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Quinnipiac star James Feldeine holding on to NBA dream

Everything was perfect.

James Feldeine was right where he wanted to be.

Packed arena. Trailing defending league champion Robert Morris by two with the ball in his hands.

The Northeast Conference championship and a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

He came off the screen, squared up to the basket, and fired.

Nothing but air.

Fifteen seconds of game time later, and the dream had died.

James Feldeine Quinnipiac

James Feldeine is hoping his game will help him pay the bills. (AP Photo)

Feldeine was not going to carry Quinnipiac to its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.

His career would officially come to an end one week later, in an 81-61 loss to Virginia Tech, in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.

But anyone who understands the life of a collegiate athlete knows that Feldeine’s most important basketball days were behind him the moment that last-second shot hit the floor.

It’s very likely that Feldeine will never play in a bigger game.

Funny how fast things change.

Two months ago, the 6-4, 190-pound guard was the most popular kid on campus. He was the leading scorer on arguably the best team in school history. He was playing on ESPN in front of a national audience and a jam-packed crowd for the first time in his college career.

Now, he’s not sure where his gift for playing basketball will take him.

Feldeine grew up in Washington Heights, N.Y., on the northern reaches of Manhattan. He starred at Cardinal Hayes High School, where he averaged over 20 points a game for four seasons.

Related: Former Quinnipiac star James Feldeine leads Dominican Republic against Team USA

He came to Quinnipiac in 2006, and after receiving very little playing time his freshman year, ended up having a great career with the Bobcats. Feldeine led the Bobcats in scoring his junior and senior years, and was named First Team All-Conference this season.

Yet, unlike most of the prospects featured on this site, Feldeine will not get much of a look from NBA teams. He played in the Northeast Conference, which last produced an NBA draft pick in 2001. (Corsley Edwards of Central Connecticut State, who played just 10 games in his career.)

Still, Feldeine believes he can get to the NBA one day.

“You have to have confidence in yourself,” he said.

Head coach Tom Moore consoling Feldeine, after Quinnipiac lost in the NEC Championship Game. Moore said Feldeine “has what it takes” to play professionally. (AP Photo)

“I know I might have to play internationally, overseas or in the NBDL, (National Basketball Development League) at first, but of course, the NBA is my dream. I wanna get there.”

Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore believes there is a chance Feldeine can make it at the next level, but he thinks it will take some time.

“I don’t think James is ready to make an NBA roster right now,” Moore said. “But I think there is room for him on a team in Europe or even in the NBDL or somewhere because you can’t put a price tag, when these guys graduate, on self-belief.”

“You often times see kids from smaller schools make a splash at the professional levels because they’ve put together a lot of high-scoring games, and James has done that,” Moore said.

“I think he’ll carry that,” he said.

Still, Feldeine is going to have to work hard to even get his name into the conversation. Neither of the two most popular NBA draft websites, nbadraftexpress.com or nbadraft.net, even list Feldeine as one of 2010’s prospects.

Greg Ott, the assistant Sports Information Director at Quinnipiac, said that Feldeine is in the process of finding an agent, who will shop him around various minor league teams to gauge interest.

Ott said that no player at Quinnipiac has ever recieved calls from NBA teams, and that 2008 graduate DeMario Anderson was the only player to have his agent send video highlights to NBA teams. Anderson now plays professionally in Belgium.

Feldeine knows the path is going to be hard, but he’s ready for it.

“Growing up, I always thought I was going to be big time,” he said. “I thought I was gonna play in like the Big East or the ACC.”

“But I played against Big East players every day. I know what it takes to play at that level, and I think I can do it.”

Also see: 

Former lottery pick Trey Burke is tearing up the G League

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