A few years back there was a boom of MoT college basketball players. Many went on to play in the Maccabi games and were successful on the court. Evan Conti, like others, headed to Israel to play ball. Now he finds himself back in the US on the other side of the clipboard. Here is the young head coach trying to make waves in college basketball.
1) Tell TGR about yourself.
I am born and raised from Queens NY, still currently live in Queens today. Beside basketball being my first love I am a very social and outgoing guy. My favorite hobby after basketball is going to the beach, one of the things I miss the most about living in Israel and traveling the world with my partner Harriette.
2) When did you get passionately into basketball?
I got passionate with basketball at an early age. When I was 3 my mom would take me to our local park in Queens to play in the playground and all I wanted to do was watch the older guys play basketball and dribble on the sidelines. I grew up riding my bike to the park after school to work on my game, something kids unfortunately don’t do anymore. All I wanted to do growing up was play basketball. I am very thankful that my mom believed in my passion and sacrificed most of her free time while I was growing up to take me to practices and tournaments.
3) You played at Quinnipiac, what led you there and what was your experience like?
I played my High School basketball at Holy Cross, the same school as Sylvan Landesberg. He was a senior when I was a freshman. I watched him average 30 ppg and win a city championship in the CHSAA which is considered one of the best High School leagues in America.
I never looked the part of being a D1 basketball player so I knew that I had to outwork everyone and really stand out while I was in high school which was what I committed myself to do my whole time at Holy Cross. My senior year I was a first team all league player in the CHSAA and was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from Quinnipiac University.
I loved every moment of my time at Quinnipiac. Quinnipiac has a beautiful campus and one of the nicest basketball arenas in the country, especially at the mid major level. It was a long journey just for me to get an opportunity to play at the mid major level and I made the most of it. Unfortunately we never made the NCAA tournament but won at least 15 games every season I was at QU. I had an unbelievable college experience at QU on and off the court. I made relationships with people that will last a lifetime.
4) You also played in the Maccabi International Games. Did you enjoy that experience? What was the makeup of the team and how did it come together?
The Maccabiah games was the greatest life experience I ever had. I was fortunate enough to be able to have that experience twice.
When I was 16 I played for Brian Schiff and won the 16u MVP. It was my first time ever going to Israel and the first time I ever felt connected to my Jewish roots. After playing in the 16u games I made it a goal of mine to eventually move back to Israel and play professionally.
4 years later I got to play in the open division for Brad Greenberg who was fresh off winning a premier league championship with Maccabi Haifa. Mike Carter an Israeli basketball legend was our assistant. Our team was loaded and included many former and current Israeli pros. Some of my teammates were Danny Rubin who was the MVP, Alex Rosenberg, Bryan Cohen, Stu Douglas and Ben Carter, all guys who I keep in touch with to this day. All of our practices were a battle which was a big reason why we won the gold medal.
5) You went on to play professionally in Israel. Was that always a goal? Did you enjoy your time there?
Playing professionally in Israel was a goal of mine ever since I competed in the 16U Maccabiah games. Being able to live that dream is something I will forever be grateful for. I got to play for one of the best professional organizations in all of Israel my first season Hapoel Beer Sheva. Beer Sheva will always be my home city in Israel and the club I will always root for. At the end of my 3rd season I played for Hapoel Afula another great club and got to finish my playing career playing alongside one of my best friends Alex Rosenberg which was a lot of fun.
I loved my 3 years living in Israel because of how much I loved the Israeli culture and how friendly everybody was. My Israeli friends that I consider family, the beaches and the weather are the things I miss most about living in Israel.
6) What led to your position at NYIT?
I was always a huge college basketball fan. Growing up I would rather watch college basketball than NBA games. While I was playing in Israel I missed being a part of college basketball. One of my former coaches growing up Kevin Hamilton was the head coach at NYIT and offered me an assistant coaching job this past year. Being able to work for someone who I used to play for was an opportunity that I could not turn down and something I will forever be appreciative of.
7) What are your goals there and in the future for yourself?
My main goal at New York Tech is to eventually win a conference championship. NYIT is a very special university with an extremely supportive athletics administration.
Being a part of college basketball is a very special journey where everybody needs to come together and sacrifice to achieve the ultimate goal. Throughout the journey I want to make a positive impact on all of my players lives on and off the court and prepare them for life after college from all the challenges that come with being a student athlete. My individual goal is to continue to learn how to be a better coach which is something I have done everyday since I made this career transition in August. I am not currently focused on the future, my only focus is making New York Tech basketball the best program it can possibly be.
8) What was your Jewish life like growing up and where is it today?
My mother is Jewish so growing up I would celebrate the holidays in New York at my grandfather or Aunts house. Beside that I never felt connected to a Jewish life until playing in the world Maccabiah Games. After that experience I felt way more connected with the Jewish Culture Today I stay connected with my Jewish life by connecting with my Israeli friends. Some of my friends that I met in Israel moved to New York and New Jersey so I make an effort to have shabbat dinners with some of them when I can.
9) Where can fans find you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @epconti21