This week we were able to sit down with Lee Skinner, who plays professionally in the Czech Republic.
1. What team do you play for in the Czech Republic, and where in the country is it located?
I play for BC Kolin in the KNBL (top league in Czech Republic) and this is my third season as a pro, as well as the third season with this team.
2. Are there any other Americans on your team?
My first and second year there were three other Americans on the team with me but this season I am the only American on the team.
3. What's the level of play like?
Since I've only played here [in the Czech Republic] professionally, the level of play compared to he college level, I'd have to say the game is a little faster and players are stronger. Talent-wise, some players have more ability when it comes to one-on-one play.
4. What has been the biggest adjustment to playing in the Czech Republic?
On the court the biggest adjustment I've had to make is being able to create my own shot. As an import, it is crucial that you are able to score. My first year I found that out the hard way that if the team is not doing well or winning games, the imports are the first to feel pressure; so there's a greater responsibility to do well an perform at a high level. Off the court the biggest adjustment was definitely the language barrier. I had to learn at least basic level Czech to feel comfortable being alone in the city without a domestic player around to translate! Learning enough of the language has made it easier for me to fit in socially, whether I'm out with the team or running into fans or Czech people who would like to have a word with you.
5. What are some of your goals for this season?
My goal this season is to help my team win as many games as possible (which it always is). I was able to make the All-Star team this season and I also improved my scoring/rebounding averages from about 12.5 points and 7 rebounds per game to 19.5/10.6 per game. The goal for the rest of the season is to make the playoffs!
6. What's one thing that's surprised you about living in Europe?
Since living in Europe I've learned how to manage my expectations better. In the States it feels as though you always have what you need or can get it easily (e.g. hot water, internet, food we want, etc.). I've learned that many people in Europe believe we as Americans are very arrogant and misinformed, which I must admit is plausible in many cases. A lot of guys come over here and don't care to assimilate and learn about the culture because they simply don't care to; I think it's important to do that. It has made my experience over here more worthwhile and enjoyable.