Over the past five years, the Ashland University men's basketball team has sent four players overseas to embark on professional careers that have seen them excel on the world stage.
Former Eagles Evan Yates (2013), Michael Hundley (2016), Boo Osborne (2017) and Wendell Davis (2018) are all playing overseas in four different countries.
"Traveling overseas gives a snapshot of another culture, but living abroad allows for our former players to immerse themselves in another country's customs," said head coach John Ellenwood, now in his 10th season at Ashland. "Their hard work, coupled with the team's success while they attended Ashland University, is the reason that Evan, Mike, Boo and Wendell get to live this overseas experience. We couldn't be prouder of them."
Yates is the most experienced of the bunch, having played every season since he graduated in a foreign league. He is currently playing his sixth year away from home and in his fourth country since he signed with BC Gries/Oberhoffen in Gries, France for the 2018-19 campaign.
"The best way (to get acclimated) is to go to dinner with different teammates who might actually be from that area to get an understanding of how things are there," Yates said. "Then I'll go out with some teammates who might be from different parts of the country and learn about their areas. Usually my teammates are pretty cool and will drive you to a close major city to give a quick tour."
Through nine games this year, Yates is averaging 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and three assists per game. He has previously played in Spain (two seasons), Israel and Denmark, earning all-league honors four times. In his season with Hørsholm 79er in Denmark, he was named the Forward of the Year after leading the league in rebounding.
"It's crazy to think that after doing it for this long that you still need to adjust, but that's the hard truth about playing abroad," said Yates. "Every country has a such a rich culture that carries over their sports and how they are played. On the court, I need to be able to see my teammates move with and without the ball and see the spots where guys like to be in to shoot or drive."
At Ashland, Yates was an All-American and two-time all-region standout. He ranks sixth all-time in scoring and second in rebounding. The Cincinnati native holds the program's single-season rebounding mark with 295 in his junior season.
Yates looks forward to continuing his career as it takes him across the globe.
"The food and culture is good in Spain, the weather and beaches are good in Israel," he said. "I had a lot of friends in Denmark so that made it feel like home, and France has good fashion and culture. I've loved each place I've played."
Hundley's post-Ashland career has now taken him to Shkoder, Albania where he plays for Vllaznia in the Albanian Superliga. The season prior took Hundley to Australia.
"My favorite experience off the court has been seeing how different Albanian culture is from the USA," said Hundley. "The meals they eat and how they go about everyday life is extremely different from back home and in Australia.
"Lots of people here ride bikes," he said. "From little kids all the way to 60-70-year-olds. They also eat way different. There's no fast food. Food here is very healthy and they eat rice with every meal."
Hundley, a Detroit native, was a menace defensively for the Eagles, finishing his senior season with a school-record 86 blocks (2.8 per game) and earning GLIAC All-Defensive team honors. He had a program-record 10 blocks in a GLIAC Tournament game against Grand Valley State that season and also had five other games with at least five blocks.
Osborne has found a home this season at MTV Herzöge Wolfenbüttel in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. The club plays in the German ProB League where Osborne is averaging 17 points, four assists and three rebounds per game.
The Columbus native finished his Ashland career with 1,107 points and was a two-time All-GLIAC second team and GLIAC All-Defensive team selection. He is third on Ashland's all-time 3-pointers list with 170.
"Ashland helped me with the everyday drive to be better," said Osborne. "I had a lot of teammates at Ashland that had the same type of motivation to push each other to be better. We competed to be better as a team.
"Overseas, you're generally competing against every other American that's trying to play professionally so there cannot be any let-up. This is a job after all, and Ashland and Coach Wood helped me prepare by having that ultimate competitor mindset and outworking everyone else."
Davis is in his first season playing overseas, signing with Pardinyes-Ilieda in Padinyes, Spain last summer following his senior year. He is averaging 18 points, three assists and three rebounds per game for the club, which plays in Liga EBA.
"It's similar to Division II basketball in that there's a lot of team defense," said Davis. "If you have a game of 15 or more points, that is great. Guys really zone in to make sure they don't allow one person to beat them."
Davis, a native of Reynoldsburg, is Ashland's only three-time All-GLIAC first team selection and was selected to all-region teams in three seasons. He is the program's second-all-time leading scorer with 1,939 points and ranks third in rebounds with 769.