DJ Bennett is a 203cm forward from Chicago, Illinois that will be playing his second professional season and first with the Mitteldeutscher BC. As a rookie he played with the BSW Sixers Sandersdorf (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 18 games averaging 15.3ppg, 8.7ppg, 2.3bpg, FGP: 66.9%, FT: 67.9%. He started his basketball career with Indian Hills CC (JUCO) and moved to Oklahoma (NCAA) in 2013 where he stayed two years playing a total of 61 NCAA games and reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2015. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
DJ thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
My summer has been very productive, I went to China for almost 2 months on a basketball tour representing America playing a lot of Chinese teams and now I’m currently in Thailand finishing off the second half of the season with a team here. So I’ve been just trying to keep my self going and in shape until an opportunity like this presented itself.
Congrats on making the jump from the German regionaliga to the Pro A with the Mitteldeutscher BC.. One could say better late than never. Did you know already earlier in the summer that you might go this route to MBC or were you weighing your options a bit?
And earlier this summer I had no idea that I would be playing with MBC, they contacted me halfway through the second half of my Thailand season and I felt like it was a great opportunity for me, also I know the program from being with the Sixers so it should be easy for me to get in the routine of things.
One could say that your living a type of Cinderella life. First going from JUCO to the NCAA and now making the jump up two levels from the Regionaliga to the Pro A. Do you feel at times like you are living the charmed life?
And I definitely feel blessed, I know not a lot of people have some of the opportunities I was fortunate to have, so I’m thankful for every chance I get to travel to new lands to play basketball.
Did you have to think even a split second about going to the Mitteldeutscher BC? What is the biggest attraction about signing with the Mitteldeutscher BC?
It was a pretty fast decision for me when they contacted me, the only obstacle was figuring out how soon I could get there from here in Thailand because I was still in season at the time, so within 2 or 3 days of working out dates for me to arrive I finally signed the contract.
Did the fact that you already knew the organization a bit make signing easier?
Me knowing the team made it a lot easier for me to sign because I’ve seen the facilities, the players, coaches, know how they play and how the fans love the team so I kind of knew what to expect and very excited to get there.
You seem to have been the type of underdog your whole basketball career. Do you feel some pressure going into this new situation and having to prove yourself again?
Me having to prove myself throughout my career I feel like was a huge motivation factor for me, I’m very competitive and confident in my abilities so I’m just excited to contribute to the success of the team.
You made a radical jump like this before going form Indian Hills(JUCO) to the Oklahoma Sooners. Is there anything that you can take from that experience then into this new experience that will help you make the transition easier?
Making the jump from juco to Oklahoma made me realize that in order for me to make a mark in this league I’d have to take my game to the next level, including work ethic, my mentality and also taking care of my body, so making this jump to Pro A, is the same principle. I have to take my game to the next level and I love that challenge.
How confident are you that you can carry your game from the Regionaliga to the faster and more competitive German Pro A?
I am very confident that I will transition my game to pro A, because in my preparation in China and Thailand I’ve played against top league teams and top recruited players since I’ve left Sandersdorf, so my confidence is very high right now going into this season.
How vital was it having ex Sooners teammate Tashawn Thomas last season in Germany as you were a rookie. How was your relationship different then then it was in college?
It was very comforting having Tashawn in Germany with me as well because in a land far from home he was a familiar face, and someone I knew I could depend on if I needed anything. Our relationship grew stronger since college because we were both new to playing overseas and we had to grow and adapt together.
How do you feel did Tashawn Thomas help make you a better player the last years on the court?
Tashawn definitely made me a better player throughout my career because we for the most part would guard each other in practice every day in Oklahoma, so we had to step out of our comfort zones and practice moves we wasn’t used to doing; and seeing him playing for MBC while I was with the Sixers motivated me to keep giving it my all to hopefully get to that next level.
Last season you played for the BSW Sixers Sandersdorf (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 18 games and averaging 15.3ppg, 8.7ppg, 2.3bpg, FGP: 66.9%, FT: 67.9%. What do you feel will be your biggest asset coming into this higher league this season?
My biggest asset coming into this league I feel will be my athleticism and speed over guys my size and bigger, and turning into a player that can score at will is also the challenge. So I plan to bring a lot of energy and quickness to the team
At Indian Hills you had solid stats of 7,2ppg and 4,6rpg and 1,7bloks per game. What do you believe was the main factor in your game at that point that gained the interest of Oklahoma?
Oklahoma saw potential in me and athleticism as well so I’m great full they took a chance on me to help develop me into the player I am today.
Did you always have that feeling at Indian Hills that you would be able to make that next step to the NCAA one day?
I’ve always knew that I would play division 1 basketball in Juco, but didn’t know where. We were one of the nation’s best Jucos at the time and I was confident that I would continue to grow as a player.
Do you sometimes have that 62-58 loss against Michigan State riding in your mind and what the team could have done better in crunch time to have won that game and reached the elite 8?
I think about that game and other moments in my career all the time, and I use it as constructive criticism to build my game in any way I can, I try to learn from any my situation I am in
How did head coach Lon Kruger groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Oklahoma?
Lon Kruger helped prepare me to play professional ball by constantly pushing me to my physical and mental limits and I am thankful for everything he has done for me in my college career.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Tashawn Thomas?
In practice we would go at each other so often we could not keep track of who won the most haha it was always back and fourth.
How excited are you about the 2016-2017 Chicago Bulls chances? With Dwayne wade and Rajon Rondo and many young hungry kids, what do you believe can this team achieve this season?
I’m excited to see Dwyane Wade in Chicago. I’m a huge bull’s fan and I know he and Jimmy Butler will only make the team that much better along with the guys they are bringing in.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore and chose 4 NBA heads which best four would you pick?
My NBA Rushmore would be Michael Jordan, Julius Irving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell
Now that Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs where does this further NBA title put him against the best that ever played the game?
LeBron is the best player in the world right now and this title is another part of the legacy he is building to put him among the greatest to play the game.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was superman VS batman.
Thanks DJ for the chat.