Sagehen basketball legends flourish in pro leagues

P-P basketball alumni Micah Elan PZ ’20 and Daniel Rosenbaum PO ’19 take their skills abroad, playing for the UK’s Worcester Wolves and Israel’s Hapoel Ramat Gan Givatayim, respectively. (Courtesy: Photos courtesy of respective persons)

Micah Elan PZ ’20 and Daniel Rosenbaum PO ’19 left Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball with storied careers, carving out names for themselves in California collegiate basketball. Now, they continue to make waves overseas, tearing it up on the professional court.

All-time points, assists and 3-pointer leader in P-P program history continues career in England 

After living and playing basketball in California his entire life, former P-P basketball star Elan took his talents across continental borders this fall — landing his shot for the Worcester Wolves in the United Kingdom. 

The Wolves are members of the British Basketball League, which consists of 11 teams representing the highest level of basketball play in the United Kingdom. Elan, a British citizen, found the team through an old high school coach and proceeded to provide his information to the Wolves’ head coach via his agent. 

According to Elan, playing professional basketball was a dream of his ever since he became passionate for the game at a young age. Despite not receiving offers to play Division I basketball straight out of high school, Elan said his experiences in the P-P program were imperative in helping him get to the BBL.

“I don’t know if I would still be playing basketball if I didn’t have the opportunity to play from the start and really be a leader on [P-P],” Elan said. “I am happy with the way my career turned out, giving me an opportunity to play professional basketball in the best league in England; I couldn’t really ask for much more.”

“Ever since I was a kid I knew I wanted to play professional basketball.” -Micah Elan PZ ’20

With basketball as a full-time job, Elan is able to give it his full attention, crafting a schedule fit for a devoted pro athlete. 

“My daily schedule generally has individual skill workouts, strength specific workouts and team-oriented practices, with some sports massages in between,” Elan said. “It’s cool because while I loved being in school and everything, I didn’t get to focus all my energy on basketball — whereas here I have a nice schedule while still having time to rest or relax.” 

The pro’s lifestyle, however, still comes with some growing pains. Elan, fresh out of college, is having to get used to facing athletes with years of experience on him.

“The main challenge is [getting used to] how everything is really fast-paced and gaining some muscle,” Elan said. “I feel like I didn’t have to worry about [getting stronger] as much in college, but now I’m playing with people who are 25 to 30 years old — just have to realize that people are going to be bigger and faster.” 

Despite these challenges, the former P-P star has already shown signs of success in assimilating to the professional level. In the Wolves’ first game this season, held in late October, Elan had an impressive outing and dropped 16 points in his preseason debut against the Bristol Flyers, which was a major contributing factor behind Worcester’s 87-74 victory.  

Looking forward, Elan doesn’t think his passion for the game will go anywhere — it might just have to be off the court.

“I just want to play in a bunch of different countries and get to experience different parts of the world,” Elan said. “After I’m done playing, to some degree, I think basketball will still always be a part of my life. I don’t know what that’s gonna look like, but I’m excited to find out.”

Head coach of P-P men’s basketball Charles Katsiaficas saw “really unbelievable” potential in Elan from the beginning of his time on the P-P roster. He said Elan spent his collegiate career “statistically crushing” the program’s record books and was a dependable leader —  putting up the numbers “without trying to impose himself on the game,” he said.

“I’m not sure I still fully understand how he put up those numbers while never imposing himself on the game to this day,” Katsiaficas said. “Everybody had so much respect for him. He was an automatic leader of the group because of the way he ran the team and could perform.”

Third all-time leading scorer in P-P program history settles into second professional season in Jerusalem

Rosenbaum, who holds the third place P-P men’s record for career points with 1744 points and the fourth place record for 3-pointers with 164, impressed on the college court. Now, he’s continuing to impress on the professional court. 

Following the conclusion of his first professional season at Hapoel Jerusalem B.C. in the Israeli Premier League, Rosenbaum began his second year as a member of the Hapoel Ramat Gan Givatayim B.C. of the Israeli National League, the smaller division two club affiliated with Hapoel Jerusalem. 

With Hapoel Jerusalem B.C.’s roster full of veterans who were previously affiliated with other professional European leagues or the NBA, Rosenbaum found himself adjusting to different roles on his new team. 

“Because it’s difficult to make an impact being a brand new player overseas in a big club like Jerusalem, they put me on loan to go to [Hapoel Ramat Gan Givatayim B.C.] to get more experience,” Rosenbaum said. “I’m definitely very excited for this season, where I’ll have a much bigger role and be able to hopefully build upon and show the things I’ve learned over the past season.”

Throughout his two-year overseas career, Rosenbaum has realized that basketball is a universal language of sorts, which leads to interesting experiences interacting with foreign players, including teammates on his own Jerusalem roster.

“It’s so cool how basketball, but also sports in general, is like an international language overseas,” Rosenbaum said. “There could be somebody else who doesn’t speak any English and we can’t have a conversation outside the court — but when we’re playing, we are able to completely play the same game.”

Off the court, when delving into the new Israeli culture, Rosenbaum said he found a new sense of comfort in honing in on his athletic craft away from hometown pressures in Northern California. 

“Growing up in the Silicon Valley area, there was stress because you had to do well in school, extracurriculars and internships — there were all these steps that society kept telling you to do,” Rosenbaum said. “In Israel, there’s no stigmas; it’s more based on people finding their path and doing what they want to be doing for reasons they want to be doing it.”

Rosenbaum’s ultimate goal is to play in the NBA. Regardless, he hopes to “make the most of his opportunities,” no matter where they land him.

“Looking at my career more holistically, I’m just grateful to play basketball every day, because it is truly a gift,” Rosenbaum said. 

Katsiaficas complimented Rosenbaum’s leadership skills and his having a “contagious attitude” every single day, which uplifted and impacted the entire group in a positive way.

“I think them both,” Katsiaficas said of Elan and Rosenbaum, “in addition to their basketball ability, were just two of the most high-quality guys you’ll ever come across.”

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