Maynard’s Remarkable Journey Leads Him to Greece
The journey that Rochester College men’s basketball senior Drew Maynard traveled was not always an easy one, but that path led him to a national championship ring, many meaningful life lessons, and a professional basketball contract in Greece.
Maynard has signed to play for Trikala B.C. in Trikala, Greece. Trikala competes in the A1 basketball league, which is the top level of Greek basketball. The club was founded on September 13, 1999 when Greek clubs Danaos and Sporting joined efforts to make one team. The newly formed club rose quickly through the ranks of Greek basketball as they were promoted to the Greek Basketball B League in 2002. Four years later they again were promoted but this time into the Greek A2 League. Two years later they won the Greek A2 League and were promoted to the Greek A1 League. Trikala was home to notable American basketball player A.J. Abrams, who signed with the team after his junior season at the University of Texas in 1999.
This past year Maynard played an indispensable role for Head Coach Klint Pleasant and the Rochester College Men’s Basketball team. It was a historic run for the squad that had high hopes for the season. Maynard recalls “thinking in the preseason that we’re going to be good, we’re going to be really good and everyone saw the vision of how good we can be so everyone stay focused and wanted it.” They went on to win 30 games, including the USCAA National Championship and the schools first ever NAIA national ranking and national tournament berth. Maynard and the rest of the team were tested many times in the season. Especially during their stretch of playing seven NCAA Division I basketball opponents on the road that saw them lose a couple very close battles and also included a victory over Eastern Illinois University, 59-56. At the conclusion of the season Maynard collected many postseason accolades including being named to the First Team USCAA All-American team, USCAA All-Tournament team, First team All-Conference (A.I.I.), and Honorable Mention All NAIA team. “I’ve said it both privately to Drew and publically to our team that I don’t think we would have achieved the level of success we did this year without Drew. We knew he was talented and had loads of potential, but it was his effort and attitude coupled with his talent that took our team to the next level,” said Coach Pleasant. Maynard ended his college basketball career as a champion but it didn’t always appear like it would end that way.
As a highly recruited player out of Lake Orion High School, Maynard signed to play at local Oakland University during his junior year. After running into a few bumps along the way, Maynard wound up transferring to play at Valdosta State University in Georgia. After one year there and with one final year left of eligibility, he decided to leave Valdosta State and considered hanging up the shoes and moving on from his playing career. It was then that he spoke with a long-time friend and current player for Rochester College, Zef Deda. It was not long after that he decided to play his senior season at Rochester College under the guidance of Coach Pleasant. “I watched Drew play in high school and actually made calls to other Division I coaching friends to recruit him. So it all coming full circle and getting to coach him myself during his senior year will always be a personal highlight that I will be grateful for,” said Coach Pleasant.
Basketball had led Maynard back to Oakland County where he had played so many games growing up. “I was real excited. Coach Pleasant got me fired up, I could honestly tell that he loved what he was doing and he got me real excited to play. I thought I was done after Valdosta and Coach Pleasant reignited that fire in me,” exclaimed Maynard. Once on campus Maynard turned his attention toward staying focused and becoming the best basketball player he could be and more importantly, the best teammate he could be. Coach Pleasant recognizes the importance that Drew played in the historic season. “Again, it was Drew’s attitude and effort that took us to the next level. We put a lot of responsibility on him from day one and simply treated him like we expected him to be a leader. He handled it extremely well and it paid off. He found his voice with the team and they listened. He always had credibility with the team because he played hard and was a great teammate. Watching Drew grow as a person and then be able to develop a special relationship with him will always be a very special memory to me. Capping off the memory with a national title will just make the memory all the more sweet as time goes on.”
Looking back on his experience at Rochester, Maynard admits he may have been over his head when he first signed. “I was not expecting to get what I ended up getting out of it. I didn’t expect to form the relationships that I have, I never experienced that at any of the other places I played. I was brought into a close-knit family and in turn I got a lot more positives than I bargained for.”
Rochester College and the basketball family had a tremendous influence on the life of Maynard. “They made me want to be a better person, especially Coach Pleasant. If I grow up to be half the man that Coach Pleasant is then I would be happy. He would do anything for his family and for his players. He proved that with me because he took a shot with me and in turn I didn’t want to let him down. He showed me a lot about myself and a lot about character,” said Maynard. He believes that he now has a better idea of what character looks like, “I have a completely new view of what character is. I thought I knew what it looked like before but now I feel I have a much better grasp of it. In addition to Coach Pleasant, his father, Garth Pleasant taught me a lot about it as well. He is a man that has a lot of character and I know that it wore off on me.”
Maynard is very optimistic about the future of his basketball career overseas and his chase for his ultimate goal. “I am not sure what it is but I know it’s out there and I feel that this is the right path to lead me to that end goal. It’s a hunt and you have to find it. You have to stick with it and I feel like that’s what I am doing,” said Maynard. Coach Pleasant has coached two other players that have moved on to play professionally, Antonio Gates in the NFL and John Edwards in the NBA, and he recognizes what a tremendous opportunity it is for Maynard to embark on this new journey. “It is very rare for a player to get to play after college for money, at any level. I am thrilled that he has this chance and has achieved this very important personal goal. I am excited to watch him grow as a professional and I expect him to continue to improve on the court as well as off the court.”
Maynard has accomplished so many feats on the basketball court but when asked which is his proudest moment, he can’t help but smile. “This moment. I just signed my contract and it’s probably my proudest moment. I feel 100 feet tall but the quest is not over.” Although Maynard is excited to take his talents across seas he is not however, changing up his workout routine. “I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary. I’m doing everything that I’ve always done, hitting the weights hard and working out with former players and coaches at RC.
The journey that Maynard has taken has not been as smooth or as expected as one might hope or think. That isn’t to say that he would change anything though. Maynard has learned so many life lessons along the way and is confident that his experiences have made him stronger and have prepared him for this moment. He has been the recipient of both failure and triumph but overall he argues that you should “never give up. I feel that there were times that I wanted to and I easily could have but I didn’t want to in the end because I saw the bigger picture somewhere down the road. I also realize that people didn’t give up on me. They could have very easily turned me away but they didn’t and now they are my role models. They showed me not to give up on myself and especially others.”