Alex Ruoff’s work seemingly never stops. Since he graduated from WVU in 2009, he played overseas in Belgium for Okapi Aalstar, injured his knee, rehabbed his knee, played for the Canton Charge and Iowa Energy of the NBDL, and the week after that season ended, he flew back to Belgium for another stint with Okapi.
The hard-working Ruoff is living his dream of playing professional basketball, and travels wherever there is a ball with his name on it. This year, he enjoyed his time back home, where he had the opportunity to play in front of friends and family, as well as play alongside Kevin Jones while a member of the Canton Charge.
“Returning to US to play in the NBA Development League this season was overall a great experience,” Ruoff said. “The competition was at a very high level. I got to play with one of my old college teammates again, Kevin Jones. Friends and family were able to watch all my games either online or in person. Most importantly, it provided me the opportunity to prove I had fully recovered from my ACL injury I suffered last season in Belgium.”
When he began playing overseas, he had to adapt to new rules, a new lifestyle and a foreign culture. Coming home, he had a chance to compare the styles of play on both sides of the globe.
“The biggest difference for me is the difference in salaries,” he said. “What players make in the entire D-League season, they can make in one month playing abroad. Also, with the potential to get called up by a NBA team, players in the D-League are naturally very stat motivated and focus strongly on individual success. In my experience, I have not found that to be the case with teams overseas.”
We know from his days in a Mountaineer uniform, Ruoff was always team-oriented. He would do whatever was needed to help the team win. That mindset might help him fit in better in international play, but there are some obvious negatives for a Florida born person having a career in Europe.
“The biggest downside to playing abroad,” he contrasted, “is the fact my friends and family do not get to see me play. Some countries stream their games live online, but the leagues I have played in have not.”