After graduating from South Carolina in 2010, Brandis Raley-Ross started his career playing basketball around the world. He has played in nine countries so far in his career, most recently in Libya. In addition to his playing career, Raley-Ross also started a business, Immaculate Training, that provides player training and European exposure for aspiring and current pros. We caught up with him and spoke with him about his experiences playing abroad.
What team do you play for now, and where in the country is it located?
I play for Al Ittihad, a historic sports club located in Libya. Prior to joining this club I played in Zagreb Croatia for Cibona.
Are there any other Americans on your team?
Yes, there is one other American, Dion Wright, on my team; he’s 26 years old and from California.
How would you compare the style of basketball played in your league to American basketball?
Playing in the Middle East I noticed right away they prefer to play fast uptempo basketball without a lot of tactics (set offenses/defenses). Players in this region of the world are naturally athletic and fast with quick feet. The difference is that in the U.S., there is a higher quality of athleticism and skill.
In Europe the game is played at a slower pace with more tactics. European teams like to have big guys clog up the paint. They also use the European foul to stop the fast breaks. So the game is slower with an emphasis on shot making.
You've been a pro for a long time with a wealth of experience. What's been the secret to your longevity?
Going on 10 years of experience to be exact. I credit my longevity to being a sponge and student of the game. I always have invested in my body. Eating healthy energy foods along with cutting out junk food and fast food. Also having a weekly routine of massages, stretches and icing sessions. It sounds like a lot, but in order to play at a high level you must have discipline and your body must function at a high level.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to a player who has just begun a career playing internationally?
To me a player must be 100% locked in on improving everyday! Always be the first to the gym and the last to leave. Research about the culture of the country prior to arriving. Learn how to speak the local language (hello, good morning, good afternoon, good night, and thank you)!
Have open dialogue with your coach, GM and owner of the team. Ask your coach everyday “what must you do to improve as a player and to help the team win?” Also make sure you are gathering game film of each match to watch for yourself.
Stay away from clubs, night bars and any illegal substances that will hinder your performance. Being a professional is unlike college. One mistake and you're gone!!!!
What goals do you have for the rest of the season?
To win a championship and finish strong! Every other goal I have will manifest after the championship is won.
What has been your favorite thing about playing abroad? What's been the most surprising thing?
The favorite thing for me is being part of the different cultures and meeting new friends and connections. The most surprising thing is how passionate the fans are regarding their sports teams. Fans will show up and cheer the whole game. The competition of sports seems to unify people all over the world.