Worthy De Jong is a 27 year old Dutch 194cm shooting guard that is playing his sixth season for Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Eredivisie) and started his basketball career with the Rotterdam Challengers (Eredivisie). He had his best season last season playing 34 games averaging 15.0ppg, 5.9rpg, Assists-4(4.5apg), Steals-2(2.6spg), FGP: 61.8%, 3PT: 26.0%, FT: 74.1%. He also had a solid performance at the 2015 European Championships playing 5 games: 9.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT-2(66.7%), FT: 81.3%. He spoke to German Hoops recently about basketball.
Worthy thanks for talking to German Hoops. After the loss in Frankfurt in Fiba Europe Cup action Leiden has lost three of four games. What have been the main reasons for the team being in this rut?
I would say that the there is a different level of experience in which we lack. Our best game was the first one after that we kind of lost it. Nothing to fear we may not make the next round but we definitely gained some knowledge.
In those 4 games Leiden has averaged 66 points made in the Dutch league and only 51 points made in the Fiba Europe Cup. Is the Leiden offense still a huge project in the making?
Yes I think we are trying to find our way still and what might work for us in our league gives us some struggle in the Europe cup so we need to tweak some things to get it right.
How vital is it having Americans that play a big role? It seems like Deron Scott and Eric Stutz are still finding themselves. Is this a rookie thing in that they still have to find themselves in many areas on the court?
It is tough but not impossible in my years with Leiden I’ve had the privilege to play among some great players in that taught me the game well, but its always been a process to get it right at the right time and in most of my cases I was the student but at this time in my career the roles kind of changed where I need to share my experience to turn the rookies in players that can contribute to our game and they are adjusting well and it just takes a little time.
In Fiba Europe cup Leiden is 0-4. The team had two lack luster showings against KRKA Novo Mesto and FC Porto averaging only 51 points. Has the club been able to find answers when watching video?
We haven’t necessarily watched specific game on it, but we’ve been working on improving our offense and it will get better in time.
The next game is against the 3-0 Fraport Skyliners. What memories do you still have of the 63-58 loss in Frankfurt a game that was close?
That was a close game that could’ve gone both ways. It wasn’t an easy one but no games are.
You had 22 points in the first game against Frankfurt. Do you feel pressure to have to equal that kind of performance again or eclipse it in the next game?
Not necessarily do I feel any pressure but their scouting will be better so we will see.
What kind of experience was it for you playing against freak athlete Quantez Robertson? How much do you get up for these kind of battles against these type of players?
I play people by their number and not by their names and as big of a player you are you still need to perform every night and you knowing him well and having been around those players more than me the question should be asked to him .. Because I bet he never heard of me before we played.
Where would you rank the athleticism and defense of Robertson against other players that you have played against in your career?
He is a very versatile player but I haven’t really noticed his athleticism not saying it isn’t there but definitely a great player to play against he is amongst the great players I played against.
After two weak offensive performances in the Europe Cup, the Fraport Skyliners finally broke out scoring 89 points against FC Porto. What will be key in getting the first win in the competition against the German side?
Well the key would be just playing with the same intensity as the last one and try to keep it close till the 4th and see if we can get over that bridge.
You are playing your sixth season with Leiden. What makes this club so special in your eyes for you not to move?
Its been a great place to play the environment of the stadium and the fans have always been great but playing abroad had always been a wish but just hasn’t seem to get on my path, but hoping it will soon but for now I’m busy trying to win with Leiden.
It is usually Americans that carry a team like last season Brandyn Curry and Chris Denson with Den Bosch. Currently you are leading Leiden in scoring in both competitions. Is this a role you enjoy where you have so much responsibility?
I think that its just a role that came to me. I’ve always been a high energy guy and over the seasons playing for Leiden I have been taught by two coaches that molded me well and because of that I’ve found a way to put the energy in the right spot and be a scoring threat to the opponent. Now there are some aspects of my game I need to improve on but I think I still have enough time to do that.
You have been a very consistent performer for Leiden the last 4 years. Does your consistency result from a daily routine of always working extra hard in practice and individual training to keep improving your game?
Well as I said I’ve been energetic all of my career and consistency on the other hand hasn’t been easy. I’ve tried and its gotten better just not where I want it to be now. The past two years I’ve been working even harder to be ready for the next step when it comes I guess you can say that daily routine and working hard makes a difference. I must add that my injury to my knee has been a gift and a curse and it changed my game. I now am more relaxed and energy efficient in the game and I don’t go 200 MPH anymore. I do it when its needed and because of that I got the time to work on my shot and read the game better than before.
I asked you after the Frankfurt loss where you had 22 points why you aren’t playing in a higher league. Doesn´t Germany, Spain or Italy interest you where skill and money is in more abundance than in Holland?
It all interests me but the offers are just not there in time I hope it will but for now nothing has come through leaving for and as a Dutch player playing in Holland leaving can be tough especially if your not 7 foot.
You have the complete package. You are a ´very quick and athletic Player. Unbelievable jumping Ability and also a very good offensive Rebounder. Very creative Player and almost unstoppable in the 1 – 1. Good defender. Good scorer in attacking the Basket and also a good shooter incl. 3pt. Very emotional Player who brings a Lot of Energy to the Team. But what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I think you got it all. I’ve added teaching to my game. Its something I’m not great at but definitely working on being a better leader on the floor and I should know how to do it because I’ve learned from some great players.
You have won two Dutch league titles in 2011 and 2013. Which one was sweeter?
If I must choose I would say the first was sweeter even though my contribution was way bigger the second time around, but both were special the first time game 7 triple overtime and the second a clean sweep throughout the whole playoffs.
What memories do you have of teammate Monta Mcghee from that first title team? How important was his play for winning that first title in 2011?
Definitely one of my favorite players that I’ve played with high energy like me and crazy circus shots no left hand though (don’t tell him I told you) but most definitely a very important player during that title his offensive rebound won us the game and he thought me a lot.
You played at the Euro 2015. What kind of overall experience was that for you and do you see yourself developing further in your Dutch national career?
This is the biggest stage I’ve been on and it was amazing. I think the Dutch national team learned a lot from this and will make us stronger and better and I think we proved that we are supposed to be on that stage and we will be again.
Holland played tough against the mighty Greece, but lost 68-65. You scored 4 points in 13 minutes. Was there a player that you watched extra close from the Greek team where you hoped you could learn something from?
Yea I wasn’t too happy about that loss but couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve watched several players mostly the guards off course all of them had a different type of game but all of them shared the ball well and that is what made it so easy to play against us.
You had your best game with 19 points in a win against Slovenia. Do you believe that a game like this helped get your name a bit more noticed in Europe?
Well I sure hope so. I felt really confident that game and I hope it was noticed.
What goals do you still have as a professional basketball player?
Gaining experience playing for a different European team and having a solid career there.
Who wins a one on one in practice you or Arvin Slagter?
I would say me, but I guess Arvin would say himself too although Arvin isn’t the one on one player type, but I could be wrong tongue emoticon.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Do you feel like he will ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
He has been mentioned although I might say that it will never be the same Lebron James great player, but Michael Jordan changed the game and Lebron isn’t really changing the game and he is just good at pretty much every aspect of the game. Not Steph Curry is changing the game, but him and Klay Thompson are bringing basketball to another level with a shooting team and winning a chip not done before.
Has Armin Van Buuren one of Leiden´s residents ever made it to a home game or is he too busy jetting around the world or supporting the football team?
I would not know his music isn’t my cup of tea and I think he would be faster to support football than basketball.
You are into street art and take many photos when you are traveling. Do you have any favorites?
Yea I would say my favorite is a portrait of an old lady I shot in Thailand last year.
What was the last movie that you saw?
James Bond and it sucked!!
Thanks Worthy for the chat.