- - Monday, January 7, 2019

BUDAPEST, Hungary | Growing up in Baltimore, Nick Faust knew basketball was going to take him places.

The former Maryland Terrapins guard, who played three seasons in College Park under Mark Turgeon, just didn’t know at the time the game would literally take him around the globe.

Since transferring and playing his senior year at Long Beach State, the 6-foot-5 forward has spent time in Israel, Italy and now Hungary, where he is trying to forge an identity as a go-to scorer with Atomeromu SE. The team is located in Paks, a town about 70 miles south of Budapest.

The Hungarian A league has 14 teams, and the number of foreigners it employs depends on the financial resources of the individual club. Faust is one of two Americans on his team, while Alba, a club in western Hungary, had five Americans on its recent roster.

Paks has been a stepping stone for other Americans from the District and surrounding areas, including former George Washington University standout Chris Monroe. A product of Good Counsel High in Montgomery County, Monroe was an all-star in Hungary and played in several European countries during a European pro career from 2003-13.

Less than three years out of college, Faust, 25, said the biggest difference between college basketball and the European leagues is the level of maturity and professionalism he has found overseas.

“College is talented kids playing basketball,” Faust said. “Europe is grown men playing basketball — amateurism versus professionalism.”

A lot depends on the country, of course. “Certain countries are more up to date with style of play in the game of basketball today,” Faust said. “Whereas some countries are still a little bit behind.”

But in Hungary, “life’s amazing,” he said. “Can’t complain. Every day is a new destiny.”

For him, the game has never felt like a job. “My whole life I’ve never had a (regular) job and still don’t,” Faust said. “I love what I do.”

In his first year as a pro in 2016-17 Faust was an all-star in an Israeli league, and then spent part of last season with a team in Italy.

Faust is not the only former Maryland hoopster playing this winter in Hungary. Former women’s star Shatori Walker, who played for the Washington Mystics in 2018, averaged 16.7 points per contest in her first 11 games for Miskolc in the top Hungarian women’s league.

“The main difference that is the most noticeable for me is the physicality,” Walker wrote in an email earlier this month. “In the NCAA, there’s a one-touch rule when the offensive players are protected a lot more.”

In his first 13 games this season in Hungary, Faust has averaged 13.2 points per contest. On Dec. 30, Faust started and scored 13 points, with a trio of 3-pointers,in Atomeromu SE’s win over KTE-Duna Aszfalt before a crowd of about 800 fans in Paks.

The former Baltimore prep star said he had no second thoughts about leaving the Terrapins program after the 2013-14 season — a year in which Turgeon suffered several defections..

“I’m happy with every decision I have ever made in my life,” Faust said. “I wouldn’t change a thing. Don’t get me wrong: it was fun at the University of Maryland. I always respect the University of Maryland. I just wanted to better myself.”

After sitting out a year due to NCAA rules, Faust nearly doubled his scoring average to 17.4 points per game at Long Beach State.

“God is continuing to bless my family and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters,” he said. “God just wanted the world to see me, literally.”

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