Basketball, beaches and food.
What could be better? How about getting all that in Sicily, Italy.
For Jordan Floyd, that is now reality.
“That is everything they have been talking about, the food and the beaches over there,” Floyd said. “They are known for their beaches and the food down there so I plan on having a good time.”
Floyd, who had an award-winning career at King University, recently signed a professional contract to play basketball for the Orlandina Basket, a Serie A2 club located in the Sicilian province of Capo d’Orlando.
“You work hard to get to this point and then it happens,” Floyd said. “It is a great feeling and it is a blessing too.”
He chose the Basket over several offers, including inquiries from teams in Portugal and Germany.
“I had a good amount of options,” Floyd said. “You don’t want to rush the process too fast and I just let everything die out, talked to my family some more and Italy was the way that we wanted to go.”
His dream of the NBA has been put on hold for now, but that is still the goal for Floyd, who finished his career at King with a school record 1,900 points scored in just three seasons after missing nearly all of his junior campaign with a leg injury.
“I signed with an agent about a week after the season ended and the NBA was the look at first, but with the coronavirus happening the NBA was kind of unknown right now so we don’t want to have to sit and wait on that timetable for who knows how long,” he said. ““We decided to take the overseas route. There were a couple of overseas teams that contacted me, but we didn’t feel like they were the best fit.”
The Basket, which has included such college basketball standouts as Jon Elmore (Marshall) and Brice Johnson (North Carolina), certainly was.
“I talked to the coach and the GM. They loved me, they wanted me to come in and go somewhat into a starting role so I took it,” Floyd said. “It just felt like the best thing at the time to do, and after year one I plan on jumping right back on the NBA route. The coronavirus kind of slowed that down a little bit, but no biggie.”
What was big was Floyd’s senior season at King, scoring 956 points to lead the nation with 31.9 points per game, including a school record 47 points in a single game. He had scored all of three points as a junior before injury ended his season.
“Having to deal with what I had to go through the year I couldn’t play and what Coach [George] Pitts went through and the coaching staff went through, I just made it an issue that I was going to come back better than ever and lead us to where we needed to be and get the job done night in and night out,” he said.
He did too, earning a truckload of postseason accolades, including the Rob Lenz Division 2 National Player of the Year, along with a pair of All-America awards and first-team all-region honors. He was also the D2CAA Southeast Region Player of the Year, while earning Conference Carolinas Player of the Year honors for the second time in three years.
“To be honest, the focus for my last college season was just to win as many games as possible and be able to play at my best ability,” he said. “The fact that I got all the awards, I feel like that was secondary to everything the team achieved, but at the beginning of the season you set your goals.
“I am not necessarily surprised that I got the awards that I got. I just know I worked hard to get there and when I got it them it was just the fruits of my labor.”
The team did just fine, winning 23 games and claiming the Conference Carolinas regular season championship. However, it ended abruptly when the Tornado didn’t receive a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament, which didn’t occur due to the coronavirus.
“I was super disappointed. At the beginning of the year that was one of the major goals that I had was to be in the national tournament and be able to make it at least to the Elite Eight, but we came up short,” he said. “Everything that this team accomplished this year, all the adversity that we had been through, for us to make it as far as we did, a lot of people didn’t think we would do that. It is still a win for us.”
At the conclusion of the season, Floyd left for his Stone Mountain, Georgia home,
expecting to be there just through spring break. It wound up being much longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We got the news we couldn’t come back so I was already at home,” said Floyd, who recently returned to Bristol to pick up his belongings. “Just everything that I owned was back at King for the time being so when the news hit that coronavirus was going to prevent us from going back to school I was already at home.”
He didn’t sit around, not only signing with an agent to begin his quest for a professional basketball career, but also completed his degree in exercise science.
“That was one of the reasons I even came back for my senior year after coming off the injury because everybody was telling me I shouldn’t,” he said. “My family is big on education and they wanted me to get my degree so I took that into consideration and I went back and got my degree.
“If I wouldn’t have come back I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did this year.”
When it came to the next step in his life, the allure of Italy was too much to deny. He will look to help the Basket rebound from last year’s 8-17 mark in Italy’s second division of basketball.
“It is in a top league. I am playing in an A2, that league in Italy is a really good league, it is great for rookies like myself,” he said. “It is in Italy, it is one of the most beautiful countries that people want to travel to. I would have definitely have taken Italy over a team in Poland or Iceland or somewhere like that.”
There was also the compensation Floyd will receive for playing the game he loves. It’s safe to say he was pleased with the offer.
“That was one of the biggest things,” he said, with a laugh. “If that wasn’t right I wouldn’t have gone over there.”
Team officials, which includes head coach Marco Sodini, are glad to have him on board. His photo and a profile in Italian can currently be found on the program’s website.
“They saw my senior season highlight and then my numbers,” Floyd said. “Then they went on Synergy and they watched all my games. They told me they watched every last game that I played in and they just fell in love with me.”
The 6-foot-2 Floyd hasn’t been idle, working in a gym on a daily basis, looking to add strength to his slim 170-pound frame. He is up to 178 now and hopes to reach a playing weight of around 180 to 185.
“I have been working out every day,” said Floyd, who has received a strength and conditioning program from the Basket. “I lift three times a week now and work on my mobility stuff one day out of the week so just focusing on flexibility and mobility.
“My strength coach here, L.J., he making sure I put on some extra weight to be able to take the physical side of the league over there so, Other than that, being in the gym 24/7, that is what I am doing right now.”
He is slated to leave for Italy on Aug. 20, with the season tipping off in October. Of course, the coronavirus might have a say on when that might actually happen.
“It will be my first trip overseas,” he said. “I am definitely excited, not just about the basketball side, but being able to live in another country and see what another country has to offer, just how they live over there and what new things I will learn. I am brushing up on my Italian right now.
“I am a pretty fast learner. I am not going to become fluent in it or anything, but I feel like I will learn enough to know what people are saying and be able to have conversations.”
Floyd is the sixth King basketball player to play overseas and ninth to play professionally from the small Division II school.
“For me to be Division II, they don’t usually take a chance on a kid like that out of Division II, but when I talked to the coach and the GM, they said they fell in love with me,” Floyd said. “Me coming in from D-II, not many players get the opportunity to be in the situation that I am in so I feel like that too is even more motivation for those D-II players to prove that no matter where you are at, they will find you”
His plan is just what it was last season for the Tornado.
“Most definitely I plan on getting over there and getting wins, just like at King,” he said. “I just want to get over there and teach them what I know and I have that listening ear to learn what they know because it is a different style of play over there, but I guarantee that I am going to bring show time to Italy.”
As for his dreams of the NBA, those are not over yet.
“Oh definitely, [the coronavirus] it slowed my route up a little bit, but it is not going to stop anything,” he said. “The show must go on.”
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