Southern comfort with a Cork twist for basketballer Conor O'Sullivan

Former Neptune and Coláiste Choilm player is playing Stateside
Southern comfort with a Cork twist for basketballer Conor O'Sullivan

Former Neptune basketball player Conor O'Sullivan in action for Birmingham Southern College, who are based in Alabama.

CORK basketballer Conor O’Sullivan has made a big impact on the US college basketball scene since he joined Birmingham Southern College.

Conor, who is from a strong basketball dynasty in Cork, has enjoyed his time in Alabama.

The new restrictions post Covid-19 threatened to derail their season, but they finally commenced their campaign on December 12.

“This is my third and last year at BSC. It is a very different situation from my first two years.

“There was a slight chance that we would not get to play this year. Fortunately, we started our league campaign when everyone went home for the Christmas holidays.

“We have a very talented team this year. We are looking to make a good run for the championship.”

Conor is currently combining his pursuit of basketball with his final year studies. He is studying Business Administration. Conor has one more semester to complete before he graduates.

He is continuing his basketball development under the guidance of renowned coach Bill Thom, whose son Ian played with Neptune in 2017.

Conor is delighted he made the move to pursue his academic and sporting career in America.

“Ian Thom played with Neptune in 2017 and we hit it off straight away. I hopped on a plane and came over, solely based on Ian and his family’s word. The standard here is very good.

“Many kids at home desire to play Division 1 and it is that or bust. Many people do not realise how competitive D2 and D3 are.

On a normal day we will practice daily for two or three hours. We also do individual workouts and weightlifting sessions. I feel I have improved immensely.

“It is hard for someone not to get better when you practice that much. All the skill workouts, training and weightlifting has made me into a much better player than when I left Ireland.”

The basketball ace has thrived in the brilliant facilities BSC possess.

SOUTHERN CHARM

He has also grown to love the many charms of the Southern state following an initial culture shock.

“We have great facilities. We have two athletic weight rooms, a practice court and our actual court that we play our games on.

“Everything that we need is on campus. Alabama was a huge culture shock initially. I came here and nobody could understand me.

“That’s when I realised that I had to slow down when talking. It is generally very hot and humid.

“There is a lot to do in Birmingham, so on our days off we spend it driving around to different areas that we have not had the chance to see yet.

“The city has a lot of restaurants and places to hang out with friends. It has become a home away from home.”

Conor’s father Tom was a legendary player with the famous Burgerland Neptune team who enjoyed a golden era in the 1980s and '90s. He loves picking his father’s brain for tips.

“My dad retired before I was born, so I never got to see him play. I have seen all the recordings of his games.

“He’s ranked in the top five players of all time. Not many people know that I actually got my basketball skills from my mother Betty.

“My dad and I aren’t very similar players. He was a straight shooter whereas I am a point guard.

“He has taught me so much however. He is always the first person I call when the going gets tough. He always knows what to say.”

Conor was always destined for a promising basketball career. He was part of the driven Coláiste Choilm team that won successive All-Ireland titles.

Cork basketball player Conor O'Sullivan, now playing in Alabama, in action for Coláiste Choilm.
Cork basketball player Conor O'Sullivan, now playing in Alabama, in action for Coláiste Choilm.

“School basketball was great. We enjoyed a lot of success. We weren’t the most talented team, but we knew how to play together.

“Playing alongside my younger brother Darragh in those games was great fun. It is something that I’ll never forget.”

His club basketball was with Neptune and he would love to wear their famous singlet again one day.

“We achieved a lot of success and I have great memories. We stayed together the whole way up and we are all still best friends to this day.

I’m not sure what I want to do after college, but it would be nice to play again with all my underage teammates at the highest level in Ireland.”

The basketball genes are evidently very strong in the O’Sullivan house, as his younger brother Darragh is thriving in Florida.

“Darragh is flying it in Florida. He is loving it there. He is a very good player and his game has improved massively since he moved over to America. He joined me last summer and we spent the whole summer together working out and just chilling out. It was great to spend time with him.”

The O’Sullivan siblings catch up as often as possible depending on their busy basketball schedule.

“I miss home a lot sometimes. It comes in spurts. I miss my mother the most and I facetime her every day. I miss all my friends and family. 

“I’m determined to make the most of the next few months however before I see them all again in May.”

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