Tech’s all-time leading scorer is living the dream with his new team
A new adventure, a new beginning, a dream come true. Justin Sedlak could only imagine that his career would take off upon graduating from Florida Tech in May 2011. What he had always envisioned was playing basketball at a higher level.
“I just want to play, it’s been my dream since I was a little kid,” said Sedlak in an interview prior to graduating. “I just want to play professionally, be it here or overseas.”
Opportunity has knocked on the door of the 24-year-old, 6-foot 9-inch Slovakian power forward. Caceres Ciudad de Baloncesto (City of Basketball), a team from Spain’s LEB Gold Division, has called for the services of the ex-Florida Tech star.
“This is an incredible opportunity for Justin and a great location for him to begin his professional basketball career,” said Tech head coach Billy Mims. “His club, Caceres, has a history of success at the highest level in Spain. Four years ago, they were in the ACB, Spain’s top league and arguably the best league in the world outside the NBA. They have been very aggressive in their summer signings, and many people predict they could win the LEB Gold this year, which would gain them promotion back to the ACB a year from now.
“Justin will be playing against some of the best basketball players in the world, but playing for his Slovak Senior National Team each summer in the European Championships will have prepared him well for that. This is also a great honor for our program here at Florida Tech. I am very proud of his achievements and look forward to following his professional career from now on.”
Upon arrival in his new home, Sedlak has acclimated to the new culture and style of the country’s second-highest professional league, while having a blast in the process.
“Right now, I’m loving the city, the team, my teammates and the coaches,” said Sedlak in a short interview with the Spanish press.
One of the traits Sedlak possessed as a Panther was perseverance. In the first five minutes of the 2008-09 regular-season opener, Sedlak went up for a lay-in and came down hard on his ankle. The result was a season-ending injury.
He returned to form for the 2009-10 season, averaging 20.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. His success and production carried over into his senior year, enabling him to become the program’s all-time leading scorer. Not too shabby for Sedlak, who was awarded Daktronics Division II Second Team All-American and Daktronics South Region Player of the Year following the season.
Now with Caceres, Sedlak will be called upon to perform in a similar fashion, while playing in various positions. Something his new coach, Gustavo Aranzana, has mentioned as one of Sedlak’s strong points.
“He is a very versatile player, we expect to use him mostly at the four and five positions,” he said to a local newspaper. “But given his excellent shooting ability, he could see some minutes at the three or even two position, if we are hit with injuries.”
The LEB Gold League starts play on Sept. 23. Caceres in the meantime is in preseason mode, but Sedlak hasn’t lost any time building chemistry with his teammates and getting used to his new settings. He has gained the respect of his fellow players and coaches for always carrying a Spanish dictionary wherever he goes, demonstrating his commitment to the Spanish culture and his team.
One thing is clear, Sedlak is a workhorse, a player that’s living his dream and one that will go all out in every game.
“I don’t know what they are expecting of me…but what I do know is that I’m going to give them everything I have,” said Sedlak upon arrival at his new destination. “I’m going to adapt well and always play hard.”
Sedlak becomes the second men’s basketball player in FIT history to sign a professional contract in Europe at a level of this quality. Dwight Walton had a very successful European career with clubs in Israel, France and Switzerland, as well as playing for his Canadian National Team in the Seoul Olympics.
Sedlak is also the fourth player in the six years that Mims has been Tech’s head coach to sign a professional contract to play basketball overseas. Carl McNally signed with BBL Club Milton Keynes outside London, England in 2008. Janko Mrksic and Titas Vainauskas also had brief stints with professional clubs in Europe.Image Courtesy of Jim Hogue