Iziahiah Sweeney is a 22 year old 193cm guard from Compton, California that recently played with the HowardHoops tour in the Dominican Republic. He began his basketball career at Compton High School and in 2014-2015 played at Portland St. (NCAA) playing 23 games averaging 3.0ppg. He then played a season at E.Los Angeles JC (JUCO) playing 29 games averaging 15.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 53.2%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 63.6%. He reached the NCAA in 2016 an dplayed 56 games for Northwestern State (NCAA). In his junior year he played 29 games avergaing 8.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 68.8%. In his senior year at Northwestern St. (NCAA) he played 27 games averaging 11.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 68.6%. He got his first pro experience with Team Miami (Eurobasket Summer League in Las Vegas) last summer. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Iziahiah thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
I’m in Los Angeles, California working out and staying in shape just getting back from the Dominican Republic where I was playing on a tour team.
You recently finished at Northwestern St. (NCAA) and had a very solid two year career. It is mid September and you were recently in the Dominican Republic playing on a tour instead of already getting ready for your rookie season overseas. How did it come to this? I mean did you not find the right representation this summer?
Yes, I basically did not find the right representation and was misled by many people.
There are guys that came from lower levels and even guys that had lesser stats than you in the NCAA and have been doing well for years overseas. How tough is this for you to accept where your current career has taken you and what keeps you positive?
It was tough at first seeing people I know I am better than getting jobs but then I accepted that everyone has different paths and there are many opportunities out there so my time would come. Instead of letting it discourage me, I just work hard every day and prepare myself for that opportunity so when it comes I can make people regret overlooking me.
Before we talk about your career let´s talk about the last weekend. You recently were added to the HowardHoops roster for the tour in Santiago in the Dominican Republic. How excited were you to be getting an opportunity like this?
It was very exciting to me because this was a big step in my career to get it started. It was also an awesome experience to see what to expect when I do play in another country on and off the court.
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 met Ron Howard through one of my old college coaches. I basically sent him my highlight tape and resume and he liked it so we went from there.
How aware were you that the chances of signing a contract after a Howard Hoops tour aren´t that bad. With what kind of expectations did you go with into this tour?
I am aware because I know that I am talented enough and should be playing on a team right now but I finally got the chance to open some eyes and show people what I deserve. I was expecting to sign a contract from this tour because I believe in myself.
How fit are you. You have minimal professional basketball experience and must be as hungry as a famished bear over winter
I love basketball so I do something every day to get better at it. I would say I am pretty fit.
How confident were you that you would make an impact on this tour and leave it signing a professional contract?
I was very confident that I will leave the tour signing a contract because I know I worked very hard leading up to the tour and I envisioned myself doing well out there.
Talk a little about how the weekend went for you. Did you pass the test or do you feel like you could have done better against the overall competition?
I feel like I did pass the test averaging over 25 points each game with at least 3 or more dunks each game and grabbing a lot of rebounds along with getting a lot of assists every game. I also had a 30 point game too. But I still feel like no matter how good you do there is always room for improvement so I will continue to try to improve.
Please give a brief description about your game and why you could be an asset to any professional team in Europe?
I am a very athletic scoring combo guard that can shoot, get to the rim and make plays for others. I could also play above the rim and I take pride in playing defense and winning.
What was your impression about Howard Hoops CEO and founder Ron Howard. How quickly did you sense that his passion for helping get players a job was huge?
Me and Ron come from the same city so I feel like we clicked instantly. Once he seen me play, he was very big on getting me a job and wishing he would have known me earlier.
Ron Howard is really high on your abilities and feels that you can play at a high level. Did you feel that confidence from him in your time with him over the weekend in the Dominican Republic?
Yes, Ron Howard really gave me the confidence to go out there and play at a high level. He told me every time I get a chance to dunk do it and that stuck in my head. He also showed me the open spots on the floor and that I could get be very efficient from for example the mid range area and that opened up driving lanes and the 3 point shot for me. Overall Ron Howard really helped me play with confidence throughout the trip.
Now let´s talk a bit about your career. You played at three different schools. How important was it having this experience and what was the most important thing that you got out of this?
I think playing at different schools really help me learn how to adapt to new systems and learn the ins and outs of a team fast. I enjoyed the experience of going to different schools overall.
Your from Compton, California and we all know from movies that this isn´t a place you should go to. How was your childhood and is Compton as bad as how it is perceived?
My childhood was really rough and I am lucky I found basketball to help keep my in the right direction. I feel like growing up there made me used to facing and overcoming adversity and I don’t fear anything but God. Compton is honestly not as bad as its perceived if you stay in your lane and don’t get into any trouble other than that you would get what you are looking for.
You played your freshman year at Portland St. (NCAA) playing 23 games averaging. 3.0ppg. You only remained a season. What were the main reasons for going and what positives could you get out of this year?
I went to Portland State to get away from California. The positives I got out of this year was learning how to deal with being away from home and how a D1 program works.
You then took a step back and returned home to E.Los Angeles JC (JUCO) playing 29 games averaging 15.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 53.2%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 63.6%. How vital was it taking this step and what prepared you best this season for being able to be successful in the NCAA with Northwestern State?
This step was very important because it gave me the chance to rebrand and find myself. I was the best player on the team and It showed me how to handle that. I feel like I was better than the numbers show in Juco because my team was really stacked. I learned a lot of life lessons during this year that still help me to this day.
You had many good games at Northwestern State, but was the 67-65 loss to Texas A one of your tougher loses despite scoring 26 points the most in your NCAA career?
Yes that was a tough loss because I feel like I played my heart out and I really wasn’t on a good team at all at Northwestern State.
How do you feel did you grow as a player at Northwestern State that will allow you to be very successful at the pro ranks?
Northwestern State taught me how to play with teammates that aren’t that experienced because I was the only senior on the team and we had 8 freshmen and two juniors that were first time starters. It was really tough but it made me mentally stronger to keep playing and worry about the thing I can only control.
How did head coach Mike Mcconathy groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Mike had practice every day a 5:50 am. I was never a morning person but then I suddenly became one. I know wake up early to get all the important things out the way so I can get the most out of every day. He also ran a pro style offense with the floor spread and pick and rolls, so it helped me adapt to the next level.
Who won a one on one last year you or Czar Perry?
Czar was very talented and fast but he was younger than me so I would always win those battles.
Who was the toughest player you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Trae Young who now plays for the Atlanta Hawk was probably the best player I battled along with Mo Bamba.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
I would pick Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Magic Johnson
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan?
Jordan is definitely better to me and I don’t even think it’s close. He has way more accolades and he had way more of an impact on the game to me.
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
No I don’t, I feel like there are plenty of teams like the Lakers and other teams that are getting better and would be able to compete with the Celtics.
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?
I feel like he would avg 15 assists per game.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
I have seen Black Panther but that wasn’t the last movie I saw. It was the Equalizer 2 with Denzel Washington and it was a pretty good movie.
Thanks Iziahiah for the chat.