Ex-QU hoopster Vick signs second pro contract

Zach Smart

C.J. Vick sat across from a sports reporter in a press office, contemplating his basketball future.

It was nearing the end of Vick’s senior year at Quinnipiac, and his future plans were nothing short of scattered.

One thing, however, was for certain: He didn’t want to give up playing the game he loves.

Through a truckload of training camps, summer workouts, and countless tournaments, Vick continued to pursue a dream he first approached as a little kid: to play basketball at a professional level.

In the summer of 2005, the dream came true for Vick, a wiry 6-foot-9 forward/center who executes post moves as well as he alters shots on defense.

Vick signed a pro deal with Sangalhos Desporto Clube in the Portuguese Pro Liga, Portugal’s professional basketball league. Vick was then traded during the preseason.

On Aug. 21, Vick inked his second pro deal in as many years. He signed with Huima in the Finnish Professional League. Vick is one of three recent Americans to sign with the European program. Joseph Barber of UNC-Asheville and Anthony McKinnon of D-II Glenville State round out the trio.

“I’m happy for him,” said QU graduate student Nick Tipson, who operated the Bobcat offense as a backup point guard during the Vick era, which ended at the conclusion of the 2005 season. “C.J. has worked his way to where he wants to be. It’s everyone’s dream to play the sport they love for some sort of income. It’s a blessing in disguise. I’m glad he got to where he wished he could be.”

Vick is the second Bobcat to take his game to the professional level in the past three years. In 2004, former standout Rashaun Banjo signed a pro contract to play in Luxembourg.

A native of Springfield, Va., Vick starred at Notre Dame Academy (Worcester, Mass.) as a post-graduate, after evolving into the top shot-blocker in Virginia his senior year of high school.

During his stay at Quinnipiac, Vick found his niche as a shot-blocker in the paint. He played a significant role on the most talented team in recent memory, the 2001-2002 club that pulled off upset victories over Wagner and Maryland-Baltimore County and advanced to the NEC championship game. The Bobcats would eventually fall to in-state rival Central Connecticut in a game that was aired on ESPN2.

Tipson, the son of men’s assistant basketball coach Robert Tipson, sees Vick’s knowledge of the game and at-times freakish athletic ability as the upside to his potential.

“C.J.’s athletic ability allows for some features they (Huima) might not have,” he said. “He is still young, and has a lot left to learn. Only then, once he learns the next stages, will his upside really be turned out and show full potential.”

As for his former teammates, the Bobcats open up a challenging 2006-2007 schedule with a road contest in Storrs against national powerhouse UConn. The team begins the Northeast Conference portion of its schedule on Dec. 12 versus Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md.

Quinnipiac will play the first half of its home schedule at Burt Kahn Court before moving to the highly-anticipated TD Banknorth Center. The new arena is set to open on Jan. 27, when the Bobcats will play host to NEC-foe Long Island University.

The Bobcats ended last season at 12-16 following a loss to Fairleigh Dickinson in the NEC quarterfinals.