Jordan Wilson played on the Wisconsin womens basketball team from 2002-06. Since graduating in December of 2006, Wilson has been all over the world, continuing her basketball career. After a few years in Spain and Austria, Wilson will be playing for T71 Dudelange in Luxembourg next season.
You can find out more about her new team by clicking here and her bio can be found here.
Read on to see what Wilson has been up to since her days at Wisconsin.
Talk about your professional career. How you got started, where youve played, the success youve had
The very next day following the final game of my UW career, I went to the Shell and scrimmaged against some guys. Playing at the Shell day after day, I realized I wanted to continue with my basketball career and I still loved the sport. My former assistant coach at UW, Al Brown (now assistant coach at Duke University), advised me on assembling a tape and put me in contact with an agent. From there, I just waited to see what would happen. Three weeks after graduation in December of 2006, I was in Orlando watching UW play in the Capital Bowl when I received a call from my agent. She presented an offer to play in Spain for Club BC-Ibaizabal. The very next week, I was living in a foreign country.
My team was based in Galdakao, just outside Bilbao. This is a gorgeous area in the Basque country on the Bay of Biscay and surrounded by mountains. It was January and I was being hired mid-season to help the team qualify and win playoffs in order to move up a division. With the exception of one teammate who spoke limited English, the coach, assistant and the entire team spoke only Spanish. I learned the language on the fly and could communicate fairly well by May.
Our team fell short of winning playoffs by one point. I ended my 2006-07 season averaging 12.1 points and 10.6 rebounds. I was offered a contract to return for the entire 2007-08 season and decided to return to finish the job I had come to do help win playoffs and move up. My second year was totally different, because I could now speak the language. Also, since the team was allowed another American, I mailed the coach some film on my former teammate from UW, Ashley Josephson, and she was contracted for the 2007-08 season. We finished the season undefeated and won playoffs, allowing the team to move up in divisions, which they attempted unsuccessfully the previous seven years. I ended my 2007-08 season averaging 15.2 points and 10.8 rebounds and was named MVP of the league and playoffs.
It was tough to leave the incredible experience of Ibaizabal and the friends I had made, but I felt I needed a change for my third season. So, I signed with UBBC APO Herzogenburg in Austria for the 2008-09 season. Herzogenburg is a small town 40 minutes from Vienna, which I was able to visit often. I lived with a Romanian player, Alexandria Uiuiu who plays for the Romanian national team, and Nikki Anthony, an American who had played at Florida State. We finished third in league and lost in the Cup Final game. I experienced a lot of freedom, since I was the only four player. I also played minutes at the three position, finishing the 2008-09 season averaging 16.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. My experience in Austria was also enriched when I met my boyfriend, Igor Bakovic, in November. Originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia, but now a resident of Toronto, Canada, he had come from playing pro ball in Greece to the mens UBBC St. Polten team, adjacent to Herzogenburg.
In June, I signed for the 2009-10 season with T71 Dudelange in Luxembourg. I am very excited about this opportunity. The club and this situation seem like the perfect fit. I will be heading there at the end of August to begin training. Our preseason camp will be in Stockholm, Sweden, and there will be a substantial number of non-conference games played in the surrounding countries. The location is fantastic, situated in the south of Luxembourg between France, Belgium and Germany. I am hoping Igor will be signing with a mens team close by! My contract includes a car and my own apartment; Paris and Frankfurt are an easy drive. I have already been in contact with my future coach, Jacques Sitz and new teammates, all of whom all seem extremely warm and inviting. It should be a great year!
What are you doing back in the States before your next season starts
Just trying to relax and spend time with my family and friends. Im staying in shape with lifting, cardio and shooting workouts. I always try to get back up to UW to train a little and play with the girls. This summer I am traveling a lot with my boyfriend Igor, who also plays overseas. Since we returned to the US and Canada in May, we`ve gone to Florida, Toronto and Chicago visiting each other. We are leaving July 7 for a few weeks in Spain, where we will attend my former Spanish coachs wedding.
What made you decide to change teams and play in Luxembourg
I am always up for the challenge of a new team, location and experience. I was happy where I played last season (Herzogenburg, Austria) but the opportunity to play for T71 Dudelange I Luxembourg is a great step in terms of my career. I am excited about the change in location, league and all that comes with living in a new country. I am particularly thrilled to compete against several different countries. Since Luxembourg is a small country, there will be a good number of non-conference games in other countries, which will make the long season very interesting. Another great thing is that womens basketball is the No. 1 sport in Luxembourg! This means lots of attention from the public and up to 3,000 fans per game.
What has been your favorite place to play so far
Spain I loved the Basque country, the culture, my teammates and the warm nature of the people. I became fluent in Castilian Spanish and enjoyed the dramatic beauty surrounding Bilbao, particularly the resort of San Sebastian, where I spent many afternoons in the sun on days off. I am confident my friendship with several teammates will be life long.
What are some of the differences between college and international basketball
In my opinion, European basketball is a faster paced, more athletic game than in the states. In the U.S., there is more emphasis on lifting weights to get bigger and stronger. In Europe, the players are more lean and quick, playing more of a speedy, finesse game. I am considerably smaller than when I played at UW, but I feel Im playing the best ball of my life at this point. I have adapted physically and mentally to European ball and it is my style of play. As a post player at 6-0, I was an undersized power forward in the Big Ten; I needed muscle to bang with the bigger girls. Overseas, I am considered tall and do not need width and strength to hold my own. I have the advantage of being quick at my size and I hope to increase my versatility by playing at the three position as well.
What is the competition like
On every overseas team, there is a wide range and experience among the women, ranging from 17 up to age 35. In Spain, my oldest teammate was 29, but I competed against 35 year olds in great physical shape. In Austria, one of my teammates was 42! She had originally played on the Russian National Team and came to Austria with her former husband. She played for the Hungarian Euroleague club MKB Euroleasing Sopron and several clubs around Austria. Her daughter Inga came to California where she was high school player of the year and All-American; Inga will play for Northwestern University next year. The competition is different from country to country. Spain is among the top in terms of leagues and competition. Austria has fewer teams, but was competitive since most teams had one or two D1 Americans.
What do you do when youre not playing
When I am not playing, I am definitely traveling or relaxing. I LOVE to travel so I always try to take advantage of my time off and go see new cities/countries when I can. When I played in Spain, I took side trips to San Sebastian, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Paris and London. Post season, I visited the island of Majorca, the south of Spain (Seville, Granada and Alicante) and the south of France (Biarritz and Lourdes). While playing in Austria I traveled to Salzburg, Prague and Hungary, with weekly trips to Vienna (a 40-minute ride). But, when I have had a long period of tough workouts, I like to take some time to relax and recover.
How is living in Europe different than the States
It is so different. In general, the European lifestyle is much more laid back than in the states, especially from my life near Chicago. Each country has a unique culture and lifestyle that must be embraced. In Spain, for instance, everything was done much later in the day. For meals, it is coffee or a sweet for breakfast, tapas with juice/wine as a snack around noon, lunch (the biggest meal of the day) between 2 and 4 p.m., with dinner at 9 p.m. or later. There are no huge supermarkets; instead, there specialty stores for fruit, seafood, bread, etc. And then, of course, there are the big food/clothing markets every Saturday morning. In Spain, stores close for siesta time around 2-4 and re-open in the evening. Except for churches, cafes and some restaurants, nearly everything is closed in Europe on Sundays, since it is a reserved day of rest. In my opinion, people in Europe do not equate money with success as many Americans do. They enjoy their free time with friends and family and are happy with the fortune they have. It increases appreciation of what really counts in life (family, friends, good health), rather than using material things to make one happy.
Do you still keep in contact with your former teammates Have any come to visit you in Europe
I stay in contact with many of my former teammates from oldest to youngest: Emily Ashbaugh, Lello Gebisa, Abby Simmons, Shawna Nicols, Steph Rich, Ebba Gebisa, Annie Nelson, Ashley Josephson, Kirsten Bakke, Erin Olson, Shari Welton, Caitlin Gibson and Chris Spencer. Ebba Gebisa came to visit me my second season in Spain, and Ashley played there in 2007-08
What advice would you give to current players who wanted to play overseas
FOLLOW YOUR DREAM! If playing overseas is something you really want to do, get some of your best game film together. Make not just a highlight tape, but combine halves of your best games or two complete games. Then communicate with coaches/people who have any contact with agents in the states or overseas. Be persistent but patient and send out your film. Playing overseas is not for everyone. You need to be adaptable and completely open to other cultures in terms of food, language and lifestyle. Homesickness is inevitable, but you need to embrace the experience because it flies by. If you spend your time overseas missing home, you will be back in the states wishing you had taken advantage of your time over there.
Do you still follow the UW teams overseas
Yes, I definitely do. Since I come back to work out with them a little over the summer, I know most of the current team, although I didnt play with any of them during my career. I enjoy seeing how the girls are doing personally and how the program is doing in general.