Ciaran Sandy traveled more than 4,000 miles this summer to join the Miami Dade College men’s basketball team.
In recent years, the London-born wing player has gotten accustomed to using his frequent flyer miles. Since 2016, he has played basketball at a high school in Maryland, a boarding school in Connecticut and a Division I college in Massachusetts.
Now, the 21-year-old brings his talent to the Shark Tank. His experience will be essential this season because he joins a team that features eight true freshmen.
“His leadership has been very key [to us],” said Shark’s point guard Jordan Brown. “He’s a redshirt freshman coming from a Division I school so he has the experience and he helps us a lot with different points on and off the court.”
Sandy was born in England on Nov. 9, 1999. He played soccer, cricket, rugby and tennis, but basketball stole his heart when he was 14.
His height and athleticism made him a good fit for the sport and he learned the basics by watching videos and doing ball-handling drills. Eventually, he joined the Kent Crusaders Basketball Club in Gillingham, England.
“It’s funny because I was just thrown into the fire,” Sandy said. “The first day we pretty much played and I was decent. I could run, dribble the ball, shoot it, and somehow block it. I just naturally picked it up.”
In 2015, he earned a spot on the Southeast England U-17 Regional Team. He was one of 12 players selected to compete against other teams in the country at the England Basketball Regional Tournament.
One year later, while on a vacation, he caught the eye of a scout who saw him playing at the Brooklyn Bridge Park basketball courts and offered him a scholarship to play at the Gilman School, an all-boys preparatory school in Baltimore, Maryland.
Although it was a completely different lifestyle and culture—one that was thousands of miles away from his family and friends—Sandy adapted well to life in the United States.
“It was overwhelming at first because I had already set my mind that I was going back home,” Sandy said. “I was worried about my friends and family but overall, I was pretty happy because that’s always been one of my goals. I wanted to come over here because this is where the best basketball is.”
Sandy played his junior and senior seasons at Gilman before attending Avon Old Farms School, a post-graduate boarding school in Connecticut, in 2018. There, he averaged 15.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. His performance earned him a scholarship to The College of The Holy Cross, a Division I school in Worcester, Massachusetts.
But things didn’t go as planned. The school got a new head coach at the start of the 2019-20 season, and he found himself at the end of the bench. Sandy redshirted last season but continued to practice with the team.
It was time to move on. He searched for scholarship opportunities at other schools but his options decreased when the pandemic hit and went back to London in March.
“I wanted to transfer,” he said. “But COVID-19 meant that I couldn’t go on my visits to the Division I schools that were trying to recruit me.”
While Sandy took online classes at The Holy Cross, former Sharks assistant coach Chris Vincent—now a video coordinator at The University of Southern Mississippi—sent him emails trying to recruit him to MDC. He eventually committed to the Sharks in July and is majoring in exercise science.
Head Coach Kevin Ledoux expects the six-foot-seven-inch Sandy to provide depth and leadership to his revamped roster.
“What I really expect from him is to consistently be a leader on and off the court,” Ledoux said. “He brings a lot of maturity to our team.”