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Former Bowman and Cal State Bakersfield star Jaylin Airington

Former Bowman and Cal State Bakersfield star Jaylin Airington is playing professionally in Poland.


Where's "Rick Steves' Europe" on PBS when you need him the most?

I could use a crash course on Poland.

That's where Bowman Academy grad and former Cal State Bakersfield guard Jaylin Airington is playing pro ball.

"The city's name is Wloclawek," he said.

"Our team is Anwil Wloclawek."

Easy for you to say.

"We play in the Energa Basket Liga."

Makes sense.

Their home arena is Hala Mistrzow, which sounds more like a symphony conductor.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Airington led Cal State in six offensive categories last season. He wasn't drafted but was impressive at a pro day workout with the Miami Heat.

As Airington tells it, the high number of young guards from bigger-name schools made it easy for him to get lost in the shuffle.

"I had the choice of going to the (developmental) league or overseas," he said. "I chose overseas to grow and mature as a player, because if I went to G League, guys who were drafted had a better chance of playing if they were sent down.

"That would have stopped my growth."

Wloclawek is located in Central Poland, about two hours from Warsaw, and has a population of about 111,000.

Its top tourist attractions include Kopernikusplatz, a science museum; the Multikino Cinema, Wzorcownia Shopping Center, an 1873 brewery-cultural center, skydiving and — for those Americans who get really homesick — Lucky Star Bowling.

"My teammates are all older than me with kids and wives," Airington said. "I'm the youngest on the roster at 24 and they're all professionals who've been playing in different countries for a long time."

There is another American on Airington's team — Fresno State's Quinton Hosley, who I never heard of.

"The style of play is all finesse and spacing. There's a lot of pick and roll and it's very physical," said Airington, who attended E.C. Central his first three years before transferring to Bowman.

Like most players overseas, the team provides a car and free housing, though Airington's contract states he must buy his own food.

"But we have a restaurant called Starodebska that we go to and the chefs cook anything we want, so it's not bad at all," he said. "Prices at the grocery store and shopping areas are all affordable.

"Some things are cheap because the dollar is worth more here than the zlotys — which is what they call their money."

Language is a barrier with most of the city speaking Polish. But thankfully, Airington's coaches and teammates speak English.

The season runs until April, with playoffs in May and the championship in June. There are 15 teams in the league and Anwil Wloclawek was in first place when Airington and I spoke via email last week.

"Fans here are crazy," he said. "The atmosphere at games is wild. The chants, the fireworks, the horns going off in the arena is quite an experience.

"The Hala Mistrzow seats about 4,200 and it sells out every home game."

Jaylin Airington comes from good stock. Father, Greg, played for John Todd at E.C. Central and uncle DeAndre Jones was on the Cardinals' 2007 state championship team alongside E'Twaun Moore, Kawann Short and Angel Garcia.

"Basketball over here is pretty big," Airington said. "I'm in a great league, a top league for my first year, and it can only get better.

"We'll see what's next after this."

Hopefully, an NBA contract one day so we can follow his career without a world atlas.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at