DJ Woodmore is a 28 year old 190cm point guard that recently finished his fifth professional season and fourth with Morgenstern BIS Basket Speyer (Germany-ProB) playing 21 games averaging 15.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT-2 (50.0%), FT: 87.3%. He will play next season for SG Luetzel-Post Koblenz (Germany-ProB. In 2018-2019 13.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 2.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 60.2%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 71.6% in the Regionalliga. In his first two seasons with Speyer he averaged 14.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 40.1%, FT: 72.1% and 17.5ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 76.4%. he played at Virginia Wesleyan College (NCAA3): form 2010-2014 and as a senior played 31 games averaging 20.1ppg, 5.9rpg, 2.4apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.3% (219/435), 3Pts: 46.0% (91/198), FT: 76.9% (93/121). He spoke to egermanhoops.com during the coronavirus crisis
Hi DJ where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
At the moment I’m back home in Virginia Beach with my family. I returned at the end of March. It’s a bit weird coming home with everything being the way it is. Usually the first few weeks of the offseason are filled with catching up and hanging out with family and friends that I haven’t seen in months. But I haven’t had a chance to do any of that. But knowing that the people I’m closest to are healthy, makes the situation a little better for us.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
Not at all. Never thought it would take over the world the way it is now. It’s the only thing everybody thinks and talks about. Almost impossible to have a single conversation without mentioning the virus these days.
How did you experience the day to day life in Speyer? Are you still there as I know many Americans haven’t been able to go home yet? What things did you notice in the surroundings there that showed that life wasn’t normal?
Luckily I was able to fly home exactly one week after the season was canceled. Even though I wanted to stay in Speyer a while longer, being around my family during this outbreak just felt like the right thing to do for me. But in the time I was still in Germany, everything changed drastically. Once the supermarkets ran out of toilet paper and pasta (which I still don’t understand) that’s when I knew the situation was only going to get worse.
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing.
Absolutely. Here in Virginia, some stores have a rule that you cannot enter the store without a mask, or some kind of cover/protection over your mouth. I haven’t shaken hands with anybody in the month that I’ve been back home. Just trying to keep my distance at all times.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
Extremely disappointed. Speyer had reached the Pro B playoffs for the first time in club history, and the league shuts down 2 days before the first playoff game. We had a chance to really make some noise in the first round and I think the team was feeling confident about our chances. But we’ll never know.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?
I think you have to look at it from two different sides. The Players just want to go out and compete. It would take a little adjusting to, but at the end of the day, athletes practice, train, compete all week without any spectators. It would be such a big deal for them once the game starts. From the Management side of things, its all about the money and security of the clubs. If the players step on the court, they want to get paid . And without the income from the ticket sales, fan shops, and sponsors, it makes it difficult. I completely understand both sides. Even though it sucks, managers and fans have to look out for long term success and safety of the players and clubs
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
For me, not so much has really changed from my day-to-day approach. Just doing what I can to stay fit and ready for when things get back to normal again. I love that it has given me a chance to spend more time with the family. But the whole situation gives you a chance to see what’s really important and what’s not. What you can’t live without and what you can.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Italian basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
I’m actually a little worried to be honest. I think the thought of not being able to play for another year hurts to think about, but I’m also trying to stay as positive as I can in the situation. I think some countries are taking the right steps towards trying to get things back to normal quickly, while other countries might feel the effects of everything a little bit longer.
If you had to name another player besides guys from Morgenstern Speyer that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
Benedikt (Connor) Nicolay. We played a season together a few years ago and kept in contact ever since. Probably the person I talk to the most about basketball in Germany.
How has the day to day life been now in the States with the outbreak of the Coronavirus? Have you noticed any differences and are there any differences between the Americans and German people on how they are coping and handling themselves?
Things in my area have been okay. Not the best but not the worst. Not very many cases of the outbreak considering how big the city is. I think German citizens are taking the rules a little bit more serious than the people here are. But that’s no surprise. I’m just thankful that the people in my city are taking care of themselves and others the best they can.
How has your approach to family changed since the outbreak of Corona? What things have you seen yourself do that you may not have done before?
Nothing’s really changed too much these days for my family and me. I think we’re all just a little bit sick of being in the house all day long. I’m looking for any reason to get out of the house these days. Whether its working out, going to the super market, or driving around the city.
Let’s talk about your season with Morgenstern Speyer. It was a tough season for the club. I had this team as one of the favorites to win the pro B south. Is it fair to say despite some guys missing games due to injury that the team underachieved?
I think that’s very fair to say. It was a very frustrating season for us. I thought we had a legitimate chance to finish near the top of the league with the roster that we had. But things happen.
The club won it’s first 4 games, but after that the team went 6-12. What happened from mid October until the end of the season that the club just couldn’t get something going as consistency was a huge problem.
Injuries played a large part, but I still think with the guys we had on the court, we were good enough to win every game we played. I think after teams realized we weren’t just ‘another Regio team that moved up’ they started taking us a little bit more seriously each week.
A big problem was the defensive end. Why wasn’t the club able to create a sound identity here with so many experienced players on the team?
I think our Pick and Roll defense was the problem this year. Our team actually played great 1on1 defense, but we were just missing a strong defensive presence during P&R situation, and teams took advantage of that all season.
This team remined me a bit of the 2008-2009 then BBL team Nordlingen team which by the way had your head coach on the team Carl Mbassa. They also had 4-5 guys averaging in double figures and had to rely on them much as the bench was thin. Did you see that problem with your team as well?
I don’t think our bench was too bad this year honestly. I thought we had a lot of different guys that brought different things to the table. But when 4 players average 35+ its hard for the others to get in a good rhythm when their number is called.
Did you end the season with mixed emotions. You lost the last 2 games, but luckily slipped into the playoffs that weren’t played. Would anything have changed or do you feel like the club could of got something going against top pro B team Itzehoe?
Yes I definitely had some mixed emotions about the way the season ended. Like I said earlier, we really underachieved this year but I also think with the experience of the guys we had this year, we had a legitimate shot to beat anybody we played in the playoffs. It would have been tough for sure but I think we were up for the challenge.
The team had some nice wins like against Hanau 81-78. Was that the best and most memorable win of the season for Morgernstern BIS Baskets Speyer?
I think the double overtime win against Coburg was the most memorable this season for me. By far one of most exciting games I’ve played in during my career. The energy in the arena was amazing and for the game to go to 2OTs after two buzzer beaters, was absolutely crazy.
Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure was it playing with other Spanish point guard Jordi Salto. You guys are around the same age. How did his experience and Spanish style help your game on a daily basis learn new ounces of the game?
Jordi and I had been close for several years before I returned to Speyer last season. All admired his knowledge and understanding of the game. One of the most gifted passers I’ve ever played with in my life. I thought we instantly had chemistry when we stepped on the floor together in Regio a couple seasons ago. Unfortunately with the new Import rules in Pro B, we didn’t get a lot of time on the court together this season. But I still learned so much from him living and competing together each day.
Talk about the experienced trio of Germans Tim Schwarz, Albert Kuppe and Dimitrj Kreiss. I don’t believe that there was a more experienced German trio in the whole Pro B. What did each guy bring to the table and which guy impressed you the most?
Each of them brought something great to the club these last two years. When healthy Dima was easily the best on-ball defender in the league. Tim was easily the best shooter in the league and Albert was easily one of the best scorers in the league. The issue was just staying healthy. We needed each of them for our team to be as successful as possible. In the last two years, I think we only lost 3 games when all of them were healthy.
Let’s talk about your game. How proud were you of your season after being away from the Pro B for 4 years and last playing Regionalliga and Oberliga? You averaged 16.1ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT-2 (50.0%), FT: 87.3%. How content were you of your season?
I was actually pretty content with how my season went individually. Like I said before, a lot of things were difficult because of the import rule in effect. We had two import guards and two import post players which makes it hard to get in a good rhythm, especially when only 2 of us were allowed to play together. That was extremely frustrating to say the least, but I think I played my role and did what I could in the time that I had.
How tough was this season being able to put up consistent stats considering the team had a very dominant starting 5? How important was it especially this season with picking your spots and making the right play?
Extremely tough. We weren’t a very big team, so we needed to have Mich (Michael Acosta) in the game at all times. He was one of the most skilled post players in the league in my opinion. So when I was on the court with him, it was about trying to find that balance between being aggressive, and keeping him involved. Mich was such a great passer, it made it easier for me to get open shots because of all the attention he got when he catches it in the paint.
You have always been a very good shooter, but this season had your best shooting season ever including going back to your college days. What was key for the big turnaround this season? Was it more reps and better shot selection or did you change mechanics?
Besides the work I put in during the offseason,I think the biggest key for me this year was shot selection. I think I finally got to a place in my game, where I could always get the shot that I wanted. So I didn’t have to ever force anything. If I had an open look at 3 I took it, but I also knew I could create the space I needed to get my shot off. Either mid-range or finishing around the rim. I played free and with a lot of confidence this season.
You don’t seem to get any older on the court but getting older like fine wine. On what things do you concentrate the most on on the court as you get older?
I appreciate that. I actually took a year off basketball to go back to school and coach before returning to Speyer. I think that added another year of fresh legs to my career. I think the focus is more on being efficient and smarter on the court instead of relying on my athleticism to get an edge. Now its about smaller details like footwork and preparation that create the edge.
What is the next step for you? Could you imagine remaining a Speyer lifer or could you imagine seeing a new country like you did with France a few years ago?
I absolutely love it in Speyer. They’ve given me the opportunity to start and restart my career. But as a competitor, I want to challenge myself to play at the highest level possible. Next season I hope to take the next step to Pro A and prove myself at that level. But I’m not opposed to playing in a new country. I’m always up for new challenges and experiences. That’s the only way I can grow as a player!
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the Pro B this season?
I think between Adam Thoseby, Cameron Hunt, and Lamar Mallory, a lot of teams had their hands full this season.
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?
Not yet, but he is well on his way. I think in a few years, he’ll be the face of the NBA.
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence?
I was at a teammates house having dinner when we found out. It didn’t seem real at first, like some sort of prank. His death hit hard for about a week or so. He was a big inspiration to me. I used to watch highlights of his footwork, shooting form, and just overall skill set everyday. One of the best to ever pick up a basketball.
How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now?
I really feel bad for the seniors who didn’t get to experience that. I don’t really have any advice to give those who had it taken away from them. I can only hope that they made the most of the time that they did have together with their teammates. Those were by far the best years of my life.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Equalizer and Equalizer 2. Only the classics these days.
Thanks DJ for the chat.