Julyan Stone is a 29 year old 198cm point guard from Goleta, California playing in his eighth professional season and third season with Umana Reyer Venezia (Italy-Serie A) where he helped the club win the Italian Serie A title in 2017. He played briefly with Royal Hali Gaziantep (Turkey-BSL), but other than that played most of his career in the NBA playing parts of four seasons there with teams Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats playing a total of 70 NBA games. He began his career with Dos Pueblos High School and then played at UTEP (NCAA) from 2007-2011 playing a total of 135 games and as a senior played 8.5ppg, 7.5rpg, 5.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 25.5%, FT: 56.1%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career before the Basketball Champions League game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn.
Julyan thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Welcome back to Germany. You played in Germany once before in January 2016 in a Fiba Europe cup game. Do you have any memories of your first game in Germany?
I remember very little about the game actually, but remember a couple of the guys like Jordan Theodore, Aaron Doornekamp and Philip Scrubb. Scrubb had something like 30 points.
So now your in Germany for a second time playing a Basketball Champions League game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn. What do you know in general about the country Germany and its basketball?
I know that there is a lot of talent playing in Germany and there some guys from the NBA there. It´s a pretty good league and I know some guys playing there.
You played parts of four seasons in the NBA and parts of four seasons in Europe. This is your third stop at Umana Reyer Venezia (Italy-Serie A). Has Venice become like a second home for you and what makes this club so special that you keep returning back?
Venice is like a second home for me. I always had good memories there. I met some good people there and always had good relationships. My family always felt comfortable there. For me it´s always the most important playing somewhere where my family is most comfortable. Also important is playing for a team that allows me to play the way I like to play. That has always been the case here.
The club has started so well this season. It has a lot of talent, but could one say one of it´s biggest assets is it´s experience. In the group of players with Daye, Bramos, Haynes, Washington and Vidmar you’re the youngest at age 29. How refreshing ha sit been not being one of the veterans?
We have a lot of experienced guys. Important is that we have a foundation here that has many guys that have played at a very high level. That is key for our success. Guys like Daye, Haynes and Bramos are unique players. They really know what it takes to win and that trickles down to the young guys.
With so much experience on the squad, do you feel like your game will profit more than usual for example from a guy like Marquez Haynes who has seen it all in Europe?
Yes I think so. It isn´t only him, but we have five to six guys that were here the last time I was here. We understand each other and what each other has to do on the court to be successful. Every night another guy can step up. There are no ego´s here. We all just want to win.
Can this team win the title again like it did two years ago where you already had guys like Haynes and Bramos on board?
Yes for sure. If we didn´t believe that we could than we wouldn´t be here. Our veteran guys know what it takes to win. We all understood the reasons for coming back.
How refreshing has it been having a guy like ex NBA player Austin Daye on the team? How much easier does his dominating inside game make your playmaking?
It´s so easy. He is a mismatch all game long every night. He can play any position and get a bucket at any time. He is one of the best big men that I have played with in Europe.
Let´s talk about your game. Your a very Big and quick point guard who enjoys distributing the ball more than scoring. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who do you feel would best fit that description?
Magic Johnson. He has been the most influential player for me in my career. I´m a point guard that plays in a different way. I just go out and get the job done. If you lose and don´t win, it´s just pointless. Your only an average player if you do that.
You have never been that high percentage shooter from outside, but you shot 46% last season with Charlotte and are shooting 57% in the Italian Serie A at present. What do attribute your improved shooting? Is it just more reps and better shot selection or have you changed something up on your mechanics?
It´s just confidence. It´s all about having confidence with the work that you put in. If you put in the work, you will always be confident in your abilities. You can´t ever second guess what your doing on the court. If you want to become better, you have to trust the process.
You’re a guy that can really fill up the stat sheet but since you began at Utep in 2007 until now there hasn´t been a season where you averaged in double figures in scoring. Is tis just the perfect example of you being a player that had that unselfish trait within him?
Yes it is. Key for my success in my career has been to never get caught up with stats. I have been on winning teams at every level except for last season with Charlotte. I do whatever it takes to win and never think about anything else. I just am aggressive. If coach wants me to get 15 rebounds, I´ll do that. If coach wants me to get 15 points than I´ll do that. For me every game has a different task. It is important to play to a player´s strengths. I have done that my whole career.
If coach said tomorrow, I want you to just focus just on scoring for the rest of the season, do you feel you could average in double figures in scoring?
Yes I could. It´s really not that hard to score in double figures. I can do it. With the way I play with getting offensive rebounds and playing fast break basketball, I could always score in double figures.
You played with the Toronto Raptors in 2013-2014 and then was three years in the G-League and Europe. Last season you reached the NBA again. Is your confidence level one that is extra special? Many guys wouldn´t have given the NBA another chance after having been away for three seasons?
It´s just a process. Important is to always stay locked in and just taking care of what has to be done Turkey a few years ago was a real eye opener. After my bad experience in Turkey, I finished the season in the D-League and then came back to Venice and helped win the title. Reaching the NBA last year again was a blessing. But the NBA can also be humbling. The league teaches you a lot about the game. Playing last season was a great opportunity and was a real challenge. It wasn´t easy not playing much. I missed playing more..
You really didn´t get many minutes last season with Charlotte playing 23 minutes. What was it like being teammates with Kemba Walker? Is he a guy that you could imagine being a Charlotte lifer?
Kemba Walker could definitely be a lifer in Charlotte. He is such a humble guy and such a hard worker. I didn´t see many battles that he lost. He is a great dude. Just a good person and leader. Many people loose sight of this when the only see his basketball abilities.
Two seasons ago you played for the second time with Umana Reyer Venezia (Italy-Serie A) winning the Serie A title and playing 26 games avergaing3.5ppg, 4.1rpg, 2.6apg. What was so special about thjis team?
We had a lot of toughness. We were like a family. We trusted each other on the court and went to war together on the court. We got punched around at times on the court and often were doubted, but we fought for each other and gained success. We sacrificed our ego´s and stuck together. A good example of this was Tyus Mcghee. He didn´t get many minutes during the season, but played more in the finals and really stepped up and came up big. We all believed in each other.
In the 2015-2016 season you played with Royal Hali Gaziantep (Turkey-BSL) playing 25 games averaging 4.4ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.8apg; and played 12 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 7.0ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 69.7%. You have played with many teammates in your career, but where does ex NBA player Jawad Williams rank in your all-time best?
Jawad is my guy. He helped me so much in that season in Turkey. It was a very hard process for me not getting minutes and not getting paid. I´m an honest person and expect that from the organization I´m playing for, but they didn´t give me that. Jawad was like a big brother for me. He was instrumental for me to helping me know how things work and just keeping me up beat. I was ready to go home. He is a strong man with great values. We were always talking about each other´s kids. Despite this being a tough experience, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me in my career. After this I really understood what I wanted and how to deal with what I was going through.
In the 2014-2015 season you came to Europe for first time and had your first tour of duty with Umana Reyer Venezia (Italy-Serie A) playing 41 games averaging 7.1ppg, 7.6rpg, Assists-5(4.1apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 20.3%, FT: 68.9% What was your wake up call to being overseas for the first time in your career where you knew that you were very far away from home?
Honestly my wake up call was going to the grocery store for the first time and not understanding the language. Tough was also being away from home and not being able to give my mom a hug when I wanted to or calling my brother when I wanted to. Also my son was born during my first time in Italy and I couldn´t be there which was tough.
In a loss against Banco Di Srd you had 16 points, 18 boards and 7 assists. Did your center teammate Benjamin Orter take you out to dinner after that performance? Have centers over the years appreciated your help under the boards?
Yes I have appreciated my centers over the years. I remember that game well. I actually had a car accident 30 minutes before that game. I played that whole game on high adrenaline. I remember having a conversation with Orter during the game. He really helped me get used to the situation during that game, but overall during the whole season helped put a lot of things into perspective for me. I never thought at the start that he would be so instrumental for my career, but he was important that first season overseas helping me succeed.
In your first three professional seasons you were in the NBA with Denver and Toronto playing 47 games. What in this time will you always remember as being your fondest memory?
We were in Los Angeles playing the Lakers. Toronto had made a trade and I wasn´t sure if I was going to get cut. I got to play and remember getting to the hole and dunking over Jordan Hill. It was a defining moment. My family was there and I remember my mom and aunts screaming for me. I didn´t get cut, but DJ Augustine did.
With the Raptors you played with veteran Kyle Lowry. That season he came into his own and had his best season since becoming a pro and from then on has been at another level. Would you like to think that his game profited a bit tat season from your battles with him in practice?
No I don´t believe so. Kyle was always a hard worker and proved it when his career took off becoming an allstar. He did this through a lot of determination being that work horse.
When looking back at your two seasons with Denver do you feel like there wasn´t enough room for you and the club gave up on you as you never really got a real chance?
I actually loved my time with the Denver Nuggets. It was a great opportunity there for me. Even though I was out with an injury for six months, they continued to believe in me and kept me. For them to keep me on the squad after my injury was great. I have nothing but respect for that organization.
How profiting was it for a young buck like you then to see veteran Andre Miller every day in practice. What do you remember soaking up most from his game in your two years there?
He was an incredible veteran. I loved how he was able to play at different paces. He had great leadership and always got the most out of his teammates. You always knew that he would show up to play. What really was amazing about him was his knowledge of the game. He was something like 37, but moved more like he was 50. He was always able to make the other team´s best defender look very bad.
You were parts of four seasons in the NBA. Was there one prime example in your time there where you noticed wow this is really a business before anything else?
I knew the NBA was a business my first day walking through the door. If you want to be successful in the NBA, it´s important to find out quickly that the NBA is a business, because then the whole process is a lot easier. There are many great players that aren´t in the NBA. If you are able to pick up things fast in the NBA, then you have a better chance of getting some years there getting tips and picking up your career.
You played at Utep(NCAA) from 2007-2011 playing a total of 135 games. Was reaching the NCAA tournament and playing Butler where you recorded 8 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals one of your fondest memories?
I have many great memories at UTEP and the Butler game is one of them. Reaching the tournament with 6 freshmen was a great memory. Not many expected us to that, but we did despite putting in a lot of work.
Your teammate Issac Gordon said this about your game.”Julyan is like a brother to me and I’ve always been fascinated about his ability to impact the game well beyond the stat sheet in so many different ways. You can only appreciate his game if you watch and really understand basketball because stats will not tell the entire story. As a 6’7” point guard he is willing to do whatever it takes to put his teammates in the best position to be comfortable and give his team the best chance to win. Julyan is one of the most unselfish and versatile players that I’ve ever played with. The most amazing thing I see in his game is the passion and pride he takes in his individual defensive match ups. Although I’m the only person he can’t guard, his approach to guarding 1-4 positions is awesome and inspiring”. What memories do you remember having with him?
Isaac is my guy. He is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. I see how he does that now with his own business and how he did it when he was on the court. He always played his ass off on the court and he is the perfect role model for young guys. He already acted like a pro in school and nobody really understood that. He wasn´t the most talented player, but always got the job done.
You played for two coaches at UTEP(NCAA) with Tony Barbee and Tim Floyd. How did these two guys groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Barbee gave me my first chance at UTEP as a scrawny freshman. He is a John Calipari guy and right away took me under his wing and guided me. He was like a voice in my ear and was instrumental for my development on the court and in life. Coach Floyd was old school and didn´t take crap form any players. He taught me that I would have a different way to get to the NBA. He challenged me every day something I didn´t understand then, but something I understood when I got to the NBA. He helped me take the next step.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Randy Culpepper?
We had plenty of battles. I think our battles were 50-50. We had a lot of wars and even physical altercations. But it was all in fun. I will always go to war on him. I may have had the size on him, but he had heart.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Derrick Rose and James Harden
Who would be your starting five of best teammates you ever played with?
Jawad Williams, Ben Ortner, Isaac Gordon, Al Harrington and Dwight Buycks.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
It´s generational. You can argue so many guys like taking a Kobe Bryant or a Tim Duncan. There are more. Who do you prefer? But there will never be another Michael Jordan.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I haven´t seen movies in years. Actually I watched the Lion King with my son.
Thanks Julyan for the chat.