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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Jacob Pullen lands in Italy

By Eamonn Brennan

I'll admit it: I had more than a passing interest in finding out just where former Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen -- one of the best players in college hoops over the past two seasons and the all-time scoring leader at K-State -- would land as a pro. Would he be able to overcome his size to earn a spot in the NBA? Was the recent trend of undersized guards a harbinger for some unexpected professional success? Would a league front office take a second-round flier on a productive player with obvious limitations at the next level? If not, would Pullen earn his way into the NBA as an undrafted free agent?

We got the answer to a few of those questions on draft night, when all 30 NBA teams passed on Pullen in favor of international long shots and players with higher upsides. This sent Frank Martin into a Twitter tizzy, but few others could have been surprised by the development. Sometimes, that's just how the cookie ... well, you know. Maybe Pullen was destined to play overseas.

He'll certainly begin his career that way. On Tuesday, Pullen signed a contract with Italian club Pellecanestro Biella, a move confirmed by Kansas State officials after false reports that Pullen had signed with a Turkish club surfaced last week.

We tend to treat players that sign in Europe as failures, and it certainly isn't the glamorous lifestyle afforded to those in the NBA, but when you put it into perspective, there are far worse ways to make a living than moving to Italy and playing a sport for a few hundred-thousand dollars a year. You could do a lot worse, that's for sure.

In fact, if there's any shame here, it's that Pullen's timing was so unfortunate. The NBA is mired in a lockout. Summer League is cancelled. Star players like Deron Williams are taking their talents overseas until the players union and the league ownership can come together on a new collective bargaining agreement. Not only did Pullen get snubbed by the NBA on the first go-round, but he didn't get a chance to make his mark on a franchise in the weeks that followed. Has there ever been a worse time to be an undrafted free agent?