Carl who? That's right—Carl English.
If you haven't heard of him, that's okay, because I'm about to tell you all about him.
On the surface, he appears to be just another guy who had a good college career who wasn't good enough to make an NBA roster. He participated in the Indiana Pacers training camp in 2003 and the Seattle Supersonics training camp in 2004, and was cut both times.
So why is he worthy of an article? It turns out that he's not just another guy.
English was born in St. John's, Newfoundland—that's in Canada—and when he was five years old he lost both his parents in a house fire. He was separated from his four brothers and went to live with his aunt and uncle in Patrick's Cove-Angels Cove, Newfoundland (pop. 97).
Basketball became his outlet in the tiny Canadian town, and when he was in high school he sought to gain exposure for himself—so he moved to Toronto and lived with a cousin. It was there—at St. Thomas of Aquinas High School—that he caught the eye of a few Division I schools. Ultimately, he decided on the University of Hawaii.
Just before English was about to leave for Hawaii, tragedy struck again—his uncle passed away on a fishing trip. If that wasn't enough to deal with, English was only able to play in two games as a freshman before needing season-ending surgery on his left ankle. He was granted a medical redshirt.
The next three years saw English thrive under UH coach Riley Wallace. As a junior, English earned First Team All-WAC honors, and finished second in the conference in scoring, averaging 19.6 points per game. He decided to forego his senior year and declare for the 2003 NBA Draft. He was projected to go either in the late first round or early second round.
English was in a Toronto restaurant on draft night together with his girlfriend, close friends and family. Even in Hawaii, his coach and teammates were watching the draft together to see where he would be picked. They all waited in vain as all 29 NBA teams passed on him. Twice.
From there, English played two years in the D-Leauge, where he put up some impressive numbers, but still couldn't land a spot in the association. Then, in the 2005-06 season, he played in Italy, followed by a season in Croatia ('06-07).
In the summer of 2007, he played for the Houston Rockets summer league team and this past season he played in the super-competitive Spanish League.
"Captain Canada," as he is affectionately called (he's been on Team Canada since 2000) is still optimistic about one day playing in the NBA. "I know I can be a good role player in the NBA," English says. "I just need someone to take a chance on me."
He isn't the only one who thinks so. When he was in training camp with the Sonics in 2004, Ray Allen took English aside and said to him, "You might not make this team, but just know—you can definitely play at this level. It's all about being in the right situation."
So as English's chances of making it to the League get smaller and smaller with every passing year- he's 27 now- I implore any NBA front office person who happens to read this article: "PLEASE give this guy a chance!"
He can actually help a team, with his outside shooting and ability to play both guard spots. He will be a good signing for any team from a PR standpoint. Imagine the story in the local paper about how he made it to the NBA after everything he's been through!
Some guys just have that "it". He might not be the biggest guy (6'5") or the most athletic, but he just knows how to play—as evidenced by the fact that this past season he was the only North American shooting guard in the Spanish League. His strength is his unlimited range and you can't tell me that Richie Frahm can make a roster and English can't. I like to compare him to Bob Sura before the injuries. He can play some point, he's pretty athletic and he's a confident shooter.
His best shot to make an NBA roster might be with the Toronto Raptors. He played under Raptor's assistant coach Jay Triano for the national team and the Raptors have signed guys like Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon when they proved to be solid players in Europe after originally being labeled not good enough.
And Carl, in closing, I just want to say that whether you make it to the NBA or not, you are a real hero because of your story and your perseverance. Good luck and God bless!