Enterprise native and former NBA player Emanuel Terry signed a contract with Hapeol Jerusalem of the Israeli Premier League on March 1.
This new contract is just the next stop for Terry during his basketball career after stints in the NBA, NBA G-League and Basketball Super League in Turkey.
After growing up in Enterprise and starting as a freshman for EHS, Terry moved to the Birmingham area with his family and became a star player at Cleveland High School.
“I told my mom one day that there was just something inside me that told me I wasn’t going to get the exposure I wanted and be able to make it as far as I wanted to go in Enterprise,” Terry said of leaving Enterprise. “I asked her to take me somewhere where I could get big time exposure and I remember coming home after football practice going to sleep, and pretty much waking up in Birmingham and that’s where we set up shop.”
Terry said that he still has love for his hometown but felt like he wouldn’t truly be able to progress as a basketball player in the City of Progress.
“I have a lot of (fond) memories of being around family there,” Terry said. “But there are a lot of people that don’t make it out of Enterprise and you can still go back there to this day and see some of the same people doing the same things, and I wanted to be different and not get involved in certain things that were in the environment.
“I still have a lot of love for Enterprise and the people there but I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I am today if I would have stayed in Enterprise.”
The 6-foot-9-inch forward earned all-state status at Cleveland High before picking up a scholarship at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.
At LMU Terry averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds as a senior and was named South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He also earned All-American honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and won the Bevo Francis Award as the top small college player in the entire country.
Despite not being drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, Terry signed a developmental contract with the Denver Nuggets and was sent to play for their NBA Summer League team.
Terry competed for a roster spot during training camp for the Nuggets but was ultimately waived by Denver in October of 2018. Just days later Terry signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers and added to the roster of their NBA G-League affiliate, the Canton Charge.
Terry averaged 8.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 20 games for the Charge but was then traded to the Sioux Falls Skyforce in January of 2019. The Skyforce is the G-League affiliate of the Miami Heat.
“The G-League was very fun,” Terry said. “I enjoyed it a lot. It was a little rough at first because the team I was on was kind of a difficult fit for me.
Then, I got traded and really fit in over there with a group of guys that wanted to see me succeed and things really worked out.”
With the Skyforce, Terry was a star averaging 16 points and eight rebounds in seven games before signing a 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns to join their active roster.
Terry played in two games for the Suns and returned to Sioux Falls after his 10-day contract expired. Just days later, however, the Heat signed Terry to their own 10-day contract. He returned to the Skyforce at the end of that contract, as well.
In total, Terry played in 19 games for the Skyforce and averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds during that time.
Terry said that both experiences playing in the NBA came as a surprise but were used as learning opportunities.
“Both times were unexpected but I enjoyed both opportunities,” he emphasized. “I didn’t treat them like it was a time to relax and say, ‘alright, I made it.’ I took advantage of the opportunity and treated it like it was a learning experience. I looked at it like I was getting to know the organizations and learning. It was a really fun experience.”
Following the season, Terry signed a one-year contract with Teksut Bandirma of the BSL in Turkey. In 20 games, Terry averaged 11 points and eight rebounds and was selected to the Turkish League All-Star Game.
“I don’t think (playing) overseas is for everyone but I feel like I’m a different type of person where I can adapt to any environment,” Terry said. “You have to have the proper mindset to come overseas and be away from your family for months at a time and be able to handle the ups and the downs because it won’t always go your way.”
In his short time with Jerusalem, Terry said that it’s been a great experience, as well.
“It’s really been a pleasure,” he said. “It’s definitely a family-based system and I f eel like I’m already getting better even though I’ve only been here for a week.
“It’s a real professional group of people, coaching staff and players. It’s just all around a good experience.”
Terry said that his ultimate goal is to get back to the NBA and that he believes he’s already a much better player since beginning play overseas.
“I feel like a way better player then I was in the states,” he emphasized. “I’m learning more about the ins and out of the game and transferring my game to a different level.
“The goal is always to get back to the NBA but I know there’s great competition overseas and you can’t know anyone’s hustle when they sacrifice everything in their comfort zone to make it overseas. It’s very different over here and I think I’ve grown up a lot as a man and as a player and given myself a chance to succeed.”
Terry says that each person has their own route to get to where they want to be and his route has taken him overseas.
“Everybody has their own way to the top of Mt. Everest and everyone has to take the route that can benefit them and those around them,” Terry said. “I chose the overseas life because I knew I would have more responsibility and drive and it would be a better story to tell in the end. I’ll be able to say I’ve played in every environment imaginable and next year there is no telling where I can be.”
Terry says that he hopes the next place he makes it to is a championship.
“The team is on a good pace to compete for a few titles and it feels good to be a part of this opportunity,” he said. “I was added as an extra piece that was needed for the team.
“I bring athleticism and speed and good character to the team. I think a lot of people are starting to realize what I bring to the table and I just want to finish (the season) out the best way possible and help the team in anyway I can.”