From the Windy City, to the Flint Hills, and now the foothills of the Alps.
That’s the basketball path of Jacob Pullen as the former product of Proviso East High School in Chicago, Ill., and two-time All-Big 12 performer at Kansas State, is now on the roster of Pallacanestro Biella, also known as Angelico Biella, which is a member of the Series A professional league in Italy.
The all-time leading scorer in Wildcat history signed a one-year deal this past May for “… over six figures,” said Pullen. “Not too bad.”
“Jacob is a player who impressed us with his qualities on both sides of the field of personality and a very close relationship with the public, all characteristics that make a player from Biella,” said Marco Atripaldi, CEO and general manager of Angelico Biella (quote translated from Italian).
The roster has four other American-born players in Aubrey Coleman (Houston), Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Marc Salyers (Samford) and A.J. Slaughter (Western Kentucky), which helped Angelico Biella to an 11-19 record last year.
Pullen worked out for 11 NBA teams prior to April’s draft and had a 12th cancelled due to tweaking his medial knee ligament two days before the draft when he had an off-balance landing during a tryout with the Sacramento Kings.
“That may or may not have kept me out of the draft, but the way it ended up, it was all for the good,” said Pullen.
“With the lockout in the NBA, I’m not attached to any one NBA team and it allowed me to pick a place to go make all the money I want and still have the chance to come back and try (to find a spot in the NBA) when the time is right.”
Pullen said he felt positive about the majority of his NBA workouts, and on draft night he admitted to being disappointed when seven players from the Big 12 Conference had their names called, but not the league’s leading scorer in Big 12 Conference play.
“NBA teams have different opinions,” said Pullen. “Nowadays it’s not about who puts the ball in the basket or how good you were in college, but it’s about potential. I guess deciding that is their job and they think guys who stay in college four years don’t have potential.
“I question their knowledge in some cases because they took players just because they were so tall or were a good athlete, but not necessarily a great basketball player,” Pullen said. “Some of these guys haven’t proven anything, but that’s OK.”
In the first round of this year’s NBA Draft, there were six freshmen selected, four sophomores, eight juniors, seven seniors (Jimmer Fredette of BYU being the highest drafted senior at No. 10) and five International players.
Overall in the 60-player draft, there were seven freshmen, seven sophomores, 14 juniors and 19 seniors selected, along with 12 International players and one from the NBA Developmental League.
The International players came from 11 countries – Spain (2), Hungary, Australia, Qater, Tel Aviv, Slovenia, Japan, Turkey, Italy, Serbia and Lithuania.
“At the end of the day, it’s about making money and playing basketball,” said Pullen. “If I continue to have better offers overseas, maybe I never play in the NBA. It’s all about studying the offers and doing what fits right.”
Pullen added, “Like my mom always says, ‘Sometimes life is not fair,’ but I have nothing but good memories of K-State. I’m proud that I did prove something at K-State and as a program we accomplished a lot. Some of these guys are just in it for themselves. If basketball stops, I know that I will be OK because of my education.
“Even with the suspension and up and down play early, I will never regret returning to K-State for my senior year,” said Pullen, who graduated in May with a major in social science / criminology. “Maybe I would have been drafted had I come out as a freshman or a junior, but the experience I had in my four years will last a lifetime.”
But will mom and dad (Charlotte and Jerome) miss seeing their son play hoops?
“They both have passports,” quipped Pullen.
And, mom is ready to go … for sure.
“They’re giving him a two-bedroom condo, so that’s going to allow his mother to come more often since she won’t have to rent a hotel room,” laughed Charlotte. “It really is a wonderful deal. They’re providing his housing and giving him a car … all he has to do is pay for his internet.
“I’ve found out that Milan is only 50 miles away, and Florence and Venice are only a two-hour train ride, so I’ve been checking out some side trips,” said Charlotte.