VIDEO: Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Walter Hodge Lead Falcons To Perfect Record
By By Maria Sonnenberg // April 23, 2016
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAMEe
ABOVE VIDEO: Walter Hodge is the kind of alumnus that would make any high school proud, but Florida Prep has the honor of claiming this basketball star among its graduates.
2016 PREP INDUCTEE
Lead Florida Air Academy (Now Florida Prep) To Two Florida State Titles and Perfect 29-0 Season
FLORIDA PREP GRADUATE
Walter Hodge is the kind of alumnus that would make any high school proud, but Florida Prep has the honor of claiming this basketball star among its graduates.
“I always dreamt of going to Florida Prep,” said Hodge who first heard about the Melbourne school from a friend.
Hodge eventually got his wish, enrolling at the school at age 15 in his sophomore year of high school.
The Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, native had played basketball since he was barely out of diapers, thanks to his father, a huge fan of the sport.
At Florida Prep, he excelled as starting point guard, helping to lead the Falcons to an incredible 29-0 season and two State Championships before graduating in 2005 and heading for Gatorland in Gainesville.
A reserve point guard during his first two seasons with the Gators, he transitioned to starting point guard during the 2006-2007 season. Hodge played for coach Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators men’s basketball team from 2005 to 2009, starting eight games in Southeastern Conference play. His career high with the Gators was 17 points against Florida State.
He now lives in Italy, near Milan, where he plays for Pallacanestro Cantu of the Lega Basket Serie A. Playing professionally overseas has been an amazing experience, said the 29-year-old Hodge, who began his professional career in 2010 with the Polish League Zielona Gora.
He was honored by the Polish team in 2013 when Zielona Gora retired his number 15 jersey. He was the first player in the club’s history to be so recognized, and it’s no wonder, because Hodge proved invaluable to the team.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
In 2012, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Polish Basketball League, scoring an average of 21.2 points and helping his team to win the 2011-2012 Polish League Bronze Medal. That same year, Zielona Gora made its debut in Eurocup and advanced to Last 16.
“Poland was the best three years in my career,” said Hodge. “They gave me the freedom to play, just like Florida Prep.”
From Poland, Hodge country-hopped to Russia and Spain to play, but has been playing in Italy since last year.
“It is really cool to experience the different styles of playing,” he said.
“In Europe, you play much more as a team, while in Russia it is very much like the NBA with more open court.”
He loves the energy of the fan base of his current team, Palacanestro Cantu.
“The fans are really crazy over basketball here,” he said.
Although his young family still lives in Puerto Rico, Hodge often takes long weekends to cross the Atlantic for a visit.
At home is wife, Kayla, also a basketball player, and nine-year-old Keilanys and seven-year-old Kedriel.
Hodge, who credits Florida Prep for honing his self-confidence and initiative, is living his basketball dream, for being associated with an overseas team allows him the opportunity to experience different cultures and learn new languages.
“I have a job many people would kill for,” said Hodge.
THE 2016 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 13.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2016 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Induction Dinner, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail MaverickMultimedia@gmail.com
CLICK HERE TO OBTAIN TICKETS
CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.