COLCHESTER, Vt. - Saint Michael's College men's basketball May graduate Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) recently signed his first professional contract, joining Albacete Basket of Spain for the coming season. He joins a handful of fellow alumni who have extended their careers oversees, all of whom have found degrees of individual and team success on other continents.
"Growing up, it was always a dream to be a professional basketball player," said Holmes. "In college I didn't really think about it much, I just tried to focus on playing. Then all of a sudden it became a possibility after senior year, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn't pass up. I've been playing basketball since I was 7; it's really a blessing to be able to keep playing. Now I just want to squeeze out every bit of this dream that I can."
Holmes' Albacete franchise plays in Spain's third-division LEB Plata, having advanced from the fourth division following a 24-5 regular season in 2015-16. Albacete was fifth in the league as recently as two seasons ago but went 17-17 last year. Holmes will play in a city whose square mileage is comparable to that of New York City, but whose population (173,000) is more aligned with Salt Lake City, Utah. Twenty-four teams begin the season on Sept. 21, with promotion playoffs concluding on May 30.
Holmes leaves a legacy of success on and off the court at Saint Michael's. The first two-time Google Cloud Academic All-America or three-time Northeast-10 Conference Academic All-Conference student-athlete in program history, Holmes was twice named NE10 All-Conference and once landed Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2 CCA) All-Region. The two-year captain graduated with the best career three-point percentage (45.3%) and free throw percentage (87.0%) in program history, and is third in three-pointers (278), fourth in points (1,784), fifth in scoring average (17.7) and 10th in field goals (603). Holmes' career scoring average was the best by a Purple Knight since 1974. He sits fourth in NE10 history in career three-point percentage and fifth in free throw success rate. In his final two years alone, the 6-foot-5 guard scored 1,112 points, averaging 22.2 per outing.
A 6-foot-5 forward, Matt Bonds '17 left Saint Michael's as the second player in program history with 1,500 points and 1,100 points, despite not entering the lineup until his junior year. Bonds' ascension has continued through a well-decorated first two seasons as a professional. While playing for the Stade Olympique Maritime Boulonnais of Nationale Masculine 1 (NM1), France's third division, Bonds was named Eurobasket.com NM1 Player of the Year, Forward of the Year and Import Player of the Year and to the all-league first team in 2018-19, leading SOMB to the postseason semifinals.
Bonds averaged 14.6 points on 62.1 percent shooting with SOMB and was fourth in the league in rebounding (9.2), adding 3.7 offensive rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals. His next stop on the pro circuit is halfway across the world, having signed earlier this month with the Saga Ballooners, an expansion franchise which recently completed its inaugural season in Japan's B.League third division. Former NBA player Sasha Vujacic is a team ambassador as the Ballooners continue raising the profile of the team and sport locally.
Bonds landed in France after a rookie 2017-18 year with the Hørsholm 79ers of Basketligaen, Denmark's highest professional league. He led that league in scoring (22.6) while placing second in rebounding (9.5), shooting 59.4 percent while adding 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals. Bonds earned Eurobasket.com All-Danish Ligaen Forward of the Year and Import of the Year honors, landing on the All-Danish Ligaen First Team and All-Imports Team.
James Cambronne '15, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 13.3 points on 59.7 percent shooting with 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 offensive boards and 1.1 blocks this winter for San Isidro of La Liga Argentina de Básquet, the country's second tier of professional hoops. He was sixth in the league in rejections, helping San Isidro to a 30-10 regular-season mark before falling in the best-of-five championship series, 3-2. The versatile Cambronne totaled 1,261 points, 619 rebounds, 150 blocks and 123 three-pointers as a Purple Knight.
Mike Holton Jr. '15 recently signed with Lille Métropole BC of LNB Pro B, the second division of France's professional league. Holton was named to the All-Ukrainian Superleague Second Team last year after posting 17.1 points on 85.2 percent free throw shooting, 58 three-pointers, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals for BC Zaporizhya. He helped lead the team to a first-place tie in the regular season and a postseason semifinal appearance. A three-time NE10 All-Conference player, the 6-foot-1 guard graduated fifth at Saint Michael's in scoring (1,750), threes (223) and free throw percentage (81.7%) while setting a first-year record with 442 points in 2010-11.
Tom Ward '12 has spent the better part of the last half decade playing for the Worthing Thunder in his native England, including while helping the Thunder finish as last season's runner-up in Division 1 of the National Basketball League, his home country's highest level of hoops. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 11.1 points behind 40.3 percent three-point shooting in addition to collecting 3.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals. Ward graduated tied for fifth in Purple Knight history by canning 40.2 percent of his threes, making 106 triples in 72 contests.
Chris Cayole '07 returned to Santos de San Luis Potosi in Mexico's Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional for the 2018-19 season after previously suiting up for the squad in 2015-16. A 6-foot-7 forward, Cayole averaged 14.9 points thanks greatly to hitting 50 three-pointers, shooting 46.3 percent from beyond the arc and 82.1 percent at the charity stripe. He added 3.3 rebounds. Cayole's professional career has also taken him to Argentina, Canada, Puerto Rico and Japan, where he played in 2017-18 for the Akita Northern Happinets of the B.League's top tier, two rungs above where Bonds will compete in 2019-20. Cayole graduated sixth in Saint Michael's annals with 95 blocks while totaling 977 points, 431 rebounds and 110 three-pointers.