Brandon Wood remembers learning about far away places in elementary school. It’s a little foggy, he admits he wasn’t interested in reading about those places way back then, but he remembered the pictures.
Now, some of those foggy memories are coming into sharp focus as he heads into his first season of basketball in Italy. The former Kokomo Wildkat will suit up for Florence’s Affrico Basket Firenze in his new squad’s first league game of the season on Sunday, against Olympia Matera.
Wood has been in Italy since mid-August and is excited about his new home.
“It’s been a great experience so far,” he said. “Me and my fiancee [Aujalen Aldridge], we’ve gotten to see a lot of historical places, eat a lot of great food, just soak in the whole experience outside of basketball.
“I’m actually getting to see the stuff that I studied back in elementary. Just to be living my dream and having an opportunity to play in this place is so eye opening. I take pride in taking in the whole culture and seeing as much as I can.”
The basketball side is pretty important too. That’s what took him to Italy after playing in Hungary last season. Italian hoops has been an eye-opener as well.
“There were some great players [in Hungary], being in Italy, it’s a different breed of basketball,” Wood said. “It’s taken more seriously on and off the court. The Italian style is fast, so it fits my game. We try to get up and down the court. I like the style of play here in Italy.”
Wood got a crash course in Italian basketball when he arrived in the summer. The team began preseason training on Aug. 20 with a long run of two-a-days. Wood says the team had weights and shooting sessions early, then a break of four to five hours, then an evening practice.