Former St. Joe's star plays pro basketball overseas

Chad Pulkkinen '07

Chad Pulkkinen ’07 is playing professional basketball in England.

While his classmates pursue graduate degrees or gear up for the work day, former Saint Joe's College basketball standout and Windham, Maine, native Chad Pulkkinen '07, plays professional basketball for the Northampton Neptunes, a British league team in Northampton, England. Pulkkinen is the fourth St. Joe's player to play basketball professionally. He is proceeded by Steve Schuler '94, who played in the United States Basketball League for the Connecticut Skyhawks; St. Joe's all-time scoring leader Carl Howell '99, who played professionally for four years in the USBL and Finland; and John Wassenbergh '96, who played professionally in the USBL, the England Premiere League, the Budweiser League in England, the International Basketball League and the Korean Basketball League.

Pulkkinen is the fourth St. Joe's player to play basketball professionally. He is proceeded by Steve Schuler '94, who played in the United States Basketball League for the Connecticut Skyhawks; St. Joe's all-time scoring leader Carl Howell '99, who played professionally for four years in the USBL and Finland; and John Wassenbergh '96, who played professionally in the USBL, the England Premiere League, the Budweiser League in England, the International Basketball League and the Korean Basketball League. "Chad is one of those players coaches dream about," says Monks Coach Rob Sanicola. Pulkkinen missed major parts of his freshman and sophomore seasons at Saint Joe's due to knee injuries, but countless hours of rehab did not hinder his love for the game. "He remained focused and persevered through the difficult times, and he came back a better player and person after each injury," says Sanicola.

In his fourth year, Pulkkinen started in each of the team's 27 games. He ranked third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.8 points per game (PPG). Since Pulkkinen played in only eight games as a sophomore, the NCAA granted him a fifth year of eligibility. That year, he averaged a team best (16.9 PPG) and led the team to a 22-8 record, a Northeast Independent Championship and the final game of the ECAC championships. He is the second all-time leader in career 3-pointers made, third in 3-pointers made in a season and 10th in 3-point field goal percentage. He also ranks second in season free-throw percentage and sixth in career free-throw percentage.


"They make signs, cheer loudly and rush the court at the end of the game to receive autographs. It's a great feeling when you're so far from home."

In order to fulfill his long-held dream of playing professionally, Pulkkinen sent e-mails and game film to teams across the globe hoping to land a contract. Mark Spatcher, Head Coach of the Neptunes, received the DVD, liked what he saw and immediately contacted Pulkkinen.

In addition to his playing contract, Pulkkinen also coaches kids ages 6-11 in Northampton."The coaching is great; the kids here really enjoy their basketball and are very disciplined," he says. Chad's young players are among the many fans at the Neptune's home games. "They make signs, cheer loudly and rush the court at the end of the game to receive autographs. It's a great feeling when you're so far from home."

Since his signing in September, Pulkkinen averaged 20 PPG in seven pre-season games including a team-high 37 points against the Plymouth Marjon Cannons. His contract ends in July, but, Pulkkinen says, "the team has mentioned signing me for another season, but it's too early to make any decisions."

The chance to play professionally has left the St. Joe's grad truly honored. "This has been something I have worked for my entire life," he says. "To have this opportunity is incredible."