When most college seniors graduate in the spring, they enter the job market. Mike Muscala ’13 is no different. It just so happens that the market he entered is the selective one of professional basketball. Simply put, there are only 30 teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA), with only 15 maximum roster spots on each team. Making a team is never easy because it is the goal of nearly every college basketball player in the country, as well as that of international players, to reach this highest level of basketball in the world.
In order to make his NBA aspirations possible, Muscala had to put in a lot of work this summer.
“I went to 14 different cities, so there was a lot of traveling,” Muscala said. “There were a couple times when I had a day or two in between workouts, but there was one stretch where I had seven workouts in nine days in all different cities. It got pretty tiring, but there is no other experience like that. I made sure to give it my all.”
Muscala travelled around the country for the entire month of June, visiting many locations including Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, and Washington D.C.
Although he is the most decorated player in the history of the University, and arguably the Patriot League as well, there was still a lot for him to prove.
“You go into these workouts so that they can see how you do against guys from high major schools. It was frustrating at times. I put a lot of pressure on myself in the beginning because I really wanted to do well and prove that I could play. But I knew that if I go out there and play my game, everything will even out to where I want to be,” Muscala said.
Before long, the day of the 2013 NBA Draft was upon him.
“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, to be honest,” Muscala said. “I had done all of the workouts and all of the scouts had evaluated me, so I felt like I was done at that point. I liked having a lot of family and friends at the gathering.”
Bison basketball head coach Dave Paulsen and teammate Bryson Johnson ’13 were among those at the draft day celebration in Muscala’s native Minnesota.
After much anticipation, Muscala was the 44th overall pick in the draft. He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks, but his rights were traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Unfortunately, being drafted does not guarantee any player a roster spot. In addition to the drafted players, the Hawks acquired Elton Brand, Paul Millsap, Pero Antic, and Gustavo Ayon to fill positions in their frontcourt. The addition of these experienced players left little room on the roster for a rookie.
As a result, it was decided that Muscala would play in the Liga ACB, the top tier professional league in Spain, which is widely regarded as the second best league in the world. While there, he will play for Blusens Monbus Obradoiro, which is based in the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela.
It is common for draftees to spend a season abroad in order to refine their game before entering the NBA. In fact, Atlanta’s first-round pick Lucas Nogueira will also be playing in the Spanish league in the coming season. During his season abroad, the Hawks will still own the rights to Muscala, keeping his connection to the NBA alive.
As far as Muscala is concerned, he’s not quite sure what to expect from the highly-competitive Spanish league.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to be different. It’s going to be grown men playing, so more physical and more experience on the court. We’ll see,” Muscala said.
In addition to learning and growing stronger on the court, Muscala has a lot to look forward to in Spain. He majored in Spanish in addition to management while at the University, giving him an appreciation for the Spanish way of life.
“I always liked the culture as a kid and the language,” Muscala said.
But as far as traveling to Europe goes, this will be a new experience in many ways.
“We went to Italy as a team after my freshman year, but that is the only time I’ve been to Europe,” Muscala said.
As Muscala moves into a new chapter of his life, he still holds on to many memories he made at the University.
“Being back this weekend, I realized how nice it is to have the guys on the team around me, being able to live with them and doing everything with them,” Muscala said. “You can’t really get that in a professional setting. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just special here.”
Those who wish to keep up with Muscala during his time in Spain can do so by following his “mikejawz” YouTube channel. He promises to give an “MTV Cribs” style tour of his Spanish apartment for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
While Muscala certainly has much to be proud of in his career thus far, Bison fans everywhere will watch on eagerly as he continues to reach new heights and succeed in the professional basketball job market.