Drew Brandon is a 25 year old 193cm guard from Corona, California that is playing his third professional season and first with Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK,). Last season he played with CS Phoenix Galati (Romania-Liga Nationala) playing 21 games averaging 8.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.1apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 71.4%. He played his rookie season with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Germany-ProA) playing 30 games averaging 10.4ppg, 5.8rpg, 4.3apg, Steals-1(2.4spg), FGP: 39.0%, 3PT: 21.6%, FT: 71.1% He started his basketball career at Sierra College Calif and then moved to E.Washington (NCAA) in 2013 finishing his career in 2015 and as a senior played 34 games averaging 9.7ppg, 6.9rpg, 4.7apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 24.7%, FT: 81.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about his season in Poland.
Drew thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Thanks for reaching out basketball has been good to me, progressing in leagues and performances every year and that´s what you want as a pro in Europe but I am currently in Poland.
It´s been a while since we last spoke. May 2016 to be exact as I gave you a season ending interview to your rookie season in Germany with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. You have gone to play in Romania and Poland. Has time flown by since your rookie season?
Yeah I was thankful for the opportunity Leverkusen gave me to get started over here in Europe but time always flies when you look back.
This season your playing with Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK). There have been rumors of financial problems and the that the team will fold. Some of the import Americans Dominic Artis and Justin Watts have departed the club. Can you update the current situation with the team and yourself? The club is trying to do what they can to save the club. Dom and Justin have made the choices that were best for them and their careers. All I can do is still handle business and make the most of the situation in font of me.
How tough has this season been for you in general? You have always played in stable places and this season it has been a totally different season. How have you been able to stay focused and still be able to give good performances?
The season has had its ups and downs but I just try to control what I can and let my agent deal with the off the court stuff, and everything will work out how it was meant to be.
Before we continue to talk about the current season, let´s rewind a bit and go back to last season where you played with CS Phoenix Galati (Romania-Liga Nationala) playing 21 games averaging 8.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.1apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 71.4%. Can you recap that season a bit. What were the positive points form this season?
I learned a lot that season and helped me grow up as a player and person, I am thankful for my time there, playing there changed my mindset and made me work even harder in the summer to keep elevating my play in all aspects, I have added many pieces I felt I was missing from that year to apply to this year and season. so overall would say it was a learning experience.
In our last interview you stated “I didn’t shot as well as I know I can this season, so my main focus is getting up tons and tons of shots. But I also plan on putting a lot of work in the weight room also”. Was lifting your shooting percentages one of your personal best achievements that season?
I wouldn’t say it was my personal best achievements. I felt I could have shot even better.
How much of a pleasure was playing the second half of the season with American Phillip Miller who has become a solid professional coming from the NAIA. Is he one of those professionals that every guy dreaming of becoming a professional that is coming from the bottom can look up to?
Phil is a good dude and has worked hard to get where he is at. It is always nice as a point guard to have a great shooter you can swing the ball to.
The season you made the jump to the Polish first division. Was reaching this plateau a combination of your stellar play and clever negotiating of your agent Mike Baron for making this opportunity possible?
I´ve earned everything I’ve ever got and I will keep proving myself in every league I play in and Mike has done his job getting me in better leagues every year, so I go out there and perform to keep advancing.
You really didn´t need any adjustment period as you have put up solid stats in Poland. What are some of the differences of this league compared to the lower levels in Germany and Romania where you played?
Poland is a very strong league from top to bottom and during the summers you put in hard work so no matter where you play the adjustment period is as minimal as possible. The biggest difference is there are no easier teams you go against every night you have to play a good game, anybody can win or lose that night.
What are some of the positives that have developed in your game in Poland? Your three point shooting seems to be down again. Is that something that can be explained or just a down shooting year for you?
I´m not just a pass first point guard that I have been labeled as, I have played with some really good scorers over the years and I just do what it takes to put the team in the best position to win, whether that´s scoring one night, rebounding, defense. As for my shooting numbers, they are very disappointing so far my 3s percentage drop there is a reason behind it but I know I’m a better shooter then this so it doesn’t affect me when I’m playing
You nailed Asseco with 28 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists. Were you feeling you were close to a triple double in the down stretch of the fourth quarter?
This game I had to step up with our 2 top scorers leaving the club but it´s not something I think about when playing. I was just trying to win the game which we did and it so happened I got a triple double.
Have you been surprised that it has taken so long for you to achieve that? Since playing at E Washington you have been close a few times?
I have been close a lot and if I was out there trying to get them and asking what my stats were I probably would have tons of them but I’m just playing hard and am not forcing things to achieve triple doubles, they will just happen on their own through playing the game how I play.
Your like a Russell Westbrook for me in that you always fill the stat sheet. However you have never averaged more than 10 points since E Washington. Do you believe that you style of play hinders you from being that consistent lethal scorer?
I don’t believe so but teams may think that. I am focusing on ways through film and workouts to combine it all and I think the last game was a glimpse of stuff falling into place.
Do you feel like you could be that consistent scorer? Would you like to be able to score more on a regular basis or are you content of how you play the game?
Yeah I feel I have started to hit my stride over the last 5 or 6 games averaging more points and still keeping up on the rest of my game and plan to prove to teams, I’m more than just a passing playmaker.
How has your game progressed in Poland. You have proven that you can continue to play your game filling the stat sheet at a higher level.
It always helps when you play with people that understand the game at a high level, it makes the game easier for me with plays, setting solid screens and proper spacing, ball moment, etc. Also more is expected of you at the higher levels you play, and I feel in every league I play in I got something to prove.
You were teammates With American Justin Watts who played at North Carolina. Did you hear any cool NC stories in the last months?
Yeah Justin and I have become good friends, he works hard at the game and he has shared a lot of his experiences with me and I’ve learned a lot from him this season.
How cool would it be to play in Germany again? Are you content you could be an impact player at the Pro A level?
I truly enjoyed my time in Germany, I know I would make an impact in Pro A, but I also know I could make an great impact in the BBL. I just need to be given the shot.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
There to many greats to just put 4 heads
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?
Lebron is one of the top players that will ever play this game and will be remembered in the top played that are icons of the league. As far best off all time I don’t believe in that because all the best didn’t play against each other in their primes so we will never know who would have impacted the league the most, if they all aren’t out there playing each other.
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?
Russ just plays his way which is hard and you can never question his effort he was getting rebounds all year it wasn’t untill the very end of the season his teammates made sure he would finish the season with a triple double avg.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
You got to like Kuzma. He has been playing very well and love watching Mitchell from Utah play also.
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?
If Chris Paul can stay healthy anything is possible.
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?
Both great players. Isaiah is going to want a max deal so we will see how long he even stays with the Cavs, and Kyrie will most likely play the rest of his career as a Celtic so I would say they profited more.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
You never know with these things it will be all up to the players and their connection to each other.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Brandon for the chat.