The Orion

Ballin’ in Holland

Greg Silvia

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Courtesy of Sports Information Department

Courtesy of Sports Information Department

Basketball lovers in the Netherlands will soon be checking their maps to find the little city of Chico thanks to former Chico State center Jason Conrad.

Conrad, who was a major presence in the paint for the Chico State men’s basketball team during his four years as a Wildcat, recently signed up to play professional basketball in Leiden, a city in the Netherlands.

Conrad signed a one-year contract with a club option for a second season with Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden — also known as ZZ Leiden — the defending champion of the Dutch Basketball League. He had multiple offers to play overseas from teams in many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands.

ZZ Leiden was the last team to send Conrad an offer, but it didn’t take him long to say yes. Conrad’s grandparents and mother were born in the Netherlands and he still has family there, so it was an easy decision.

Conrad, who was the school’s first 7-footer, played for the Wildcats for the past four years after transferring to Chico State from Portland State University.

“It’s going to be a tough transition in the beginning,” Conrad said. “I hope to get roomed with somebody who is from the Netherlands.”

Conrad will follow in the footsteps of former Wildcat Jay Flores, becoming the second Chico State player to play professional ball.

Flores, a standout guard for Chico State, played one season for Soles de Mexicali, a professional Mexican basketball team in Baja California, and is now an assistant coach at Cal State East Bay.

Greg Clink, the head coach of the Chico State men’s basketball team, is well aware of the recent success of the players who were able to take their game to the next level.

“We recruit guys who want to be great,” Clink said.

Conrad, who ranks third in all-time blocks for Chico State with 84, will be missed this upcoming season.

Replacing his height and presence on the court will have to be done through recruiting and players who are in the system already.

“He is a very unique player,” Clink said. “I don’t know if we will ever see a player like him again at Chico State.”

Conrad is set to begin his professional career when ZZ Leiden kicks off the Dutch Basketball League season in late September.

 

Greg Silvia can be reached at [email protected] or @gsilvia on Twitter.

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Ballin’ in Holland