by Matt Caputo / @MattCaputo
Studying abroad is one of the unique traditions of the college experience. The East Coast All Stars effectively act as college basketball’s unofficial study abroad program, where student ballers spend a week overseas competing against seasoned international competition. It’s a chance to improve their game and see what life will be like if they graduate to the next level overseas.
“College basketball players can’t take a semester abroad, their season prevents that,” says Guy Rancourt, ECAS founder/coach and head coach at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. “This is their opportunity to learn about the world.”
Rancourt founded the program in ’06 to expose current college players to the international game’s subtle differences. Details, like the weight of the ball and how a timeout is called, are nontraditional and require some studying. The ECAS have competed in Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, France and Switzerland. “We’ve played against high-level teams, some that competed in this past Olympics,” Rancourt says.
For the second straight year, the ECAS played in the Four Nations Cup in Tallinn, Estonia, facing national teams with overseas pros and some current NBA players and draftees. This year’s ECAS roster included Duke underclassmen Quinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee, Maryland guard Nick Faust, Iowa forward Zach McCabe and West Virginia point guard, Juwan Staten. Players from small colleges also participated, including two from Rancourt’s own team at DIII Lycoming.
The highlight of the tournament was ECAS’ double overtime 129-124 win over The Republic of Georgia, led by former Villanova star Corey Fisher. Cook scored 29 points, including a buzzer-beating floater that forced the second overtime. Cook, a sophomore point guard on Coach K’s team, was also named to the All- Cup Team.
“I definitely built up a lot of confidence on the trip because Coach Rancourt let me play my game against pros,” says Cook. “The experience was great.”