europe to pursue professional careers.
Damon Bell-Holter, who starred in high school at both Mount Edgecumbe and Ketchikan, is taking his game to Hungary. He signed a contract earlier this month with Kormend of the Eurochallenge League and left the United States this week, according to his Twitter feed.
“I’m about to be straight bald for 8 months,” he tweeted. “(N)o type of hair cut in Hungary.”
Taylor Rohde, the 2012 NCAA Division II Player of the Year for UAA, will be one country away in the Czech Republic, playing for Nova Hut Ostrava, according to UAA’s sports information department. Rohde played the last two seasons in Germany’s top league.
Both players are forwards.
Bell-Holter, who grew up in Hydaburg and starred collegiately at Oral Roberts University, is 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds. He put his size to work last season as a power forward with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA’s Development League, averaging 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He played well enough to earn an invitation to play on the D League select team at the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas last month.
“I’ll be playing against good teams around Europe and I’m making a really good amount of money,” Bell-Holter told the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, adding that his agent told him accepting the Hungary offer was a “no-brainer.”
Rohde (6-9, 205) averaged 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds last season for Ehingen, a team in Germany’s top league. He shot 61 percent from the floor, a shooting touch that netted him 19.8 points per game as a UAA senior.