- Zieloa Gora (Poland) TV reports on the recent acquisition of Ryan Wittman (Cornell '10) and Jeff Foote (Cornell '10) by the Polish basketball club, Zastal of the PLK (the Polish premier league). See video of the news conference and Cornell highlights by clicking here.
- From the Cornell Daily Sun:
Former basketball center Jeff Foote ’10 is taking his game to the next level, signing with a professional team in Poland for the upcoming season.
Foote ’10 on Career Abroad, Summer Spent With Friends
By Lauren Ritter
The tale of the 2009-10 men’s basketball season has been a great source of inspiration for Cornell athletics fans over the past two years. The two upset victories during the first weekend of March Madness against Temple and Wisconsin resulted in a legendary NCAA tournament run for the Red — the first ever in program history.
One of the players at the center of all of the hype was big man and team tri-captain Jeff Foote ’10. As the top field goal percentage shooter (.633) and top rebounder (8.1) in the conference, the 7-0 center was a tremendous force to be reckoned with on the court. Recipient of the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010, Foote showed a strong technical prowess on both ends of the court — averaging 12.4 points and 2.3 assists per game on the offensive end during his senior season. In his three years for the Red after transferring from St. Bonaventure, Foote showed a constant improvement and passion for the sport that was as big as he is.
After graduation, Foote decided to sign with five-time Euroleague champion Maccabi Tel Aviv, which is part of a large collection of sports clubs in Israel and one of the most successful teams in Europe.
“The contract was really good that I got,” Foote said of his decision to head to Israel. “Maccabi is a prestigious team, so it was like being in the NBA without being in the NBA — they are that big a team.”
According to Foote, Tel Aviv was a fairly decent place to live since most people speak English as a second language to Hebrew and the local cuisine is apparently very good.
“When I was in Tel Aviv there were restaurants everywhere,” he explained. “I could get whatever I wanted. There was a restaurant that had amazing chicken wings and French toast, the best I ever had. I would go at three in the morning just to get that.”
Since initially signing with Maccabi, the former Red center spent a brief time with Mellila Baloncesto, a Spanish second division team located on the mainland of Morocco. Maccabi loaned Foote to Mellila so that he could gain more experience playing abroad. Trading bustling Israel for an apartment along the Moroccan coast presented Foote with a new distinctly different landscape. Mellila is a poorer city with most people only speaking Spanish, a stark comparison to prominent use of the English language in Tel Aviv.
“I was a rookie, so [Maccabi] thought I needed another year to get to a higher level so I was sent to Mellila,” Foote said of the cross-continental move.
In recent weeks, Foote signed a contract to play with Zastal Zielona Góra, where he will be joining former teammate Ryan Wittman ’10 who signed with the team last Wednesday.
“It was similar to last year, but this time I got to choose where I went instead,” Foote explained. “There were a few offers, one in Greece and one Germany, but I wanted to play with either [Louis Dale ’10] or Ryan. I thought I was going to play on Lou’s team, but in the end the financial situation didn’t match up, so I got the opportunity to play with Ryan again.”
During his time on East Hill, Foote developed strong friendships with his teammates and over the summer had the opportunity to live with Wittman, Dale and fellow Sweet 16 teammate Jon Jaques ’10 in New York City. The four friends played basketball together, explored the city and even had a New York Times article written about their summer escapades.
The time the four Cornellians spent living together in the city seemed to be filled with inside jokes, which Foote live-tweeted (read: #livingwithidiots), and a few memorable adventures — including a fun night on the town with his best friend, Dale, and a trip to Long Island to watch Wrestlemania.
“It was just us two in the house, so we decided to go out and went a bunch of different places,” Foote explained, describing one night when Dale treated him to dinner.
Foote joked about his close relationship with Dale, describing their city adventures as all part of their whirlwind “bromance.” However, this summer the duo joined Wittman and Jaques and became the Fab Four.
“Overseas you are by yourself and then you get the summer to live with your friends — Louis, Ryan and Jon,” Foote said. “NYC is a nice place to live, but then you add in that dynamic, and you end up on adventures.”
Foote, Dale, Wittman and Jaques have proven that friendship knows no distance since heading off to their respective corners of the world. Whenever Cornell broadcasted basketball games last season, the four friends would all make a point to come together.
“The foreign guys — me, Louis, Ryan and Jon — are really tight knit,” he explained regarding their alleged group bromance. “So, whenever a game would come on at 7 p.m., we would all sign on to watch the game and we would start a group chat room on Skype. We would watch the Cornell games and comment on what was happening, good or bad, and our opinions on it.”
Now that it’s time to start packing for his next trans-Atlantic flight, Foote is looking forward to his upcoming time in Poland.
“My grandmother is 100 percent Polish, so I have family ties there,” he said.
However, Foote is most excited about the opportunity to reunite with Wittman on the court.