When “professional basketball” is mentioned, most people immediately think of the NBA. That’s because the NBA is the most popular basketball league in the world. Even casual sports fans can name some of the NBA’s top players.
However, there are talented professional basketball players competing in leagues all over the world. Many of these players starred at the collegiate level and are now playing in another country with the hope of eventually making it to the NBA.
That is what Terrence Joyner, a point guard who starred at Mississippi Valley State University and helped lead them to the NCAA Tournament in 2012, is doing. He is currently starring for XAH TANCTBIH in Mongolia and has had stints in Greece, Lithuania and Mexico earlier in his career. The 26-year-old spent some of last season in Mongolia, where he averaged 30 points and had three 40-plus-point games, and he’s back this year.
“I actually ended up playing out here last year, and it was just a great experience,” Joyner said. “It’s kind of similar to China, but two Americans can be on the court at the same time. It was an opportunity for me to just work on my game for a whole year and get my confidence up really high. Coming out here has really helped me.
“I think I’ve improved my leadership, which is important for a point guard. I’m better at leading a team of professionals, which is kind of different from college. You have to take a different approach when you’re trying to lead professionals and win at this level. I definitely had to adjust to that, and adjust from playing in college to playing overseas. When I came over here last year, it was really good so I decided to come back.”
Joyner went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft, but he still hopes to play in the NBA someday.
“Coming out of school, I was training [for the draft] at Impact Basketball with Dion Waiters and a lot of guys who are in the NBA right now and I honestly thought I’d be in the league coming into my rookie year,” Joyner said. “But God had a different plan for me. I’ve just been really happy and I’m enjoying life.”
Joyner has become close with former NBA players Bobby Brown and Pooh Jeter, and he hopes to follow in their footsteps since they began their career overseas and eventually landed in the NBA. All three players are from California and can relate to each other since they’ve had many of the same experiences in foreign leagues.
“Bobby Brown and Pooh Jeter are my older mentors,” Joyner said. “They kind of took a different route to get to the NBA, which is like the route I’m trying to take. They give me a lot of advice in the summertime and during the season tell me what to focus on and say that I’ll definitely get my opportunity to play in the NBA at some point. They want me to be prepared and be ready when I get that chance.”
Even though Joyner hopes to eventually play in the NBA, he’s really enjoying his experience in Mongolia. He speaks highly of the experience, saying that it’s one of the better up-and-coming leagues in the world and that it has attracted some quality players recently.
“I love the league,” Joyner said. “There are about eight or nine former NBA and D-League guys playing here. Squeaky Johnson, who played in the NBA, signed here as well. Andre Brown just signed to come out here and he played in the NBA as well. Chukwudiebere Maduabum, who was drafted by the Lakers, played here and he’s in the D-League now. His team actually won the championship last year; he had a big effect on their team and he was really good. Tory Jackson from Notre Dame is here. I think the competition level is real good. I have a lot of talented guards who I have to match up against.”
Joyner has done well against the top competition in the league. Over the weekend, he recorded a triple-double in a matchup against Johnson, finishing the game with 11 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
In addition to the quality players, Joyner said that the fan support has been incredible, which has really helped the league.
“Oh man, the fans are really passionate,” Joyner said. “We sell out every game and people are standing near the floor. I have a fan page out here and the fans are intense. The league is really improving and expanding. Like I said, it’s kind of similar to China.”
Like many players who go from starring at an American college to playing for an overseas squad, there was a bit of an adjustment as Joyner got used to living in Mongolia.
“It was definitely a bit of a culture shock when I first got out here. It’s really cold out here, really cold,” Joyner said with a laugh. “It made me appreciate a lot of things in life, on and off the court.”
Joyner is doing well in Mongolia and hoping that his overseas success leads to an NBA opportunity.
“I’m loving Mongolia and then after this season ends, I’ll probably go play in the D-League,” Joyner said. “And then hopefully I’ll get a call-up and get a chance to show what I can do in the NBA.”
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