Franklin’s Bean chasing pro hoop dreams to Spain

  • Dana Bean throws down a dunk for the Colby-Sawyer College men’s basketball team during a Feb. 8 game against Lasell in New London. Bean, a Franklin High graduate, has signed a contract to play professional basketball in Catalonia, Spain, with Club Bàsquet L’Hospitalet in LEB Plata, the third-tier league of Spanish basketball. KATIE BERNASHE file / Courtesy of Colby-Sawyer Athletics

  • Dana Bean goes up for a layup against Rivier during a Dec. 3, 2019 game in New London. Bean, a Franklin High graduate, has signed a contract to play professional basketball in Catalonia, Spain, with Club Bàsquet L’Hospitalet in LEB Plata, the third-tier league of Spanish basketball after finishing his Colby-Sayer career ranked No. 5 in career points (1,688) and No. 2 in career rebounds (895) and blocks (116). KATIE BERNASHE file / Courtesy of Colby-Sawyer Athletics

Monitor staff
Published: 7/19/2020 7:27:23 PM

Dana Bean chose Colby-Sawyer College, in part, because it was so close to his home in Franklin. After spending four years on the New London campus, he said it felt, “homey, which was great, but I still got to see a new face every day.”

Now, Bean is getting ready to journey far from home and see nothing but new faces.

Earlier this week, the 6-foot-9 Bean signed a contract to play professional basketball in Catalonia, Spain, with Club Bàsquet L’Hospitalet. The team plays in LEB Plata, the third division of Spanish basketball, which is regarded as having some of the top basketball leagues in Europe.

“I’ve been striving for this for a long time. As a kid I always wanted to be a professional basketball player,” Bean said. “You get older and you realize, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to the NBA,’ but when I got to college and I was seeing that I was being successful here, I started feeling like I could do something more with this.”

Bean found success as soon as he arrived at Colby-Sawyer from Franklin High, where he was a 1,000-point scorer before graduating in 2016. He started all 25 games as a college freshman and was named the North Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Year. By the time he finished his college career this March, he ranked fifth in points (1,688), second in rebounds (895) and second in blocks (116) on Colby-Sawyer’s all-time lists with career averages of 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

Near the end of the 2019-20 season, Colby-Sawyer coach Bill Foti helped Bean put together a highlight package and the coach sent it to his contacts in hopes of landing Bean a spot on an international roster. One of those contacts was Devin Gilligan, the former Southern New Hampshire University player who has spent time in pro leagues in Sweden and Canada. Gilligan forwarded the highlights to agent Roi Rodríguez, who works with Helping Ballers in Spain, and Rodríguez liked what he saw.

“I had (Bean’s) name on lists, but with the COVID, I was not able to watch him yet, and when (Gilligan) talked to me about him, I checked his highlights and a pair of games and I saw that he was talented enough to play as a professional,” Rodríguez said via email. “His size and combination of athleticism with the talent to score in low post situations (and with) mid-range jumpers make him an interesting profile to develop. Obviously, the mentality is also very important, and he made it all easy since the first moment. It was clear that he wanted to play professionally, he heard our advice and signed early with an agency, a very important fact that permits us as a company to begin to show his name and to try to make his name known since very early in the spring.”

After C.B. L’Hospitalet expressed an interest in Bean, he was able to speak with Grant Lozoya, an American who played with the Spanish club for the 2019-20 season. Lozoya grew up in California and went to Division I Stetson University in Florida before transferring to D-II Pitt State in Kansas, where the 6-3 guard scored 1,050 points in 59 games. Bean picked Lozoya’s brain about life and basketball in Catalonia, which is near Barcelona in the northeast corner of Spain. Lozoya had nothing but good things to say about it to Bean and to the Monitor.

“I thought playing in Spain was fantastic,” said Lozoya, who is back home in California but will return to play in Spain this season after averaging 16.3 points in 25 games for C.B. L’Hospitalet last season. “It was a whole different culture for me. They welcomed me in like family. They treated me well, fed me well, it was fantastic to every extent. It was a great club.”

Lozoya said C.B. L’Hospitalet was more popular than the local soccer team and the fans would, “really come out for our games. The arena isn’t huge or anything, but they fill it up and make it loud.” He appreciated how Catalonians “like to enjoy life, they work hard and then their days off, they take those seriously too and really enjoy their culture.” Bean is looking forward to sampling all of that.

“I get a chance to visit another country for an extended period of time and really experience what it’s like, and that’s a huge part of this,” Bean said. “Even if I don’t end up playing professionally for 10 or 12 years, I will always have that experience.”

Lozoya said the biggest adjustment for him was “the IQ of the game. That’s probably twice as high as it was at Pitt State.” Rodríguez also said that grasping the differences between the American game and the European game usually takes time for U.S. players, but he was confident Bean would figure it out with his willingness to listen and work.

If he does, there’s room to grow in Spain. Teams can be promoted, or relegated, between the four leagues. Liga EBA is the bottom tier, followed by LEB Plata (where Bean will be playing for C.B. L’Hospitalet), LEB Oro and top-tier Liga ACB, which is widely considered the top league in the world outside of the NBA. Players also move frequently within Spain, so Bean could wind up on a different Spanish team in the future, but it’s too early to tell what his European potential might be.

“The jump from LEB Plata to LEB Oro being American is tough,” said Rodríguez. “Maybe the first jump is to a better LEB Plata team or to other first divisions in Europe that are compared to this Spanish league like Portugal, Slovakia, Austria, Denmark or the United Kingdom. It is difficult to know where the next step is. Maybe he can continue in L’Hospitalet and grow with the team for years, and hopefully he could play in LEB Oro in two seasons and ACB in four. That would the best signal that he is doing things well.”

Before any of that can happen, Bean first has to make it to Spain. He’s in Franklin now, working out and trying to get his paperwork in order so he can travel, work and live outside of the country. He finally got a passport after months of waiting, but he still needs an appointment at the Spanish consulate in Boston to get his visa and he has to take a test proving he doesn’t have any dangerous diseases. The coronavirus pandemic is not helping with either of those tasks, but Bean isn’t going to let some paperwork stand in his way.

“I’m not too worried about,” said Bean, who is planning on flying to Spain in September and hopes to play his first game for C.B. L’Hospitalet in October. “It’s just going to take a little perseverance.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)


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