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Maverick to Shizuoka Veltex

Ryan Stephan, ‘16

Ryan Stephan still finds it hard to call himself a professional basketball player. But he is and has been for six seasons in Japan.

Basketball has been a part of his life for nearly 20 years from pee wee to professional.

“It was an easy choice,” Stephan said of choosing to become a Maverick. “Grand Junction has everything you need and nothing that you don’t.”

CMU was also a big draw since his dad could attend about 70% of his games in person. His dad would end up watching Stephan earn D2CCA National Player of the Year, rank second in program history with 2,073 points and fourth in program history with 800 rebounds.

Outside of the court, Stephan quickly realized how good the people of CMU are too. He mentioned his coaches, faculty like Richard Bell, DEd, then President Tim Foster and then Vice President for Student Services John Marshall with all impacting his time at the university.

“A place really is only as good as its people,” he said. “All of these people kept building me up and made me believe that I was a somebody.”

After earning his sports management degree, Stephen signed with an agent, moved to Los Angeles, California, and shortly after was offered to play in Japan.

He’s played for four teams including the Excellence, Crane Thunders, Orange Vikings and is now a Shizuoka Veltex. He’s moved around Tokyo and lived in Isesaki Gunma and Matsuyama Ehime.

“It’s been a good experience,” he said, but definitely misses living in the United States and looks forward to visiting each year.

This year was a little easier because his wife, Lisa, joined him for the first time. She is an alumna and is currently earning her master’s in family nurse practitioner from CMU.

Stephan’s original goal was to play overseas for five years so now he is enjoying any extra time he is able to keep playing the sport he loves. Looking toward the future, his aspirations include working for the NBA but he is not ruling out planting roots in Grand Junction.