One step closer

Former Ferris State basketball players sign professional contracts overseas

Peter Firlik was a senior in 2018 when the men’s basketball team won the national championship. He has now signed a professional contract overseas. Torch File Photo

Four former Ferris men’s basketball players signed professional contracts this summer to continue their careers overseas and chase their dreams.

Zach Hankins, Noah King, Taylor Adway and Peter Firlik are officially professional players in European leagues now and they still have hopes of playing at the highest level in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“I still have higher goals of making it back to the states to play in the NBA, but this is a huge step and I’m ecstatic to play a game I love for my job,” Hankins said. “If I continue to get better and play well at high levels, I believe I can make it back to the states and to my ultimate goal of the NBA.”

Each player had a different path to get where they are now, but each of them said that Ferris taught them to feel more open and build on each of their confidences as not just players, but men. All four players said that they have enormous amounts of respect for each and every coach that helped them along the way.

“Coach Bronks and Coach McAfee allowed me to play my game and allowed me to expand my game and those two gave me extreme confidence and pushed me to be better than I was,” Adway said. “No one moment lead to this opportunity, it was a combination of the years of work and praying that I did. I stayed as humble as possible and just believed that playing pro ball was a part of my calling.”

King and Firlik will be teammates once again during their time playing for Breidablik basketball club in Iceland’s first division. Adway signed with BC Borisfen in Mogilev Belarus and Hankins signed with a National Basketball League, Champions League team based out of Nymburk, Czech Republic.

Hankins decided to go overseas rather than play in the NBA’s G League because it’s still visible and respected by the NBA but has more opportunities to make money.

“My goal for this year is to go over there and kill, to make a name for myself and show people how well I can do at the pro level,” Firlik said. “However long my career is, I hope I am very productive, a great teammate, leader and a fan favorite.”

Each player will be playing overseas for at least one year and see what their options are after they get shots on the court and showcase their talents at the next level. All four men hope for chances at playing in the NBA, but for now they want to make names for themselves and compete to win.

“My biggest goal right now is to get over to Iceland and adapt to the culture there and com- pete to win a championship and bring my championship mentality from Ferris over there,” King said. “I have a chance to continue to pursue my dreams of playing professional basketball, which is a blessing.”

Hankins was a redshirt freshman when he joined the Bulldogs in 2015 and became a star redshirt sophomore. He was also a finalist for the Bevo Francis Award and set the school single season record with 130 blocks. After winning the school’s first national championship in 2018 along with King and Firlik, Hankins transferred to Xavier University for his final year of college.

“By far my favorite memory was winning the national championship with some of the greatest guys I’ve ever known,” Hankins said.

Firlik joined the Bulldogs in 2015 as well and was a 1,000-point scorer in college and was a two-year starter. He played in 103 games with 71 starts and was a GLIAC All-Defensive team member.

“Hitting the shot at the buzzer against Ashland my senior year to send us to overtime and then win that game was one of my favorite memories,” Firlik said. “Winning the national championship, sharing that with my brothers on the court was amazing along with having my family and friends there was special as well.”

King joined the Bulldogs in 2014 and graduated in 2018. His senior year he was a 41% three-point shooter and averaged 12 points per game.

Adway joined the Bulldogs in 2018 for his senior season and said that his favorite memories of that year was playing against Duke and their team retreat.