Larry Drew II (Neptunas Klaipeda)I Am Looking Forward To Putting Myself Back On The Map In Europe

Larry Drew the second is a 26 year old 188cm point guard from Encino, California that is playing his fourth professional season and first with Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania-LKL). He started his basketball career in 2008 with N.Carolina (NCAA) where he played until 2011 playing 96 NCAA games and winning the NCAA tournament in 2011. He then transferred to UCLA and as a senior played 35 games: 7.5ppg, 2.4rpg, Assists-4(7.3apg), 1.4spg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 43.3%, FT: 60.9%. He started his professional basketball career in 2013-2014 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League, starting five): 46 games: 11.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 6.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 69.5%. In the 2014-2015 season he played with the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) playing 12 games: 3.8ppg, 1.3rpg, 3.8apg, in Feb.’15 signed at Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League) playing 45 games: 11.3ppg, 3.6rpg, Assists-2(9.5apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 74.4%. Last season he played for AS Monaco Basket (France-ProA): 18 games: 4.1ppg, 1.6rpg, 3.6apg, left in Mar.’16, later that month moved to Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League): 8 games: 3.3ppg, 3.1apg, 1.0spg. Last summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (New Orleans Pelicans): 5 games: 7.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.8apg, 1.4spg. He spoke to eurobasket on the eve of the 2016 US presidential election and before the Champions League game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg.

Larry thanks for talking to German Hoops Welcome to Germany. It´s election night. What is your impression of this election?

It has been a little wild. So far the media coverage has been big and it feels more like it´s about ratings than about choosing the right candidate to run the country right. I am not a big Donald Trump fan. For me it´s about choosing the lesser of two evils. Maybe we will see Hilary Clinton as the new president.

Is this your first time to Germany. What is your first impression of this country?

Yes this is my first time and it´s been nice. We got in very early in the morning today and we had a lot of time to explore before our night practice at 8:00 pm. I went to the town center of Oldenburg and liked it.

This season your playing for Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania-LKL). Was it a bit of a culture shock moving to Lithuania after experiencing more of the European glitz last season as a rookie in Monte Carlo with the team Monaco?

It´s a huge difference between Monaco and Klaipeda. I really like Klaipdea and think that it fits the style of what Europe is more than Monaco. Monaco was like living in a painting for me. At times just being there seemed too good to be true. I really feel at home in Klaipeda. The food is really good in Lithuania.

There are three Americans on board with Jimmy Baron, Jerai Grant and yourself, but how difficult has it been coming to terms with all these new Lithuanian names?

It was hard for me the first two weeks or so. I may still not pronounce the names wrong, but they know what I mean.

The club is still finding itself in the LKL league, but stormed out to a super start in the Champions League. What have been the biggest differences in the style and skill of play for you?

I feel that in the LKL the ball movement is very good as well as the spacing. All the players in Lithuania have a very high basketball IQ. When I came to Lithuania I realized quickly that basketball is a religion. There is also very good competition in the Champions League. We started 0-4 in the LKL, but have found ourselves now being 5-5.

Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania-LKL) battle against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Champions League play. One of their best players and best in the BBL Ricky Paulding played at Missouri where also your dad did in the late 70´s. Is he a reason to chat with before the game and pick the game of basketball?

Yes sure why not. I don´t know him personally. I am a very social guy and will talk to anyone. Maybe after the game.

How much easier does a guy like Jimmy Baron make it for you when you have such an amazing sniper getting open and drilling home shots?

He makes everything so much easier. The defense of the opponent have to respect him at all times on the floor. He creates driving lanes for me to do my thing and to find others.

You are a guy that can rack up the assists. Who was always your point guard role model growing up as a kid besides your dad?

I never had one. I liked so many. I watched many different players growing up. I remember that my dad always got the video guy to make these compilation tapes of many different point guards. I watched so many different ones. Guys I liked were Nick Van Exel, John Stockton, Gary Payton, Magic, my pops or Tim Hardaway. I also really liked Allen Iverson even if he wasn´t a point guard. I liked how he handled the ball. My favorite player is Kobe Bryant. My dad coached him his rookie season with the Lakers when he was 17 so I got to see him play a lot.

You had a season to forget last season playing with AS Monaco Basket (France-ProA): 18 games: 4.1ppg, 1.6rpg, 3.6apg, left in Mar.’16, later that month moved to Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League): 8 games: 3.3ppg, 3.1apg, 1.0spg. What were the main problems with Monaco last season?

I just didn´t fit their style and they expected something different than what I could give them. It was a learning experience for me.

You must be playing with a huge chip on your shoulder this season. How badly do you want to show the basketball world the real Larry Drew?

I am looking forward to putting myself back on the map in Europe this season. I feel like that most people know what I am capable of doing in the states. The situation I have now is similar to what I went through going from North Carolina to UCLA. I worked my way back up the ladder at UCLA and want to do the same this season with Neptunas. I feel like I am slowly showing what I can really do and want to continue that here and lead my team to being successful.

So far you have played very well. Is your father a person that is your biggest motivator and backer even in tough times? How did he help you the last months prepare and get focused best for this season?

We speak a lot, but I am a grown man. I have faced many tough stretches in my career, but also had good times. But so far I was always able to bounce back. I can bounce back on my own, but my dad is always there to give me advice if I need it. My dad knows that I am mentally strong.

This is your second season in Europe after playing your first two in the NBA and D-league. Does it in fact get harder to get back to the NBA after going to Europe or do you feel it is just that one GM believing in your ability and bringing you back?

It´s been crazy. I can tell you that there are times where I feel like that since I´m overseas now that that´s it with my NBA career, but then again other times where I feel like all it takes is for one person to like you and then you can be back in the NBA. I learn to block that out and just focus on where I am now. If I get back to the NBA then great, but my main focus now playing my best wherever I am at the moment.

Does a guy like your ex teammate Deandre Liggins give you hope that you could return simply because he didn´t have the greatest seasons in Europe, but is back in the NBA now?

Deandre is a tough kid. He motivates me very much to keep going my way. He stuck with his path and made it back. He spent more years in the D-League than me, but he is back in the NBA. I am very proud of him.

Last season you played NBA Summer League with the Pelicans averaging 7.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.8apg, 1.4spg. How was the NBA interest in general last summer after this showing?

I had some teams that expressed interest for me to come to training camp, but to be honest at this point in my career, I think that it´s best for me if I stay in Europe. I have proved in the States that I can play in the D-league. After my less than satisfactory season in Monaco last season, I want to prove I can play here.

As a rookie you played with the Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League, starting five): 46 games: 11.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 6.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 69.5%. What did you learn as a rookie where you saw that the NBA is really just a business?

I went to training camp with the Miami Heat in the 2013-2014 season. There were guys like Greg Oden, Roger Mason and Michael Beasley with whom I was battling for two roster positions. I understood early on how it would go and that I probably wouldn´t make the team. I learned that NBA teams care most about winning and that it would be obvious they would go with the guys who had more experience and the bigger names.

In your second season you finally made it to the big show playing 12 games for the Philadelphia 76ers. What did you learn to appreciate in your short time there?

It was only a short time, but I enjoyed every minute. I played 12 games in 20 days and then it was back to the D-league. The short experience made me hungry and getting that short taste has motivated to try to get back.

There was surely a lot of rivalry on the court with then rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, but how did you guys make each other better?

He was actually injured for a few games and they wanted me to play some of his minutes. He is a great player. We didn´t really talk about the x´s and o´s, but moreover it was about me learning how he dealt with being the starting point guard as a rookie. I felt like I learned a lot from him.

In the 91-85 loss to the Atlanta Hawks you played against German Dennis Schroeder who had 15 points and six assists off the bench. In his fourth season he has earned the starting job there. Where do you see his journey going in the future? Could he be a guy at get to Chris Paul status or moreover be a very good point guard, but not be in the top class?

Dennis has a lot of potential. I liked his game very much from the first time I saw him on the court. He reminds me a lot of Rajon Rondo on the defensive end. He just needs to get a more consistent shot. I think it will be hard for him to crack the top five, but he will be somewhere in between.

In the summer of 2014 you played NBA Summer League with the Miami Heat. You come across many players, but what memories do you have of the quiet German big man Danilo Barthel who was your teammate for a few weeks?

 

Honestly I don´t remember. I would have to see his face. He must have been very skilled to have been invited by the Miami Heat.

Despite having your ups and downs at North Carolina you did help contribute to winning the 2009 NCAA tournament. What memories do you have of that?

I had so many memories. It was a great year. I had some great teammates with Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough. I really learned what it took to win at that level in that season.

You played with so many amazing players at North Carolina, but which player had the biggest impact on you?

Ty Lawson had the biggest impact on me, because I had to guard him full court every day.

You then moved to UCLA and before you left you wrote a famous rap on your 21st birthday that read “The past three years I can’t undo, so now I’m making all the moves that I want to … They tried to tell me just to play my role, but who’s really trying to stick to a script that’s full of typos?” Is music in your future?

Music is in my future. I am a creator. People always ask me about being a rapper and doing rap music. I am not a rapper, but an athlete that plays basketball for a living. I like to rap in my free time. I don´t really have anything to show people concerning my rapping. I forgot that rap from then. I went through some tough times at North Carolina. I started to write. At first it was poetry and then it became beats. I am trying to do art artistry as opposed to just rap.

How much easier did the transition to UCLA come having ex North Carolina teammates David and Travis Wear also on your side?

They made the transition easier and then being able to play in front of family and fans made it also easier.

How did head coach Ben Howland groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at UCLA?

Ben Howland was a big fan of mine since I was in high school. UCLA had highly recruited me, but I decided to go to North Carolina. He was the first one to call me when I left North Carolina even before the official press release had been made. He wanted to bring me to UCLA for my last year. He told me right away that he wanted me to be his starting point guard and that he would give me the keys and let me do my thing. He really believed in my ability and let me showcase it at UCLA. He helped me regain my love of basketball again.

In your last NCAA game you lost to Minnesota 83-63. I guess you will never forget the two Hollins guys. They combined for 44 points. Could one say it was just one of those games?

Yes it was one of those games. It wasn´t my best game. Our top scorer Jordan Adams had been out with a broken foot. If he had been healthy we probably would have had a higher seed and never played them. I was sad we didn´t get past the first round, but it was still a great season.

The NBA was around you as a kid. What was your most fondest memory with a player back in the day?

I used to go to many practices and games of teams that my dad coached with teams like the Lakers, Pistons or Wizards. My dad always wanted me to feel as part of the team as much as he was. My fondest memory was with Kobe. I was a six year old and he was 17. He took me through drills and showed me tricks with ball handling. I can remember that he would ask me after games to shoot horse instead of hanging in the locker room.

If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?

Magic, Jordan, Lebron, Kareem

Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?

He is still moving up. He is top 5.

Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?

KG is also top 5, but behind Tim Duncan.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Doctor Strange.

Thanks Larry for the chat.

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