North Bay’s Joey Puddister continues to pursue path in world of professional basketball
That was Joey Puddister’s response when asked if he ever thought basketball would take him where it has taken him.
Portugal is a long way from West Ferris Secondary School but that is where most recently basketball has taken the North Bay native.
Puddister just got back home after playing professional basketball in that European country last year.
Puddister has been able to use basketball as a springboard to play the game he loves for a living and to see far-off places.
The West Ferris Secondary School alum says he enjoyed playing the year in Portugal. “I had a good season, really liked the team, liked the guys, the coaching staff. Everybody was great and got back a couple of months ago.”
In North Bay, Puddister uses his experience to train young players. He runs a summer basketball camp at Northern Elite training that includes some tournament play.
Puddister also trains players one on one. We caught up with him at such a session at Canadore College.
“Some of the kids are looking for more specialized training, or small group training. I get a few kids, really dedicated kids who want to work on their skills, and we get into the gym together,” says Puddister.
He knows what it is like to use gym time to get better.
“Coming out of high school I was an OK player, maybe the third of fourth option on my team. I was really happy to play college ball, transferred to Nipissing and had a decent last year.”
Puddister says his love of the game helped him grow as a player, adding he has been “really dedicated to it and it turned into, now, a seven-year pro career.”
The adage is that if you play with better players, you can get better. Puddister wholeheartedly agrees, although at 30, he wonders how many years he has left. “Physically getting up there now, getting old for a player, maybe not on the downhill, but about the same as the last few years.”
The guard adds for what he’s lost physically, he is stronger mentally.
“I’m just very calm when I play, I think the game (out) a lot more.”
Puddister also played professionally for the Sudbury Five in the National Basketball League of Canada.
He remarked how he enjoyed those two seasons.
“Those were some of the most talented teams that I have been a part of (they were) really incredible players.”
Puddister isn’t 100 per cent sure when he will be taking his talents this fall, but he will be heading to Sri Lanka in the fall for a charity tournament.