During their extended championship era, the San Antonio Spurs were well known for their international talent. There was unknown-draft-picks-turned-stars in Tony Parker from France and Manu Ginobili from Argentina — and while some often don’t consider it due to his dual citizenship, Tim Duncan was in fact from another county via the Virgin Islands. Role players such as Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli and countless others also brought their own international flare to a team that was scouting overseas before it was a common league practice.
However, in recent years the Spurs had gotten away from that tried-and-true approach. Since winning their last championship in 2014, the Spurs had only used two of their nine first round picks on foreign-born players: Nikola Milutinov in 2015 and Luka Samanic in 2019. The former never came over to the NBA from overseas, and the latter was extremely raw but with high upside — enough so that the Spurs bucked their usual trend of stashing international prospects overseas and instead chose to bring him over right away and develop him themselves. Unfortunately, Samanic turned out be a bust who lived up to the downside his scouting report (lack of confidence and somewhat poor work ethic) and was waived after just two years plus one extremely poor preseason showing.
However, with three first round picks in 2022, the Spurs once again chose to bring in some international flavor in Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan. Although he was born in Oklahoma, he grew up with his Polish mother in England, where the former women’s basketball star for Panhandle State taught him all she new about basketball. It wasn’t always an easy childhood — his father was absent much of his life, only for Jeremy to learn as a teenager that he had passed in car crash, and he was considered a bit of an oddball for choosing a sport that wasn’t popular in England at the time — but he persevered anyway, choosing to do what he loved and always see the world in a positive light.
Sochan’s whole life leading up to the day he was drafted by the Spurs — one of his two desired destinations, along with the Cleveland Cavaliers — is well written out by Damian Burchardt of The Ringer, laying out the origins of his whimsical yet mentally tough personality, and what all he can bring to the Spurs. My favorite story that lays out his personality well is when his Baylor team was stuck on the tarmac ahead of game against Kansas State, so he let them shave his head to pass the time despite the fact that it would mess up whatever artistic hairdo he had at the time.
When Baylor got stuck on the runway ahead of an away game against Kansas State, Jeremy let his teammates shave his head—a big deal, since Sochan is known for his artistic hairdos—to win a $200 bet, but also because he knew the bold stunt would bring the team together...
A change of planes interrupted the procedure, leaving Jeremy with a half-shaved head until the Bears arrived at their hotel. There, the team hurried to his room to finish the hairdo. “I feel like we all had so much joy in that,” (Sochan) says.
That story alone makes it sound like Sochan will be a great teammate and exactly the personality the Spurs are looking for heading into the future. Be sure to give the whole article a read. It will be well worth your time and get you even more anxious for training camp to get here, especially since we were robbed of the opportunity to see him at Summer League. September isn’t that far away...