Former Cats prolong career


For some UVM basketball players, playing at Patrick Gymnasium is just the beginning.   

Recently, increasing numbers of UVM basketball players have signed to play professionally overseas.

In early February, former UVM point guard Sandro Carissimo became the fourth player in the Catamounts’ 2014 graduating class to sign a professional contract. Carissimo will be playing in Oviedo, Spain.

Carrisimo’s former teammates Candon Rusin, Clancy Rugg and Brian Voelkel were all part of the class of 2014 and have also all signed professional contracts.

Rusin, the former UVM sharpshooter, plays in Slovakia, where in four games played he has averaged 12 points per game and shot over 40 percent from behind the three-point line.

In Luxembourg, Clancy Rugg has averaged 18.1 points per game along with 12.5 rebounds in 21 games abroad for the Musel Pikes.

Brian Voelkel has not started his season yet, but he will be playing for the Southwest Slammers in Australia.

These four former Catamounts join several other UVM players who are playing for professional teams around the world.

The list includes: Joey Accoui ’11 plays in Lebanon, Marqus Blakely ’10 plays in the Philippines, Taylor Coppenrath ’05 in Spain and Chris Holm ’07 plays in Japan.

Voelkel, who averaged nearly six assists per game in his senior season for the Catamounts, is hoping to use his time in Australia as a stepping-stone in his career.

“I chose to play here because me and my agent thought it would be a good place to start my career and use it as a potential stepping stone for Europe or wherever it leads me,” he said.

Although the thought of playing professionally had crossed Voelkel’s mind, it was not until his  final season at UVM that he realized that it could be a real possibility.

“It didn’t really hit me until after the season when I started to go through the whole process, and that’s when I realized how fortunate I was to be in this position,” said Voelkel.

In his senior year as a Catamount, Voelkel amassed nearly 200 assists.

His passing ability and willingness to set up his teammates helped the Catamounts reach a 15-1 conference record last season.

Voelkel’s selfless play rubbed off on some of his former teammates, senior Hector Harold said.

“Brian was a very unselfish player,” Harold said, the Catamounts’ fourth leading scorer this season. “It was contagious a lot of the time and got me in the habit of always looking to create shots for my teammates.”

The professional success that the UVM basketball class of 2014 is finding speaks to their work ethic, not just their natural basketball talent, according to head coach John Becker.

“Most of the guys were lightly recruited out of high school, so they weren’t sure-fire standout Division I players, let alone professionals,” Becker said. “It’s a credit to the assistant coaches and players for working hard and getting better.”