Saturday, May 26, 2007

McIntyre, Forte and Baxter in Italy

From Fayeteville Observer:

Terrell McIntyre’s game hasn’t changed after all these years. Only his priorities have.

“At one point in my life, all I ever thought about was proving people wrong,” the former Hoke County High and Clemson basketball star said. “Then I finally decided that it’s a blessing to be able to make a living doing what I love and I just went out and started playing.”

The funny thing is that once McIntyre stopped trying to show the world that he’s a great player, despite his lack of size and stature among the NBA scouts, he finally succeeded in doing it.

Now in his seventh professional season, at the age of 29, he has developed into one of the most respected and sought-after point guards in Europe.

It’s a reputation that was validated last week, when he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Italian A League for leading Montepaschi Siena to a 30-4 record and the league’s regular-season championship.

“It just goes to show you what winning does,” said McIntyre, whose averages of 13.5 points and 4.0 assists per game belie the impact he had on his team. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some great teammates this year and I haven’t had to score as much as in the past. I was able to just be myself and concentrate on being a leader.”

That’s something McIntyre hasn’t always been able to do.

In high school, convinced that he needed to put up big numbers to attract the major Division I college scouts, he turned himself into a scoring machine who posted three 50-plus point performances during his days at Hoke County.

He added more of a playmaking dimension once he got to Clemson, but because he still ended up leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring as a senior, there are those who considered him better suited to play the shooting guard position rather than the point.

The problem is, 5-foot-9 shooting guards in the NBA went out with the Beatles, leaving McIntyre undrafted and unappreciated — though undeterred.

It wasn’t until four years later, after two seasons in Europe and a pair of All-Star performances with the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBA’s Development League, that the passionate youngster decided to reassess his goals and stop chasing a dream that wasn’t going to come true.

“I learned that there’s a big difference between the way teams look at players over here and the way it’s done back home,” McIntyre said. “In the NBA, the tendency is to look for potential — things like size and speed. Here if you can play basketball, you can play basketball. That’s all that matters.”

So while a steady stream of European stars such as Andrea Bargnani, Boris Diaw and Tony Parker have come over to the U.S. to make a name for themselves, McIntyre has decided to accomplish the same goal by making the trip in the opposite direction.

Together with former ACC rivals Joseph Forte of North Carolina and Lonnie Baxter of Maryland, he has helped turn Montepaschi into an Italian juggernaut. The team recently swept its first-round playoff series and is awaiting an opponent for a semifinal series scheduled to begin Tuesday. More...