Darius Thompson is a 24 year old 193cm. guard from Murfreesboro, Tennessee playing his second professional season and first with Happy Casa Brindisi (Italy-Serie A). Last season he played his rookie season with Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Holland-Eredivisie) winning the cup and playing 39 games and leading the Eredivisie league in scoring with 19.0ppg, 4.1rpg, Assists-2 (5.4apg), Steals-1 (2.7spg), FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 81.7%. He played at 3 NCAA schools beginning with the University of Tennessee (NCAA) playing 37 games averaging 2.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.4apg. He then played at the The University of Virginia (NCAA) from 2015-2017 playing a total of 69 NCAA games averaging 4.1ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.5apg and 6.1ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 60.5%. He made one more move playing his senior year at Western Kentucky University (NCAA) playing 36 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 4.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 53.7%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 73.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a basketball Champions League game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn in Bonn.
Darius thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Welcome to Germany. Did you make any trips to Germany while your rookie season in Holland?
Last season we went to Wurzburg for a game, but other than that I hadn’t been to Germany. I never got a chance to come to Germany because we had so many games. When I had an off day, I chose to lay around and rest.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you had any friends or former teammates or opponents that have played here?
I have played and played against a number of guys that have played in Germany like Adonis Thomas. They have all spoke highly of the league and that it has great competition and has great tradition.
Your playing your first season for Happy Casa Brindisi (Italy-Serie A) The club is playing well in the Serie A and up and down in the Champions League. What kind of experience has it been playing in Italy?
It has been an overall very good experience playing in Italy. We started off strong, but recently haven’t been playing as well. For me personally this was a good step to make. It was a huge jump coming from Holland. I love to compete against the best teams and am able to do that here.
You led the Dutch league in scoring last season and have had solid stats this season. What was the biggest adjustment for you coming to a higher level with the Serie A?
The overall talent is a lot higher. The players in the Italian Serie A are bigger, stronger and faster. I think that the teams are deeper in Italy. Many of the rotation players in Italy could be starters for Dutch teams. There are no breaks in the Serie A. All players know how to make plays.
Let’s talk about your teammates. What kind of an experience has it been sharing the court with prolific scorer Adrian Banks. How has his experience and game helped yours mature at a new level?
It has been great being teammates with him. He is an experienced player and has been playing for years. A big thing that I have learned form him is that he knows when to slow down the game. That is when he out smarts other players. I love watching him compete. You can learn a lot from him.
Has teammate Kelvin Martin gave you some information on Germany. He is a guy like you that started in lower levels and has moved himself up the basketball ladder.
I talk to him a lot. We have had similar experiences as players. We both played in the Dutch league and have been able to move up. It has been a great experience learning from him. He told me his experiences that he had with the MLP Academics. He is a great example of how hard work will get you up the ladder.
You’re a guard that can fill up the stat sheet with ease. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
It’s hard to tell. I’m a bigger guard and I like to share the ball. I am a different type of player. I just try to take a bit from many different players. I just try to be the best that I can and continue to improve in all aspects.
You have always been a very good defender. What part of your defense do you feel is off the radar?
Contesting shots with my length. If a player gets by me, I feel that I can recover faster with my length.
You have been shooting the three very well the last two years. What is your biggest focus on developing your shot further to go from a good shooter to a great shooter?
Just continuing to take more reps in practice. My team knows that I can hit open shots. We have many guys that like to attack the rim so they need a spot up shooter who can hit the open shot.
Last season you played with Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Holland-Eredivisie) playing 39 games: Score-1 (19.0ppg), 4.1rpg, Assists-2 (5.4apg), Steals-1 (2.7spg), FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 81.7%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie where you knew right away that you were far away from home?
Being away from home wasn’t an issue since I had been used to it in college. I think that the biggest wake up call that I had was just the different style of basketball. There is more ball movement and team chemistry here. I am getting more and more used to playing here.
Was the thrilling 97-96 win in the Fiba Europe Cup against Turkish team Sakarya BSB your best personal game as a pro, but was a clear second to winning the cup title?
Yes that was one of my best performances as a pro in Europe. We were down 20 points and made an amazing come back winning and advancing to the next round.
How vital was Dutch national player Worthy De Jong in your rookie season. Do you feel like some of his leadership qualities rubbed off on you?
Just being around so many veterans with experience helped me a lot. He taught me how to keep my body right and stay in shape and just be able to last a whole season. There are so many more games at the pro ranks than in college.
What was your impression of Maurice Watson. He went through a lot a few years ago with that rape scandal which he was cleared from How far do you feel can he go with his game as a professional?
Sky is the limit for him. When he was college and healthy, he was one of the best point guards in the nation. He like me had to start at a lower level as pro’s than what we expected. Many doubted him and still do, but he just kept grinding. Last season he was in the top of the best assist guys in the Dutch league and Fiba Europe Cup. He is starting to get more looks and NBA work outs. He never gave up on himself. I am really proud of him. We talk at least once a week. He is like a brother for me. I think that in a few years he will be playing in a top league.
What kind of experience was it playing NBA Summer League with the Toronto Raptors. Can one make own personal judgements about how far one is from the NBA after an experience like that?
It was a different kind of experience seeing how the NBA works. I felt like I learned a lot in my time there and was aware of what I have to keep working on to get better. The whole experience taught me that I have to be prepared for the next stage. It was great being around NBA personal and playing against the most talented young players.
What kind of feedback did you get from coaches and players about your play? What was your coolist experience at the NBA Summer League?
For me it was just having the opportunity to be with the Toronto Raptors who had just won the NBA title. The atmosphere was great and being able to work with the coaching staff that had just won the NBA title was huge for me.
Not every guy can say that they played at 3 NCAA schools. You played at Tennessee, Virginia and Western Kentucky. What part of your game do you feel profited the most from this experience which it may not have gotten if you had been only at one school?
I think that the most important thing that I got out of being able to play at 3 schools was having experience with different roles. At Tennessee I was more of a pass first guard as we had many experienced guards. The system at Virginia wasn’t as fast. At Western Kentucky it was more of an open style .I learned how to play different ways. Having had this experience with different teams and styles will help me very much.
You began your career with Tennessee where you averaged 2,0ppg in 16 minutes of time. What kind of experience was your freshman year and did you get anything positive from it?
It was a huge experience. Being able to go against future NBA players like Jordan Mcrae and Josh Richardson was important. I made good strides there. I was second in team assists as a freshman. We reached the NCAA Sweet 16. It was the craziest game. We played in the Indianapolis Colts arena.
You then played two years at Virginia where your minutes and stats gradually went up. How do you feel did your game develop further under Tony Bennett?
I developed a lot under coach Bennett. It was a slower pace. It was a different style to adjust to. I played against different pro’s each night. It was a great experience.
You reached the NCAA Elite 8 losing to Syracuse 68-62 and you had 9 points in 13 minutes. What memories do you have of this game and was this one of your toughest loses in the NCAA?
I had a lot of tough loses including losing by 30 points. We led most of the game against Syracuse and let it slip away. As a kid you always dream of playing in the NCAA Final 4. We were minutes away form winning. It was a very tough loss.
What memories do you have of Malcolm Brogdan? He heightened his stats in each NCAA season and reached the NBA and has stayed. What was especially special in his game that other guys didn’t have?
He is the definition of hard work. He was always the first in the gym and the last one out. He was so locked in to always wanting to be the best. He took no days off.
You moved one more time to Western Kentucky University (NCAA) playing 36 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 4.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 53.7%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 73.6%. What did you learn about your game that you didn’t know about before?
We had more freedom under him. The offense had more freedom to make plays. We would attack each possession and make plays.
You had an amazing triple double against Marshall with 33/10/10. Did you down the stretch that you were close to a triple double?
My teammates reminded me at the end that I was close. There were 2 minutes left to play and I needed 2 rebounds. When I got the triple double, all my teammates were going crazy. It was one of my best performances in college. I will never forget it.
How did head coach Rick Stansbury groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
He opened my mind to never back down and always be in attack mode. He always forced me to be aggressive.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Taveion Hollingsworth?
He was a really tough player. He always had to guard the other teams best player. He backed down to no one. I don’t think that we ever played each other. If we did we both got the best of each other. When all is said and done, he will be the Western Kentucky’s all-time leadings corer and will go down in history as the best player.
Who was the toughest player you battled on the court that is in the NBA?
I played against so many. It’s hard to pick just one.
Please construct your personal NBA Rushmore. Which 4 heads past or present would you chose?
Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Kobe Bryant
What is your personal opinion of who is the best Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
If you break down all the stats then I take Lebron. If it’s titles then it’s Jordan.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Taking of the Pelham 1-2-3 with Denzel Washington.
Thanks Darius for the chat.