#ProTops Basketball: Pancake to Germany, Lee added to Africa event, OMV gives back

Photo by Tod Fierner/Saint Mary’s Athletics

While we’ve all been revving up for the most talked about WKU basketball season in recent memory, there has been notable news on three former Hilltopper basketball greats that continue to play the game they love for a living.

Pancake Thomas signs with German Hoops team.
Recent grad-transfer Pancake Thomas became the newest ProTopper basketball player as he signed with German Club, Mitteldeutsche BC, on Thursday. Thomas averaged 13.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in his lone season on the Hill. Miltteldeutsche BC won the second tier (German basketball has promotion/relegation system, much like European soccer) ProA last season and will be competing in the top-tier Basketball Bundesliga for 2017–18. He’ll be joining another ProTopper in Sergio Kerusch on Mitteldeutsche. Congrats to Pancake on continuing his career overseas, while getting to play in one of Europe’s top leagues. Let’s hope his career is long and prosperous.

Courtney Lee to play for Team World in NBA Africa Game 2017
Fresh off his first season with the New York Knicks, Courtney Lee was selected to the Team World team in the NBA Africa game to benefit UNICEF, The Nelson Mandela Foundation & SOS Children’s Villages South Africa. This is the second incarnation of the game, and the first since 2015. The game will be played August 5 at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa. The game is meant to promote basketball in African and pits a team of NBA players from Africa and of African descent against a World Team that includes Lee, Dirk Nowitzki, Kristaps Prozingis & Demarcus Cousins. It’s great to see he’s taking time out of his offseason regiment to give back to a good cause. There is no official word on if this event will be televised on NBA TV or in the US.

Orlando Mendez-Valdez gives back to hometown San Antonio
Orlando Mendez-Valdez’s pro career is now eight seasons strong. He has played professionally in Mexico & currently plays for one of the top teams in the Israeli Basketball Super League, Maccabi Haifa BC. With his recent season over, OMV has returned to his hometown of San Antonio and gave a free clinic to area youngsters. The article in the San Antonio Express explains how he’s connected with the mayor and is using his personal story of overcoming adversity to be a success:

Both the basketball star and the mayor told the kids they could go on to do great things.
“Orlando tells me, and hopefully I can tell my son and tell you guys, if you have a passion for this city, a passion to do great things in your own life and in this world, you can do it,” he said. “There are a lot of people around here who want to help you succeed.
“It’s sometimes about passing the ball and shooting the ball, and it’s sometimes about staying focused, obviously in school, but more than that, knowing that you have it in yourself to really be whatever you want to be.”
The mayor’s message and the push from the handful of coaches who were helping Mendez-Valdez aligned. It was about more than hoops. It was about harnessing drive, seizing passion, finding dedication and overcoming adversity.
And for a few hours on Wednesday, it was also about shooting hoops.

It’s great to see former WKU players not only successful on the court but off it.

What do you think of our #ProTops? Let us know in a comment below, via twitter at @TheTowelRackWKU or on our Facebook page. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #ProTops!

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