By Tom Ballato
At a young age, Cady Lalanne came to America off a boat from Haiti. He started playing basketball at a young age with his friends and that is when he knew his game could go places. “It was football or basketball. I had a friend who was really good at basketball and it became a competition.”
Cady Lalanne arrived at University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) ready to play basketball, but when he applied for federal student aid, he found out he was an illegal immigrant.
Lalanne and his sister were deported to Haiti while their mother became a legal citizen when she married. Cady and his family left Haiti when he was 7 years. When they went back to Haiti it was only supposed to be a short process, but according to Lalanne it lasted six months.
When asked about this situation, Lalanne responded, “It was a scary situation because people go to Haiti and they never comeback. There were problems with my Pell Grants and that’s when I found out. UMass and coach Kellogg helped a lot with the situation.” In Haiti, he stayed in a house without electricity and was out of basketball.
Lalanne ended up coming back to the United States and playing basketball at UMass, a place where he stood out for four years. He averaged 10 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game and dominated the paint as a physical center. When he described his career at UMass, Lalanne replied, “I talk about it to this day, my time at UMass. It was a great four years. Coach Kellogg learned under Coach Calipari and really gets guys to play for him. Coach really helped me grow.”
While discussing his time at UMass, Lalanne had so many great memories. His fondest moments were when UMass cracked the Top 25 after the Charleston Invitational and when his team made the NCAA Tournament. I asked him what advice would today’s Cady give to himself in his college years and he said, “Be more of a student of the game. Watch more film and learn a hook shot instead of playing bully ball.”
After college, Lalanne was invited to the Portsmouth Invitational, a basketball tournament restricted to college basketball seniors. The tournament is recognized by the NBA and scouts from the NBA and all over the world are in attendance. This tournament was huge in Lalanne’s pre-draft process. He played well in the tournament and was getting recognized by multiple teams in the NBA. “I worked out for about ten teams. It was a crazy month of traveling.”
In 2015 NBA Draft the San Antonio Spurs selected Lalanne in the 2nd round with the 55th pick. Basketball analyst Jay Bilas described Lalanne as a “rebound machine” on draft night. Lalanne described his feelings when he heard his named called, “I was with my family. It was something I dreamed about. It was a great feeling and I was in shock.”
The Spurs stashed Lalanne and held onto his draft rights. Stashed players do not count against a team’s salary cap or roster limit. NBA teams hold on the rights of these players as long as they play for non-NBA teams, trade the players, or relinquish their draft rights. Lalanne participated in the Spurs Summer League before heading to the NBA Developmental League.
During the 2015-2016 season, he played his first year professionally for the Austin Spurs (San Antonio Spurs developmental affiliate). He played well and made the D-League All-Star team. The Spurs organization really helped him grow as a professional. “It is a lot different from college because once you are done with college, you are on your own.”
After his first season in the D-League, Lalanne went on to play professionally in Puerto Rico, China, Italy, Turkey, and Spain. He has returned back to the states each summer to play on the Spurs’ Summer League team for the past few summers.
Playing overseas has been a great experience for Lalanne, who turned 27 in April. He described his overseas experience by saying, “They were all different experiences. China is up and down all game. In Italy, I really had to study film. They know how to pass the ball and use the court. My favorite place I’ve played has been Spain. We have a great group of guys and it feels more like playing in the states.”
This past year, Lalanne played in Spain’s Liga ACB for Baxi Manresa. He has played along some talented imports, Corey Fischer (Villanova) and Erik Murphy (Florida). He described his time with the team by saying, “The season has had its ups and downs. We are trying to make the playoff push. It has been fun working with my teammates towards our goal.”
Although Lalanne is in contact with the Spurs each summer, he is not playing with their summer league team. Following the conclusion of his season in Spain, Lalanne signed with Piratas de Quebradillas, a team in Puerto Rico. He averaged 12.5 points per game and a little over 5.5 rebounds per game in 14 games.
While finishing up our interview, Lalanne cited, “I recently switched agents and I am keeping the NBA dream alive.”
Note: Baxi Manresa ultimately went on and made the playoffs with a record of 17-17. They lost to Real Madrid in their only two playoff games. This has been their best team in years.