Justin Alston is a 23 year old 203cm forward from Maryland that completed his rookie season in Germany with the Romerstrom Gladiators averaging 11,9 and 5,1rpg. He completed his career at Boston University(NCAA) where he played from 2012-2017 amassing a total of 114 games and as a senior played 31 games averaging 12.0ppg, 6.0rpg, FGP: 57.1%, FT: 74.7%. He spoke to German Hoops after his rookie season in Germany.
Justin, thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on a great rookie season with the Romerstrom Gladiators. Did the amazing playoff run erase a bit of the injury frustration that you encountered this season?
Thank you very much, and the amazing playoff run we were able to put together was a testament to all the hard work we put in this year. But for me personally it definitely was a blessing being able to continue to showcase my skills after the injury.
When you return home to Washington DC, what will be the first thing that you will do besides see family and friends? I can imagine find your favorite eatery?
I just returned to the states yesterday and the first thing I did was give my mom a kiss then head to Chick-fil-A and order half of the menu
Your rookie season started off well, but you got injured after the seventh game. How tough was this time off of three months. Was your injury experience in your junior season at Boston University a help in getting through this period?
Honestly I believe my injury was the best thing that could have happened for me, because I was able to step away from the game and learn the European game more. My experience in college helped me understand how to do this and come back and be effective.
Did you communicate with your ex head coach Joe Jones in your injury period? Did he give you the needed motivation to get back fit?
Yes me and Coach Jones have a very close relationship and he was communicating with me the entire year always giving advice and encouragement.
After losing 8 of the first 12 games, the Romerstrom Gladiators then went on a tear winning 13 of their next 16 games. What do you believe made the big turnaround in the team season?
The huge turnaround we made as a team was understanding how to win and how to play together more as the season went along.
What were you most proud of this season as a member of the Romerstrom Gladiator? Perhaps the team unity that grew through out the season?
I’m sure if you ask anyone who was on this team or even a fan of the club, everyone would say winning game 5 in Heidelberg. It was so big for our team and the city of Trier.
What an amazing playoffs series against the MLP Academics Heidelberg. Trier was as good as ousted in game 4, but fought back at home winning and then winning a tight game 5. What will you forever remember most from this series?
I will remember how relentless our team was and how we never backed down and gave up. I hope to continue the lessons and mental toughness we learned this year.
You started off hot winning game one on the road in Crailsheim, but then lost three games in a row ending your season. Did the team run out of gas at the end? What their depth a key for Crailsheim winning the series?
I believe Crailsheim is a very good and experienced team and they were able to make shots and throw off our rhythm at times in the series.
Let´s talk about your teammates. How vital was it having an experienced veteran like Jermaine Bucknor for you? Was he the ultimate teammate for you?
Jermaine made my rookie season so much easier this year by giving me a lot wisdom and tips on how to be successful overseas. He played a huge part in my development over the year.
How was it battling Canadian Robert Nortman on a daily basis. How did his character make some tough rehab days a lot easier with his presence?
Rob is a hardworking guy who always gives his all every day. And yes just being another older and high character guy helped me during my rehab process.
You played with so many talented young Germans. If you had to pick a player who made the most strides in the season? Possibly Johannes Joos?
Yes Johannes made unbelievable strides this year, it was great to see him put the team on his back during certain games of the season. He is a very talented and smart player who will have a long career.
Let´s talk about your game. You averaged 11,9ppg and 5,2rpg. How content were you with your rookie performance considering you were injured for a long time?
I’m very happy about how I finished the season because I battled adversity and was able to overcome the situation multiple times throughout the season. But ultimately my teammates and coaches helped me so much getting back in my rhythm and helping me play at peak performance at the end of the year.
In our last interview in 2017 you stated that you are an unfinished project and still have a lot to improve on. What strides do you feel could you make in your game as a rookie in Germany?
I still believe I have a lot to work on and improve. I am very happy for this break now to develop my skills and get my body in great shape. A few things I can work on is continuing to work on my passing and ability to knock down open 15 footers. I believe it can help expand my game and give defenses different looks to defend.
You also stated in our last interview that you see your energy and willingness to go after ball will help you at the next level. Do you see yourself being able to up your scoring and rebounding scoring in the next years?
Yes I do I believe in myself and my abilities. Being able to achieve these goals will be a lot of hard work and sacrifice that I have to make but it is very doable.
What did you appreciate most about the country Germany? Not many players get to live in a beautiful place like Trier.
I love Germany this year. There are so many cool cities that I got a chance to visit. Also living in Trier was great because it has so much history and beautiful scenery throughout the city.
What is the next step for Justin Alston? You had a solid season in Germany. Could you imagine staying in Germany and getting some Pro A or BBL offers?
The next step is to continue to evolve and improve my game in all areas. I could image staying in Germany and yes that would be great.
How does a normal summer day workout plan look like for you on and off the court? On what areas of your game will you be working on this summer?
Normal days in the summer are just waking up, eating, going to get shots up, lifting, workouts with trainers, and just enjoying the summer. This summer I will be working more on my decision making in different situations such as double teams, pick and rolls, and just in general making the right plays.
Who was the toughest player that you battled on the court this season in the Pro A?
The toughest player I battled against was Sherman Gay from Crailsheim. He was a veteran player who knows how to use his body and has great hands.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
March Madness is always interesting and crazy to watch, I love the energy around basketball during that time. It´s the best time of year. Loyola Chicago with their run stood out most to me, they did a great job.
Deandre Ayton seems lie he could be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must of seen some highlights of Real Madrid´s 19 year old stand out Luca Doncic who belonged to the best players in the Euroleague. Should a guy like that be the automatic #1 pick just from sheer experience and talent?
Both guys are very talented players and will have long careers in the NBA. I have watched a lot of Luca Doncic games and believe he is the real thing but I’m not completely sure if he will be the #1 pick.
Thanks Justin for the chat.