Life after college basketball takes players down many different paths. Some join the work force, but a select few others have the opportunity to continue playing the game professionally.

Such is the case with former Sam Houston State University forward John Gardiner.

While wearing the orange and white Bearkat uniform from 2005 to 2008, the 6-8, 218-pound post player from Mesopotamia, Saint Vincent, scored 469 points, pulled down 312 rebounds and blocked 74 shots in 62 games. He helped lead the Kats to a 22-9 record in 2006 and a 23-8 mark in 2008.

The transfer from Grayson County Community College started his NCAA Division I career with a bang, pulling down 14 rebounds at Missouri to help SHSU earn big Preseason NIT upset win.

He earned All-Tournament honors in post-season action as he totaled 44 points and 28 rebounds to lead the Kats to the Southland tournament championship final. His game-winning basket with four seconds left in the second overtime gave SHSU an 86-84 victory over UT-Arlington in the first round.

After graduating in 2008, Gardiner was given the opportunity to begin his professional career with Tralee Tigers of the Irish Super League in Ireland in their 2008-2009 basketball season.

While playing for the Tigers he averaged 9.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He  went on to play in Kosova for the Team Trepca of Mitrovica where he averaged 11.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.3 blocks while taking his team to the quarter finals of the Albania Super league.

In 2010, he was one of 25 players chosen out of a group of 95 by the Dallas Mavericks in conjunction with the Texas Legends from there free agent tryouts, to work out for an opportunity to attend the Mavericks or Legends pre-season training camp.

For the last two years he has been playing in Mexico in the Licomuba League of Chihuahua where he is vastly becoming one of the league's most premier big men.

This season (2011-2012) he played for the Indios of Juarez, averaging 15.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 3.5 assists. The team reached to the semi-finals of the playoffs for the first time in team history since its induction in the Licomuba League.

"I've been blessed to have the opportunity to do something that many players never get," Gardiner said. "And I get paid to do something I love."

Gardiner also is grateful for the opportunity he had to play NCAA Division I basketball at Sam Houston State.

"Playing for Sam Houston was awesome, an experience I'll never forget," Gardiner said. "I had a great college experience that opened many doors for me."