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Published: Wednesday, 6/4/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

Rian Pearson laid-back on where he’ll land

Former Rocket eyeing NBA, overseas leagues

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Rian Pearson enjoyed his time in Greece last summer.

So much, in fact, the former University of Toledo basketball standout is thinking about moving there.

With no illusions of being taken in this month’s NBA draft, Pearson said he and his agent are exploring options overseas, including top-end professional leagues in Greece. The three-time All-Mid-American Conference small forward toured the country with his Toledo teammates and coaches last summer, making a scouting report along the way.

“I liked it, loved the scenery,” he said.

“I could see myself playing in a Greek league.”

An invitation to join an NBA team for the summer is not out of the question, said Pearson, one of two graduating seniors on last season’s 27-win MAC regular season championship squad.

His Los Angeles-based agent, Todd Ramasar, has also made inquiries with Turkish leagues.

Wherever his passport takes him, Pearson is primed to be the first Rocket to transition his talents overseas since Tod Kowalczyk took over as coach after the 2009-10 season. Justin Ingram and Keonta Howell, who ended their Toledo careers in 2007 under Stan Joplin, are playing in France.

Pearson’s explosive movements, quick hops, competitiveness, and an improving perimeter jumper give him “a chance to have a long career and to make a lot of money,” Kowalczyk said.

“I think his game is perfect over there because he can really score,” the coach said. “Typically, every league allows only two Americans per team, and they expect those Americans to produce points and rebounds. He can produce those.”

Pearson played three seasons at Toledo, averaging 16.2 points and 6.8 rebounds and cementing his candidacy for induction someday into the school’s athletic hall of fame.

He has kept active since the season ended, averaging 12 points over three games in April to help his team capture the title at the Portsmouth Invitational, a showcase event for professional basketball hopefuls.

Pearson graduated from Toledo last month with a bachelor’s in adult and lifelong learning.

Of late, Pearson has been in Sacramento training and visiting family in Kansas City.

Pearson, the father of 4-year-old daughter Maell, said he won’t uproot his daughter and her mother to join him overseas, at least not initially, believing the move would cause too much disruption to their lives.

“I don’t want them to live that life over there, just going to basketball games for eight to nine months,” he said.

“But I want them to come out and see me.”

An engagement to his long-time girlfriend, Mariya Garner, is “coming soon,” Pearson said.

Pearson will finalize his career decision in the weeks after the June 26 draft, and then pack his bags.

Training camps in Europe kick off in mid August.

“He appreciates different cultures, different styles of life,” Kowalczyk said. “He can adapt to anyone and any place.”

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.



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