While most of us ponder what occupation will best suit our futures, SNHU graduate and former star basketball player, Devin Gilligan, has his career figured out. Ever since he was a child, Devin knew he wanted to be a professional basketball player. When he was young and would go to his grandparents’ home in Vermont and shoot hoops, excitement and joy would fill his veins every time he made a basket. He always said that basketball was something he wanted to do as a career, and on Thanksgiving day, 2017, he made that dream a reality. He flew to Sweden to live out his dream where he now plays for a top professional team.
Devin, who is from Amherst, New Hampshire, is playing for KFUM Nassjo Basket, a well-known professional Swedish team that participates in the country’s top-tier premier basketball league, the Basketligan League. There are only eight teams in the Basketligan League, each one being just as competitive and talented as the others, whether ranked first or last.
When Devin first joined KFUM Nassjo Basket in November, the team sat in the eighth spot; however, after much training and team-building, Devin and KFUM Nassjo Basket knocked off first-ranked BC Lulea in their first game of the season to place them higher in the Basketligan rankings.
Before he travelled to Sweden, Devin was drafted by the Delaware 87ers, a top competitive team in the NBA. He went to training camp with them and met nationally recognized players such as 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year, Emeka Okafor. Unfortunately, he did not make the final roster; the 87ers chose a veteran roster instead of welcoming new faces to the team. Even though he did not make the team, Devin gained knowledge about the professional aspects of basketball that he later carried over to his career in Sweden.
“I was the only player who hadn’t played high NCAA D1 basketball,” Devin said. “While I was disappointed they ended up going with a veteran final roster, I left camp with new knowledge about how the game is played at that level. The most important part of camp for me was confirming my belief that I could play at a very high level.”
Devin traveled back to Manchester where he trained for the next step in his career after his release from the 87ers. There, he received a call from his agent, Andy Bountogianis, who said there was an opening on a team in Sweden, which he described as a “good fit” for Devin.
After much thought and consideration, Devin decided to accept the offer as he thought it would be a major step in the right direction for his career. Andy worked out the details of the contract with the coaches, and on Thanksgiving day, Devin set off to Sweden to pursue his lifelong dream.
“So far, I am loving Sweden and playing on this team,” Devin said. “My current contract runs to the end of this season but I could definitely see myself staying here for years to come if that’s what the best decision for my career is. My goal is to become the best player I can be and play for as long as my body allows, so I’m just planning on going one day at a time and seeing where that takes me.”
SNHU head basketball coach Stan Spirou is very happy with Devin’s accomplishments. He says that “as a basketball family, [we] are beyond proud to have one of [our] own accomplish their dream. Devin deserves every opportunity that has come his way. In [my] 33 years coaching at this university, [we] never had anyone work harder to improve their game. He’s a great teammate, leader, student, who represented everything that this university stands for.”
“Coach Spirou and the rest of the staff helped me in many ways,” said Devin, reflecting on his time at SNHU with Coach Spirou. “But the most important part for my development was he let me play through mistakes and be myself on the court. There were plenty of times my first two years that he could have gotten frustrated with me and went in a different direction, but he always trusted me to bounce back from mistakes and give my all to help the team. That trust that he had in me built up my confidence and was huge in me getting to this point.”
Devin has always known he wanted to play professionally, and his drive, talent and work ethic have allowed him to achieve that goal. Devin looks forward to playing with Sweden’s KFUM Nassjo Basket and looks to continue improving his game.
“Basketball has taught me work ethic,” said Devin. “If you want something, you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else. I’m hopeful that I will be playing basketball a long time, but whenever it ends, I will be able to use the work ethic I have developed through years of playing to strive for new goals.”