Interview with Denell Stephens (26.11.2009)
Hi there, nice meeting our new American player.
What was the most rewarding experience with your U18 and U20 teams ?
Hi there !
I must say you do impress by your young age, I have been told you are full of youthful dynamics, no wonder !
Well yes, I am twenty-three now and this is my first assignment abroad, which goes to explain the impression.
First assignment, indeed. So, you come straight from university?
More or less. I started playing after the age of ten and have been playing ever since.
Any particular reason for playing basketball, since most American students try their hand at a number of sports.
I did try American football, basketball was a personal choice afterwards.
You mean before high school ?
Sure, I come from Brooklyn and my first playing was basically at my local school.
Brooklyn all the way ?
No, actually, the family moved to Maryland when I was fifteen, so I joined the basketball team at my new school, Elkton High.
When did you make your first impression on your team – justifying you position I mean ?
I must say that I integrated the team straight away, and our performance also improved at about the same time. I quickly became an All Conference Player in that first year, and during my senior year at Elkton we won the regional title at state level. I also became Player of the Year 2004.
Did the school contribute to that rapid development?
Oh, sure, coaching was excellent, and my head coach Bill Lewit really motivated me and gave me the advice a young player needs at the start of a major playing career. But more on Bill later, because he really showed an interest in me from then on.
We are now talking College Basketball ?
Yes, this is Cecil Community College where we played the Juco championship, regional and national. My game definitely improved in that season. I regularly made 14 points per game by then.
Time to move on after that.
Well, you progress to university from there, and I had by then been scouted out by Angelo State University to join their division two team. During that year at Angelo State, Texas, the team progressed on had a winning streak with me scoring an average 16 points per game.
Was it your scoring only, or where else do you see your fortes ?
I am a team player, the playing philosophy is to fit in with the coach’s work. Coaches appreciate, which brings me back to Bill Lewit, my head coach back in Maryland.
Yes, you did mention the influence he had on your career.
He called me back to join him during the summer, so I returned to Maryland to join another division two team at Slippery Rock University, Penn.
Did that suit you?
Yes, it was more convenient and it also worked out in my game. We won twenty-one games and only lost in the second round of the conference. Personally, I again made Player of the Year. We played in division two all American, and my stats improved to 20 points/game and 10 rebounds on average.
This would mean the near-end of your university career.
Well, yes. Decision time, actually. I had set my mind on playing abroad and had first contacts with some European agents. In September I had my first call, to T71 as it so happened.
Where do we go from here ?
Well, I certainly intend to improve my game. Like I said, I am a team player above all, and I do like the setup of T71. I will work to develop my jump-shots and since I am a pretty good defender I want to make that my trademark.
Does T71 meet your expectations?
Definitely, I consider the club to be a good start for a professional career in Europe, they offer you ideal conditions to train and play, team spirit is ideal..
Christmas time approaching, any plans.
Sure, there ‘s a holiday in it for me, and I intend to visit my people back home. My parents will be expecting me back home, and so will my brother and sister. Family reunion, it is.
Well, enjoy both your stay with us - and the well-deserved holiday. Nice meeting you.