Liberty's Jesse Sanders Signs to Play in Italy
From Liberty athletics:
Former Liberty Flames point guard Jesse Sanders has taken the first step in his professional basketball career, signing with Fileni BPA Jesi of Italy. The first import player signed by the team this year, Sanders will head to Italy in August, where he will compete in Lega Due, the country's second highest division of professional basketball.
Fileni BPA competes in Jesi, a town within the province of Ancona, located in Marche, Italy.
"Coming out of college, you wonder how you'll be able to transition to the professional ranks, so it was huge relief to sign with Fileni BPA," Sanders stated. "Not only am I excited to play for Coach Stefano Cioppi, but the opportunity to play in a beautiful area like Jesi is a blessing."
Upon uniting with his new squad, Liberty's all-time assist leader hopes to help Fileni BPA improve from last season, as the club finished 13-15 in league play. Sanders is one of three former NCAA Division I players on the team, joining Penn State's Jeff Brooks and Richard McConnell of St. Mary's.
Sanders remains active in preparation for his journey to Italy. The Sugar Land, Texas native is currently participating in workouts with the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets in hopes of receiving an invite to the 2012 NBA Summer League.
While he continues to work toward an NBA invite, Sanders is also excited about the opportunity that awaits him when he begins training camp with his new team in two months.
"Italy is a hub for European Basketball," Sanders noted. "It's a great place to not only start your career and play against some great players, but become noticed by NBA and European teams. Lega Due is one of the most competitive leagues in Europe, so a lot of NBA teams and prominent European clubs are monitoring the league."
Sanders closed out the 2011-12 season No. 3 in the country in assists with 8.0 per game. In addition to leading the Big South in helpers, Sanders finished fifth in rebounds (7.8 rpg) and 21st in scoring (12.5 ppg). With his performance on the year, the floor general garnered his second consecutive first team Big South All-Conference honor. During his junior year, Sanders was voted the Big South Player of the Year, earning Associated Press (AP) All-America Honorable Mention.
Sanders made history on several occasions throughout the 2011-12 campaign. In a regular season matchup against 2012 Big South Champion UNC Asheville (Jan. 7), the senior recorded 10 assists to surpass Radford's Amir Johnson (2007-10) as the Big South's all-time assist leader. Three weeks later, Sanders broke a 32-year old record held by Karl Hess (1977-1980) to become Liberty's all-time assist leader.
Sanders became the first player in Division I history to record a triple-double in each of his four collegiate seasons, posting 14 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists in Liberty's 84-78 win at High Point (Jan. 21). The point guard is the only player in Big South history to have four career triple-doubles and at least 1,000 points (1,235), 800 rebounds (815) and 700 assists (727). Sanders finished his Liberty career 15th in school history in scoring, fifth all-time in rebounds and first in assists.