Elias Desport is a 25 year old 203cm forward from Stockholm, Sweden that will be playing his first season in Germany with the EN Baskets Schwelm (Germany-ProB). Last season he played with AIK Basket Solna (Basketettan) playing 3 games averaging 1.0ppg, 2.3rpg, in Jan.’17 moved to A. Desportiva Sanjoanense (Portugal-Proliga) playing 13 games averaging 13.2ppg, Reb-1(10.9rpg), 1.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 56.8%, 3PT: 11.1%, FT: 43.8%. He began his career with KFUM Blackebergs IK (Basketettan) and also played with Taby Basket (Basketettan). He then lived 4 years in the states playing with St.Peter’s (NCAA) playing 119 NCAA games. He spoke to germanhoops.com earlier in the summer about basketball.
Elias thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment an dhow have you been enjoying your summer?
Right now, I’m in Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve been working out a lot, two workouts a day but I’ve also had time to see my family, friends and enjoy the weather.
Congrats on signing with German pro B team EN Baskets Schwelm. How excited are you to be playing your first season in Germany?
Thank you! I’m very excited, hopefully the fanbase of Schwelm is excited as well.
What do you know in general about about the country Germany and it´s basketball? As a guy from Sweden, how have you followed the development of German basketball over the years?
I know that Germany is a basketball country and the level of basketball is very high. I’ve played against German youth level teams when I represented Sweden in the U18 and the talent level was very high. However, I can’t say that I’ve followed the development.
After playing in Portugal and England the last two seasons, you now will make your debut in Germany. How was the transfer market for you in general this summer? You signed early. You must have been very convinced about signing early with the EN Baskets Schwelm?
Well, I had a tough year last year in England. I was dealing with injuries and I didn’t get the minutes that I wanted and that I thought I deserved. Going into the summer, you have no clue what can happen and I knew that it might take a while before I received interest but luckily, Schwelm showed interest and the rest is history.
What sold you coming to the EN Baskets Schwelm? Did you have some talks with head coach Falk Moeller that helped make your decision easier?
I’ve talked with the head coach and the management over the phone and they all seemed nice and genuine. Also, after talking with my agent, I knew it could be a good situation for me to play for Schwelm.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re an athletic 204cm power forward that can score, rebound and play good defense. If you had to compare your style on the court to an NBA player which player would best describe how you play?
That’s a tough question. I believe I can impact the game in many ways on both ends of the floor. I’m a very underrated passer for my size as well but to be honest I don’t know who I would compare myself to. I just try to do the things necessary in order to win.
You had a monster season in Portugal in the second division as a rookie after often not being able to play a big role in the NCAA or for other teams as a scorer and rebounder as you got little minutes. Are your expectations to have a season like in Portugal again since you will get ample minutes in the German Pro B?
It’s hard to say because every team and situation is different. Portugal was very different from England and I’m sure Germany is going to be different as well. I expect to make the most out of my opportunity, win and take the next step in my career.
You didn´t get many minutes in England last season, but played at a higher level than in Portugal. How confident are you that you will be an impact player this season for the EN Baskets Schwelm?
I’m confident but at the same time I’m not expecting anything for free. I know I have to earn minutes just like any other member on the team. If I work hard, everything else will take care of itself.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet at ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
My passing. Definitely my passing. I like to get my teammates involved and I have good vision. Growing up, I used to play point guard because I wasn’t very tall, I think that’s where I learned to pass better and to see the floor. Also, my defense. I’m a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions.
Last season you played with the Surrey Scorchers (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 26 games averaging 4.5ppg, 4.3rpg. How do you feel did your game develop last season that will help you be that impact player in the Pro B?
I believe my game took a slight hit last year because of the reduced role I had. I learned how to stay professional throughout last years adversity, keeping my head down and just working. Staying in the gym and doing the things necessary to improve and get better.
How vital was it for you battling experienced American Gerald Robinson on a daily basis last season? How do you feel did you profit most form his game on the court?
Gerald is a physical guy so it was fun going up against him in practice every day. He knows how to score the ball, both in the paint and on the perimeter so it was always challenging to guard him but fun at the same time.
As a rookie you played for AIK Basket Solna (Basketettan) playing 3 games averaging 1.0ppg, 2.3rpg, in Jan.’17 moved to A Desportiva Sanjoanense (Portugal-Proliga) playing 13 games averaging 13.2ppg, Reb-1(10.9rpg), 1.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 56.8%. How tough was your rookie season back in Europe after coming from the NCAA those first few months back home? What kept you going in that time?
For the record, I never had a deal with AIK. I was working out with them throughout the fall and winter after college just to stay in shape and then I played 1-2 games with them but I was never fully on board. But it was definitely tough when I didn’t have a job. I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to play anymore and I was going through a phase of depression. Then, I received the job in Portugal and I was back on track. However, playing there was also challenging because I had no social life at all so I felt really lonely at times.
With A Desportiva Sanjoanense (Portugal-Proliga) you made your real professional breakthrough. What did you learn about your game that season that you hadn´t known before that?
I learned how to be more assertive and aggressive every game. I had a bigger responsibility to perform in my rookie season that I’ve probably ever had.
What was it like being the only import player on a team that had only home grown players? It seemed not to be any kind of adjustment for you. Do you feel like your leadership skills matured more this season?
It was extremely tough because there was a constant language barrier with my teammates and coach. Most of my teammates were more interested in soccer than basketball. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have much of a social life but some of the guys tried their best in order to made sure I felt like I was a part of the group. We went out to eat, went to bars, the beach, etc. It’s kind of hard to lead a team when you don’t even speak the same language.
You played at St.Peter’s (NCAA) from 2012-2016 and played a total of 119 games, but never averaged more than 3,7ppg in a season. Despite playing little, you had an enriching experience in the class room. How important was it for your development as a player and as a person to have made this decision to play four years in the NCAA?
You learn a lot about yourself in college and I believe that’s when you really mature and grow up. Obviously, I didn’t have much success on the basketball court and in hindsight, there are definitely some things I would’ve done differently. But I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I learned a lot of new things about the game in college. The game is played so differently in the US compared to Europe. I feel like I’m comfortable in either system.
Do you ever think back where you might be as a player and person today had you remained in Euriope and never gone to St Peters?
Of course, I always reflect on things in life where I could’ve gone a different way and what that might’ve lead to. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I moved to the U.S. to attend high school and played in all these AAU tournaments. But I knew that I wanted to attend college, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and since I have family there, it was the right thing to do.
Some of your best personal games in the NCAA were against competitive schools Seton Hall and Tennessee Tech. What memories do you have battling against top players and really holding your own?
It was fun battling against some of the best. I remember my freshman year when we played Rutgers on their season opener. This was before the Mike Rice scandal and Rutgers was still in the Big East. The atmosphere in that gym was like something that I’ve never experienced before. I ended up knocking down two free throws at the end of the game to get the win. That’s something that I’ll never forget.
How did head coach John Dunne help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Dunne taught me the importance of attention to the minor details, on and off the court, that you might not think about as a player but that are extremely important. All these minor details correlate to winning. He also taught me how to be more physical as a player.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Quadir Welton?
Ha ha. Q is my guy and he was a tough cover because of his long arms and great touch around the rim. We would go at it a lot in practice and pick up and it would be back and forth. He’s a better inside scorer than me but I’m better on the outside.
You were teammates in the past with Charles Barton Jr in Swedish national teams. How have you seen his development over the years and can he play in a top league in Europe soon?
Me and Charles are good friends and we always see each other during the summer to workout. I’ve known him for a long time and he has really put in work and the results speak for themselves.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Probably Isaiah Whitehead. He was a tough guard with great strength and size. I’ve also played some other guys that didn’t make it to the NBA but that were really good. David Laury, A.J English, Justin Robinson, Momo Jones, Angel Delgado, etc. I’ve also played against Rudy Gobert, Davis Bertrans, Dario Saric in European competitions.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
Jordan, Kareem, Russell, Magic.
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan? As a player and stats Lebron owned him, but Jordan has 6 rings?
I try not to debate this topic because it’s impossible to reach a consensus. There are so many things to take into account, eras, NBA rules, opposing teams, play styles, skill set. Jordan and LeBron are two completely different players. I think the more interesting debate is Kobe and Jordan.
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
Two completely different teams, so I’ll say no.
Deandre Ayton was the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. Do you feel that from sheer talent and experience that Luca Doncic should have been the real #1 draft pick?
You can’t teach 7’0 with that skill set so that was a no brainer in my opinion.
How did you follow the 2018 NBA Draft? How cool is it having two Germans being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers?
I kept up a little bit. I was more interested in who the Knicks drafted. They are my favorite team. I like Kevin Knox. I didn’t even know the Lakers drafted wto Germans but that’s cool.
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?
He could easily average over 10 assist per game in my opinion. He’s probably the greatest passing wing player this game has ever seen.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
A Cabin in the Woods. I watched it on NetFlix and it was terrible.
Thanks Elias for the chat.