Steven Bennett is a 24 year old 173cm point guard from Los Angeles that just completed his first season for the Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig (Germany-ProB) and now is playing for the Rockingham Flames (Australia-SBL). With Braunschweig he played 10 games averaging 22.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 5.1apg, 2.4spg, 2FGP: 57.5%, 3FGP: 34.2%, FT: 76.6% He is one of the few special players that has a tenacity and will to win that is unmatched; it is impossible to judge him based upon height alone because he can compete with anyone in the world. He has proven this in the Maui Invitational division I tournament in 2010, and was recognized as one of the top players (All-Maui Award) from a field of other top US point guards such as Kemba Walker, Kailin Lucas and Brandon Knight. Bennett is known for his great court vision and passing ability, and is able to get in the lane at will and finish against anyone with either left or right hand. Every team bases their defensive strategy around Bennett and is forced to take create his own shot and take his three point shots off the dribble. He is an excellent shooter, but wants to continue to improve his already respectable 40% three point percentage. Steven is known for having excellent leadership skills, and is highly respected by all of his peers and coaches. He played at Citrus JC (JUCO) from 2007-2009 and then played at Chaminade (NCAA2) He played three games with possible 2013 NBA draft pick Dennis Schroeder and talked to German Hoops about playing with him and his chances in the NBA Draft.
Thanks Steven for talking to German Hoops. You have had a whirlwind of a rookie season taking you from Cyprus to Australia via Germany. It is now June, how is your body holding up? It has been a very long season for you.
A: It has been a long season, but I am holding up pretty well. I have always trained hard to keep my body in top shape, and I think that this added time in Australia has been great for continuing to keep me in shape and work on my game for next season.
You play for a team called the Rockingham Flames (Australia-SBL). How do you like Australia. How does the SBL league compare to the German PRO B where you played ten games for?
A: I like Australia so far. It has been nice to be in a country where I understand the language. The German Pro B league and Europe in general, was more centered around the pick and roll.
You could have gone home in April and have a long summer vacation. What were the main reasons for continuing your rookie season in Australia?
A: When the opportunity arose, I decided to come to Australia because I figured I could keep my body in shape while playing, and because I am a rookie, I wanted to take in as much experience as I could this year.
What is it like playing for a team that all has Australien players. Do they look up to you because you are an American that knows how to score?
A: I don’t know if they look up to me or not, but I try to be a good leader by example. I try to work hard at all times, and as a point guard, I take it upon myself to make everyone better.
What is something that you have learned about in Australia that you never knew before you came down under?
A: I didn’t know they really had kangaroos just roaming around. We went to an away game a couple weeks ago, and we just passed one when we were driving. That was crazy to me.
You had a very strong season in the PRO B where you dominated. You averaged 22.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 5.1apg, 2.4spg, 2FGP: 57.5%, 3FGP: 34.2%, FT: 76.6%. How pleased were you off your short season in Braunschweig?
A: I was pleased, but I am never content. I know that I can always improve, so that’s where my work ethic comes in. I am the type of person to constantly set goals, and since it is so early in my professional career, I have a lot more goals to meet.
Despite being a rookie and having such a strong season, on what areas would you have liked to have flourished more in your short time in Germany?
A: I think just adjusting to the European game and tempo, which would have developed more if I was there for a longer period of time.
Without knowing all the hype that was around Dennis Schroeder, would you have thought that he could be a potential first round draft pick in the NBA
A: Yes I think so, he is very young, but very experienced for his age. He has a much more mature and developed game than a lot of American players of his age.
You played three games together with Dennis Schroeder. In the last season game you had a typical game with 35 points and eight assists and he had 14 points and eight assists. If Schroeder gets drafted, is the game video something you would show your grand children one day?
A: I have been fortunate enough to play in some pretty big games in my career, including 7 nationally televised ESPN games against eventual NBA players when we were all in college. So I do have quite a few for the collection, but I definitely would add this game video where I am playing alongside a potential NBA draft pick as well.
What kind of an experience was it playing in the back court with Dennis Schroeder? What is something that you would like to have from his game?
A: It was a great experience because we just understood each other as basketball players. We took turns controlling the ball, and who ever had played the best over the course of the first three quarters, would control the majority of the fourth quarter. As a defender, he has long arms, which I thought helped him to play really good defense as a point guard.
Many compare him to Rajon Rondo, but if you had to choose a second NBA guard who would you compare him too?
A: I think Rondo is probably the best comparison, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare him really. Now that he’s getting drafted, he’s going to make a name for himself.
When you look at the other guards in the draft like Trey Burke, Michael carter Williams, CJ Mccollum or Shane Larkin, he is behind all of them. Where do you see Schroeder in all facets of the game in comparison to these guards?
A: I think he will compete with all of these guards. He has the athleticism and length to defend any of those guards, and I think his experience playing in Germany professionally has helped develop his game tremendously. His basketball IQ is great as a result.
Do you see him having a long NBA career? His young age and the skills he already has and his development long from over has to be scary with the possibility of how good he can still get?
A: Definitely. I think that his potential is unlimited. It is just a matter of how much time he puts in and how hard he works. At the end of the day, Im firm in the saying: “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”
What was the most amazing thing that you saw Dennis Schroeder do in a practice or game?
A: I don’t think there was anything in particular, but more of something that I noticed continually. His composure on the court for such a young guy was amazing.
In all the chats you had with Dennis Schroeder, what will always stick in your mind with the words he gave you?
A: I really don’t any particular words that stood out.
Do you think that you will return to Germany next season? You surely have the game for the PRO A.
A: I appreciate that. I really liked Germany, so we will see. I just want to keep being able to perform on bigger and bigger stages and continue to showcase my game against better and better competition. I excel in games where I am the most challenged, I am an extremely competitive person.
When will you be home in the States and how does a normal Steven Bennett work out day look like in the summer?
A: I will be home either early or late August depending on how my team here finishes off the season. When I do get home, my workouts start at 6:00am with drills and skills at my old high school gym. Then after a couple hours, we head outside to the track and do agility or plyometrics. Then we go home for a bit and eat, and then lift weights in the afternoon. Then the day usually ends with an open run somewhere in Los Angeles or a summer league game in the Drew League.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
A: The last DVD movie I watched was Role Models.
Thanks Steve for the chat.