It really doesn’t matter what sport it is in Germany, but if that city is at one end of Germany, then that team will have some grueling long road trips during the season. It hasn’t been any different for German easyCredit BBL team Rostock Seawolves that are situated on the north eastern corner of Germany on the east sea and driving from one end of the country to the other is nothing unusual. In the last years when they were in the Pro A, they had some long long road trips to south Germany to places like Kirchheim and with the longest being to Schwenningen which consists of 923 kilometers. It won’t be any different this season as they have 3 very far destinations of Munich (775 km), Ulm (802km) and Ludwigsburg (804km). 20 years ago, people read more on seemingly endless bus rides, but in 2022 you have Netflix and can easily survive the torture. But one can only get so much of movies and sometimes you just want to bond with teammates. Over the years, Rostock have had some talented guys running up and down the court, but if they all had amazing stories to tell is difficult to know. The closest that the SeaWolves have had to the NBA was a few years ago with Zach Lofton who played 1 NBA game with the Detroit Pistons and this season is earning the big bucks in Lebanon. But this season the club has a new link to the NBA with Derrick Alston Jr. (206-SF-1997, college: Boise St.). He hasn’t played an NBA game yet, but his dad Derrick played in the NBA and 8 years in Spain in the best league in Europe ACB with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. He himself played at 2 NBA Summer Leagues and played a season in the G-League as well as making the tough grind through the NCAA. He met so much NBA talent and personal in the last years, but it all started when he was a ball boy with the Houston Rockets. The team is very experienced and the youngest is 16 year German phenom Roy Krupnikas who would never be bored during road trips. There are 2 vivid memories he has of when he was shagging rebounds from future NBA legends. ‘I would always rebound for the opposing teams. Here and there I would talk to players and savior special moments. I remember having a cool interaction with Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwauke Bucks. He told me I looked like him at his age. I also remember talking with Damian Lillard. Years later he played open gym at Boise State and actually remembered me from my ball boy days. He was the first guy that told me I could become a professional player. I will always cherish these kind of moments where some of the greatest players in the world who told me these things’, remembered Derrick Alston Jr..
Derrick Alston Jr. who lists Kobe, Lebron, Kareem, Jordan and Steph Curry on his own NBA Mount Rushmore was born on September 17th, 1997 in Houston, Texas. He lived 2 years in Spain when his dad was playing in the ACB. Late in his dads career, he spent a few seasons in Argentina and he visited him there and saw him play against one of the top teams Boca Juniors, the club where soccer legend Diego Maradona played before going to Europe in the early 80’s. He attended Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston. In his senior year he averaged 14,6ppg and 5,1rpg. He received First Team All-District 19-6A honors. He had interest from division1 schools, but no offer. He went to Boise State (NCAA) in 2016 as a walk on and was focused to work hard for the scholarship. He arrived on campus standing 6’9 and weighing only 148 pounds. He redshirted the first season, but worked hard eating 6-7 meals a day and before going to sleep ate a peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. 5 years later and 190 pounds, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich isn’t something on his menu anymore. ‘Eating crustables (The sandwich without the crust) was a main staple of my diet at Boise State. But I haven’t ate one in a while’, said Derrick Alston Jr.. In his first season he played only 11 games and 26 minutes and suffered real growing pains. ‘The first 2 years were tough. I had to put on so much weight in such a short time. The program always supported me and I was always treated as one of the guys despite being a walk on. Having the feeling of belonging really helped me later in life. Having a guy like Christian Sengfelder kicking my butt in my second year also helped me mature. This set a great foundation of the player and person I am today’, stressed Derrick Alston Jr.. The German national player and him are still in contact today and he is looking forward to meeting on the floor soon. ‘He told me a big thing in Germany are the bakeries. I found a nice Bakery in Rostock that I’m hooked on. Christian has turned me into a bakery guy’, laughed Derrick Alston Jr.. In his last 3 years in school, he averaged 15,0ppg, 5,0rpg and 2,0apg. He played 93 NCAA games and scored in double figures in 72 games. He made a massive development in these 3 years and it was obvious he was a different player in 2021 then he was in 2018. ‘The summer of 2018 was huge for me. Coach Rice had told me that I would have a bigger role. So I worked off my butt. I feel like I came into the season prepared and had an impact. I found my groove in my second year and found out I belonged. All gave me confidence and helped me put me on the map. It was a surreal feeling when I left, because nobody thought that my career would end up in that capacity’, expressed Derrick Alston Jr..
The versatile forward who admits he lost to NBA player and Boise State teammate Chandler Hutchinson in 1-1 games back in the day, but now has caught up with him and it would be competitive had many great games including hitting San Jose and Portland for 30 plus points a piece in wins, but it was actually another game that he will never forget. ‘I came of age when I scored 30 points off the bench against San Diego State. We got the win against a team that was always a top 3 team in our conference. It was crazy’, remembered Derrick Alston Jr.. One teammate that he will never forget is Justinian Jessup who was his teammate for 3 years at Boise State and briefly in the NBA Summer League with the Golden State Warriors. Now the tall 201cm guard is playing his first season in the ACB with Zaragoza. ‘We are brothers for life. We were roommates at Boise State. We had our ups and downs, but we had a great relationship and still keep in touch today. We support each other. It is amazing to see that we began as roommates and went to playing at top leagues. That was always a dream of ours at Boise State’, stated Derrick Alston Jr.. One guy that was instrumental in his development at Boise State was head coach Leon Rice. It is fair to say that he wouldn’t be the player he is today without having his guidance and support through his stay at Boise State. ‘He always had a lot of confidence in me and just put me in situations to succeed. He put me in situations to be allowed to fail early, but gave me confidence to be the player I want to be. He let me live and die with my mistakes. That is a luxury that not many can have early in their development. The support that I got from him from day 1 was amazing. Boise State will always be like a second home for me. I played with his son Max and now his other son Kay is on the team. I will always be so thankful for his support’, warned Derrick Alston Jr..
The Texas native who lists the Martin twins Coby and Caleb of the NBA and Nevada (NCAA) as his toughest opponents in the NCAA went undrafted in 2021, but was invited to play at the 2021 NBA Summer League with the Golden State Warriors where in 4 games he averaged 5.8ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 50.0%. ‘I remember thinking about draft day when the Warriors drafted Kuminga and Moody and now they were my teammates. Playing at Thomas Mack was nothing new for me as I had played there before, but seeing Steph Curry and Draymond Green courtside was great. It was an eye opening experience. It was a great experience playing at that speed and playing under NBA rules’, remembers Derrick Alston Jr.. He then joined the Utah Jazz for his rookie season, but landed on their G-League team Salt Lake Stars where in 29 games, he averaged 16.6ppg, 5.4rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 28.4%, FT: 81.4%. He played incredibly solid and consistently in his last 3 months there scoring in double figures in 25 games in a row. He more than deserved a NBA call up. ‘I felt like I was close. I had a rough start and needed a short adjustment period. Once I found my game I was on the run for a NBA call up, but it didn’t happen. I got a lot of confidence and felt like I belonged and can play at that level. It is all about timing and keep working hard which will help elevate me to bigger heights’, stressed Derrick Alston Jr.. He saw so much in that season with guys always coming and going that the NBA will always be a business first. Despite being in Germany now, the NBA is still a big goal of his. He played in the NBA Summer League one more time last summer with the Dallas Mavericks and got the right kind of feedback to be able to keep the dream alive. ‘My goal will always be to play at the highest level if it is in Europe or the NBA. I want to continue to establish myself as the best player possible at my position. I feel like I got good feedback from the Mavericks. The most important thing is to become a better shooter. That is a premium everywhere nowadays. As well as continuing to work on my ball handling, finishing inside and being able to make plays for my teammates’, commented Derrick Alston Jr..
The big Kobe fan who lists James Reid (life long friend and mentor from day 1), Chandler Hutchison (put him under his wing early), Christian Sengfelder (put up big numbers at Fordham but didn’t win, but wanted to win with us), Justinian Jessup (Great teammate and one of hardest workers) and Marquise Bolden (incredible teammate and selfless from whom I learned a lot) as his greatest teammates of all-time is playing his second professional season for the Rostock Seawolves in Germany. Rostock is an organization that only 9 seasons ago was toiling in the Regionalliga (4th division) and have had an incredible rise in the last years. That the team began 4-0 in the easyCredit BBL is something that is very difficult to believe. Is it the ultimate Cinderella story? ‘It kind of looks like it is doesn’t it? We have a special group of guys that have come together early. We fit well together and are allowed to play to our strengths. We have found ways to remain in games and win them. That is a very special ability to have. We will continue to go day by day’, stressed Derrick Alston Jr.. The club is on a role now and that feeling of being unstoppable continues to grow with every new victory. Winning continues to build their self-confidence. For those that are close to the organization knows that the winning doesn’t only have to do with the coaching staff and players, but the club simply is special from the owner all the way down to the janitor. ‘I began to feel this special collective synergy very early on. The organization is run very well. The fan support is amazing as well. Everything is top in this organization. I wasn’t expecting this. But when an organization is run as well as this, then you are set up for success’, warned Derrick Alston Jr.. The club kept a good mix of players, but also added new pieces that have fit superbly early on showing an early chemistry. ‘I think key for that early chemistry was having a long pre-season. We had something like 11 games which isn’t super common. Having so many games early on helped us. Coach let us play to our strengths and we capitalized on it. We have established ourselves offensively and we will get better defensively with more time together’, expressed Derrick Alston Jr.. Another big reason for the success of the Seawolves has been the coaching duo of Christian Held as head coach and dad Ralph as assistant a constellation not seen often. ‘It’s very rare, but I also had it with my dad who coached me. They work so well together and makes every player’s job easier. It is very special and a great dynamic to see each day’, said Derrick Alston Jr..
The ex G-League player who like so many other players believes they should of left the classic Coming To America alone and not made a sequel has been very fortunate to not only have overall great teammates, but also very experienced Americans who have helped him getter better adjusted to the game overseas. Jaquan Lewis, Tyler Nelson and Nijal Pearson have been massive parts to the success and keeping the team together and Alston knows the team can’t do without them. ‘I was fortunate to play with a great point guard in Carson Edwards last season who taught me to pick my places and this year with Jaquan Lewis have a pass first guard who loves to play transition. He is also a great defender. It has been amazing being his teammate. Nijal Pearson is our Swiss army knife. Whatever we need he will give us. He is so important for us. Tyler Nelson flat out can shoot the ball and is always ready to shoot and will hit the tough ones as well. He is also alert on defense always sliding his feet’, stated Derrick Alston Jr.. He also has been very fortunate being teammates again with Selom Mawugbe, a guy he was teammates with in the G-League. ‘It’s a cool revelation having been teammates as a rookie and now again overseas. He is a great inside player and I believe the best above the rim player in the BBL’, warned Derrick Alston. One player who is making waves for the Rostock Seawolves is 16 year old German phenom Roy Krupnikas who recently played his first BBL game and recently won the U-16 European Championships in Bulgaria. He is a guy that needs to eat eat as he is still so slim. Alston Jr is the perfect food mentor for him. ‘Roy is like a little brother for me. Our paths at 16 are similar with being skinny and having to put on weight. But he has accomplished already so much at his age. We talk a lot. I keep him hungry and push him to keep working hard. I lay down as much nuggets as possible. The kid is very special’, warned Derick Alston Jr.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Rostock phenom Roy Krupnikas at the 2022 JBBL(U-16) German championship in Frankfurt
When you watch the versatile game of Derrick Alston JR, a few NBA guys come to mind when trying to compare games. His game is similar to guys like Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Kevin Durant in that he knows when to shoot and when to drive. It is easy to observe that he is a modern day forward. He can play the 3/4 positions and displays many skills on a nightly basis like shooting, passing, and dribbling as his size is a huge luxury as he is able to put together his game. Despite being 206cm, his rebounding average could be higher and he believes that that will rise with time. ‘I had good rebounding stats in the G-League. But you can’t forget that the game is more physical in Europe. Here it is more about me boxing out my man and letting others get the rebound. I will improve on it. I want to focus on being able to get key rebounds late in the game’, warned Derrick Alston Jr.. At the moment he is tearing up the easyCredit BBL leading the league in scoring at 24,5ppg, 3,8rpg and 1,5apg while shooting 47% from outside. There have been some factors why he has needed no adjustment period in the season. ‘We had a super long pre-season and I was allowed to make mistakes behind closed doors. I also was allowed to try things. Coach Held also gave me a lot of freedom and put me great position to be able to score and my teammates around me also made it easier. I haven’t had to force much, but just play my game’, stressed Derrick Alston Jr.. But he knows that he still needs to grind many more hours in the weight room and reading the game is also on the top of his menu for continuing to improve his game. He wouldn’t have got this far without his dad who taught him 2 very important things with how he handles himself and just how long he grinds in the lab that have made him the player and person he is today. ‘My dad has been huge in my transition overseas. He has taught me to be a pro on and off the court. He has taught me to be a hard worker as well. Him and also seeing early growing up and the summers at Boise State that I had to work hard to get somewhere in my career. I saw so many guys from an early age having to work hard that it stuck with me. My dad gave me advice on the little nuances of the game. I also credit him for me having a high IQ. We always watched college games’, remembered Derrick Alston Jr.. It seems like every season there is a team that surprises all as last season it was the Telekom Baskets Bonn and Hakro Merlins Crailsheim and this season so far it’s the Rostock Seawolves who are living a Cinderella story at the moment. It will be interesting to see how the club grows in the next months and where a Derrick Alston Jr. can take his game this season. One thing is for sure, this guy’s life stories will always fill a room. He is every basketball journalist’s dream. He is a great player that is a true professional off the court.