After signing a two-year deal with Russian basketball club Lokomotiv Kuban on July 21, Liberia international basketball star Joe Ragland has kickoff his next two years with “Loko” on a promising note after the 27-year-old was yesterday awarded the Most Valuable Player award in the Mega Cup preseason tournament in Serbia.
Lokomotiv Kuban yesterday defeated Serbian Mega 108-85 in the final of the preseason tournament, after earlier defeating Partizan 95-75 on Tuesday in the tournament’s first match. Tuesday’s match was the 27-year-old Liberian’s debut match for the Russian club, in which, according to his club’s official website, he was the most effective player on the court from both teams after netting 21 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 rebounds for “Loko.”
In yesterday’s final, intended as a warm-up that later became an intense game with both teams eager for a win, Ragland scored 18 points, two points behind top scorer Chris Babb (20 points), 8 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Ragland, who joined Lokomotiv Kuban from Italian side S. S. Felice Scandone, is expected to make his third appearance for his new club when “Loko” climaxes its preseason camp on Saturday against Zrvena Zvezda in Serbia.
Born in West Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, the 27-year-old point guard obtained his Liberian citizenship in November 2012 under the Cotonou Agreement that allowed him to be counted as an EU player in most European leagues such as the Italian League and the Spanish League.
The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP countries).
After two years as starting point guard for his college team, Wichita State in the US, Ragland entered the 2012 NBA draft; however, he was not drafted and played five games for Golden State Warriors in the 2012 NBA summer league, but was not successful in earning a contract.
Ragland signed his first contract with UCAM Murcia of the Spanish Liga ACB on a two-year contract in August 2012. He was later loaned in April 2013 to Italian side Pallacanestro Cantù to play in the Serie-A playoffs where his performance earned him a reward after he formed part of the Cantù’s starting lineup, playing in all their games and contributing greatly to their run to the semifinals.
The team later secured the Liberian’s signature after signing him to a one-year deal in 2013. Ragland continued his exceptional form, contributing greatly in both the league and European second tier Eurocup, where he was respectively called up for the All Star game and was named MVP of Round 4.
Named in the Serie-A All Star team in 2014, Ragland’s performances caught the eye of EuroLeague side Emporio Armani Milano, especially after he scored a season high 27 points against them in April 2014 – he signed a two-year contract in July with the EuroLeague side. Ragland and Milano agreed to cancel the player’s contract in July 2015 before he joined Turkish club Pinar Karsiyaka on July 29, 2015. After spending half of the season with the Turkish club, Ragland later signed with Italian club Sidigas Avellino for the rest of the season. He re-signed with Avellino for one more season before moving on to Russia to his current club, Lokomotiv Kuban.