TJ DiLeo is a 27 year old 190cm guard playing his fifth professional season and second with the Telekom Baskets Bonn (Germany-BBL).Last season with the Telekom Baskets Bonn he played 36 BBL games averaging 4.2ppg, 1.4rpg, 2.4apg; He also played 16 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 5.1ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 70.0% He played the first three professional seasons with the Giessen 46ers playing 76 Pro A games from 2013-2015 and helping the team move to the BBL in 2015. Last season for GHiessen he played 19 games averaging 5.7ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 38.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 73.3%. He played at Temple from 2008-2013 playing a total of 126 NCAA games. In 2010, he played for the German U20 National Team in 2010 and played for the European Championships U20 in Croatia playing 9 games: 10.7ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP. He spoke to German Hoops about Basketball.
TJ welcome back to Germany. You are playing your fifth season in Germany and second with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Even though you and your brother are true Americans you also have the German citizenship. Which of you guys has more of a connection to Germany? Is it you simply because you have been here 2 years longer?
Yea, I would say I have more of a connection because I have been here a few years longer, and also because I was born here.
You and your brother will be like neighbors now that he is playing in Cologne. If you had to make a prediction as to who will visit whom most in their city would you take yourself just like you would in a one on one game?
I think I will visit him more, but hopefully our schedules line up so we can see a lot of each other’s games.
How was your summer. Did the summer fly by quickly? What was your most memorable thing that you did in the summer?
Summer was great, but as always, it went by fast. I spent it at home in the states. My most memorable moment was being best man at my friend’s wedding, and getting to roast him during the speech.
I saw the loss to Nanterre live and was shocked that the Telekom Baskets Bonn let it slip away. Did that fourth quarter come up here and there in your thoughts over the summer and what did the team learn from this loss that will help them be stronger in those kind of situation this season?
Yea, I think about that game a lot, especially because it would have put us in the finals. We went to Nanterre and did our jobs, winning by 1. Then we played well for three quarters at home, but had a collapse in the fourth. Also have to credit Nanterre because they played great. But I think we learned that we can’t let up against anyone. Teams will always go on runs during games, but we can’t panic. We have to find ways to stop the bleeding. We have to take care of the ball, take good shots, and be focused on defense. Especially at times when the other team is playing with confidence.
Last season for the Telekom Baskets Bonn you played 36 games averaging 4.2ppg, 1.4rpg, 2.4apg. In comparison to your first BBL season with Giessen your stats didn´t change too much, but you averaged 5 minutes less per game than in Giessen. Were you happy with your season and was it better than your debut season in the BBL with Giessen?
I’m happy with my season mainly because I feel like I developed a lot throughout. I think the last few months of the season were much better for me than the beginning. It was encouraging to see improvement in the second half of the season because it gave me confidence coming into this season.
Last season in the FIBA Europe Cup you played 16 games averaging 5.1ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 70.0%.How content were you with your first professional international season and how will you want to step up your play this season in the more competitive Basketball Champions League?
It was a great experience playing in the Fiba Europe Cup for my first international experience. It’s always great to have two games a week, and to be able to travel to different parts of Europe. I’m happy with my first season, especially because we were pretty successful in the competition. This season in champions league, I will still have the same mindset of doing whatever the team needs me to do. But I’m looking to be a little more confident and aggressive, similar to how I was at the end of last season.
You stated last season that “A big focus of mine has been to try and read the situations. I try to know what plays have been working, know when its time to get different guys touches on offense, and also know when its time for me to be a playmaker”. You were playing a lot more point guard due to injuries. With Konstantin Klein back and another guard in the rotation with Ron Curry, how do you see your role being this season?
I think my role will be similar, probably playing a mix of point guard and shooting guard. With myself, Konsti, Ron, and Josh we have four guys who can play on and off the ball. It takes a little pressure off when we have multiple guys on the floor who can bring the ball up and set up the offense.
This season the Telekom Baskets Bonn will play a level up in the Basketball Champions League and continue to battle in the BBL for the playoffs. What particularly did you work on most this summer so you will be best prepared to be successful on the court?
One of my biggest goals this summer was to come back in great shape so I could continue where I left off at the end of last season, when my body felt great. More specifically to basketball, I worked on a lot of mid range stuff like floaters and pull up jumpers. Also worked on my 3 point shooting off the dribble.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn are back from a training camp in Slovenia. Please give a recap of how the new team is coming together? There are injuries and players absent, but what is your early impression?
We are still missing some guys on the court, but I’m happy with what I see so far. We’ve got good guys that really fit coach’s style of aggressive play. I was pretty surprised to see how quickly the offense has started to click. I think if we go out and play the defense that we’re capable of, then we will have a successful season.
I thought Mayo belonged to the best 3-4 point guards last season in the BBL. How glad are you to have him on board again and is he capable to make another leap in his game now at age 30 despite being a top player for years in numerous countries.
It’s hard to ask for much more than what Josh gave us on the court last season, but if he’s capable of it then that would be nice to have haha. He’s definitely one of the top point guards in the league, and I’m sure he will continue his strong play this year.
The club brought in some new guys including Jordan Parks. How impressed have you been with his game and will he be able to fill the shoes of Ken Horton?
I’ve been really impressed with Jordan. He’s really athletic, moves well, defends, and is willing to learn. He’s one of those guys that can do a lot of things on the court, but most importantly he’s got a great attitude. Ken was awesome for us last year. He was a great teammate and there were a few games that he definitely won for us. It will be hard to fill his shoes. They are different players, but I think Jordan has the potential to be just as valuable in his own way.
Ron Curry is injured and Nemanja Djurisic is away with his countries national team. What has been your impression of German Martin Breunig. He had huge stats at Montana and is a huge talent. Do you see him playing a bigger role than Johannes Richter did last year who didn´t see ample minutes?
I’ve been really impressed with Martin. He’s sneaky athletic, and when he’s playing with confidence he can be a real contributor to this team. He finishes well with both hands and he’s a good pick and roll player. We’re going to need him this season for sure.
One guy everyone in basketball Bonn has their eyes on is German Konstantin Klein. He started off well last season and got injured and now is healthy again and hit KK Rogaska for 12 points. Is he the old Konsti and could he become that added scoring threat and defensive bull dog that could have made the difference between a win and loss last season in some games?
Of course. Its great to see Konsti back because I know how hard he worked at the end of last season and during the offseason to get healthy and back in basketball shape again. When he’s on the court you always know you’re going to get 110% from him. He’s going to always pressure the point guard full court, and he always has the potential to catch fire and give us that extra scoring that we will need. He will be a huge difference maker this season.
American Kameron Taylor was added from the Dragons Rhondorf to help fill the void for Ron Curry. He is a proven Pro A player and will play in the Pro B this season. It´s never easy for a player to take a step back, but has he proven that he can keep up with BBL players?
Yea, Kameron came with us to training camp and he fit right in. He’s very athletic and has a great shot. He will be one of the leaders on the Rhondorf team.
Your ex coach Denis Wucherer took over the RheinStars Cologne. How long will it take him to lead the team into the EasyCredit BBL?
Hopefully only one year, but you never know in the Pro A. It can be unexpected as you saw with Gotha advancing last season. I know he’ll do a great job and have his team playing solid basketball. If they are playing their best basketball come playoff time, then I think they have a great shot.
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
He’s still behind Jordan, but I think he’s in the top 3.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I think this draft had a lot of talent, especially at the top of the draft. I guess he’s not a sleeper because he went at pick 9, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dennis Smith turned out to be one of the top 2 players from this draft.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
I think they will be really successful, having two of the best playmakers in the league in the backcourt. I just think it is still too hard to compete with a healthy Golden State in the west.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
I like the trade for both teams. I think we will know who got the better of the deal depending on who the Cavs take with the draft pick they received.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks TJ for the chat.