Elliott becomes third academy player to sign pro-ball contract

PRO DEAL: Former Hawaii Pacific star DeFreitas has just signed his first professional basketball contract
PRO DEAL: Former Hawaii Pacific star DeFreitas has just signed his first professional basketball contract
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It was the news Elliott DeFreitas had been waiting for, an offer to play professional basketball in Europe, but the former County Upper player still cannot believe his luck.

The 23-year-old recently returned to the UK after a four year stint playing in America, as he looked for opportunities to continue his basketball story and play professionally.

It follows his successful spell in the collegiate system, which saw him play his part in history and help Hawaii Pacific Uni to a maiden Pacific West Conference championship.

And the dream has continued, with an offer from Virtus Basket Fondi — a professional team in Fondi, a city near Lazio.

DeFreitas said: “I’m very excited, and haven’t got too many nerves about it.

“After being in Hawaii and travelling all that distance, it feels nice to be closer to home and finally playing professionally.

“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do my whole life.

“And I am actually going to start learning some Italian immediately as I heard the locals like it if you make an effort with them.”

He said it came as a surprise, with the team making an offer out of the blue.

“I trialled for Ehingen Urspring in Germany, but they took a German player due to it being easier”, he said.

“I stayed optimistic and then my agent called me last week to tell me there was an offer on the table from a team in Italy.

“I didn’t have a trial — they just liked what they saw on video and made an offer, I’m really happy with it.

“I discussed it with my family and figured it would be the right move.

“They want me out there September 4 and training will begin as soon as I land pretty much.”

DeFreitas is keeping fit with daily gym sessions as well as training sessions at his former basketball academy at County Upper School to stay sharp in preparation.

Darren Johnson, head coach at the academy, said: “I’m immensely proud, it all began here — what he’s already achieved is incredible.

“It sort of caps off the first stage, starting here and ending up in the USA, and moves on to the second, the start of his professional career.

“It’s a great starting point for him and, depending how he does, he could go far. I think he has the ability.

“And it’s not been easy for him so far either, to be so far from home in America, in a fairly brutal environment — it’s dog eat dog.

“But he’s persevered, and look where it’s got him, just very proud.”