In 2011, Brandon McGill just finished playing for Saint Vincent College, a Division III college in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. McGill started all 4 years and led all NCAA Divisions his junior year in steals per game. Heading into his senior year he set his sights on dominating the league and securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament in the first year SVC was eligible. McGill started the season averaging 18.5 ppg, 8 apg, and 8 rpg, before suffering a stress fracture over the Christmas break, which changed the trajectory of the season.
As a Division III player, he was not afforded the opportunity to redshirt as that would just run up the student loans, so instead he wore a walking boot during the week and played games on the weekend at 50% capacity.
Although McGill graduated from a very small school with a significant injury, he still believed he could play professionally. Unfortunately, 2011 was an NBA lockout, which meant the lower tier NBA players became the most coveted players in Europe and pushed everyone down a tier. This resulted in a 0% chance for McGill to start his pro career in 2011.
Facing pressure from his parents to move on and begin a career, McGill moved to Pittsburgh on December 31st to work for Hertz, but more importantly to figure out how to overcome this obstacle.
“Moving to Pittsburgh was my way to appease the situation by giving the perception that I let the hoop dream go”, said McGill.
Every night after coming home from work, he would scour the internet for the “golden ticket.” 2 months into his stint at Hertz, he found it, having stumbled across the University of East London.
“I remember changing my plan from purely professional basketball to postgrad opportunities that would put me in the vicinity of my goal. I saw the University of East London was offering scholarships for international student-athletes, and I applied that same night and went to work the following morning with no sleep.”
McGill put in his two weeks notice that same morning and moved back home to start preparing for the move to London in September.
After leaving Pittsburgh in March, Brandon didn’t hear back from UEL for almost 4 months.
“This was nerve-wracking because I was on such a high only to have it dulled by zero communication and my family started questioning if it was legit or if I had been scammed.”
It turned out to be a very real opportunity and finally by the middle of August everything was finalized and the flight was booked for September 11, 2012.
It was later revealed the head of the international sport scholars was stepping down and there was a transition period of filling the role.
The injury from his senior year still lingered, but it was a now or never type of situation that McGill had to take advantage of.
“Once I arrived in London, it was the best feeling ever because everything was real and everything felt as if it was already in motion the way I envisioned it. But, within the first 3 hours of landed, I realized I should’ve stayed at Hertz throughout the summer to stack up because London was crazy expensive.”
£100 in 2012 was around $188, as opposed to now it is around $139.
Due to being unaware of the exchange rates, McGill faced some tough times heading into the new year due to a lack of funds.
“Christmas was tough because I maxed out all of my credit cards trying to get acclimated to life in London and I even went two days without eating until I asked my godfather for some emergency funds.”
Having navigated through the first 8 months of his new life, it was now time for McGill to focus on securing his first professional contract.