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A Basketball Career that Spans the Globe

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Although Joe Trapani stands 6’8” tall, he feels he has been short changed in his career. In 2006-2007 he was one of the University of Vermont’s best basketball players and the America East Conference’s top freshman.

But Trapani said he did not feel challenged enough at Vermont, so he made the decision to transfer to Boston College and the more competitive ACC.

“I knew I could play at a higher level,” Trapani said about the move. “I was more anxious than worried because I wanted to see how my abilities stacked up against the best in the nation.”

His abilities held up well in the ACC. In his senior year at BC, Trapani averaged almost 15 points and 7 rebounds per game, placing him first and second on the team in those respective categories.

A young player, Trapani is all business and rarely takes this sport lightly. At BC, Trapani often talked in “coach speech” during post-game interviews. In 2009, Trapani gave an interview to Eagle Insider, Boston College’s official sports news website, and never broke character. For example when Eagle Insider reporter Steve Foster asked Trapani if was excited for the Paradise Jam tournament in the Caribbean, Trapani responded with, “Oh yeah, it is going to be a great tournament, a lot of great teams. Even though we are going to be going to a paradise island with beautiful weather, it’s a business trip. Stay focused and play to win down there.” Those qualities helped his confidence and development while he transitioned to a bigger school.

That is why Trapani had high hopes for a chance to play in the NBA, but the ball didn’t roll his way. After graduating from Boston College, the NBA had a lockout entering the 2011 season. NBA prospects like Trapani suffered the most.

“I was disappointed that there was no summer league because I did so well in my workouts with other pre-draft players,” Trapani said. He was able to work out with a few NBA teams before the lockout started, most notably the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers. Then the lockout occurred, and Trapani knew it was decision time.

“This (sport) is my job, too,” Trapani said. “I have to think about financial goals as well as my NBA goals.”

Like many players, the lockout left Trapani looking for international opportunities. He ended up signing a deal with an Italian squad, Novipiu Casale Monferrato, but only played 5 games before he transferred to the Legamberi Foods Forli where he saw more playing time.

In 22 games as the main man off the bench, he averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds. Trapani felt the moving around did not provide him the best opportunity to show off his skills in Italy. After the lockout difficulties led him to the Italian league, he was hoping for a good year. His experience in Italy turned out to be worse than expected, so much so that Trapani still holds some animosity towards the way the Italian teams function.

“The teams in Italy I dealt with were sloppy and unreliable,” Trapani said. “Between getting paid on time and the coaching situation, there was a lot of dysfunction last year.”

Trapani transferred teams multiple times due to that unreliability. He even had to find a way to make ends meet financially even though he was under contract.

“It made it tough to be focused and successful in that environment,” he said. “I left Casale because they hadn’t paid me in seven weeks.”

These issues didn’t stop Trapani from working hard, however. He said he practiced and trained even harder so he could work his way up to a better team or league. Even with all his hard work, he still wanted to leave Italy.

“Both teams (in Italy) I played for were very unprofessional,” Trapani said. “I will try to avoid playing in that country for the rest of my career.”

In the summer of 2012 he was back in the Celtics organization playing with their developmental league team, the Maine Red Claws. ButTrapani did not have much of an opportunity to prove himself since he had little experience to show from Italy, so he found himself traveling overseas for the fall months once again.

This past fall, he landed in Germany playing for BBC Bayreuth in the top league out of Germany’s three levels of competition. Trapani is happy with his new team’s work ethic and his new league.

“Germany has been a lot better because of the way the team operates,” Trapani noted. “They are much more professional and business like, plus the city I live in is very nice.”

Trapani lives in a team-funded apartment in Bayreuth and uses a team-provided car. His place is very spacious, although it may not be a mansion, he is set up nicely. He has no roommate, but his apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a nice view.

He is comfortable and happy with his team’s commitment to professional play and a business attitude that matches his own. He also has less of an issue communicating with his teammates and coaches in Germany compared to last year in Italy. There are six other players on the team from the United States, and the whole team can speak English.

“The language barrier isn’t as much of an issue as it was in Italy,” Trapani said. “Almost everyone in Germany can speak some English.”

This improvement in lifestyle has translated to an improvement on the stats sheet. Through 12 games this season Trapani is second on the team in scoring with 11.3 points per game, and second in rebounds with almost 5 per game. Bayreuth is in 8th place out of 18 teams with 22 games left in the season. He hopes that this year will provide him with a showcase of games to add to his resume as he does plan on pursuing the NBA again.

“I will for sure try again,” Trapani said. “My dream is to play in the NBA.”

Although he will not give up on his dream, that does not mean he will make an irrational decision if he has other opportunities.

“There’s a lot to consider, though, when making a decision about the upcoming year,” Trapani explained. “First and foremost, I have to find a situation and team (NBA or not) to play for that gives me the best chance to be successful.”

He hopes to continue to play well until his contract is up and the season is over in April 2013. After that, he will have to make another tough decision: Stay with the best situation he has been in, or chase his NBA dream and change teams for the fifth time in two years.

Matt Sasso is a journalism student at the University of Connecticut. He wrote this story for his fall 2012 sports writing course.