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We’ve all seen & heard of thousands of athletes that are in a NCAA Division I program’s that make it to the big leagues. What about NCAA Div II, III & NAIA schools? Several athletes in various sports have received athletic scholarships and have gone through NCAA Div II, III & NAIA and have made it to the big leagues, but yet its left unknown to the world of professional sports.

Is it because the competition is not good enough? Well here are a few names that have come to mind that have made it as a professional athlete while being at a Division II & III or NAIA program.

One of the biggest name’s that we all know in basketball is Scottie Pippen. Pippen played for Central Arkansas (then Division II) and was drafted in the first round, fifth overall pick in the 1987 NBA draft. At that time it was the biggest name that did not come from a Division I program. Pippen went onto win 6 NBA titles and was a 7 time NBA All-Star.

Dennis Rodman was another NBA icon that played for Division II program called Southeastern Oklahoma State. Rodman was drafted in the second round and was the 27th overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Dennis Rodman was a 5 time NBA champion and a 2 time NBA All Star. He was one of the best defensive players in the NBA and till this day he is still considered to be one of the best.

The following athlete is a two time Olympian in track and field. Nick Symmonds comes from a Division III program called Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Nick holds one of the fastest times in the USA in the 800m all time, and continues to be one of the best 800m runners in the world.

Tesho Akindele is an up and coming international soccer player that played for Colorado School of Mines (Division II). Tesho was drafted in the first round and was the sixth overall pick to FC Dallas. In his first season with FC Dallas of the MLS he was named Rookie of the Year, which he became the first ever Division II player to ever receive this award. Tesho choose Colorado School of Mines over other Division I schools because he wanted to go to a well-respected academic university.

Another soccer player that has done well for himself is Steven Lenhart. Steven played for a NAIA university called Azusa Pacific where he was named 2007 MVP in the 2007 NAIA tournament which he lead the team to win the NAIA national title that year. In 2008 he was drafted to the MLS by the Columbus Crew and was the 48th pick overall.

Adam Svensson is a golfer that just turned pro in 2015. Adam played for Barry University which is a Division II university. While there Adam helped Barry University win the Division 2 national team title back-to-back and in 2015 he won the last 14 starts he had.

What do all these athletes have in common? It takes “countless hours & hard work” to make it where they have always dreamed to one day be. It doesn’t matter what university you go to, all that matters is that you work hard to get where you want to one day be. Like the say, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. No matter what division you decide to play in, or which path you take, it is all about what you want and how bad you want it.

Reaching your goal is what everyone wants and always remember nothing is impossible.

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