Deon Mitchell is a 22 year old 185cm point guard from Pflugerville, Texas that is a rookie in Germany for Rot-Weiss Cuxhaven (Germany-Regionalliga). He played at N Iowa from 2011-2015 playing a total of 129 NCAA games. As a senior he played 35 games averaging 7.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 39.9%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 70.6%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball recently.
Thanks Deon for talking to German Hoops You have started your professional basketball career in Germany with Cuxhaven in the German Regionaliga. How have your first days been?
My first few days have been good, it’s been easy to adjust because it’s similar to my college town. The weather so far has been good, not to hot and not to cold, overall I’m enjoying my experience so far.
You are from Pflugerville, Texas and after seeing Cuxhaven and being around the German city what city would you think is bigger?
I would say that my hometown city is bigger, just because of all the things there are to do. This city is more calm and relaxed, plus here everything is closer and feels like you can get to everything you need on bike.
Well your home town Pflugerville has 2000 people more. What do you like about the calmness of the north sea most in Cuxhaven? Have you been at the water yet?
The first thing is not having to deal with traffic, also being walking distance to pretty much everything you need. Back home to get anywhere you will have to drive 15 minutes at most depending where you live. I’ve been to the beach once, it’s very nice and seems like that’s where a lot of the families go to spend time and relax.
You had solid stats in the NCAA with Northern Iowa but enter the fourth league in Germany. Do you feel like you have a little pressure to have to perform?
I don’t feel like there’s any pressure, I believe I was put in this situation for a reason. There was a lot of things that didn’t happen in my favor this summer. This is all a learning process for me but no matter where I play I will go out and play to the best of my ability.
How was your first summer involved in the transfer market. Did you have other offers?
Yes I had a few other offers but hiring a new agent late in the summer and jobs being tougher to find then usual made it tough. But for it to be my first year over here I’m just taking it all in and learning as much as I can so I have a better understanding of this whole process in the future.
What were the main reasons for going to Cuxhaven? What convinced you that this was the right choice for you to embark on your professional career?
It was a tough decision at first, finding out the league I would be in, but you have to start somewhere. Not everyone is capable of starting where they want. One of the main reasons I chose this team was talking to Coach Moris, instantly you get a feel for how competitive and driven he is to succeed and be the best. When you have a coach that pushes you and believes in you as much as you do yourself it makes this whole process so much easier.
You are the only American on the team, but not only import as there are four Croatians on the team. Have you gotten to know a different kind of team basketball that you didn´t see in the NCAA?
Yes I have but for the most part all of the style of play is somewhat similar. Being able to work with other players from Croatia and here in Germany it allows me to learn different ways to help better myself for the team.
You recently played an exhibition game against Bremerhaven where the team was down by four at halftime, but lost by 23 points. What kind of experience was this and if you had to be honest could you if given the chance be able to keep up with this level?
I think this was a good opportunity for this team to see where we stand as a team. I think with a few more weeks of preparation we could have made it a closer game. For me it helped me play against competition where I would like to see myself. Honestly, I think I could keep up with this level of competition.
What was it like playing against ex NBA player Jerry Smith and ex Harvard man Brandyn Curry? Do you take moments from the game and take things from their games that could help you in the future?
It was great I love to compete against the best, it was all a learning experience for me. Yes I do take things from the opponents I play against. This game allowed me to see how they carry themselves as professionals and watch how they lead their team. There were a lot of things I saw from them that can help me grow to become a better player.
Your new teammate and try out player Kris Douse marveled about your game. What have you liked most about the Canadian and could you see him and you hooking up time after time in games this season?
He’s a very energetic guy, I feel like every team needs that player who will always be in your ear encouraging you to be the best you can every game. The thing that sticks out about his game is his drive to be the best he can on defense every play. You don’t come across many players who love defense like that. I think he would be a good fit for this program and I think with the way he runs it would be a lot of fun to have a guy like that running with you in transition.
You can fill up the stat sheet, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I don’t feel like I have any hidden strengths, but most people know me as a passer and a driver. All through college I was more of a penetrate and kick guy because we had so many great shooters. One of my strengths most people don’t know about is my ability to shoot. It something I have always tried to perfect.
Besides helping your team win games this season what will be your biggest goal as a rookie?
My biggest goal as a rookie is to try and find my weaknesses. Then be able to learn how to better myself and expand my game throughout the season.
You played four years under Ben Jacobsen at N Iowa and now have Croatian head coach Moris Hadzija. Has it been a big adjustment playing for a European coach?
I think every coach has their own philosophy of how they coach. Coach Jacobsen was a more laid back coach who will explain things in a more calm manner. Coach Moris is the coach that will be in your face until you understand. Both coaches have been great and have succeeded, I think both ways are effective in their own way. So yes, it was different but I adjusted quickly I would say.
Your scoring average was down as a senior compared to your previous two seasons, but shot your best from downtown at 43%. How do you feel that you grew as a player as a senior?
I feel like my senior year was my best year as a college player. It wasn’t good statistically, but I grew as a player. Playing in the system we did, meant less shots allowing me to focus more and be more consistent. Understanding my role on the team and embracing it instead of complaining. Overall the sacrifices I made individually payed off for my team to win so I was satisfied.
You had many great games in college, and scored 20 points or more eight times in your career? What was your best and favorite game at N Iowa?
My favorite game as a college player was in Texas at Stephen F. Austin. I think around 25 of my family members showed up to the game. I went to school almost 1,000 miles away so having the opportunity to play in Texas for my senior year would be my best and favorite game.
Quite many players from N Iowa have played in Germany as this season three new ones arrive with you, Nate Buss and Seth Tuttle and in the past Jake Koch played here as well as Ben Jacobson and John Little has been the longest in Germany since 2007. What stories do you remember hearing about John Little at N Iowa?
Yeah it’s great to have so many players from the university to get to play in Germany. I heard some stories about Ben Jacobsen but not to many about John Little.
How did head coach Ben Jacobson prepare and groom you best for a professional basketball career?
He did a lot to help prepare me to become a professional. Being a leader at all times, how to carry myself at all times, the importance of communication and how far it can take you in life, most importantly reminding me how important preparation is and to always compete in everything I do.
Who would win a one on one in practice you or Wes Washpun?
Wes was easily one of the toughest defenders I’ve played so far in my career. But if we were to go head to head I would win. He’s a great player and I know if you asked him the same question he would tell you he would win.
Where do you see the NBA journey of the Dallas Mavericks going this season with Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams?
I think it’s a process, they are in the west so it would be tough for them to go far in that conference. With the right prices around them any things possible.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
I think he will be compared to Jordan when it’s all said and done. In my opinion Lebron is a pass first guy more like Magic. Jordan is a scorer and his mindset to win is on a whole different level then anyone. They both will go down as some of the greatest player to ever play but I don’t think you can compare them.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Coach Carter, because it’s the only DVD I have and the internet isn’t working.
Thanks Deon for the chat.