Dennis Clifford is a 25 year old 216cm center from Boston that is going into his second professional season and first in Germany with Alba Berlin. Last season as a rookie he played with the Santa Cruz Warriors (D-League) playing 38 games averaging 11.9ppg, 8.1rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 59.2%, FT: 64.5%. He played at Boston College(NCAA) from 2011-2016 playing a total of 124 games and as a senior played 31 games averaging 9.9ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 9.1%, FT: 61.6%. He spoke to German Hoops earlier in the summer about Basketball.
Dennis thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
At the moment I am in Boston. my summer has been great! I like being in Boston because that is where I workout and I also get to see my friends on the weekends.
Congrats on signing with top German team Alba Berlin. After a season in the D-League are you ready for a career in Europe or is the route back to the States and NBA still high on your list?
My dream ever since I picked up a basketball has always been to play in the NBA but having said that if the NBA doesn´t work out I would love to have a long and prosperous career in Germany.
You have signed with Germany´s second most winningest team Alba Berlin. What do you know about Germany and it´s basketball? Do you remember BC teammate Patrick Heckmann telling you about his homeland?
I have heard that the German BBL is one of the best leagues in the world so I am very excited to be a part of it! Pat Heckmann was my roommate in college so we would always talk trash about Germany vs America. haha but on a serious note he has told me a lot about Germany- how the people are very kind and they love their basketball! He also said the BBL is a very competitive league and has a lot of great players
Did you converse with Patrick Heckmann before making this decision to come to Alba Berlin? What kind of advice did he give you?
Heckmann was the first to tell me about certain teams having interest in me, and he said it would be a great fit for me because of the style of play. He told me he talked to the coaches at Alba Berlin and thought I would have a great year playing for them.
How excited are you to be battling your ex Boston College teammate Ryan Anderson this season? You guys made any friendly wagers yet as to who will win? Alba Berlin will be favored in every game to win against Wurzburg.
I am really excited to play against both Heckmann and Ryan Anderson! I haven´t seen those guys in a while and I look forward to showing them how much better I got!! it will definitely be very competitive during the game but after the game it will be all laughs! and we haven´t made any friendly wagers yet but I am sure we will come up with something closer to game time!
This will be your first season in the EasyCredit BBL which belongs to the top 5 best leagues in Europe. How confident are you that your game will be compatible to the European game and do you believe that you could be an Impact player?
I am confident in my abilities wherever I play, and even though the BBL is a top league, I think the way I play will certainly help my team win.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You are a 216cm big man that can score and rebound. To what NBA player would you compare your game to and what other assets does your game have?
I want to play like Steven Adams from OKC- he is a physical big that works hard and likes to fight for position. on top of that I am a good shooter and I can move really well for a 7 footer.
You have picked up your defensive game in your last two seasons at Boston College and took it with you to the D-League. How do you feel have you matured as a defensive player in the last few years?
I have always loved playing defense because no matter if youre having a bad day on offense, you can always play good defense. In the last few years I have added a lot of strength and I think that has helped me a lot with my defense and physicality.
You can score, rebound and block shots, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I think my hidden strength is the way I move and run the floor and my basketball IQ. So in transition, offense and defense I think I can really help the team by being quick and making good decisions.
Last season you played in the D-League with the Santa Cruz Warriors (D-League) playing 38 games averaging 11.9ppg, 8.1rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 59.2%, FT: 64.5%. What kind of experience was this for you and did the positives outweigh the negatives that you experienced?
My experiences in Santa Cruz were all positive!Ii was kind of an unknown player when I arrived in Santa Cruz, and my teammates and coaches really helped me develop into the player I am today. I still talk to the gms and the coaches and my teammates from the team and I am really blessed to have played with them this past year.
How vital was it for your game having a guy like Damian Jones on the floor in practice and in games? How did you benefit from his presence on a daily basis?
Being around Damian Jones for a part of the season was really cool. He is a very gifted player and above that he is a great person. It was awesome to practice against him daily and also to see how he conducted himself even though he was in the NBA and I was just a D league player!
You had some monster games in the D_League last season like your 26 point against Northern Arizona or Salt Lake City and registered seven double doubles. The talent is unending in the D-league, but if you compare your game to others just how far away are you from an NBA call up and what is still missing for a team to call you?
I like to believe that I was really close to a call up this year. I heard rumors of almost getting one before my injury, but I think I still need to be more of a physical presence on offense and defense in order to get to the next level.
You played for Steve Donahue for three years and for Jim Christian your last two seasons. How did each guy help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Boston College?
Both coach Donahue and coach Christian helped me a lot with my game at Boston College. Coach Donahue helped me a lot on offense and how to think the game from a team standpoint, and coach Christian helped my defensive tenacity.
You had many good individual performances like against North Carolina and North Carolina State as a senior, but when looking back at your NCAA career which was your most memorable win?
My most memorable win at Boston College was at Syracuse as they were number 1 in the country, I was injured so I didn´t play in the game but it was a great experience for me and my team.
What was your most fond memory of Patrick Heckmann and how did you observe his development as a player?
My fondest memory of Heckmann is being his roommate senior year and battling him in fifa! I would say I came out with more wins! Heckmann has always been an extremely skilled player, I would say he has improved the most by becoming more solid as an athlete and a player.
You played against many great players in the NCAA, but who was the toughest that you played against that is in the NBA now?
I think the toughest player I played while in college was Jahlil Okafor.
How does your summer workout plan look like on and off the court in 2017?
This summer I have been lifting weights 4 times a week and practicing my on court skills at least 5 times a week and then doing yoga 3 or 4 times a week.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
My nba rushmore would be Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Lebron James.
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?
I think the debate will never end because there will always be a standout player in every era of the game. I think there are things that Michael Jordan did that Lebron could never do, but I am also a big Lebron fan and think there are things that Lebron does that nobody else can do.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I think its tough as someone watching the game to make that criticism of Russell Westbrook. I think Westbrook is a tenacious player and helps his team in a lot of ways.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I like Jayson Tatum of the Celtics. I think he looked really sharp in the summer league and hopefully he has a good career for the Celtics.
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 the rockets will be a very good this year, they seem to have all the pieces to make a run!
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was the new planet of the apes movie! it was a very cool movie.
Thanks Dennis for the Chat.