MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Elton Coffield a three-time All-Conference first team selection and the second leading scorer in Mount Olive men’s basketball history, has signed a contract to play professional basketball for the BSW Sixers in Germany. Coffield leaves for Germany September 1 and the season gets underway September 22.
Coffield, a 6-4 guard from Williamston, N.C., finished his collegiate career with 1,768 points, despite starting only 10 games during his career. Street and Smith’s Magazine once referred to Coffield as “perhaps the best sixth man in the nation.” Coffield was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2005 NCAA II Men’s Basketball East Regional, scoring 29 points in the championship game to lead the Trojans to their first-ever appearance in the Elite Eight.
Coffield participated in a basketball camp in Philadelphia earlier this summer and camp organizers sent his profile to the league in Germany. The league has nine divisions and the Sixers compete in the fourth division. Coffield hopes to move up to the third division or higher after this season.
While this marks the beginning of Coffield’s professional basketball career, it’s not his first international experience. Last summer, Coffield was part of a team comprised of American college players that competed during a tour of Australia. Coffield says last summer’s experience should help him on many levels.
“Last year’s trip to Australia gave me an idea what it’s like to be so far away from home for an extended period of time,” said Coffield, who scored 51 points in one game during the tour. “I also got a chance to experience the international style of play. In a lot of ways, it’s more fast-paced than American basketball. Also, the big men aren’t afraid to shoot, so you can’t leave them alone outside.”
Coffield will likely be the shooting guard, which was his position in college. Defensively, he expects to have to guard the opposing small forward. He says the team’s playing style should be the same as what he’s used to under Trojan head coach Bill Clingan.
“Our team’s playing style will probably be about the same as how we played at Mount Olive,” said Coffield. “The coach wants to work more of an inside-out game. But no matter what, I can adjust to any style of play.”
Mount Olive surpassed the 20-win mark and reached the NCAA Division II Tournament in each of Coffield’s four years. Coffield expressed gratitude to the Trojan coaching staff and to the Mount Olive community.
“I want to thank everyone for supporting me and supporting Mount Olive,” said Coffield. “I especially want to thank Coach Clingan and Coach (Joey) Higginbotham for all they’ve done for me. I also want to thank (Mount Olive Vice-President of Academic Affairs) Dr. (Ellen) Jordan for all of her support.”
Along with a salary, the team is also providing Coffield with housing and his own car, which opens up a new challenge for Coffield.
“Now I’ll have to learn how to drive a stick shift because that’s all they have over there,” Coffield joked.
And unlike his trip to Australia where everybody spoke English, Coffield will have to adjust to a new language.
“I’m buying a German-English dictionary this weekend,” said Coffield.
Coffield may run into some familiar faces in Germany. Barton alum Tim Black and Pfeiffer alum Rico Grier have been playing professionally in Germany.
Coffield is also one of four members of the Trojans’ Elite Eight team to be playing professionally, either in the U.S. or overseas. Maurice Horton returns to Finland for his second season after helping lead his team to a league championship last year. Melvin Creddle also earned a ring with the Vermont Frost Heaves, which won the 2007 American Basketball Association championship. And Elijah Rouse is expected to sign a professional contract this week with a team in Denmark.
Coffield says he would be happy to play in Germany for an extended time or go wherever his career takes him.
“Anywhere I can play pro basketball is fine with me,” said Coffield. “As long as I’m playing, I’m happy.”