Skidmore Home About Scope Editor's Mailbox FeedbackBack Issues

Campus Scene
Alumni News
Who, What, When
Class Notes
Saratoga Sidebar

campus scene

Sovereignty after the Soviets
Prof. Kate Graney on Russian federalism
Expert opinion: Home audio with Jill  Linz
Faculty farewells Linke, Mensing, Partha, Miller
Art, work, and chance Raffle-ticket creativity
Plugging into "Unplugged" Dorms compete to save energy
Teammates from abroad Sports as universal language
Kids of Survival on view Vandals or Van Goghs?
Faculty honored with endowed chairs Anzalone, Brueggemann, Leavitt, O'Brien, Pfitzer, Sattler
Scholarly smorgasbord Talking ecophobia, Crackberries, and Eros
Sportswrap Winter sports highlights

Teammates from abroad

In 1991 Croatia declared its independence from the faltering Yugoslavia, as Ivan Paladin was starting life in the Dalmatian city of Split. In 1992 a constitution was restored in Ghana, where Melvis Langyintuo was born in the underdeveloped northern region. Now these two men of diverse origins, each raised among unrest and strife, have found themselves intertwined: Paladin, a junior, and Langyintuo, a freshman, are both members of the Skidmore basketball team.

Paladin says, ”When I was 17, I told a scout that I wanted to come to the United States to play basketball and study, which is hard in Croatia.” A year later, he went to the Kent School in Con­necticut for a postgraduate year and then was admitted to Skidmore. The opportunity to play basketball was a main factor in his decision, but it was the business and economics programs that enticed him even more. Though he has been adjusting to American life, he still struggles with the fact that his family remains in Croatia. “My first few years I didn’t have much time to go home,” he says, “but last summer I spent the whole time in Croatia.”

When Langyintuo was 8, his economist father was accepted into a Purdue University doctoral program. In Indiana “my parents helped me preserve some of my Ghanaian traditions, as well as adapt to America,” Langyintuo recalls. When his father finished at Purdue, the family moved to South Africa. In 2005 Langyintuo was selected to attend an Africa Top 100 Camp, a program involved with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders, where he was encouraged to come to the United States. He won a scholarship to attend Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey. He had already spent so much time away from Ghana that the transition wasn’t daunting. “Certain things, especially English, were quite simple for me because Ghana was a British colony,” he notes. “I didn’t have to go through as much as Ivan.”

While at Lawrenceville, Langyintuo caught the eye of Skidmore coach Luke Flockerzi and chose to attend Skidmore for the same reason as Paladin—the chance to play basketball and receive a great education. “They are both meticulous and hard-working, and very friendly and courteous people,” Flockerzi says. “They have adjusted well and are among the community favorites. They are not only complete student-athletes but great members of the community.”

Both players have been in Skidmore’s Thoroughbred Honor Society, for athletes with a grade-point average of 3.67 or better. This year Paladin’s efforts in the classroom (“language was the big­gest barrier for me at the beginning, but I think I’ve overcome that”) qualified him for Liberty League All-Academic honors. Langyintuo, who earned a 4.0 his first semester, says, “My No. 1 role model is my father: Seeing how hard he worked in his undergrad and doctorate program instilled in me the motivation to work hard in academics.” Both have shown the ability to hold their own on the court as well. During his sophomore season, Paladin scored a career-high 20 points in a victory over the Merchant Marine Academy. In 20 games this season, including five starts, Langyintuo averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Coming from across the world, both young men have begun to make the most of what they have built for themselves. While their stories are vastly different, Paladin says, “We can always talk about, and laugh about, the common experiences we’ve had in coming here.” —Adapted with permission from a story by Nathan Rider in the Feb. 9 issue of the Saratogian