NEW YORK – Friends and roommates for four years, Kevin Bulger and Niko Scott made the move to play professional basketball in England in the fall of 2010 and continued to have the time of their lives.
Bulger played for the Durham Wildcats in the English Basketball League, while Scott suited up for the Reading Rockets. A sharp-shooting, left-handed guard for Columbia from 2006-10, Scott impressed the British fans right away, pouring in 36 points in his debut with Reading last September.
Scott continued his stellar play, ultimately averaging 20.7 points per game, which ranked third in the league. He shot 46 percent from the field and helped the Rockets win the 2011 Men's National Trophy and the Division I final. Scott was named the English Basketball League Player of the Year in Division I after the championship season.
"The whole experience was alot of fun," Scott said recently. "All I had to focus on was getting in shape and improving my game. Getting to know the different culture and the way people approach the game was also a great experience."
Scott is currently planning to continue playing in Europe next season after his fantastic first pro season. Right now, he is looking into the German or Dutch leagues or he could return to the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Bulger also had a terrific season, averaging 18 points per game for the Wildcats, which lost in the first round of the English Basketball League playoffs. At the same time, Bulger received his master's degree in education at Durham University.
"I wasn't quite ready to call it a career after Columbia," Bulger explained. "Playing in England was a big change, but it was still the same game. Everyone can pass, dribble and shoot. They can play inside, or pop out and go outside."
As the few Americans on the largely British squads, Bulger and Scott were both frequently marked on defense because of their ability and four-year collegiate careers in the Ivy League.
"It was very weird playing against Niko," Bulger admitted. "There were a couple moments when we guarded each other and that was wild."
Although both Bulger and Scott were a continent away in England, they kept tabs on the 2010-11 Columbia squad and were excited to see the team make strides in Kyle Smith's first season.
"It was great to see so many of the younger underclassmen step up the way they did throughout the season," said Scott, who received updates from former classmate Patrick Foley, who attended many of the home games while working in New York City.
After the season, Bulger and Scott traveled with a group around Spain, visiting Mallorca, Grenada, Sevilla and Barcelona. While Scott will continue his professional career in Europe, Bulger is back home in the United States. This fall, he will teach and coach basketball at a prep school in Connecticut as both former Lions will stay close to the game they love.