Donald Vaughn is a 28 year old 195 cm forward from Dumfries, Virginia that is taking part at the Howard Hoops tour in Germany this weekend. Vaughn has had professional experience playing with the Beltway Bombers (APBL). He played at Va.Wesleyan (NCAA3) from 2008-2012 reaching the D-3 Elite 8 and Sweet 16 and as a senior played 31 games averaging 13.9ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.0apg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Don thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I’m in Northern Virginia the Summer has been good. I’m working while playing in the APBL and The Goodman League which is one of the best summer leagues in the U.S.
Your 28 and have had a job through school and now in your 12th year while keeping the professional basketball dream alive. How difficult is it being able to balance all this?
It’s only difficult at times for me financially but it’s been a great journey even though I haven’t been signed yet I’ve been able to travel and go places I’ve never dreamed of going.
You played division three basketball at Va.Wesleyan (NCAA3) and left school ranked number 1 all time in blocks number 2 in steals and number 4 in rebounds and number 11 in points. Why isn´t a guy like you a professional player overseas? I have seen plenty of NCAA 3 guys make a living overseas.
Your guess is as good as mine but I know politics plays a large hand in landing a job in a European country or any country for that matter. Also I was a center in college and I am a true wing now so it’s tough getting people to accept the change without proper film.
You finished school in 2012 and have had minimal professional experience having played for Team Italy (Eurobasket Summer League in Atlanta): 6 games: 17.7ppg, 3.4rpg and Team Dublin (Eurobasket Summer League in Las Vegas) playing 5 games: 9.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 0.4apg and two times with the Beltway Bombers (APBL). Why have you struggled to get your career going? Has it been missing representation by an agent?
I think the biggest struggle for me has been my lack of intelligent representation. I had one or two offers out of college but I didn’t understand how much of a struggle it would be to land another job after college was over.
You had a stellar NCAA career. Has your chip on your shoulder gotten bigger year by year. How difficult is it for you seeing friends having gone the professional route and you not having had that opportunity to showcase your abilities on a large stage?
It’s been a little frustrating but it’s been quite the process for me to become the player I am today. I’ve always been optimistic about life but would it be crazy to believe my time is coming?
After not playing professional for two years you recently played for the Beltway Bombers (APBL) again. Had you just been fed up with basketball for a few years and what got your appetite back to wanting to hoop again?
The two year gap is because I was trying out for the NBA D-League at the time I made it to the top 10 for the Erie Bayhawks and top 16 for the Delaware 87ers but they were taking the top 2 from each camp. Tried out for the Fort Wayne mad Ants made the top 10. We just played 5 on 5 at the end. Tried out for the Canadian Basketball League since they have a combine now and I also took a trip to Israel and played with a tour team known as “Athletes in Action” where we played against the 21U National team.
For everyone in Europe who isn´t aware of the semi pro leagues in the states how would you describe your experiences in the APBL league?
Physical,long,and grueling games where the Elite shine as the stage gets bigger because you have to play smarter and more consistent down the stretch to close some games out.
You recently were added to the Howard Hoops roster for the tour in Germany. How excited are you to be getting an opportunity like this?
Super excited and grateful that I’ve been given another opportunity to showcase my talents on a bigger stage.
How did the whole process of becoming part of the Howard Hoops roster function? Did you send in a video to Ron Howard or did you actually know him before or have a meeting?
I seen he was looking for players to go on tour so I messaged him and he told me to send my film and he would let me know if it was good enough. Lucky me he answered back and invited me on another journey.
How aware are you that the chances of signing a contract after a Howard Hoops tour aren´t that bad. With what kind of expectations are you going into this tour?
I’m not really worried about what the chances are I’ve been in the situation too many to count I’m just trying to show the best version of me and let God handle the rest.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You describe your game as : I am an explosive 2/3 guard who can score from the perimeter and finish above the rim. I’m a good defender that knows how to use my quickness and athleticism to my advantage. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would you chose?
Jimmy Butler because I feel my defense is Elite
At the age of 28 how would you describe where your game is now? Would you say that you are coming into your prime, or are just extremely hungry to get that professional chance that you still have a lot of potential to develop despite your age?
I would definitely say I’m coming into my prime because I feel more knowledgeable about the game than I ever have before. As far as being hungry I let my game talk for itself I learn each time I come on the court and try to outplay my opponent play by play. I’ve really used my son as motivation to stay hungry because he doesn’t understand now but one day I hope he will understand what true perseverance is through my story. Life doesn’t always go your way sometimes you got to make it happen.
You had a stellar career at Va.Wesleyan (NCAA3) winning the ODAC tournament as a freshman and reaching a NCAA 3 Sweet 16 and Elite 8 at the tournament. You achieved a lot but what basketball memories do you have of this time and what were the sweetest?
I think one my sweetest memories is my freshman year against W & L I hadn’t played but two minutes of the game and my coach looks down the bench with about 7.3 seconds left on the clock and said whose our best on ball defender all the coaches said my name and he grabbed me and threw me in the game ice cold. I picked the 6’7 guard full court turned him 5 times coming up the court till he finally made his drive and I blocked his shot on the glass at the buzzer. Life as I knew it was never the same.
Already as a freshman DJ Woodmore came into his own and when you were a senior he averaged 16,3ppg. Was it a few years later difficult to grasp why he was leading a professional career in Germany and you weren´t?
No DJ is a talented player and one of the best to come through Virginia Wesleyan. Dj had great representation fresh out of college as he had the same agent as Kent Bazemore who at the time was coming out of his shell as a player.
What are your fondest memories with DJ Woodmore? Were you like a mentor for him in the two years that you played together?
Me and DJ had a funny relationship it was more of a big brother thing than anything else. He followed his own path. I gave advice where I thought it was necessary nothing more nothing less.
What did you gain most from head coach David Macedo in your four years at Va.Wesleyan (NCAA3). Was he an easy coach to play for from day one or did you have your ups and downs over the years?
Coach Macedo has been like a father to me since I’ve known him. The smartest Coach I’ve ever seen or played for. He basically taught me everything I know about basketball but at a higher level. He challenged me day in and day out to make my teammates around me better through leadership and actions. Some days were harder than others but he had a charismatic way of bringing the best of me out.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Chris Astorgia?
Me of course I brought the energy to our team every single day
Who was the toughest player that you ever battled on a court anywhere being the NCAA or the playgrounds that reached the NBA?
Kendall Marshall he wasn’t the fastest or the best shooter but everything else he did was at a NBA level. He’s from my area so I’ve gone head to head with him a couple of times.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
Jordan,Lebron,Dr J, Bill Russell
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan?
Jordan is better. He was cold blooded in the clutch and when playoffs come he’s going for 50.
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
No because there is no Steph Curry or Klay Thompson to support that style of living and dying by the 3.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
15 assist per game easily
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
Avengers infinity war Part 1
Thanks Don for the chat.