John Petrucelli (193-G/F-1992, college: Molloy) is a 29 year old 193cm guard from Hicksville, New York playing his 9th professional season and second with Germani Brescia Leonessa (Italy-Serie A). He has vast experience as a professional player having played his first 2 seasons in Slovakia as well as in Israel and Germany. He also played 3 years in the G-League. He began his basketball career at Hicksville High School and then played at Molloy College (NCAA2) from 2010-2014 and as a senior averaged 23.1ppg, 7.7rpg, 3.0apg, StealsNCAA2-1 (3.6spg), FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 30.5%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Eurocup game against his former team ratiopharm Ulm.
Thanks John for talking to germanhoops.com. Welcome back to Germany. What does it mean for you to come back to Ulm. From all the places that you have played overseas how enjoyable was Ulm for you?
Ulm was a great place to play. Unfortunately my time there was during covid so I didn’t get to experience things like a full arena with the amazing fans, or the city life. My time there was mostly basketball and then back to my apartment.
Your teammates this season with ex Ulm guard Troy Caupain. What does it mean being his teammate again after also being teammates in the G-League? You must have a special connection?
Troy is like a brother to me. We’ve built a very strong friendship over the last 6 years, and we’ve been lucky to play together 4 different years on 3 different teams.
Caupain reached the NBA. Do you encourage him to keep trying since you were in the G-League for 3 years?
Troy is more than capable of making an NBA roster and he knows that, he doesn’t need encouragement from me.
You must still have memories of the playoff series against Alba Berlin. Even if you lost a tough game 4 to Alba Berlin by 2 points, I can imagine you still have certain memories in crunch-time?
That Berlin series was a tough one to lose especially after winning game 1 in Berlin. They were a strong team and earned that championship that year. I just wish we had full capacity because I know the atmosphere of those games would have been amazing!
Your playing your second season in Italy with Germani Brescia Leonessa (Italy-Serie A). I can imagine that Brescia has become like a second home. What has been so appealing playing for this organization?
Brescia is a really nice city in a great location and the fans are incredible! I really like the organization because its run very professionally and Ale Magro is a great coach who knows how to get the best out of his players. It’s a very comfortable situation both on and off the court.
The team is stocked with a lot of talent. What has it been like being teammates with ultra veteran Christian Burns who I think will play until he is 40 and also played in Germany many years ago with ratiopharm Ulm. I can imagine you shared some stories about Ulm
We have a great group of guys this year with a ton of experience. Christian has become a very close friend of mind over the last year and a half. It’s crazy because his son Brooklyn was actually born in Ulm, basketball is really such a small world.
Last season you scored 14 points in a big win over Euroleague team Milan and also played very well in the playoff effort against Sassari. Was the victory over Milan one of your fondest moments last season?
Last year was incredible and probably the most memorable year of my career. We went on a 14 game win streak and I believe win 10 or 11 was against Milan at home. The reason why it was so special was because we not only kept our win streak alive, but my younger brother was in attendance from New York.
After being a rookie for a short period in Slovakia. You then played 3 years in the G-League and then came back to Europe and had your break out season with Hapoel Beer Sheva (Israel-Winner League) averaging 13.0ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.5apg, Steals-1 (2.5spg), FGP: 42.1%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 77.8%. Most Americans I have spoken to always raved about the experience in Israel. Was it tough leaving when Covid hit?
Israel was amazing. The weather was incredible, I got out there in august and didn’t see a cloud in the sky until November. It felt like blue sky and sunshine for the first 4 months I was there. I’m also a very religious person, so it was cool to be able to see religious artifacts or visit places that were mentioned in the Bible. When covid hit I just wanted to get home right away, it was weird because we didn’t really know what we were dealing with at the time so the first thing on my mind was getting home safe and being with my family.
What kind of an experience was it playing against NBA legend Amare Stoudemire who would retire a few months later as Covid hit. Were you awe struck like a small kid in a candy store or were you under control?
I was excited to play against Amare but I wouldn’t say I was star struck. I’ve played against a lot of big names in my career. I just wish we could have got the win against him and Jerusalem.
You played from 2016-2019 in the G-League with Eire and Lakeland. 3 years is a long time. Did you have serious aspiration to make the NBA and did you enjoy the league? Most guys head over seas after maximum 1-2 years.
I enjoyed the G league because I think It really allowed me to develop my game. It helped me become a better a shooter for sure. The NBA wasn’t a real thought until my third year when I had my breakout year and was on the call up radar. After my third year, Gm Anthony Parker recommended me starting my overseas career and it was a great piece of advice. I don’t regret my time in the G league. I made life-long friends that I still talk to to this day.
What do you remember being your wake up call to being in the G-League where you really got an introduction to how the NBA works?
My First year in the G league when I was with the Erie Bayhawks I had a very tough, and demanding coach by the name of Bill Peterson. Whenever I made a mistake he would always say to me ‘THIS IS NOT DIVISION 2 JOHN (my college was NCAA D2) THIS IS THE N.B.A.’ I started that season as a practice player, I wasn’t getting paid because I wasn’t dressing for games or traveling with the team that lasted about the first 12 games of the season before I worked my way into the rotation.
You played together with so many guys in the G-League. Which teammate in those 3 years made the biggest impact on you with their game?
The person who made the biggest impact on my game was actually our skills coach Haseeb Fasihi. We worked almost every day for 2 years, he was very good at player development and strength and conditioning. He really helped me develop my jump shot and ability to finish strong at the rim.
In Lakeland you were teammates with veteran Alan Anderson who was in the NBA, went overseas to play at Maccabi and then reached the NBA again. I can imagine he was a guy you tried to soak up as much as possible from?
Alan Anderson played with us toward the end of the season so we didn’t have much time together but he was a super veteran with a lot of knowledge of the game. He taught me a few things along the way and also shared a bunch of really cool NBA stories.
You were able to improve your scoring each season in the G-League and in your last season averaged 12.1ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.7apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 43.7%, FT: 85.1%. You had 2 good phases in the season where you had many consistent games. Did you ever feel like you may get a NBA call up?
That third year I was hoping to get at least one 10 day but it never ended up happening. Orlando was in the playoff race that year so they weren’t calling guys up. The year prior they were one of the last place teams in the east and I think if that were the case that year then I might have gotten a shot. They did end up inviting me to summer league that summer, an opportunity I was very grateful for.
You played your rookie season with BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL) which was short, but then broke out in your second season averaging 16.5ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.7apg, Steals-3 (1.9spg), FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 23.4%, FT: 79.1%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie overseas where you knew that you were far away from home?
I remember getting dropped off at my apartment. There was two bedrooms and one bathroom and that was it, no TV and the wifi didn’t come for 2 weeks. I had to go to the hotel lobby up the road for wifi. I had a roommate and we had no kitchen to cook food. We had a mini fridge, toaster and a microwave in the bathroom. Our road trips were taken in a small van, and we traveled on game day and left to go home right after the game. Slovakia was tough but it made me work harder and when I look back at how far I’ve come since then it makes me proud of the work I’ve put in.
You played at Molloy College (NCAA2) from 2010-2014. You had a great career winning many accolades. What was your fondest memory there?
Molloy will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my only scholarship offer coming out of high school. I would say my fondest memory would either be scoring 2,000 points or leading the country in steals.
How did head coach Charles Marquardt groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
He let me play my game from the minute I walked through the doors as a freshman until the day I left. He never put a tight leash on me, he allowed me to fail and make mistakes without pulling me out of the game and that gave me the confidence to have the career I ended up having. I’m very grateful for Charlie. He took a chance on me when no-one else would and allowed me to be myself throughout my 4 year career.
Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Matt Mcleod?
I am undefeated against Matt Mcleod ALL TIME.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in your life that reached the NBA?
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Troy Caupain – Gabe York – Anthony Brown -Christian Burns -Kenny Gabriel -Mike Cobbins – Naz Mitrou Long I know that’s 7 but I probably could have given you 20 I’ve played with a lot of really great guys.
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
In no particular order: 1) Michael Jordan 2) Kobe Bryant 3) Steph Curry 4) Shaq
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
I am a huge Lebron fan and its going to be incredible when he beats Kareem’s scoring record BUT to me Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I literally say this all the time There are certain classics that just shouldn’t be touched. Coming to America is one of them. I didn’t even bother watching the second one lol.
Thanks John for the chat.
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