Naba Echols looks ahead to Croatia and reflects on time in Marquette


Marquette, Mich. (WJMN) – The last few days have been a whirlwind for former Northern Michigan basketball standout, Naba Echols. His dream of playing professional basketball is about to become a reality.

Echols posted on social media Wednesday, announcing he has signed to play pro ball with a team in Croatia. He says it was an offer he couldn’t pass up.

“At this time with everything going on it’s something that you can’t turn down. Like, the market is really tough for players trying to start their careers and things like that. So, I felt like we needed to jump on it fast and that’s what we did.”

For Echols the opportunity to play professionally is a long time coming.

The process of finding a team was slowed while Echols worked towards graduating. Something he accomplished last December over a year after he last suited up for the Wildcats.

“I had to go back to school to finish my last semester because I ended up deciding my major late. I had a lot of offers and soon as our season ended. I had at least five or six agents reach out and a couple of teams. So, once I told them that I was making the decision to go back to school it was like everything is on pause because that was like a year from now. So, that year just sitting out and not playing, well, I practiced a lot with the team. They hired me as a grad assistant. So, I was still able to be around them which was wonderful being around Matt Majkrzak and Keil Ganz. But yeah, it was like a dream come true because it’s been a long year and a half not knowing when somebody was going to offer and things like that. So, it felt really good.”

Echols joins a team in Croatia that finished near the top of their conference standings last season. He hopes he can help contribute to another successful year.

“I haven’t played a game in a while so I have to get back in game shape, but I feel like once I get adjusted it will be pretty much smooth sailing from there. I know the type of player I am and the type of work I put in. So, I think if we just work hard and come together anything can happen. I’m not going to put any predictions on it because I’m going to another country. I got to learn their way of living. So, I can’t say anything like that I think is going to happen. “

“I’m looking at this like a blind date. I don’t know what they have for me and I don’t know what I have for them right now, so.”

And no matter how the date goes…nothing will come between him and his love for Marquette.

“I love Marquette with everything. I can’t wait until the day I’m able to make enough money. I’m going to come back and give back. That’s like, that’s a life-changing community and two for me. So, I’m head-over-heels for Marquette. Anything dealing with Marquette I want to be apart of. Like, every sport. So, that’s why I try and stay in contact with basically all my past teammates and classmates and things of that nature. So, yeah thank you for the support, man.”

Echols and his new teammates in Croatia will play their first game on September 18th.

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