As the Yale men’s basketball team gets ready for the upcoming season, a former Bulldog star is doing some preparation of his own.
Just months after graduating, Edwin Draughan ’05 — Yale’s seventh all-time leading scorer — has signed a contract to play for the Lugano Tigers in the Swiss National Basketball League. Details of the contract have not yet been released.
“It feels great,” said Draughan, who leaves for Switzerland on Friday. “That was my ultimate goal — to continue playing basketball after college.”
Yale head coach James Jones said the 6-foot-7-inch shooting guard made great strides over the summer.
“Edwin called me up on Thursday and told me,” Jones said. “I’m very excited for him. This is something he’s really wanted to do since he’s left school. He’s been working really hard on improving his game, especially over the summer. The main thing is that he had more confidence in his offensive skills – which was sometimes lacking at Yale. This is his dream, and hopefully one day he’ll have a chance to come back [to the U.S.] and play.”
Jones explained that the biggest difference between college basketball in the States and professional leagues in Europe is the size and strength of the players.
“Those guys are men, our guys are just young men,” Jones said. “Improving his strength level is really important to him. What will help his game is that defenses won’t be designed to stop one player because there are so many good players. I think he’ll have the opportunity to show his skills.”
Draughan said he is looking forward to living and playing abroad. Though he will have to adjust to a different culture and a different style of play, he expects a smooth transition.
“I’m pretty well balanced,” he said. “I can do a lot of different things and that’ll help me fit to any type of team format. I’ll be able to adjust easily.
Former teammate Casey Hughes ’07 agreed that Edwin’s game fits well with the European style, which stresses fundamentals over athleticism.
“Players are highly skilled, maybe even more so than the average U.S. player … [but] the players are not quite as athletic on average,” Hughes said. “Edwin will be a great player over there because he has a lot of both: he is athletic and he is very skilled. I heard over in Europe they value U.S. basketball players that are cold-blooded scorers. [He’s] both a reliable scorer and play-maker … he can take over a game by distributing or scoring.”
What the future holds for Edwin is unclear at the moment, but what is certain is that Draughan leaves Yale for Europe as one of the most popular and celebrated Bulldogs in recent memory. Hughes, who was ecstatic for his former teammate, said that given Draughan’s talent, it was ‘only a matter of time’ before he landed a contract.
While envisioning big things for Edwin, Jones also took some time to reflect on the great career that saw Draughan lead the Bulldogs in scoring for four years, start all of his 113 games and finish second in steals and fifth in assists in Yale history. The lanky sharpshooter was also named first team All-Ivy last season after posting a league second-best 15.8 points per game.
“Edwin changed a great deal throughout his career, and I think it was a great decision for him to come to Yale,” Jones said. “He’s got a lot of idiosyncrasies, he’s a unique young man and this place fit him extremely well. Now to see him as a man, doing big things … that’s one of the great things about being a coach. For him, the sky is the limit.”