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It’s not all Greek to him

MU grad Travon Bryant finds his place on an international team
Sunday, November 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:54 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Aside from the language difference, Travon Bryant has had little trouble adjusting to life in Greece.

Having the right equipment and doing the things he enjoys best helps, of course.

He has his videogames and a laptop with an Internet connection. Satellite TV is in the works.

To top it off, Bryant is playing basketball.

“Obviously, I would love to play in the NBA, but I’m enjoying myself,” Bryant said. “It’s pretty much like being on vacation but playing basketball while doing it.”

Bryant, who graduated in May after playing four years of basketball at Missouri, has been in Greece since August.

He is living in Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, playing for Iraklis in the International Basketball League.

On Oct. 26, Bryant scored 19 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in a 63-62 loss to Paris PBR. A week later, Bryant had eight points and eight rebounds in a 73-65 win against Larrisa.

He battled foul trouble but pitched in with six points and four rebounds in an 88-73 loss to Hapoel on Thursday. Iraklis will also take road trips to St. Petersburg, Russia, and Paris.

“The way I look at this experience is, I’m playing basketball, which is something I love to do, and having a chance to see the world,” Bryant said.

Although Bryant’s ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, he said his focus is to get better during his time in Europe, which should help his stock rise. Several NBA teams have expressed interest in him. Bryant’s first shot came in June when he signed a free-agent contract to play for the Los Angeles Lakers’ summer league team. He failed to make a spot on the team’s regular-season roster.

Bryant’s former teammate, Rickey Paulding is also trying to work his way into the NBA. Paulding is playing for Hapoel Jerusalem in the Union of European Basketball Leagues. Arthur Johnson is on the Denver Nuggets’ 15-man roster.

Bryant has tried to maintain contact with both, but distance has made that difficult.

Meanwhile, coach Quin Snyder called Bryant a few days before the release of the NCAA sanctions on the Missouri program on Nov. 3.

“I felt he was confident and was just happy to have all this stuff wrapping up,” Bryant said. “He’s been through a lot, and I know he wasn’t himself last year. The passion and love for the game was still there, but he was different. It just wore on him.

“I really believe with the team he has, this is going to do good things. They are going to be able to feed off coach Snyder’s energy.”

Whereas this year’s team may be able to put the NCAA sanctions behind it, Bryant said the Tigers struggled with those issues in 2003-04.

“Truthfully, it did affect us,” Bryant said. “We all were a little afraid about what was going to happen, but that’s something that was out of our control. You still have to go out on the court and perform. You have to tune stuff like that out. There are no excuses.”

Nevertheless, Bryant, a native of Long Beach, Calif., cherished his tenure at Missouri.

“Being there was like my family,” Bryant said. “The one thing I miss is the camaraderie.”


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