Why have you chosen Zenit and what attracted you to come here?
I was excited when they called and invited me. I heard about the success of the club last year, and overall it’s a good club in the VTB league across Europe. I was looking to play for a club that wins a lot of games and plays at a high level.
Vasili Karasov is known for helping young players, you are quite young and in your second season as a professional do you think the coach will help your development as a player?
Yes I definitely do, I’ve been around him for 3 weeks and I really like his energy. He’ll tell me things on the sideline trying to help me out. SO I can see he’s good with young guys, I’d heard good things about him too, I’m hoping this year abnd next I can learn a lot from him and become a better player under him.
You were drafted by Washington Wizards last year but have still moved to Europe, did you have any other options?
Yes I had the opportunity to go the training camp with the Wizards, but if you go to the training camp you can miss out on some good offers from some good teams. I’m glad I did that and I’m excited to be in Russia and have my second season in Europe.
But is the NBA still your main goal and Europe is a spring board for that?
I don’t know if I would say that, I’m just trying to be the best player I can be and play at the highest level possible. If I can play in the NBA that’s great, but I wouldn’t be upset with playing 10 years in Europe.
You played for Telekom Basket as your first club, which is an average German club, why them?
Germany was an easy transition for my family, for my wife and daughter. So it was really important for me in my first year to get a lot of playing time and show Europe what I can do. We didn’t have a successful year winning-wise , but it was good for me to show that I can play at a high level and I can transition to over here. My wife and daughter are very important for me and I needed to pick a place they felt comfortable in and where it’s easy live.
Will they be with you here in St.Petersburg, where it can be more difficult to get used to?
Yes they’re coming at the end of the month, they’re excited and looking forward to it.
What can you say about the German championship, can you compare it to the NCAA level?
It’s not the best league in Europe but it is up and coming, in Berlin and Munich there are some really good teams. Overall it’s a solid league and it was a good place for me to start off my career and I thought it was a good place for me to start off my career, I’m glad I went there and now I’m happy to be here and play at a higher level.
Did you follow any Russian teams in the Euro League and if yes, what impressions did you have?
I watched CSKA and Lokomotiv in the Euro league, they both had really good years and as they advanced I tried to follow them, I know those are two good teams and I’m excited to compete against them, I know Russia has good basketball and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Zenit are famous for their fast and aggressive style of play, most of the players are not classic big style players but fast with 3-point shots, does this style suit you?
Absolutely, this was one of the main things that drew me here, I know Zenit play fast and wanted to run up and down, I would be able to use my quickness, athleticism and could shoot from the outside so it’s a really good system for a player like me.
Do you already feel the difference in level between your previous club and German basketball overall and just this week here at Zenit?
It’s hard to tell in pre-season. Obviously you can tell Zenit are way better than my previous team. I’m excited to play in the pre-season and moving on into the VTB and the Euro cup and to show how good a team we can be.
What can you say about the team atmosphere and have you adapted to your new team?
Yes its different from last year, where everyone spoke English on the team. Here everyone speaks English, but its more broken, the Russian guys speak mostly Russian. I’ve become close with Ryan and Kyle, they’ve taken me in and helped me out and now Stefan is here this week too. Tema speaks both really well so he has translated for us. Overall the guys are great and I’ve been excited to be with them these couple of weeks and bond with them, ready for the rest of the year.