A graduate of County Upper School’s Basketball Academy is hoping to sign for a professional basketball team, with a promising trial in Germany.
Elliott DeFreitas, 23, recently returned to the UK fresh from a four-year stint playing in the American collegiate system, helping two teams make basketball history.
Having finished his college career, he is now preparing for a rookie season as a professional player, provided he is successful in signing a professional contract.
He was in Germany on Friday to trial for a professional side, with high hopes of an offer.
“It would be amazing, it’s my whole focus to turn pro for now,” the 6’9” player said.
“I only picked up a basketball for the first time at 16 so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind.
“I’ve been in the States since I was 19 and I’ve learned a lot, gained a lot of experience and matured a lot too.
“And it all started with my time at the Basketball Academy in Bury.”
DeFreitas graduated from the Bury St Edmunds-based Academy — which caters for students who show high levels of playing ability at basketball — to attend Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in the USA.
During his two-year stay, the team won two Region 11 Conference Championships and progressed to the knockout stages of the NJCAA Division Two national tournament in both years.
He transferred to Hawaii Pacific Uni (HPU) where, in the 2016/17 season, he helped the team make history as they won a record 23 games while only losing three.
They finished the season as the PAC WEST Conference Champions for the first time, became PAC WEST Tournament champions and claimed the institution’s highest ever national ranking.
His former coach at the Academy, Darren Johnson, said that a lot of players struggle to win one Conference Championship.
He added: “Elliott has had a heck of a journey.
“Not many, if any, English basketball players have been fortunate enough to play for two different teams within the US college system and win three conference championships and three conference tournament crowns.
“He is a hard worker and a great player.
“He was an asset while playing for County Upper Basketball Academy.
“It will be interesting to see how his professional career will take off.
“We have supported and helped him through his college career and look forward to continuing this support and guidance as he enters this, the next step in his basketball career”.
DeFreitas and Johnson remain in touch, speaking weekly for advice.
“I’m very grateful to him,”said DeFreitas. “I’m playing basketball because of him.
“It’s such fun and while I’m young I’m pursuing a professional career with everything I have.”
He has decided to postpone his psychology degree, which he was completing in the USA, to focus on a pro contract.
“I’m only going to have this shot now, but finishing the degree will be there,” he said. “It was a very difficult decision but I think the right one.”
If DeFreitas is successful in signing a professional contract, he will become the third player from County Upper Basketball Academy to sign a professional contract, following in the footsteps of Grant Bangs and Blayne Frecklton, who signed with FSU Selfoss and London Lions in 2013.