We are happy to introduce the third Baller Abroad in our player diary series, Jack Isenbarger! Isenbarger is a second-year pro out of Elon University in North Carolina, where he was named to the all-conference team multiple times and finished his career as the school's all-time leader in three pointers made (264). After a season in Spain, Isenbarger signed with Leeds Force of the British Basketball League, the top tier in England. He what his experience has been like so far:
October 10 - Today marks the four-week mark of my arrival in England. I’m on a one-year contract with Leeds Force in the British Basketball League. This is my second season abroad, and the adjustment to England has been very smooth and made the transition enjoyable.
However, there are also nuances to every different country’s customs, cultures and law, and some things took longer to adjust to, such as traffic driving on the left side of the road and the cars with steering wheels on the right side (I’ve accidentally gone to the wrong side of the vehicle thinking I was headed to the passenger side only to find the driver seat!). Another thing with cars in the U.K. is that about 90 percent are stick shift, and I still need to learn how to properly use the clutch pedal.
The accommodations have made things comfortable off the court. I live in a house with four other basketball players, three of whom are on my BBL team and one who is a sixth form student-athlete (*note: a sixth form college is for students in England aged 16-19 that prepares them for advanced school level and other school level qualifications).
Everyone has their own room and space to themselves, but we also are intentional about spending time together as a house. We're building house chemistry through things like going to rugby matches, doing house cleaning on Saturday mornings and cooking dinner together. Like team chemistry, house chemistry is important because we spend so much time around one another.
One of the best parts of playing professional basketball, or being on any team for that matter, is the blend of all the personalities. Getting to know my teammates has been a highlight of my first month here - it’s a foundation that must be in place before we can take care of business on the court.
On the court, we’re learning the system on the fly and playing without a complete roster due to three of our players who are sidelined with injuries. One challenge we have is a lack of depth, so the competitiveness in practice isn’t always up to speed. In order to get a high return from practice, there need to be guys competing for the same position and minutes. Otherwise, players naturally get away with taking drills off or not going at full speed. I’m looking forward to see how we look when everyone is healthy.
Last night, we gave a game away to the Glasgow Rocks 82-77. We are 1-2 at the moment and hungry to prove that we can compete for the top spot in the league!