Clevin Hannah: 'It's exciting looking forward to something new every year'

Mar 06, 2019 by Print
Clevin Hannah: 'It's exciting looking forward to something new every year'

Herbalife Gran Canaria guard Clevin Hannah is in his ninth season as a professional basketball player, however, this marks his first in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. His career has seen the diminutive playmaker suit up for 10 clubs in six countries. It wasn't exactly the plan he had when he finished his college playing days at Wichita State University, but when he got the first offer to play professionally, Hannah followed his dream to Eastern Europe.

"I started my career in Romania and that was my first time in Europe, so that was a culture shock for me," Hannah recalled. "Just getting there, seeing how cold it was... It was kinda dark, gloomy... I had never been out of my country."

"I fell in love with Spain. Spain is my favorite country, it's me."

Little did Hannah know that the trip to Romania would be just the first one in a long list: "Then, I went to Finland, which was completely different and another whole level of cold! It would get dark every day at three, but I learned a lot there, I learned that I can play in Europe at a top level in Finland."

This constant change of teams soon became a lifestyle for Hannah, who learned to see the good things in it, appreciating the new personal experiences that it brings.

"It's very exciting, looking forward to something new every year," Hannah explained.

After Romania and Finland, the list just went on and Hannah has memories from each and every one of those stops along the way.

"I came to France and loved it from the beginning. France is amazing, I fell in love with the Paris lifestyle." After two years in France, Hannah jumped to the Iberian Peninsula in 2014. "I came to Spain and joined Joventut, man. That was a totally 180! Sunshine, beach... everything! I fell in love with Spain. Spain is my favorite country, it's me. It's more me. The style fit my game completely."

Hannah not only fell in love with the place, but also came to appreciate the style of basketball in Spain. "From my knowledge of the game, basketball in Spain is more of a team game," he said. "More of a strategic game, you have to think more. With my size, I have to use my brain to play the game. So this league is the right fit for me."

Hannah soon built a family. Though some players choose to leave their families at home and travel afar to play, Hannah has kept his wife and kids with him at every stop. "I have been traveling to different teams every year, so having my family travel with me is kind of difficult, but, all in all, it's a great experience for myself and my kids to experience new cultures every time we switch cities," he said. "I think it will be good for my family in the long run."

Because he wants his family to be able to enjoy the experience as much as possible, their comfort is a primary factor in which places he decides to play.

"When the time comes to decide where to go, provided that they are similar offers, I talk with my family," Hannah said. "I check with my wife to see what city would she prefer to go, and of course you also think about the coaches, and the teams and the style of play, So first it would be my wife and then the style of play of the coach and that team's history."

The passing of the years, however, turned a young hungry kid starting to play basketball to a grown adult with family responsibilities, so his perspective on things might be changing slowly.

"Now that I am getting older I am definitely looking for something where I can stay for longer, two, three, four years," he said. "That would be great for me and my family at this point. Coming along when I came out of college I wanted to travel and see the world, and I did that so far. It has been a blessing for me."

If club action traveling was not enough for him, Hannah also agreed to play for the Senegal national team. In 2016, he got the call to play in the Olympic qualifiers and he jumped at the chance, driven by the will to know more about his land of origin.

"Out of college I wanted to travel and see the world, and I did that so far. It has been a blessing."

"I always wanted to travel to Africa, so when my agent called me about the Senegal NT offer, I was wild and happy," Hannah explained. "The experience to go over there and see my people was great, it opened my mind to another level. I saw how they live and their culture. When you experience that you kinda feel that connection with your roots, it's special."

So far, in his limited experience with Team Senegal, he has come to appreciate yet another side of basketball that gets added to the list of this basketball globetrotter.

"In Senegal they welcomed me with open arms," he said smiling. "Showed me nothing but love and respect. I can never forget that experience. The atmosphere in the games there is rowdy and crazy. Imagine 10,000 black people, loud and happy for you to be representing their country. It's a wild ride."

A ride that has been going on for nine years now, and counting.