Diante Watkins is a 25 year old 174cm point guard that was going to be playing his fourth professional season and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen, but an injury in pre season derailed his path. He started his basketball career in 2009 with Daley CC (JUCO): 28 games: 26.5ppg, 5.8apg, 2.7rpg, 2.0spg, FGP: 44%, 3Pts: 38%, FT: 86%. He then played two seasons with Robert Morris (NAIA) and as a senior played 27 games: 24.4ppg, 7.4apg, 3.0rpg, 2.1spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3Pts: 38.9%, FT: 82.7%. In 2013-2014 he started his professional basketball career with SC Rist Wedel where he played 30 games averaging 16.2ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 86.9%. He improved his play last season with SC Rist Wedel playing 32 games: Score-2(21.3ppg), 3.8rpg, Assists-1(6.8apg), Steals-2(3.2spg), FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 87.4%. He cleaned up the Eurobasket awards winning Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Honorable Mention -14, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Player of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Guard of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Import Player of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 1st Team -15, and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Imports Team -15. He spoke to German Hoops and talked about the last few months about surgery and what is next.
Diante thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and have you got all your X-mas presents yet?
I’m home in Chicago at the moment, and no I haven’t got all the gifts, my little sister has a lot on the list some are hard to find haha.
You suffered a bad injury in pre-season and had to leave the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and go home and get surgery. Are you 100% fit again?
Yes I’m 100% again it’s been 4 months since surgery I’ve just been working out getting ready for the next opportunity!
How tough was this time mentally for you? You were gearing up to play at a higher level in the German Pro A and then an injury ended all of that.
It was tough mentally for me, seeing guys play and I was rehabbing at home knowing I was supposed to be there competing with some good competition! It was my first injury where I ever had to have surgery so it challenged me a lot.
Did you ever have a phase in the last three months where you thought that you might not be able to come back or were you always positive that you would be able to come back 100%
I never had doubts about me coming back and being the player I know I can be, it wasn’t a major injury. I was more worried about the teams second guessing my ability! I knew what I had to do now it’s time to show it again!
Was there a special person besides someone in your family that really helped you get through this period?
No one specifically, just my closest friends helped me through knowing how much I wanted to play! One guy stood out one of my best friends Robert came over and checked on me every day! And of course my trainer haha he helped me get through rehab!
Does it feel any different now when you step on the court after having had surgery and rehab or do you feel like you did when you last played before the injury?
When I first stepped on the court I wasn’t attacking as much because of the injury but now I’m comfortable and feeling exactly how I did before the injury when I was in Wedel. I’m attacking and using my speed again!
In your come back now what have you been focusing most on? Was it difficult getting your condition back?
That’s been my main focus is my conditioning! I’ve been running and getting in the pool, just doing a lot of cardio! Of course I’ve been working on my ball handling, quickness and my shot has gotten better!
Do you fear that skill wise something may change once you play professional again? How tough is your self confidence right now?
No I don’t fear it, I’ve only been out of playing pro for a few months haha. my self confidence is pretty high right now I’m feeling good. Confidence to me always come from the hard work you put in, and I have been working pretty hard.
How does a normal work out day look like now in December after your rehab and surgery?
Eat breakfast. Then I usually go running 2-3 miles in the morning, than get in the pool for about an hour, do some laps and other exercises! Eat lunch, take a few hours off and than go to my old school for weight lifting and than basketball drills.
You want to get back with a team, but that is always more difficult in mid-season. Is Germany your main focus at the moment?
I’m open to all countries but yes Germany is my main focus because I played my last two years there I believe they know me there!
Would you be willing to take a step back after working so hard for two seasons to finally reach the Pro A and help a Pro B team who may be in need?
At the moment I’m not that interested in Pro B because I want to play at a higher level. If something in Pro A doesn’t show up than I’ll consider it!
It has been a tough season for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. Do you ever think about what could have been if you hadn´t been injured and you had been with the team and if it would have been successful with you?
I think about it all the time, I look up the scores because I have friends playing in pro A that I check on! I do believe if I was there we could’ve won some more games, not taking nothing away from the guys that are there I am sure there a good group of guys but I think we would’ve had more success if I was in Leverkusen, I think every player feels they could help a team win, if not you shouldn’t play the game.
Explain in a few sentences as to why you could help any professional team right now?
I think I bring leadership to a team, especially by example! I am a winner, I play hard, I’m considered small but I play big and my stats show that, I don’t back down! I’m just one of those guys that gets it DONE!
Is Steph Curry the real deal? Do you see him making 60 or 70 points in a game soon?
He is the REAL DEAL! I’m a huge Lebron James and Chris Paul fan but Steph Curry is the best player on the planet right now! It’s possible he can score 60 or 70 but a lot this season he doesn’t play in the 4th quarter! Haha
What is your fondest Christmas childhood memory?
One Christmas me and my big brother was so excited I think the Sega Dreamcast was coming out but we didn’t think we were going to get it and my mom always let us open one gift at midnight, we ripped 2 boxes open, the Dreamcast was there and we played the game until the morning! Haha
What was the last movie that you saw?
I watched Creed it was a really great movie!
Thanks Diante for the chat.