TCNJ grad sees great success playing professional basketball in Taiwan
It can be rare for a Division 3 basketball player to make it to the professional level. But this is exactly what one Somerville High School graduate achieved earlier this month.
When Randall Walko made his professional basketball debut earlier this month, he described the experience as “unbelievable.”
“It was a sold-out game in front of 8,000 people in a stadium, so coming from The College of New Jersey, I’m going from 400 people to 8,000 - is absolutely unreal,” Walko says.
Walko, 22, is playing for the Formosa Dreamers, a professional basketball team in Taiwan. He has been there about a month but had to spend the first two weeks quarantined in a hotel.
“Coming in late, having the two-week quarantine, having to come out, get yourself in shape in a week – that was a huge challenge for me. Especially having that be my first professional game, and you step on the court and you’re not playing against college kids anymore. You’re playing against 25- to 30-year-old men,” he says.
Walko says that he didn’t think a professional career was possible until his senior season at TCNJ. He helped lead the lions to their first NJAC title since the late 1990s and first NCAA tournament win since the late 1980s.
Walko, an All-American, ranks fifth all-time in the program’s history for points.
“Then my name started coming in the national headlines for the D3 Universe. That’s when I thought, ‘OK, maybe I have a shot,’” Walko says.
Walko has a deep connection to Taiwan. His mother was born there, so he was able to become a citizen himself. He says that he is thrilled he gets to experience the culture and take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I was an average high school player that was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play Division 3 basketball. Whenever I thought my journey may be over, another door opened. It’s just indescribable,” he says.
Walko will be playing at least two seasons in Taiwan. He says that one of the best parts has been connecting with extended family members.