Let’s be clear. Eric Palm is a Pro! 9 years a pro, after signing with MLP Academics Heidelberg in Germany.
I think his story is pretty outstanding considering he didn’t play Division 1 Basketball. I think nowadays everyone thinks, if I don’t play Division 1 Basketball, I didn’t “make it”. I personally think this is a misnomer that Rockford, as a basketball community needs to get over; really fast.
Did you know that in the late 1990’s, Lewis University (D2 in Romeoville, IL would scholarship an area kid each year. Ask Sammy Bacino, Rob Buss, Chris Moski and Jeremy Warner who all played the highest level of D2 basketball in the country. Did you know that there is better basketball in the GLVC than some smaller D1 leagues?
When Eric Palm was a senior in high school there was nothing short of 20-30 Division 3 schools actively recruiting him. Yes, a Professional Basketball Player was considering D3 schools out of high school! The best thing his dad (Bob) did for him was to consider all options and not exclude coaches that were interested in his son.
I think in today’s basketball environment, we have our expectations inaccurately driven into our kids. Play D1 or fail! It’s BS and selfish. In my opinion, this has soured our areas recruitment process. Don’t get me wrong, dream big because it’s certainly possible, Fred proved that.
Let’s call a spade a spade though. Rockford should be, needs to be a D3, D2 and NAIA hot bed in boys basketball.
Over the last decade, people have always compared Rockford to Peoria and have said, “Rockford needs to send kids D1 like Peoria”. My recent reply to this argument is, “we are not Peoria, but we can do a lot better and be Rockford”.
Eric Palm ended up getting a scholarship to play at McKendree University (NAIA) and played for legendary coach Harry Statham. I think it’s fair to say that Eric made the most of his opportunity at a smaller school, made the big time and was a big fish in a smaller pond.
Rockford needs to set the bar higher for our kids; no question but also needs to remember stories like Palms. Eric is a professional basketball player, got his school paid for, traveled the world, gets paid to play basketball, is one of the best basketball players to ever come out of this area and didn’t play D1 basketball.
Eric has a “motor” in basketball terminology and while much of its innate, it can be learned.
If you want your kid to have the most success in basketball, teach him to be a competitor, be a great teammate, be a worker who never quits, be coachable, be a fighter and never stop playing hard. If you can do that, you may have the next Eric Palm on your hands.
Coach Jason Warner