PORTLAOISE, Ireland – While the Southern Vermont College men’s basketball team has just begun its 2018-19 campaign, a former Mountaineer is making waves across the pond.
Mike Pierre, a 2018 graduate of SVC, signed a professional contract with the Portlaoise Panthers in late August and has been excelling with the club’s National League squad. Portlaoise competes in Basketball Ireland’s Southern Conference of the National League- Men’s Division 1 North and South; B.I. is part of the International Basketball Federation.
“Getting a contract to play professional basketball was a dream come true to me,” Pierre said. “Since I was a kid, the goal was to be a professional. Receiving my contract showed me that all the work that I put into basketball had paid off. It was also a relief to me that I was given the opportunity to further my career, because I did not intend to hang up my shoes anytime soon.”
After the Panthers’ first 11 league matchups of the season, Pierre was averaging 27.6 points per game. Before the updated stats rankings—which are to include his most recent performance—he was 12th in Men’s Division 1 with 4.3 assists per game and also had 7.4 rebounds per contest on his line. It didn’t take long after the move to get comfortable in his new setting.
“I have received much support from my family, friends, and coaches,” he said. “All of my supporters have known that I wanted to play professionally, and they believed in me. That was a major influence for me working to make it possible. I wanted to make my dream come true for myself—but also to repay all of those who supported me throughout my career.”
Pierre was recently celebrated by B.I. for his incredible play over the weekend. On Sunday (Nov. 11), he dropped 53 points to be named the Men’s National League D1 top scorer. The last three of those points came at the buzzer to help Portlaoise defeat Limerick Institute of Technology by a 95-92 margin. That point total topped his SVC career-high of 47—which broke Southern Vermont’s single game record back in January.
“Playing in Europe has been a great time so far,” Pierre said. “Being in Ireland, there's not much of a culture shock. My teammates, coaches, and club have been extremely welcoming, which has made the transition very smooth. The game is a bit different from college in the states, however—different tempo, rules, shot clock, and quarters opposed to halves.”
Portlaoise is one of nine teams in the Southern Conference while the Northern Conference is comprised of another eight squads. The Panthers are slated to play 25 regular season games with the finale falling on Saint Patrick’s Day. As of Tuesday, Portlaoise was fifth in the Southern standings with an overall record of 6-5.
Pierre had an outstanding three-semester career at Southern Vermont after transferring from NCAA Division II’s Georgian Court University for the spring 2017 term. In games that he saw time on the court after joining the Mountaineers, SVC went 36-6 with back-to-back appearances in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) championship round; the latter of those saw Pierre be named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as he helped the program claim its second league title this past February.
Additionally in 2018, Pierre was selected as the NECC Player of the Year, voted to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III All-Northeast Second Team, and picked for the D3hoops.com All-Northeast Fourth Team. He was a member of the 2018 All-NECC First Team after being selected to the 2017 All-NECC Third Team.
In his one and a half seasons with SVC, Pierre totaled 766 points with an average of 18.2 per game.
“I would like to thank Southern Vermont College for the opportunity given to me to finish my education and collegiate basketball career,” Pierre added. “Coming to SVC was definitely the best decision I have made in my life. I have countless memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I would also like to thank Coach Dan [Engelstad], Coach [David] Bromirski, and my team who have always pushed me to be the best that I could be on and off the court; they were always there for me in my times of need. I hope that I have inspired someone to chase their dreams—and to never give up on them.”
Pierre is the second Mountaineer alumnus to seize a professional, career-extending contract overseas. Nick Harrington ’08, a member of SVC/Saint Joseph College Athletics Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014, spent time after graduation in Luxembourg playing for the BBC Greens.
“Playing basketball has provided me endless opportunities throughout my career,” Pierre noted. “I have loved basketball with all of my heart since I picked up a ball. To be able to continue to do what I love is very special to me. I feel that I have accomplished my goals; however, I am now setting new ones that I would like to achieve as I continue my career.”
To learn more about the Portlaoise club, visit: https://www.portlaoisepanthers.com/
For more information about Basketball Ireland and standing updates, visit: https://www.basketballireland.ie/
– #LetsGoSVC –