Devin Uskoski is a 30 year old 201cm forward that played 5 professional seasons and now has decided to retire. He played at Rocky Mountain (NAIA) and as a senior played 37 games averaging 17.5ppg, 11.7rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 60.3%, 3Pts: 26.2%, FT: 67.4%. He started his professional basketball career in 2009 for BG Leitershofen/Stadtbergen (Germany-Regionalliga) where he helped the team move up to the German Pro B and played there until 2011. In the 2011-2012 season he played for the VfL Kirchheim Knights (Germany-ProA) playing 36 games: 16.1ppg, Reb-3(8.1rpg), 1.3apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 83.4%. In 2012 in just 3 years he made the jump form the regionaliga to the Beko BBL where he played for the Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (Germany-BBL, starting five): 34 games: 10.6ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 41.1%, FT: 70.3%. Last season he played for Toyota Alvark Tokyo (Japan-NBL): 16 games: 10.6ppg, 6.1rpg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 32.8%, FT: 73.9%. He also played three summers for the Vancouver Volcanoes (IBL). Devin spoke to German Hoops about his professional basketball career.
Devin thanks for talking to German Hoops. The last weeks weren´t easy for you as you had one big decision to make wheather to play into your 30th birthday or hang up your jersey. Was this the most difficult decision that you had to make in your life?
Hey Miles. Thanks for the interview. I’ve been busy getting into the swing of the new job. Making a major life altering decision is always a tough thing. It was tough but I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I came to a point that I realized I was ready to make a change and start another phase of my life. I feel very thankful that I have a great support system with my family and friends. Being able to talk through things with them was very helpful in making this decision.
You are 30 years old and in your best basketball age. Many will not understand why you have decided to retire, but you had a very good reason, because it concerns your future and having security in the job market is always something that one wants. Talk a little about why you have decided to retire?
I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to play 5 years professionally. I’ve met some great people and I’ve had some unbelievably great experiences playing. I’m very close with my family and I was to the point that I would have had to have a perfect situation to consider going back overseas this year. I had some good offers but when it came down to it I didn’t have the motivation or passion to play another season. It wouldn’t have been fair to a team if I couldn’t go and give them 100% focus for the season.
The new job will be challenging and be exciting, but after a while when everything settles in with your new adventure, you most likely think more about basketball and what you left. What will you miss most besides the teammates and fans?
The relationships I built with people were the greatest parts of my whole experience, fans and teammates. I have lifelong friendships from being able to play overseas. I will also miss seeing and experiencing the cultures. Besides those, playing in games will be the thing I miss most. There’s nothing like playing a game with the fans going crazy, it’s a great atmosphere!
You played four seasons in Germany and last season in Japan. How were you able to master the style of play and lifestyle coming from Germany? What was the biggest challenge?
It was a big change going from Germany to Japan. After 4 years in Germany I was very comfortable in the culture and knew what to expect on and off the basketball court. Japan was much different. It was great but the cultures are very different. That was the hardest transition for me. I enjoyed it but it was much different than playing in Germany.
When you were a rookie in 2009, your ex teammate Jeff Gibbs was playing his last season in Germany with Bremerhaven. You were lucky enough to have played with him last season with Toyota Alvark. Was he the toughest 188cm player that you ever had the pleasure to play with?
Jeff is a great guy and a great player. It was great to be able to practice against him and play with him. He would consistently make amazing plays every game, even when he was going up against guys much taller than him.
You were a real German warrior and one of the very minimal players that went from the Regionaliga to the Beko BBL in 3 seasons making the jump up one level each season. After your rookie season with Leitershofen in the Regionaliga would you ever have thought you would suit up one day in the Beko BBL?
Coming out of college I didn’t know much about the different levels overseas. Once I got over to Germany I was able to see the difference in the levels. I knew I could play in the BBL and I just needed a chance. Thankfully I was able to stay healthy and the teams I was a part of were successful and I was able to work my way there.
What else in your game helped you reach every level German basketball besides talent and hard work?
I think the biggest reason I was able to move up every season was because of God. Of course, I had to work hard everyday and continuing to improve, but I think everything worked out so well was because of God.
You had no problems adjusting to German basketball as you tore up the German Regionaliga with 25 and 11 and the next season the Pro B with 20 and 10. Despite being a young player and really adapting well to the style your first two years, what could German head coach Stefan Goschenhofer help you most that you may of realized more later than actually when you played for him?
I loved playing for Coach Goschenhofer, Goshi! Playing my first 2 years in Leitershofen were my favorite 2 years of playing professionally. Not just from the basketball side but from all the friendships I was able to make. Goshi was a great coach. He always pushed us as players but he also did a great job of encouraging and picking guys up when they were down. He built great relationships with guys on and off the court. We all respected him on and off the court and that’s why we all played so hard for him every game.
You also didn´t disappoint at Kirchheim in the Pro A averaging 16.1ppg, Reb-3(8.1rpg), 1.3apg. Did it get easier with dealing with pressure with every successful time you succeeded at another level or was each level up to the Beko BBL always the same with having to deal with new obstacles and pressure?
Every year is always a new challenge as a player. You usually have new teammates, a new coach, and sometimes a new living situation (either Country or Club) to adjust to. I always wanted to come in and lead by example. I would give 100% every day and would do everything I could to try build good team harmony. The only way you’re going to be successful as a team is if everyone buys in and is willing to sacrifice for their teammates. Thankfully we had that at Kirchheim too and that is why we were successful.
You never got sick of basketball playing during the summer for three years with the Vancouver Volcanoes (IBL). How important was this experience for your development? Did it help any or was this more a time to keep in shape while playing against competition?
I really enjoyed playing in the IBL for the 3 seasons I did. There was good competition there and it was great to be able to play games at home and my family and friends were able to watch. They missed most of my games from college and overseas, so it was great that they could come and watch so many of those games.
Two seasons ago you finally made the big show in the Beko BBL with the Mitteldeutscher BC playing 34 games and averaging 10.6ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 41.1%, FT: 70.3%. What will you cherish most about having had this chance to play in the Beko BBL?
After seeing some BBL games my first year playing overseas it was my goal to be able to play there. So being able to reach that was a great feeling. I knew I could play at that level but the hardest thing is getting the opportunity, especially coming from a lower league. There are many great players who haven’t gotten the opportunity and I’m thankful I was able to get the chance to prove myself.
I can imagine having played against a Casey Jacobsen or Bostjan Nachbar will be your alltime highlight. If you had a pick a player that you enjoyed playing against most with MBC who would it be?
I enjoyed the battles with Deon Thompson when he played at ALBA Berlin. There are a lot of great players but I think that was my favorite from MBC.
Your ex teammate Steve Wachalski had a similiar career like you in that he battled himself from the bottom to the top, then back a step and now is back in the Beko BBL. He played 5 straight years in the Regionaliga, then two years in the Pro B before getting a job with BBL team Bayreuth in 2010. He then took a step back into the Pro A with MBC, but helped them move up and now will be playing his 3rd
straight season in the BBL and second with Bonn. How much of a pleasure was it playing with him and how did he inspire you on the court?
Steve is a great guy. We guarded each other in practice pretty much every day. He is a great shooter and smart player. I knew I had to come focused and ready to go every day. I enjoyed being able to play with him at MBC.
You were a very popular player wherever you played. How would you like basketball fans to remember the player Devin Uskoski?
I enjoyed every season I was able to play. I feel very fortunate I had the opportunity to be able to make basketball my profession for so many years. I hope the things basketball fans will remember most about my career is that I gave 100% every game and did whatever I could to help the team win. I am very thankful for all the fans who supported me over the years. Your friendship and support made the time I played unforgettable.
What will you miss the most from Germany? I will bet the fans and the food?
The thing I will miss the most from Germany will be the friendships I built. I will try and stay in touch as best I can but I will miss being able to see them at games and in person as much as I was able to. Of course I will miss the German food and culture too. I feel like Germany has become a second home. I’m sure I’ll be making trips back to see all my friends!
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Dumb and Dumber.
Thanks Devin for the chat and all the best.