- Diante Watkins is a 24 year old 174cm point guard that will be starting his third professional season and second in Germany with SC Rist Wedel. He started his basketball career with Daley CC (JUCO) He then moved to Robert Morris(NAIA) where he played his last two seasons of college ball. As a senior he played 27 games: 24.4ppg, 7.4apg, 3.0rpg, 2.1spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3Pts: 38.9%, FT: 82.7%. In 2012 he started his professional basketball career for the Chicago Redline (IBA-PBL): 2 games: 22.5ppg, 5.0apg, 3.5rpg, 3.5spg, FGP: 45.9%, FT: 77.8%. Last season he played for SC Rist Wedel (Germany-ProB, starting five): 30 games: 16.2ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 86.9%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball
- Thanks Diante for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I’m fine miles my summer has been good, I’m currently back home in Chicago just working out and trying to get better for this upcoming season.
You had a very successful season for SC Rist Wedel where you reached the playoffs beating Leipzig, before bowing out to eventual Pro B champ Oldenburg. You had a very productive season playing 30 games: 16.2ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 86.9%. What were the main reasons for coming back?
My main reason for coming back was I tested the waters to see if I could get a higher league to give me a shot but nothing came up I had some interest according to my agent but no offers. I didn’t want to wait around too long knowing I had a great home in Wedel.
As is so often the case in the German Pro B, there is often a strong starting five, but it comes down to the bench how well a team will perform through 40 minutes. With Lee Jeka, Davey Hopkins and yourself, Wedel had very strong players. Did you sometimes put to much pressure on yourself to perform?
I believe I did put a lot of pressure on myself because I came off the bench, I wanted to show people I could really play because my minutes were limited. Also, I just wanted to impact the game the best way that I could so we could win.
What personal goals have you set for yourself for this season? In what areas of your game do you want to improve on this season?
My personal goals, I want to win the PRO B, we were so close last season and since I’m going back to Wedel I think the fans and my teammates who I played with last year deserve it. I also want to win the MVP of the league and show people I can play at the higher level. Right now I’ve been working back on my 3 point shot my % was down from my college seasons. And also just getting better in conditioning & sharpening up on my pick & roll game as well as my off ball defense.
What was your impression last season of talented German Janis Stielow? What impresses you most about his game?
I love Janis composure, he plays with a confidence you don’t see in young players. The way he studies the game and got better throughout the season was great. I love the way he makes big shots he made a lot for us last season.
You had many great games last season, but what remained your season highlight? Your buzzer beater or the 29 point 10 assist game in the playoffs against Leipzig?
I think the playoff game against Leipzig was my best game. It felt good I was making some real good plays and it came at a very important time, game 1 of a tough playoff series.
It is never easy to find a job coming out of the NAIA, but you and Billy Rush who also played at Robert Morris have made it to Europe. Rush like yourself comes from Illinois. Have you guys ever motivated each other to keep pushing? What kind of relationship do you have to him? Have you guys met?
Me and Billy have a good relationship when we see each other we tell each other to keep working and continue to grow as players. I know Billy we play in the same tournaments sometimes throughout the summer in Chicago. He’s a great guy and a really good basketball player
Your head coach at Robert Morris was Al Bruehl. How did he make you into a better basketball player in college that got you ready for the grind of being a professional?
Coach Al always told us whatever you think you’re doing it won’t be enough and it made you work harder. He understood his players, he allowed me to flourish in his system on top of pushing me in practice by playing against the best players on our roster. That helped me a lot.
How does a normal Diante Watkins work out day look like in the summer on and off the court?
I get up eat breakfast a bowl of maple wheat oatmeal, than at 8am I go run 1-2 miles at the track, than head to my workout with my trainer Brian Benjowich and my close friend who is played in 1st league Italy last season Aaron Johnson. Leave go get a smoothie and lunch. Maybe get a nap or go watch summer basketball. Then I go back to the gym at night to lift the weights get extra shots up and get in the pool
Will the Chicago Cubs ever win a World Series in our lifetime?
And lol I don’t think the Cubs will ever win a World Series again I’m from the SouthSide so I’m a white sox fan.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Think Like A Man, very funny movie. Thanks again Miles for the interview I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me.
No problem and good luck this season.