One year later, Wallace and I again traded messages for an exclusive interview, this time following a prolonged saga that saw Wallace waiting to join Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona Regal as maneuvers were made behind the scenes to secure dual citizenship because Barca had already satisfied its quota of American-born players.
This odyssey ended two days ago and Wallace was formally announced as the newest member of the Lega ACB champions. Shortly thereafter I sent him nine questions to answer. His responses can be found after the jump.
There was a lot written this summer about your signing with Barcelona and the need for a non-United States passport. Can you talk me through what happened and how that was resolved? It seemed to take longer than anyone expected.
It was a pretty long and stressful process. I'm very thankful to the management guys at Barcelona who waited for me despite all the delays and hiccups. In the end, the Athletic Federation in the Congo was interested in having me potentially play for their national team and help build the sport there.
Does this mean you are now eligible to play for the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Is that something that interests you?
I for sure am interested in competing. It would certainly be great and a lofty acheivement if we were able to qualify for the Olympics or World Championships down the road.
Tell me about your new team. Who do they return from the title team of 2010-11?
Our team is solid. The returning guys are Juan Carlos Navarro, Victor Sada, Erazem Lorbek, Pete Mickeal, Fran Vazquez, Boniface N'Dong, Kosta Petrovic and Joe Ingles. One of the great thing about Barcelona is that many times the contracts are multiple years so players are familiar with each other and have played several seasons together.
Is there any added pressure joining a top team in a top league coming off such success?
I think there is always pressure, particularly in a big city with the media and whatnot, but we have a good team with good guys with high goals and I know that I have to do my part to help us win.
You've built your pro career on rebounding and defense. Are those the two things Barcelona is counting on you for?
For sure. I think my role will be based around those two staples as well as spreading the floor with the three point shot.
For those who haven't seen FC Barcelona play, I gather it is an NBA-like environment with 7,000 in the seats at Palau Blaugrana most nights.
There is a NBA feel for sure as far as professionalism, prestige and attention to detail. The fans are great but soccer still dominates the Spanish sports world.
Do you have a sense of what the relationship is like between the basketball team and the soccer power who they share a name with?
Camp Nou is right beside our stadium and seats 100K, so you know who's boss I guess. But basketball is the second sport here and considering how big number one is, its an exciting responsibility to represent the city well.
There are three recent Princeton graduates starting their professional careers in Europe this fall. What advice would you give them?
My advice would be that statistics are important to a degree, but being on a winning team takes priority. There are plenty of guys who average 20 points on losing teams and don't sniff the top teams. Being a solid contributor on a surprising winner raises eyebrows throughout leagues in Europe. You have to love basketball and be open to change and the occasional lonely day, but its truly a great experience.
This is your seventh season playing overseas. I know we have talked a few times about the "Five Year Plan." Are you content with carving out a successful, long pro career in Europe or is your goal still to make the NBA?
Honestly, I still have dreams of the NBA. But at the same time, starting in Europe I had dreams of playing in Barcelona. And I think a lot of players do. Its a great opportunity and honestly very exciting to be on such a great team and in a great city of the world. My role won't be as large as maybe it would be on another team, but I'm excited for the new experience and calling Barcelona my home for the next two years. After that who knows. We will see where I'm at and go from there. In the meantime, if any readers are offering some high-paying internships next summer, definitely let me know!!!
Thanks to all for your support and go Tigers!