Note: This is the first installment of a series of interviews with former Davidson basketball players from different eras of program history. My talk with Will ended up being so long and interesting that I had to break this article into two parts just, so look for Part II tomorrow.
I had the pleasure recently of getting to chat with former Davidson basketball player Will Archambault, and this was our conversation. We discussed the paths his career has taken since graduation, basketball in Canada, Steph Curry, the run that Will’s team made to the Elite Eight in 2008, and much more.
As a player, Will was a 6’6” Guard/Forward out of Montreal, Quebec. He played at Davidson from 2006-2010, a stretch of time which included Davidson’s incredible run to the Elite Eight. For his career he averaged 8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, as well as shooting 35% from three. Here is the rest of his story:
Spencer: Can you talk at all about what your experience has been like since graduating from college, and how Davidson set you up for things you’ve done after finishing school?
Will: After I graduated from Davidson – obviously like all the other basketball players, the main goal is to play professional ball. I actually headed over seas and played a little bit in China on a travel squad, and following my trip to China, I played in Ireland. I was given a scholarship [to play in Ireland] and also played for the city team there in Galway. The program that reached out to me is called Sports Changes Life Foundation – I think another basketball player from Davidson played for them last year, or maybe a couple of years back. It was actually a pretty good opportunity – it was pretty similar to what I experienced in the States in the terms of the mix of school and playing basketball, but also giving back to the community. So that was a pretty fun experience, especially playing overseas. I am not sure sure if you are aware of what happened to me over the course of my career at Davidson with the whole knee situation, but I got double knee surgeries I think in 2008. It was right after the Elite Eight run. I was kind of brutal on my body, so after my stay in Ireland, I had to give up basketball. That was kind of a shame, kind of a bummer for a couple of years, after playing ball for so long, and realizing that you are not playing anymore. I kind of took it hard for a couple of years but got back on the horse and played a little bit of rec ball in Montreal and decided to get back on a new career path which was finance and later on became managing a business. So, Davidson experience overall pretty much opened the doors for playing overseas but also to get into some pretty competitive business deals like finance and also business management.
Awesome. So the thing in Ireland… was that like a grad school situation?
It was actually a mix of both. It was a grad school – I did my masters in management over there, but also while completing the masters I played professionally for the city team the Galway Titans. They actually wanted us to play for the university too, so I actually played for the university and the city team. It took a lot of time obviously, because you are going to school and playing ball for both teams, you’re coaching in the community, and you’re also doing some extra work to get a little bit more cash. Pretty much my entire days were filled which is pretty awesome, because you are discovering a new country, you’re meeting new people. Living abroad is an experience that everybody should have in their life.
Over the past 10 years, basketball in Canada has really taken off. They have the second most players in the NBA after the United States, and 2 of the last 4 overall #1 picks have been Canadian. Is there anything you’ve noticed after going through the development system in Canada about the rise of basketball in Canada and how that is changing?
You are the one that said it! I mean you’ve got all of these Canadian players in the NBA. You do see that there is a rise in wanting to play basketball. That all started because of Vince Carter back in the early 2000s and late 1990s. I remember Vince Carter was my idol back then. All I wanted to do was dunk like him. You know, I could get up back in college. I’m not too sure if you have seen any video of me, but theres no way I could get up that high again. But he [Carter] was my inspiration. He motivated me and so many young players just to get out on the court and work on their game. Just the fact that “Vinsanity” was going on back then, it just pumped the kids. I think Andrew Wiggins talked about Vince Carter and how he influenced him. Theres also the Steve Nash effect, with having him in the NBA, and with him being an MVP for 2 years. So obviously having these two guys having an impact over the past 15ish years, it pretty much gave birth to that big boom that we have with the current NBA players that we see with the likes of Tristan Thompson, Wiggins, and Bennett. It is actually really cool to see, and you do see it in Quebec a little bit more.
You’ve got a bunch of different schools in the area that push their kids to go to the states. Theres a kid from Quebec named Chris Boucher and he’s playing for Oregon now. He’s a JUCO transfer, but he’s from Quebec. And there are a bunch of kids from the area. The only crappy thing with Quebec is that the main sport is hockey, and that the majority of the people here want to watch hockey and that it! Over the last 4 years, [former Davidson basketball player] Max Paulhus Gosselin and I were the TV analysts for the NCAA on RDS, thats the equivalent to ESPN but in French. So we were analyzing and commentating basketball games pretty much once or twice every week. They cut us this year, and just decided to put hockey on TV, which is a shame considering the growth that basketball has had over the last few years. There was an uproar for that, but hopefully over the next couple years they will change their mind.
But overall in terms of awareness and people wanting to play ball in Canada, there is a huge boom. And just the fact that those guys are in the NBA, and the spotlight is on them – they motivate the young Canadians. It just motivates them to get to the next level, and hopefully more guys are going to make it this year.
Thats awesome to look at. I just feel like for so long it was just Nash and Carter, and all of a sudden there are so many more guys coming out of Canada. It kind of reminds me of the Landon Donovan affect on soccer in the US. For the longest time it was just him, and now we have all of these kids age 20, age 19 that look up to him as an idol, and now they are on the national scene.
Thats exactly it, it is the Vince Carter and Steve Nash effect. I mean, these guys were kids back then and they were 4,5,6 years old, and completely fell in love with the game just because those guys were there, and they showed them that playing basketball was a great sport, and it just motivated them, and they stuck to it. They could have played hockey or whatever, or played another sport, but they decided to play ball.
Check out Part II, where we dive into more Canadian basketball and chat about Steph Curry, Davidson, and the Atlantic 10 Conference.