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    "Around the World"

Rob Feaster ’95 has played ball in Australia and Germany. And now he’s winning over fans in Reims, France.

By David Driver

Many college basketball players—especially at the Division I level—enter their first season with dreams of the National Basketball Association, no matter how unrealistic those aims may be.

    This is sometimes true of non-scholarship hoopsters, even in the Patriot League—which is known for its high graduation rate among student-athletes. And it certainly was true for Rob Feaster ’95, who came from Chicago to Mount St. James with high hopes in the early 1990s.

    Feaster, however, put up offensive numbers that most Patriot League players can only dream about. He averaged 28 points per game for the Crusaders in 1993-94, ranking second in the nation in Division I, behind future NBA star Glen Robinson.

    Not to be outdone, he averaged 25 points—eighth in the nation—and 6.9 rebounds per game in his final season. For comparison, the entire Army team averaged 50.5 points per game during the 2003-04 season.

    Feaster had 2,224 points in his Holy Cross career. That is the most ever for a Patriot League player, and second in school history. He was the Patriot League’s most valuable player in 1993 when Holy Cross won the league title. Player of the year in 1995, he was named to the all-decade team in the Patriot League. Feaster was drafted by the Connecticut Pride of the Continental Basketball Association after college, but the NBA never called his name.

    But 10 years after his graduation, Feaster is now playing pro hoops—though he admits he will never order room service as a player in the NBA.

    "My clock on the (possible) NBA experience has clicked,” he says. “The NBA was a dream that wasn’t attained.”

    But that doesn’t mean that Feaster, who turns 32 in May, has not had a lengthy and profitable pro career. He has—and the 6-foot-7 forward has seen much of the world at the same time. Feaster has played for pay in Germany for three seasons, in Australia for nearly three full seasons, and, in January, he joined a team in France . He also played in the minor leagues in the United States .

    “It depends on what your goals and priorities are,” he says, prior to a game in Paris . “Not everyone can play over here. And I am not talking about talent.”

    The stories are legend: many American hoopsters come to Europe for a tryout, or perhaps have signed a contract. And more than a few, over the years, have gotten on the next plane and headed home—the victim of culture shock, a foreign language or perhaps being without a support system for the first time.

    “They don’t want to come over here and be forgotten,” says Feaster.

    So what advice would Feaster give to aspiring Euro-players?

    “First and foremost,” he says, “you have to have an open mind. Americans by nature are pretty confident and arrogant. You have to respect (that) you are in someone else’s home. You have to adapt to that. You have to be humble.”

    Feaster doesn’t pretend to be perfect. He says he was naive as a rookie pro in 1995-96 when he played in Germany .

    “I was one of those young people who wanted people to adjust to me,” he says. “In my younger years (as a pro), I thought I had to come over and score buckets. But they don’t want you to come over here and make their (native) players look silly. They want you to complement their players, on and off the court.”

    "In school,” he explains, “you have structure. You have classes. When you are an adult and your occupation is basketball ... you would be surprised at how much free time you have.”

    So how does Feaster spend his free time?

    “I take my profession seriously,” he says. “I stretch (in exercises), I do what I need to do. I make sure I eat right. I do massages, physical therapy, ride the bike.”

    Feaster played in Australia for most of the past three seasons. Playing for the Perth Wildcats in 2002-03, he averaged 19.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as his team advanced to the finals, and he was a second-team all-league pick.

    Last season, he played for the Victoria Giants in Australia and averaged 18.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

“The quality of life is great, and everyone speaks English,” he says of the Land Down Under. Feaster saw the world-famous Opera House in Sydney ; when he played in Germany from 1995-98, he visited famous cathedrals and the site of the former Berlin Wall.

    He thought he would have to sit out this season while dealing with family issues in Chicago . But Reims —a team in the French pro A league—had room for a second American on its roster, and Feaster signed a temporary contract in January.

    Most Americans who play pro hoops in Europe are provided the free use of a car and apartment by the team, and the salary is normally tax-free. So Feaster’s expenses in  France are just meals, utilities and phone calls back to the States.

    In his third game in France , Feaster had a team-high 16 points in 29 minutes of action in a 72-66 loss to Paris Racing Basket on Jan. 22 in southeast Paris . He averaged 14.3 points per game in his first outings for Reims , a town of about 200,000 people nearly 90 minutes northeast of Paris .

    "The people are great, and it’s a nice town,” Feaster says of Reims . “We are trying to get a stronger following (for the team), but you have to win games.”

    That was a problem before Feaster joined the team. The team fell to 2-16 with the loss to Paris, whose lineup included point guard John Linehan from Providence College, plus former players from Georgetown, St. Joseph’s and North Carolina State.

    American Ryan Fletcher, the top scorer for Reims this season, was impressed when Feaster joined the club. “From day one he was making shots,” says Fletcher, who played at the University of Cincinnati . “He causes a lot of match-up problems. You really can’t put a big guy on him because he is too quick.”    

Feaster is one of four former Crusaders who spent part of this season with a pro hoops team in Europe—and two others were in France: Ryan Serravalle ’02 joined Mulhouse of the French B league in January and averaged 10 points and 2.5 assists in his two games. Patrick Whearty ’03 was averaging 8.5 points in 12 games when he was injured in December 2004 while with Clermont in the French A league—which also includes Reims . Chris Rojik ’97 was averaging 20.4 points per game in late January for Rhoendorff in the German B league.

David Driver is a freelance writer from Maryland who has covered two Patriot League basketball tournaments. A contributor to Eastern Basketball, The Washington Post and The Associated Press, he lives in Szeged, Hungary.



Rob Feaster ’95
Rob Feaster ’95

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