The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 22, 2012

Caldwell loving life in Europe

Mullens native is Luxembourg team’s top scorer at 24 ppg

By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer

— Playing basketball. Living in Europe.

Life is pretty good for Mullens native Justin Caldwell.

“Being able to wake up every day and have the opportunity to become a better player is a great feeling,” said Caldwell, the point guard for BBC Bascharage in Luxembourg. “I enjoy every second of it.”

Caldwell is a standout for the Hedgehogs, who are in sixth place in Luxembourg’s N2 league. He averages 24 points and 6 assists per game.

He is shooting 48 percent from the field, 90 percent from the foul line and a superb 42 percent from the 3-point arc.

“I’m really satisfied with the 3-point percentage, considering the line is an extra foot back from the college line,” Caldwell said.

“As a rookie, I am very happy with my performance, but I can always improve.”

The former West Virginia Conference star said basketball is a much different game in Europe.

“The FIBA rules have a 24-second shot clock and four 10-minute quarters, rather than two 20-minute halves,” he said. “I’m averaging 36 minutes a game.”

Stardom is nothing unusual for Caldwell, who earned all-state honors at Wyoming East High School.

He averaged 19.9 points and 3 assists his senior year and led the Warriors to the 2007 Class AA state championship.

He then started three seasons at West Virginia Wesleyan College before moving to Glenville State for his senior campaign. His 23.7-ppg average led the WVC in scoring.

BBC Bascharage wanted Caldwell for the 2011 season, but he returned to Glenville to take additional classes.

When they called him again last summer, he jumped at the chance to play.

As the only American on the team, life in Europe has been an eye-opener.

“Everything is totally different, including the lifestyle, food, cars, houses, and even the people,” Caldwell said. “But I have really enjoyed it and am very thankful for the opportunity.”

He’s popular with the fans, and he’s become fond of them as well.

“I would have never guessed how well athletes get treated over here,” Caldwell said. “The people have been wonderful, and anytime I’ve come across a problem or issue, they have taken care of it very quickly. I really couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The team goes on a two-week break starting Sunday, and he’s headed back to Mullens for the holidays.

“I’ll get the opportunity to see my family and friends. I want to thank them for being so supportive,” Caldwell said. “They’ve made the process of being this far away a real easy transition.”

— E-mail: dstillwell@