Dylan Ennis is a 26 year old 187cm point guard from Brampton, Ontario playing his rookie season as a professional in Europe for Crvena Zvezda MTS Beograd (Serbia-KLS) after starting the season for BC Mega Bemax Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia-KLS) playing 10 ABA League games averaging 18.6ppg, 4.6rpg, 5.4apg, 2.2spg, 2FGP: 53.5%, 3FGP: 29.8%, FT: 69.0%. He began his basketball career in 2011 with Rice (NCAA) averaging 8.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 4.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 66.0%. He then played two years with Villanova (NCAA) averaging 5.1ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 35.3%, 3PT: 30.1%, FT: 78.6% and as a junior averaged 9.9ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 61.9%. He played his senior season at Oregon (NCAA) playing 39 games averaging 10.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 73.7%. Last summer he played NBA Summer League in Orlando, FL (Oklahoma City Thunder): 5 games averaging 8.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 41.9% and NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, NV (Golden State Warriors) playing 6 games averaging 9.3ppg, 2.2rpg, FGP: 42.9%. He spoke to Grman Hoops before the Euroleague game against Brose Bamberg in Bamberg.
Dylan thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. Is this your first time in Germany and what do you know in general about the country and it´s basketball?
Yes this is my first time in Germany. I have visited many countries as a rookie. I was only one time in Europe that was when I was in seventh or eighth grade playing in France with a AAU team from Canada. Guys like my brother Tyler, Tristan Thompson and Melvin Ejim were on the team. We saw so many things that we had never seen before in America and it really opened our eyes.
You started your rookie season with BC Mega Bemax Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia-KLS) playing 10 ABA league games averaging 18.6ppg, 4.6rpg, 5.4apg, 2.2spg, 2FGP: 53.5%, 3FGP: 29.8%, FT: 69.0%. Were you a bit disappointed you started in Serbia and not in the States considering you had a solid NBA Summer league gig with the Golden State Warriors and hit Miami for 35 points?
I thought I had played well at the NBA Summer League and was a bit surprised that I didn´t get more offers from the NBA, but that didn´t deter me to keep working hard as I brought this chip on my shoulder to Europe. I am thankful that BC Mega Bemax Sremska Mitrovica gave me a chance. This is the plan that God has worked out for me at the moment. I always dreamed as a kid to play in the NBA, but I´m happy where I am now and will continue to work as hard as possible on my game
How important was the first few months with BC Mega Bemax Sremska Mitrovica for your early professional basketball development? You were the only American and was the leader as a rookie. What do you credit your early success to on the court?
I came to Serbia as one of the older guys and saw a different kind of game to what I was used to. Coach allowed me to play my game and play more on ball as a point guard as opposed to playing on ball as a scorer. That was the perfect situation for me, because I could play more the one which is my natural position and one I didn´t play in college. Now I can play the way I love to for Red Star.
You moved to Euroleague team Crvena Zvezda MTS Beograd (Serbia-KLS). What has it been like playing for this traditional club. What experience have you had there that has shown you that this is a special club?
It has been great. There is much culture here. The first time where I really realized that was at the first game when I heard the roar of the crowd. It was as loud as hell. I felt the passion of the fans on every play. Serbia has a big basketball culture and the fans are very passionate. That is what I love about this team.
Has it been like a basketball culture shock for you. Now you have many talented and experienced import players as you are one of many. How challenging has the early going been for you?
Initially it was a tough transition. It was the little things that made it difficult. In the NBA Summer League I looked for the quick shot while in the Euroleague you look for the best shot and move the ball. I played more off ball in college and now I´m able to play on ball and my primary position at the point. James Feldeine has helped me a lot with the transition as did Taylor Rochestie. I have been able to pick Taylor´s brain whenever I can
You have been averaging 10 minutes in the Euroleague and ABA, but been fairly efficient in that time. How much of a challenge is it being efficient in your first season overseas?
Bring efficient is the most important thing for me in the time I get. I try to be as efficient as possible if it´s playing two minutes or 20 minutes. I have understood that not all attention is on me on this team and that I have to be patient. All I know is that I have to do my best in the minutes I get.
How vital has seasoned veteran Taylor Rochestie been for you? He has been around the block in Europe. Has he been sort of a mentor in the early going for you?
Yes Taylor has been like a mentor for me. We are a little different in our games as he sets the table and I´m more the aggressive player. He has helped me a lot in being able to slow down and bring better tempo and Rhythm to the game. I would not be the player I am now since arriving without him.
Let´s talk about your game. Are you more than just a scoring point guard? To what NBA player would you describe your game best to?
If I had to compare myself to an NBA player then it would be Damian Lillard. He is an allstar and I´m not saying I´m anything like him. I´m a player that is an aggressive scorer at the point guard position, but at the same time be that point guard that sets his teammates up and isn´t a ball hog. Just trying to help his team win.
You’re a player that can fill the stat sheet well, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
My ball screen ability. In college I wasn´t in that position so much because we always had many guards. I think that now as a rookie, I have been put more in a position to play the ball screen and people are starting to notice now. I am also feeling more comfortable with it now.
Last summer you played NBA Summer League in Orlando, FL (Oklahoma City Thunder): 5 games: 8.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 41.9% and in Las Vegas, NV (Golden State Warriors): 6 games: 9.3ppg, 2.2rpg, FGP: 42.9%. Do you feel like having the name Ennis helped you a bit with people being aware of you since your brother is in the NBA?
Yes of course. People know that I come from a basketball family. I use my brother as a tool and have gotten much advice from him.
You had two good showings in the NBA Summer League. What kind of feedback did you get? Do you feel with continued development in Europe that you get on the radar´s of NBA teams down the road?
When I left the NBA Summer League I showed that I can score, have the body and can play both sides, but I wanted to play more point guard. Now I have the ball in my hands and am able to run the show. To be honest, the NBA isn´t at the forefront for me, but only my next game. I am so blessed that I can play the game that I love and I hope I can continue to get better and be known as a top guard be it being in Europe or the NBA.
You really had a busy basketball life as a youngster getting early experience as various schools and then played at 3 different NCAA schools. If you look back how do you feel did you profit best in the long run having gone this route instead of only having played at one NCAA school?
I always thought that I would play at one school where I would get my jersey retired and make history. Moving around isn´t for everyone, but it was great for me and turned out well. I learned so many important things from many different coaches. Being able to move around so much gave me many different tools and that helped me become the player that I am today.
You are three years older than your brother Tyler Ennis, but he made it to the NBA in 2014. What kind of relationship do you have as had it been tough for you seeing the little brother be so successful and having breaks whereas you had many injuries to deal with already in your career?
Me and Tyler talk everyday. He is my best friend. We mostly talk basketball, but also the stuff that happens off the court. I am so happy for his success. When he was drafted, I was the happiest for him. When I see all the hard work he does, he really has deserved everything he has achieved. He went his route enduring what he had to to get there and it has been the same for me.
After a strong senior year at Lake Forest Academy, you started your NCAA career at Rice (NCAA) playing 32 games averaging 8.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 4.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 66.0%. Why did you chose this route and why did you leave after one season?
Rice was one of the best teams in one of the better conferences that had recruited me. I felt like I had been underrecruited, but Rice really wanted me. It was better for me to go to a school that wanted me instead of just going to the best school. They told me that the ball would be in my hands as a freshman. I left because I wanted to play at the highest level. Rice supported me all the way and we still have great relations now.
You then played with Villanova from 2013-2015 winning the Big East tournament. You decided to transfer again to Oregon because you wanted to play the point and not shooting guard. The year you left Villanova won the NCAA title. Does it annoy at times that you hadn´t stayed? Maybe your career would be different now?
All always say I was mad for leaving and not staying and winning the NCAA title. But it wasn´t like that at all. The coach and players were like my brothers. I was happy they won. I left to go to Oregon as it was an important decision in my life and I felt it was the best decision. I never had any regrets. The next year, I was so close to winning. I wouldn´t have changed it for the world.
You had some bitter loses, but what memories do you have of the 71-68 loss against North Carolina State in the 2015 NCAA tournament Was that a game where certain plays are still vivid in your mind?
It is what it is. Jordan Bell said it was his fault, but it wasn´t. He played such a great tournament. All we had to do was get that rebound. If he had gotten the rebound, he would have given me the ball. I´m not a future teller, but with us down one point, I´m sure that I would have made that last shot to win the game. I never dwell on that. We had so much success in that tournament.
You finished at Oregon(NCAA) averaging10.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 73.7%. An injury there curtailed your junior season, but you came back strong. You had a strong NCAA run losing to North Carolina 77-76 in the final 4 being one of the key figures on your team in the run. If you could would you love to get back one of your three point looks from that game and try it again. You shot only 2/9 and with a little more accuracy probably would have won the game.
Yes of course. You always look back at what you could of done better. I never dwell on bad memories, but just on the good memories. We played in the NCAA Final 4.
Three guys from that game´s starting 5 reached the NBA with Dorsey, Brooks and Bell reached the NBA this season. How much does their presence there make you work even harder to join them eventually. Is it more just the right opportunity and luck or is there something in your game that you know is still lacking for the next step?
I think that it has to do more with opportunity. Luck can only get you so far, but it´s really about how much work you put in. If its in God´s card that he will bring me to the NBA then be it, but if not, I will continue to enjoy the Euroleague. There are a lot of NBA players in the Euroleague and it´s very competitive. I won´t ever go to bed sad not being in the NBA, but continue to work hard every day to get to where I want to get to.
How did head coach Dana Altman give you that last touch of grooming and preparation for a professional career?
Coach Altmann was great and like a mentor for me at Oregon. He really took a chance on me taking me in at Oregon as a sixth year senior. He gave me the keys to the team and told me that I might not be the leading scorer, but that he would keep me on the floor long enough so that I can lead the team to the title. He really believed in me and I averaged the most minutes on the team. He taught me that I can do all the little things to help my team win. Not all players have that and coach installed that in me and made me an all around player and I am thankful for that.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Tyler Dorsey?
I will never go against myself in a one on one. When we went head to head, it would be king of the court and we always had tough battles. He was one of the best scorers that I ever played with. But if I had to put money on the line, I would always take myself.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right now
My brother Tyler has been the toughest player that I have played against. We played against each other in the NCAA when I was with Villanova and he was with Syracuse. He was always hard to stop. He could do it all, scoring, shooting and getting all involved.
What were the main reasons for electing to play for the Jamaican national team and not with the Canadian where you could be teammates with your brother?
Initially I wanted to play forCanada, but I was a bit overlooked and there wasn´t any room for me playing for team Canada. I wanted to gain some international experience so I was able to play for Jamaica. Now there is room for me and Canada has got my release from the Jamaican team and now I can officially play for Canada.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant
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 feel that people still see Jordan as the greatest. He is simply on another platform. Lebron is in the argument and one can´t say who is really the greatest until Lebron is done. It seems like he isn´t slowing down either.
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?
Getting a triple double is no easy feat. You still have to hit shots. You can´t take way what he achieved last season.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I´m a big fan of Donovan Mitchell. I would never have thought that he would have such a good rookie season. He gives so much in each game. I played against Kyle Kuzma in college. He plays with so much confidence and never shy´s away from the moment. His success is based on his ability to play with so much confidence.
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?
You have to first get by the Warriors. The Rockets have two real competitors with Harden and Paul. They will give teams a run for the money. It wouldn´t surprise me if they could win a 7 game series, but if I was betting, I would pick Golden State,
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 am a fan of Irving and Thomas. The only reason that Boston got the better of the deal is because the Celtics became his team to run. Thomas got into a tough situation with all the pulling and tugging from both teams as well as his injury. He never had a chance to have a clear mind.
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?
They didn´t have a good regular season, but it´s hard to mesh three super stars. All three guys need the ball in their hands. But in the playoffs you never know what can happen. All three guys are playoff players and they could surprise some people.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Black Panther. It´s a great movie. They didn´t only do a great job with the animation but also covered real life problems.
Thanks Dylan for the chat.