Sunday Conversation: Hope Elam

Sunday Conversation: Hope Elam

How do you feel about going into the Central Hall of Fame?
I was thrilled. I didn’t know I was thought of so well.

What are you up to these days?
I am training for the next season. I’m lifting in the morning, then I go for court workouts in the afternoon. I do that at LA Fitness. There’s a guy named Chris Canady who is training me. He trains all the pros in the (D.C.) area.

You spent last season in Puerto Rico.
That’s a short season. They model their season after the WNBA. I was there from August until late November. I got another offer from Europe and shot right to Finland for the season.

What was it like playing pro basketball in Puerto Rico?
It was awesome. It’s a beautiful country. I would love to go back. But I don’t like having to find another team after that season is over, so I think I’m going to do Europe for the entire eight, nine months. Puerto Rico was great. A lot of the Americans really like going over there and playing. It’s a hot spot.

Which was more fun, playing in Puerto Rico, Iceland or Finland?
I’d probably go with Puerto Rico just weather-speaking. Finland was brutally cold.

What are your plans for the upcoming season?
Right now, I only have two offers on the table. One is from Romania, and the other is from Greece. I’m playing the waiting game to see if I can get some more offers. It’s still early. Europe usually starts in October. Most people go over in the preseason in September.

How is the pay?
You will get paid for what you bring. This year, I am expecting a lot of money. Last year, I averaged my career high, 26 points, in Puerto Rico. Now the money will start really, really pouring in. Last year, I was making about $3,500 a month. Hopefully, this year, it will increase a lot more.

What are your chances to play in the WNBA?
Every year, my agent shops me around to the teams, and it is up to them if they want to invite me to training camp. Those spots are so limited. I still have faith that I’m going to get into a training camp and show what I can do. I’m a completely different player from my prep years. You can get a call at any time. I’m always ready.

Describe your pro basketball experience.
There is a lot of down time where you have to find a hobby. I usually try to coach on the side for a couple days a week with the native kids. They want to pick our brains. Some people pick up guitar lessons, finish school or read.

When basketball ends, what do you want to do next?
I love the game so much, I couldn’t imagine being away from it. I’m going to go directly into coaching. I have a lot to offer the game.

They are thinking about replacing your high school. What do you think?
So many memories. So much tradition there. My mom went there. My sister went there. I couldn’t imagine them getting away from Central. I’m all about expanding. If they feel that they should move out, I’m all for that.

If they build a new place, would you kick in some money for Hope Elam Gym?

Do you ever wish you would have played college basketball at Illinois?
I can’t say that now. Growing up, I was a big Angelina Williams fan. I was a big Tauja Catchings fan and Allison Curtin (fan). I wanted to play at Illinois as a kid. As time went on and I figured out the recruiting process and what was best for me, I kind of got away from that. I was happy with what I decided to do collegiatewise.

What do you think of Matt Bollant’s program?
I think he’s awesome. I followed him at Green Bay. I saw what he did with that program. I totally support him. I think the program is in a great direction.

What do you think about St. Thomas More star Tori McCoy?
I like her game a lot. I think she would take the Illinois program to another level. She’s definitely one of those players.

Should college athletes be paid?
I think that they should be grateful to have their tuition paid. We got a stipend every month. I didn’t want for anything while I was at Indiana. It was comfortable. I didn’t think that we needed extra cash. If you are that good and you can go pro, you’ll get paid then. I know the pay is going to happen in the next 20 years, but I’m not so much for it.

Do pro athletes make too much?
Absolutely not. The sacrifices that they make, the wear and tear on their bodies, the giving up of family and all the other things that they have to shut down during the season, I think they deserve the money.

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