Get to Know the Athletes, Coaches and Personalities in the IBL: Curtis Nash, Barry Mestel, and Ben LJune 15, 2012 - International Basketball League (IBL)
During his college days at UNC-Charlotte, 6-foot-6 guard Curtis Nash, now of the Edmonton Energy, was nicknamed Mr. Versatility and that is something he's still proud of and works toward every day. The two-time IBL All-Star is putting together another strong season for his team, averaging 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and is playing solid defense with 2.9 steals per game, second in the league - good enough for second place in the IBL standings. "I have taken pride in my defense and I'm doing my best to be known as a defensive stopper in whatever league or country I play in," said Nash, who has played in Holland, France, Latvia, and now the IBL dating back to 2004.
Nash's journey started at a Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas, where he was voted a Junior College All-American. "Junior college makes you grow up fast. And trust me I did. The basketball aspect was challenging but well worth it," said Nash. After two years there, he was recruited nationwide and spent two years at UNC-Charlotte where he made NCAA Tournament as an eight-seed in 2002 - losing to Notre Dame in the first round. Nash then decided to take his game overseas, saying "Europe has been great to say the least. When you have a job that you love it's not a job, more so a hobby."
After several years overseas, Nash joined the Yamhill Highflyers of the IBL and has stayed in North America since. "I have enjoyed every minute," said Nash, "I feel I'm established in the league and now looking to win a championship."
Nash's experience and versatility has helped lead the Energy to a 10-3 record, trailing the league-leading Bellingham Slam by only one game. "The IBL is fast-paced and up-tempo. Teams are scoring well into the 100's each and every night. But [we] as a team look to hold every team under 100," said Nash, "We are deep at each position. Last year we came up a bit short and this year we have high expectations. Anything less [than a championship], I will consider this summer a failure."
Nash plans on using this season as a spring board to possibly play overseas again after a few years off, "The long-term goal is to stay healthy, positive, motivated and ambitious. I've had a few years off from Europe and this summer will play a huge factor in my resurrection. Being a little older, I know there will be obstacles but I'm confident with a championship this summer things will turn around."
Learn more about Curtis Nash and the Edmonton Energy at www.ibl.com/edmonton_energy or www.edmontonnrg.com.
It's been an up-and-down season for the first-year Orlando Venom team, but Coach Barry Mestel is committed to teaching the Venom players what it takes to be a winner. "I am more concerned with the preparation and effort to win rather than the win itself," said Mestel before adding, "Although winning is nice."
Mestel has been involved in coaching for nearly 30 years and has had an opportunity to coach high school, college men and women, and pro players in the IBL and as a shooting instructor for the WBNA's Washington Mystics and New York Liberty -- thanks to a connection with former WNBA coach Richie Adubato.
Now, when he's not coaching the Venom, Mestel is the President/Owner of Winning Ways Sports Management a company he founded in 1992. "I conduct pro combines throughout the nation, individual training, and work professionally as a shooting instructor. I have had the good fortune to scout for the NBA as well as the WNBA," said Mestel who says his biggest strength is player development and his ability to get players and teams focused on their goals. Mestel's experience and expertise has given him the opportunity to go overseas and stay busy. "I conduct several Shooting Camps, both here as well as the Bahamas and have been to Brazil to conduct a camp for high school players as well as work with one of the pro teams. I have made two videos and am in the midst of writing my first book," said Mestel.
This season the Venom sit at just 3-9 but Mestel is focused on teaching and the future. "Naturally, as in any endeavor, a focus on continuous improvement is essential," said Mestel, "I am very proud of our players, especially for the first year and look to the future with great optimism. My objective going forward is to do what it takes to get us there, always with a can-do, will-do approach."
Learn more about the Orlando Venom at www.ibl.com/orlando_venom. __________________________________________________________________
A few players in the IBL can say they played at and attended an Ivy League university, but how many of those can say they've also won a seat on the World Series of Poker? The Yamhill Highflyers' Ben Logan can. The 6-foot-11 center played his college ball at Brown University, where he also picked up poker as a hobby. "I still consider it a hobby, although a profitable one. It's helped pay a few bills over the last several years," said Logan who won a seat on the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2006 finishing in 87th place in a field of thousands.
On the court, it's been an interesting story for Logan as well. "I have had somewhat of a roundabout basketball career," said Logan who played at Brown 2002-04 but stopped playing competitively for about five years afterwards. "In 2009, I just happened to be in pretty good playing shape and decided to try to make a run at playing overseas, something I had originally wanted to do after graduating. Without a great stat-line from college and not having had any experience playing in a few years, that meant I needed to find somewhere to play to build a basketball resume of sorts," said Logan. Eventually Logan heard about the IBL and decided it was a better fit for him than going overseas. Logan is back again this year in a slightly different role. "When [Yamhill General Manager Eric Bailey] told me he was bringing the team back this year, I signed on to help out as a player/assistant coach. I'm looking to get into coaching, so the opportunity to help out in a player-coach role was a good one for me," said Logan. "I wasn't originally planning on playing anywhere this summer but I felt a real sense of loyalty to the Highflyers and to the league."
Being able to play poker and basketball on the professional level is no easy task but Logan believes from time to time there is some crossover. "The biggest similarities would be that you're trying your best to out-maneuver people, and to play your best, but sometimes no matter how prepared you are, it's just not your night and sometimes you just can't lose a hand or miss a shot."
Find out more about the Yamhill Highflyers at www.ibl.com/yamhill_highflyers.
International Basketball League Stories from June 15, 2012
- Get to Know the Athletes, Coaches and Personalities in the IBL: Curtis Nash, Barry Mestel, and Ben L - IBL
- Battle for First Place Yields Tight Result - Jersey G-Force
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