DJ Bennett is a 203cm forward from Chicago, Illinois that is 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.
This was your second time in Germany and you once again took in the pre Christmas time. You spent last season in the small Sandersdorf and this season in Weissenfels. What have you learned to appreciate about this time of year in Germany?
Being in this part of Germany much like Sandersdorf I’ve learned to appreciate the fans, they always go out of their way to keep showing is support and having small events for us for the holidays, the fans are definitely a big part of this teams success.
Basketball life is very good in Weissenfels as the Mitteldeutscher BC is dominating the league at 15-1. Is everything perfect in MBC country?
I am grateful to be part of such a great team but it’s a long way from perfect, we always have small things that we can do better and we compete every day in practice to make sure we are ready for whoever we face next, I think what separated us from others teams is our commitment to each other and our high work ethic.
It is no secret that management wants to return back to the BBL next season. How intense has the season been for you in terms of having to live up to the expectations of the organization?
Our goal is definitely to move up but we don’t feel any pressure about it, we like the challenge and with this team it’s our nature to just work hard and that shows on the court.
The only loss of the season was against the Hamburg Towers. When a team is so good like MBC, does it take longer to digest a loss like that?
When we lost to the Hamburg Towers it didn’t take us long to digest it but we learned from it quick, it was like an eye opener for us that we had to step it up, so win or lose we just try to give it our all, and if we lose giving it our best then we can live with that.
The team has reached an identity on defense ranking fifth in the Pro A giving up 71 points per game. How hungry is the club to get even better on defense?
Defense is a point of emphasis for us. Coach prides his self on how well we play defense so we are always trying to improve that part of our game because we know the offense is going to come.
On what areas on the defense end does the club need to improve most on?
I would say the thing we can improve on the defensive end would be staying locked in for long possessions and better communication sometimes when it comes to helping or switching.
With all the talent on the team does it surprise you that the club is only 11th in rebounding in the league? Does that speak for the talent of the other teams?
It definitely does speak for the talent of other teams, I feel like every team has an area of something they are really good at, and even though we try to make it an emphasis of getting rebounds, that’s not our strongest quality, we are more of a defensive and fast break transition team.
Do you feel like Sergio Kerusch has been playing with a chip on his shoulder simply because he wants to get back to the BBL and prove himself after not really getting a chance with Artland and Bremerhaven?
This team expects Sergio to play to his potential every game because he is a very talented player, and I think he has a chip on his shoulder not because he didn’t have the chance with other teams but because he wants to be the best player he can be.
How much fun has it been being teammates with Achmadschau Zazai? What has been the most amazing thing he has shown on the court?
Cha Cha is probably one of the most energetic players on and off the court, he is always in a good mood and joking with everyone but when it’s time to focus he is locked in. Something he is very great at would be seeing the court, his ability to pass without looking directly at a player is crazy.
Let´s talk about your game. You are averaging 4,6ppg and 3,1rpg in 11 minutes. How big of an adjustment has it been for you coming from the Regionaliga?
It’s been a huge adjustment for me, and I’m still learning as the season goes on to always give it my all, and at this level I think my biggest challenge is just keeping my confidence up if I have a bad game or make a bad play because my role on this team is to be an energizer and pick up the flow of the game, so as long as I can keep up my energy and focus then I will continue to grow.
You had some good games against the RheinStars and Gotha. Were these games proof to you that you can play in this league?
I know I can play in this league, I just have to continue to work on my game, my knowledge of what’s going on on the court and make sure I keep my confidence up.
How valuable has the day to day practice been with Djordje Pantelic. How has he helped you most in the paint area get your game better suited to the Pro A?
Playing against Pantelic everyday has made me better as a player with my strength, banging with him down low all the time, also he is always giving me advice of positioning and small details that can give me the edge against an opponent.
On what area´s of your game are you most striving to improve on as the seasons carries on and you continue to get more experience?
I am always trying to increase every part of my game but areas I try to focus on the most is my rebounding, positioning on the court and shooting ability.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
There are so many great power forwards to play the game but I would definitely put him in my top 15 just because of his passion for the game and his willingness to give his all every game
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
It’s not many players that can do that, and in my opinion Klay Thompson is in one of the best shooters in the world right now.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
I wouldn’t say the best in the world because there are other players that put up crazy numbers as well but he is definitely in the race for it.
What was your most memorable Christmas experience in the States when you were a kid?
When I was around 14 and was able to have my whole family together for a Christmas dinner.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was the Avengers.
Thanks Dj for the chat.