MISSOULA — While pro basketball is on hiatus, former Montana men's basketball star Will Cherry has turned his attention to a different job.
The 29-year old has two young daughters and his oldest, Logan, is just 1 year old. While he is itching to resume his professional basketball career, the moments at home have certainly been fun.
"It's been wild, my 1-year-old, my oldest, is a character and looks just like me," Cherry said. "I heard I was a character when I was her age as well. She's something ... I'm outnumbered in the house when it comes to women."
In between his time doting on his family, Cherry is working out twice a day after a gym was opened up for him in the Oakland area. A strength and conditioning coach has been working with him through his grueling offseason workouts.
Overall, he's been able to figure out a fairly normal routine as he awaits his next chance to play professional basketball.
"It's regular for me," Cherry said. "The first month was a little different, but mostly I've just been in the house."
Currently a free agent, Cherry has had stops with six different European teams and two NBA Developmental League (G-League) teams during his professional career, not to mention a short stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
His favorite moment of his career so far, he said, was his rookie season in Lithuania with Žalgiris Kaunas, one of the oldest teams in the EuroLeague. Cherry and his team took BC Žalgiris' fourth-straight Lithuanian Basketball League title.
A full-on parade was held in Kaunas, Lithuania — where BC Žalgiris is based — to celebrate the victory.
"That was really fun. That was one of my real first parades. People were celebrating," Cherry said. "That was also my first championship as a pro. That was fun, that's probably one of the best memories I have playing overseas."
Topping off a standout career at Montana in 2013, the two-time Big Sky defensive player of the year finished in the top-10 all-time in scoring for the Grizzlies.
Sayeed Pridgett, who also hails from the Oakland, California, area and watched Cherry play at McClymonds High School growing up, passed Cherry on Montana's all-time list this year.
It was special for Pridgett, who ended up finishing his career fourth on the all-time scoring list, but also for Cherry, who has stayed close. Cherry and Pridgett still occasionally play together over the summer, as many talented players from the Oakland area and beyond descend on McClymonds each summer to play basketball.
"Once it opens up it's going to be a helluva summer of basketball and hoops," Cherry said. "Last summer we started too late, got the crews, the players, together too late. Now we know exactly who's going to play and what's going to happen and how we want to construct it.
"It's going to be nothing but pure, high-level basketball with nothing but pros."
Family and community have always been important for Cherry, who was thrilled to have another opportunity with an NBA team close to home during the 2018-19 season. Following a tryout that turned into a contract with the Santa Cruz Warriors — the Golden State Warriors' G-League affiliate team — Cherry started 29 of 46 games, averaging 9.1 points and 4.3 assists per game.
While the NBA and G-League didn't quite work out following the stint with the Warriors, Cherry went back to Europe to play for the Greek team Olympiacos where he was coached once again by David Blatt.
When Cherry first entered professional basketball in 2014, Blatt was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers while he was with the team.
"Everything kinda came full circle. Once he left the Cavs he's obviously already been overseas so he came back overseas and he was actually the coach I wanted to play for," Cherry said. "He knew my game and he is a legend over there."
With six seasons already under his belt and feeling like he's in his prime, Cherry feels good about what's ahead. He has enjoyed the many challenges and obstacles he has had during his playing career and feels they have made a deep impression on him.
He certainly has learned a lot, but would not trade the experience for anything. And he's not anywhere close to being done.
"It's been a journey," Cherry said. "It's been a fun one and sometimes a crazy one ... it's been a good one and I guess it's gonna be another one and take me to another country, but I'm always trying to level up and the goal is always to get back to the NBA."