When College Basketball Athletes Go Overseas

Marcus Ginyard, his mother Annise, and his brother Ronald.

By Laurie Paolicelli

Marcus Ginyard has been gone for a long time. He came to Chapel Hill for the first time in 2006, as a member of the North Carolina men’s basketball team. After a storied career here he left to play professional basketball in Europe, and after almost a dozen years in foreign lands he recently moved back to Chapel Hill and allowed us to spend a few minutes with him, catching up.

The first thing we wanted to know is if he enjoyed his years playing basketball in Europe.

Marcus Ginyard, playing for Limoges Vilnius at the EuroCup.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat!” he says. “There are so many advantages to playing basketball in Europe and Asia. Playing ball overseas you can travel to cities many people save up their entire lives to visit. After college, I was looking for an opportunity to play basketball at a professional level. I had spent a few days trying out with the Charlotte Bobcats during their preparation for the NBA Summer League in Orlando, Florida. Things went well, but there really wasn’t a chance for me to make their roster, and the same day I was cut from their summer league team, my agent called with an offer from Germany. I followed my gut, took a chance, and will always be proud and grateful that I made that choice.”

Marcus last played for Limoges Cercle Saint-Pierre, a French professional basketball club. Limoges is in the LNB Pro A, the top-tier men’s professional basketball league in France, and through the course of his career overseas he played far and wide: Germany, Israel, Poland, Ukraine, Northern Macedonia, Romania, France, and Greece. “It was one of the best decisions of my life to take that first job in Germany and start down a path that led to spending 11 years living and working in Europe.”

Marcus Ginyard, playing for UNC at the 2008 ACC Tournament.

Way back in 2006, he was a young star recruit for Roy Williams. He won team defensive player of the year for both the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Atlantic Coast Conference all-defensive teams in the 2007-08 season, as well as Atlantic Coast Conference All-Tournament Team honors for the same year. 

But he sustained a stress fracture in his left foot that forced a medical red shirt for 2009 season, one in which the Tar Heels went on to win the 2009 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. He cheered on his team from the bench – the Tar Heel’s “No. 1 Cheerleader,” according to Bobby Frasor.

We wondered how the stress fracture impacted his life and his game.

“I think it impacted my life far more than it did my game,” he says. “I was able to fully recover from that injury and play a lot of basketball, but the experience of overcoming adversity, being humbled, finding ways to adapt, and still add value to my team in a different role; those things really helped to shape me into who I am today.”

The world of the college basketball player has changed quite a bit in the last decade. For instance, the NCAA will now allow college athletes to profit off their names, images, and likenesses (NIL) under new interim guidelines. What are your thoughts on this?

“Right now, there are a lot of unknowns about how the new NIL will impact college athletics. We’re in the beginning stage where rules and regulations haven’t been solidified, which makes for a tricky situation. However, the concept of allowing athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness is something I believe in wholeheartedly.”

UNC Mens Basketball Coach Hubert Davis.

For a season schedule: https://goheels.com/sports/mens-basketball/schedule/2021-22

What about the upcoming season? Hubert Davis has big shoes to fill. Any advice for Coach?

“I’m as excited as anyone for this upcoming season,” Marcus says. “Since leaving Carolina in 2010, I think I’ve only seen 3 games in person, so just being able to be there for games will be super fun. Hubert Davis is one the best people I’ve ever met in my life. I couldn’t be happier for him and for this program to have him as our new head coach. We have a talented team, as well an extremely knowledgeable staff. All the pieces for a great season are on the table, we just have to put them together.”

So. What does your next chapter look like?

“This next chapter of my life looks like it will be as challenging, rewarding, and beautiful as the last. After 11 seasons as a pro, I have officially retired from the game of basketball and recently accepted an offer to work in commercial real estate. I’ll join a great team at Medalist Capital and work out of their Raleigh office.”

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what do you love about Chapel Hill?

“What don’t I love about Chapel Hill!? I love this city for so many reasons. The university. The people. The history. The community. Chapel Hill will always feel like home to me.”

Welcome home, Marcus. It’s been too long.

To learn more about Marcus, visit: www.MarcusGinyard.com

NCAA Basketball: Top 25 International Players of 2019-20 Season

Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.
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