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Former Pitt Basketball Players Competing Professionally Overseas




Nov. 4, 2009

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When Jamie Dixon's players graduate and move on from college basketball, they all have various options for continuing their basketball careers, whether in the NBA or overseas. Dixon has used his contacts and resources all over the basketball community to help set up tryouts and gather information about players' prospects in the professional ranks and, for many, it's led to careers.

 

There are countless leagues around the world that former Pitt players have been, and are currently, making major impacts in. Here's a look at some former Pitt players and what they're doing these days. We will have more updates on other players in the coming days.

 

Levance Fields

 

Pitt's starter at point guard over the last three seasons, Fields began his journey with the Orlando Magic in their 2009 summer league. Following that stint, Fields signed a lucrative three-year deal with Spartak St. Petersburg of the Russian Super League.


 

 

 

Fields played 37 minutes and scored 24 points in his most recent game, knocking down 3-6 3-point attempts and adding five assists. In his first game, he played 18 minutes and scored eight points. He started both games.

 

Under conditions of his contract, Fields has at least two years guaranteed with St. Petersburg and an opt-out clause for next season, which allows him to leave only to play in the NBA. There's currently one other American player on the roster with Fields: Sharrod Ford, who starred at Clemson from 2001-05 and had a brief stint in the NBA.

 

While at Pitt, Fields was a three-time Bob Cousy Award Candidate. He averaged 10.7 points and 7.5 assists during his senior year.

 

Fields' current player page: http://www.eurobasket.com/player.asp?Cntry=RUS&PlayerID=91532

 

Tyrell Biggs

 

Like Fields, Biggs began his professional career overseas. He's currently playing for the Greek club, Trikala. Trikala, a recently founded club (1999) in the International Basketball Federation, is most notably known for its rapid succession into the A1 League - the top tier of Greek basketball.

 

During the first game of the season, Biggs ranked second on the team in minutes played (27) and third on the team in scoring with 14 points. He's playing aside former Texas star A.J. Abrams, the Big 12 career record-holder in 3-pointers.

 

Before traveling to Greece, Biggs trained with current NBA players DeJuan Blair and Jrue Holiday at the IMG Basketball Academy, which has helped send a countless number of players into the professional ranks. He then spent time in Las Vegas, where he competed in the NBA's 2009 Summer League for the Chicago Bulls. In three games, he accumulated 56 minutes of playing time and scored 25 points. He impressed several scouts and NBA personnel with his versatile game, but was not signed to a deal and decided to start his basketball career overseas.

 

Biggs' current player page: http://www.eurobasket.com/player.asp?Cntry=GRE&PlayerID=64895

 

Keith Benjamin

 

Benjamin is playing in the Australian Basketball Association for the Mount Gambier Pioneers, a member of the South East Australian Basketball League. 

 

Before arriving in Australia, Benjamin appeared on the roster for two Continental Basketball Association Teams: the Pittsburgh Xplosion and the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

 

While at Pitt, Benjamin played in 123 career games and had tallied 306 points. During his senior year, he played a major role in Pitt's 2008 Big East Tournament Championship team, averaging 9.1 points per game throughout the season.

 

Pioneers website: http://www.mountgambierpioneers.com.au/index.html

 

John DeGroat

 

DeGroat transferred to Pitt and played two years with the Panthers, ending his college career in 2006. He's currently playing for BC Odessa in Ukraine, averaging 18 points through three games. He concluded the 2008-09 season playing for Budivelnyk Kyiv-Ukraine, where he appeared in 51 of 52 games and scored 852 points.

 

Before making the move to the Ukraine, DeGroat remained in Pittsburgh and played for the Pittsburgh Xplosion during the 2007-08 season, averaging 18.2 points and eight rebounds per game. He played in the all-star game that season and picked up professional interest around the world. After tryouts with the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, among others, DeGroat took his talents overseas. As an international player, he's played professionally in Ireland, Hungary and Finland.

 

DeGroat arrived at Pitt prior to the 2004-05 season after transferring from Northeastern Colorado Community College, where he was ranked as one of the nation's top junior college players.

 

DeGroat's current player page: http://www.eurobasket.com/player.asp?Cntry=UKR&PlayerID=58532

 

Antonio Graves

 

Like many of his former Pitt teammates, Graves joined the Pittsburgh Xplosion roster for the 2007-08 season alongside DeGroat and Carl Krauser. After several stints in various places, he now playing professionally in Croatia.

 

While playing with the Xplosion, Graves averaged 19.5 points, 3.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. Then, in January 2008, Graves signed with Élan Béarnais Pau Orthez based in Pau, France. Élan Béarnais Pau Orthez is a member of the Ligue Nationale de Basketball, the top men's professional basketball league in France. While in France, Graves averaged 20 points, three assists and two rebounds per game.

 

After the completion of his contract with Élan Béarnais Pau Orthez, Graves participated in the 2008 NBA Summer League and signed with Calatasaray Café Crown of Istanbul, Turkey, part of the Turkish Basketball League. There, during the 2008-09 season, he averaged 15.4 points and 2.1 assists per game. Graves then relocated to Zagbreb, where he contributes greatly to their backcourt.

 

While at Pitt, Graves had a successful career leading the Panthers to four NCAA Tournament appearances and four 20-win seasons.  He was named to the Big East All-Tournament team following his senior season.

 

Graves `current player page: http://www.eurobasket.com/player.asp?Cntry=CRO&PlayerID=58526

 

VONTEEGO CUMMINGS

 

Vonteego Cummings has traveled the world to play basketball, appearing on rosters in four different countries: the U.S., Italy, Serbia and Montenegro and Israel. 

 

Originally selected by the Indiana Pacers in first round (26th overall) of the 1999 NBA Draft, he was eventually traded to the Golden State Warriors with whom he made his first NBA appearance. He was later traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. He appeared in 199 NBA games and accrued 1,381 before beginning his EuroBasket career.

 

After being signed by Futur Virtus Castelmaggiore for the 2003 season, Cummings moved to Italy. For the 2004 season he appeared on the roster for KK Hemofarm Vrsac, then relocated to Serbia and Montenegro. The following year, Cummings made the move back the U.S. and was signed by the Fort Worth Flyers, a member of the NBA Development League. In 2006 he signed with BC Partizan Belgrade, a Serbian A-League team, which finished 11th in the 2007 EuroBasket Championship.  For the 2007-08 season Cummings moved to Isreal after being signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv, the biggest sports club in the country. In 2008, Cummings made his last transaction to date and signed with CB Estudiantes based out of Madrid, Spain.

 

When he completed his career at Pitt in 1999, Cummings ranked ninth in school history in points (1,581), fourth in assists (285) and second in steals (235). In his final three seasons with the Panthers, he earned All-Big East honors.