MADRID — NBA prospect Kyle Singler has no regrets over his decision to spurn the Detroit Pistons to play basketball in Europe.
The Real Madrid forward, selected by Detroit with the 33rd pick in the second round of the draft, is one of the few players who didn’t return after the NBA lockout ended.
The former Duke forward felt pressured from the Pistons to come back, but he preferred to stay in Spain and hone his skills.
“I knew they were upset, a little disappointed. The bottom line was that I was a little selfish, I wanted the best for myself, I wanted to be happy,” Singler told The Associated Press from Madrid’s training facilities on the outskirts of the Spanish capital.
“It was difficult but, at the end of the day, if I never play in the NBA, would I be disappointed? Sure, but I’m happy I made the decision I made.”
The 23-year-old from Oregon said the opportunity to play abroad and experience a foreign culture was too good to pass up.
“The opportunity to play a lot more was here, but the bottom line was I was happy and felt no pressure to leave and go back to the NBA,” said Singler, who was chosen the most valuable player after leading Duke to the 2010 NCAA championship. “Deep down, I knew it was the best decision for me to stay. I’ll have another chance to play in the NBA, there was no real rush.”
Singler first joined Spanish club Lucentum Alicante for the duration of the lockout, and moved to Madrid on a one-year deal rather than go to Detroit after the new CBA was signed. Singler averages 14.4 points for the Spanish league leaders.
“This whole experience opens your eyes a little bit, especially being out of the States and over here, it’s a breath of fresh air,” said the the 6-feet-8 Singler. “It’s a different culture, new experiences. I like to mix things up, that’s probably the easiest way to explain it.”
Singler is enjoying Spanish culture, taking in Real Madrid’s soccer matches and the city’s cultural sites. His favorite dish is chicken paella. He finds time to go-cart with Madrid teammate and fellow American Jaycee Carroll, a former Utah State player.
While his ability to speak Spanish is rudimentary, it hasn’t been an issue on the court.
With Detroit last in the Eastern Conference’s Central division, Singler is happy to wait until the offseason to make a decision if the Pistons offer him a deal.
“If I do go back, I’m sure it will be Detroit because they are very interested in me,” Singler said. “I’m not saying that I don’t want to go to their team, but if it’s a good situation, I’ll definitely make that choice.”