Eye On Improvment
Former Notre Dame forward Ty Nash is making the most of his opportunity overseas.
by Ed Isaacson
The road to the NBA can come in many forms. While being a team’s first-round draft pick, with a guaranteed contract, is the preferred option, it is obviously very limited. Being drafted at all is a long shot for most college basketball players, but that doesn’t mean the road is closed.
Heading overseas, particularly Europe, has always been a popular option for players looking to extend their playing career. But the high-profile success of San Antonio’s Gary Neal, who spent many years in Europe before getting an NBA chance, has led teams to look at Americans playing in Europe more carefully. Former Notre Dame forward Tyrone Nash is hoping that he can duplicate Neal’s path.
With last year’s NBA lockout preventing the chance to play in the NBA Summer League, and possibly signing a free-agent deal, Nash signed a deal to play in Germany’s top league, Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), for the Walter Tigers Tübingen.
While leaving the United States to go to another country could be a shock in many ways, Nash found the adjustment easier than anticipated. “I was surprised when I got there to find that most of teammates spoke English,” Nash said. “That really made it so much easier to adjust. Basic things like going to the store, finding restaurants, and buying things I needed, were easy since my teammates could tell me in English.”
The other major adjustment for Nash, the style of play in Europe, took a while longer to deal with. “The style of play can be a little more physical,” Nash explained. “Most players also have a very high basketball IQ. Coming from playing in the Big East, which was very physical, made it a bit easier to deal with.”
Nash spent his first season showing there was a lot more to his game than what NCAA fans got to see at Notre Dame. “At Notre Dame, they needed me to be an inside presence,” Nash said. “We had a lot of shooters, so I spent most of my time battling in the paint.”
Luckily for Nash, his coach with the Walter Tigers saw something different. “He liked my potential and thought I could become one of the premier players in Europe,” Nash said. “He wanted to make me into a more versatile player, adding the ability to work on the perimeter with my post offense. He has worked to add another dimension to my game, having me spend more time shooting from the outside, especially the three-point line.”
After going undrafted out of Notre Dame, Nash had to make a decision on what road would help lead him best to his NBA dream. While the NBA D-League was a viable option, Nash saw a better opportunity overseas. “I really wanted to learn a different style of play from what I knew,” Nash explained. “I think most of what I am learning overseas will translate back to the NBA game. Also, the experience getting to travel the world and play is amazing.”
Nash knows he still has work to do to be the best player he can be, and went right back to work after returning to the United States this summer.
“I’m working on becoming a more consistent shooter, that’s important,” Nash said. “I’ve been known for my defense, but I want to keep improving in every area, even my strong points.”
Nash spent the summer working with renowned athletic trainer Britton Kelley in Long Island. Kelley is also known for his work with the Spurs’ Danny Green.
Nash recently signed a new deal with the Walter Tigers, and headed back to Germany this past weekend. “My coach was really excited to bring me back,” Nash said. “I think we are going to have a very good team.”
Nash’s short-term aspirations are clearly focused on making his time in Germany as good as it can be. “My team has never made the playoffs in Germany,” Nash said. “I want to help lead the team there for the first time. I want to a leave a legacy from my time in Germany. Being an all-star would be great, but I want to be a winner.”
His long-term goal is still the same, though—getting to the NBA.
“I just need to take care of everything on the court, and hopefully the NBA will notice,” Nash said. “The road is never easy, and there is an element of luck involved, so I just need to handle what’s in my control. This has been my dream since I was a kid, and I am not going to stop pursuing it until someone tells me that I can’t play anymore.”