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July 17, 2008
by Robbie Gillies
High School All-American Brandon Jennings surprised many by announcing he would be playing overseas rather than attending the University of Arizona. Jennings has now officially signed with a European team. Jennings will play for Virtus Roma in the Italian League.
[Advisor Sonny] Vaccaro described the terms as a "three-year, multimillion-dollar" contract with buyout considerations that will allow Jennings to leave the team and make himself available for the NBA draft when eligible next year.
It seems as if Jennings is entering into a great situation. He will be making good money (terms of the deal were not disclosed), will be playing for a coach that speaks English, he'll be playing in Rome which is very American friendly, and his brother will get to play for the junior club team.
The other big factor (and what probably made this deal go down) is that the Raptors signed point guard Roko Ukic who played for Virtus Roma last season. That will allow Jennings to get more playing time.
This could start a trend of players going overseas, but it might also start a trend of an increased awareness of European basketball. During LeBron James's senior year, ESPN aired a handful of his High School games. The same could happen with Brandon Jennings and any other big-time recruit who goes to Europe. With so much talk about Jennings, who isn't interested to see how he will do in Europe? Hell, I'd love a reality show about his whole experience.
He's not going to get the type of attention he would have gotten had he gone to Arizona, but he won't be starved for media attention either. Many people will be following his success, or failure, all season long.