There are a countless number of young aspiring basketball players that never make the NBA. Some get called up for a handful of games, logging only a scarce number of minutes of playing time. Longtime Atlanta Hawks fans can recall the likes of Mario West and Othello Hunter as examples of those who came and left in a flash.
Many young ballers are in a never-ending state of promotion and relegation to the NBA Development League, or travelling overseas and playing in the Euroleague, Chinese Basketball League or Australian League.
The National Basketball Association is a league that employs only 450 of the finest athletes at one time — unfortunately, some just don’t quite fit the mold.
But it’s still every little kid’s dream to be selected to the highest professional basketball league in the world, regardless of anything that happens after that. The NBA Draft is a graduation from an amateur athlete to a professional, and is often described as one of the most memorable nights of a basketball player’s life.
On draft night this past June, the Hawks traded for a second round pick (44th overall) that was used on Mike Muscala, a four-year forward/center in the Patriot League who set many records as a Bucknell Bison. He goes by the nickname “Jawz”, possibly for his normally bubbly and talkative attitude.
Unfortunately for Muscala, he did not have a shot at the Hawks’ regular-season roster after the front office bolstered their frontcourt with the acquisitions of players such as Paul Millsap, Elton Brand, Pero Antić, and Gustavo Ayon.
Muscala has since moved on and signed a contract with Spanish League team Blusens Monbús Obradoiro. He will be keeping a video diary/blog, or “vlog” if you will, of his travels and adventures in Spain this upcoming season, with periodical postings on the Hawks’ official website.
The first episode (which can be seen at the bottom of the page), gives us a behind the scenes look as Muscala prepared for the draft. You can see the raw joy in Mike and his close friends eyes and body language. It’s enough to give an unathletic sports fan like me chills without even being there.
The Hawks were able to retain Muscala’s draft rights as he journeys abroad, which means he could certainly be back with the team this time next year, should his progress overseas go swimmingly.
Thus far, Muscala’s story resembles that of another Hawks second-round pick Kieth Benson from two years ago. Like the man they call “Kito”, he wasn’t part of a prestigious blue blood NCAA basketball program. He was a hardworking, four-year athlete in an era of increasingly more one-and-done type players. Moose (another nickname for Muscala) averaged an impressive 18 points and 11 rebounds during his senior season, winning his second Patriot League Player of the Year Award. Benson, on the other hand, is still fighting for a shot at the big league that may not ever come. Such is the plight. This makes players like Benson and Muscala easy to root for.
Through “Jawz Journey,” Mike Muscala has opened up his life for the outside universe to see. We now know that he is a normal kid like you and I are or once were, not a basketball playing machine. He likes to have fun and gives us insight into his activities away from the court.
With social media constantly swirling so many rumors and bottom-line analyses of the players and organizations of this multi-billion dollar business, it’s easy to forget that the athletes come from perfectly normal backgrounds with friends and family they are leaving behind to pursue a professional career in what they do best.
Trust me, you will certainly want to follow Jawz’s journey these next few months.
Don’t believe me? Check out the first episode and let me know what you think by voicing your opinion in our comments section below.