Nana Foulland’s parents, friends and former teammates have often praised him for pursuing a professional basketball career overseas.
They told him he was living his dream by playing the sport he excelled in in Israel, Romania, Poland, Italy and France.
“You are abroad,” they said. “You play basketball. This is a children’s game. Do it for as long as you can. Few people manage to do that. You are so lucky.”
For some reason, however, that hasn’t been the case for Berks and Bucknell’s former Catholic, Foulland. He had doubts about the whole experience. He almost felt trapped. He didn’t feel fulfilled.
After careful consideration, he decided earlier this year to stop playing.
“If it doesn’t bring me purpose or happiness and I’m not growing as a person, then maybe I can walk away from it and be brave enough to try something else,” Foulland said. “People still look at me like I’m crazy. ‘What? Are you 26 and retired? You were good.’
“The match did not force me out. I walked away from it. This power is probably one of the most important lessons I learned. I can drive where I want to drive in life.
With the help of his wife, former Madi Reagan, Foulland wrote a memoir about his four years playing international basketball and how it affected him. “Through the Lens of a Game: How Basketball Was My Ticket to the World and the Lessons it Taught Me” was released in August and is available on amazon.com.
“I wasn’t in class anymore, so I wanted to do something to keep my brain sharp,” he said. “I didn’t just want to play basketball, so I wrote about my experiences after every year. Once I realized I wasn’t going to play as long as I thought I was going to play, I thought to myself. “Huh, maybe I can turn this into something.
“I found some stuff and made a book out of it. It worked out pretty much perfectly. It’s about the checkered career I’ve had. It made for a compelling and interesting story.
Foulland, a 2014 Berks Catholic graduate, was a two-time all-state selection for the Saints and a two-time Berks County Player of the Year.
He then enjoyed a stellar career at Bucknell, where he led the Bison to two Patriot League titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances with his soft hook and exquisite footwork. He finished with 1,754 points, 907 rebounds, 212 blocked shots, and a .579 field goal percentage, all of which rank in the top five in school history.
He also earned degrees in history and education and was the Patriot League Athlete of the Year as a senior.
Shortly after Foulland retired as a player, the Oklahoma City Thunder hired him as a video analyst.
“I had interest from other NBA teams, but decided to take the job from Oklahoma City,” he said. “I’m excited about it. I’m ready for that. I love it so far. I learn a lot. I wanted to stick with basketball. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.
“I will try to follow the path of training and see where it takes me. This will be the next chapter.
Foulland’s previous experience with the NBA dates back to 2018 when he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves summer league team shortly after graduating from Bucknell. He initially hoped to be able to impress NBA scouts by playing professionally across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Of course I wanted to go to the NBA,” he said. “But over time I realized my love for the game was gone. It happened one day in Italy. I realized I had to make a change. I didn’t know what to do. I had afraid to change.
“I thought, ‘What else am I going to do? This is what I do really well. If you’re really good at something, why would you leave it? was not going was difficult, finding what else to do was even more difficult.
Foulland said it was a basketball book first with sections on travel, mental health, and “navigating the world as a young adult.”
“I’ve grown so much in such a short time from this experience,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to share. It’s okay not to have it all figured out by a certain age. There’s nothing wrong with going through some struggle, even though it may seem like you’re living life.
Foulland said he received invaluable help from his wife, also a Catholic graduate from Berks in 2014, whom he dated for several years before marrying her in 2020. She is listed as editor.
“Without her, I don’t think I would have attempted this project,” he said. “She was so involved in it. The best thing she told me to do was, “Let’s make a picture of history. It was a bit like clay. Together we have formed a good image.
“She also challenged me as a writer. She gave me advice. She pushed and pushed me. Thanks to her, the book came out much better than if I had done it without her.
He has vivid memories of the last match of his playing career in May in Lyon, France, and talks about it in the book.
“I learned that I was very resilient,” Foulland said of the past four years. “To be able to go as long as I have with everything that has been thrown at me, I’m proud of that. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that at the end of the day, I am in control of my life and the path I want to take.