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Can you introduce yourself?
What’s up 3pointshot fam, my name is Devin Oliver. I’m 28 years old and I get paid to hoop! I’m a big family guy and love playing video games 😎
When and how did you start playing basketball?
I started playing basketball when I was 4 years old. Both my mother and father played college basketball at the same school so it was introduced to me at a very early age and I’ve always loved it!
Can you tell us more about your basketball path growing up to now?
I played organized basketball at every age growing up. I also played with my friends outside growing up. Played through high school and college as well. Now I’m currently playing in my 7th year as a professional.
How can you describe your game? What are your main strengths on the court?
I like to call myself a “stat stuffer.” I’m a guy who is going to do a little bit of everything on the court to help win games. I like to think I do everything well, but I would say rebounding and scoring are my two main strengths.
Back in the days, you had an interesting progression every year on the basketball court playing for the University of Dayton. How important is it to perform during the senior year and also seasons before to get the chance to become a pro athlete?
Yeah, I’ve always prided myself on constantly improving, becoming better each year. At Dayton I did that every season. All my social media displays my mentality and mindset, being “The Underdog.” I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder and played with something to prove, especially coming from a small city! So my senior year, all the hard work manifested itself, and my growth as a man and a player paid off. We were able to achieve great team success and reach the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament, which gave me an exceptional opportunity in my first year as a professional. Before that, I’m not sure how everything would have went.
In parallel, what did you study in the class room out there? Was it something you enjoyed?
In school, my major was communication with a marketing minor. It’s a cliche that a lot of athletes study communication but for me, it really meant something. I’ve always been a people person and since then I’ve had a couple podcasts and have continued to try and use my voice to show my brand and morals!
The NBA is the dream of almost every basketball player nowadays. Being undrafted in 2014 but playing the Summer League with Boston Celtics then, you weren’t so far but also either not so close to sign a contract. The first question is: did you believe in your chances of being drafted? The second one is: what’s the process to get into a NBA franchise roster during the Summer League, and what your mentality was looking like during that competition?
You know, after we made such an amazing run in the NCAA tournament, I thought maybe I had a chance. Especially when I went to my team workout with the Oklahoma City Thunder, I had the best workout of my group. However, they chose to go another route, which is alright with me. Fortunately for me, I was able to get a chance with the Celtics, probably because when Brad Stevens was a coach at Butler University, he offered me a college scholarship. However, when I was there, the assistant ran the summer league team and to be quite honest with you, I never really got a chance. I’m thankful for the experience though because it showed me early on the business side of basketball! I’ve carried that with me ever since.
Finally, you discovered Belgium during your rookie season as a professional basketball player overseas. Can you describe that first experience abroad on and off the court?
Belgium was an incredible country for me to begin my career. As a country it was very beautiful and there were lots of good people who helped me. I had Brian Lynch as a coach, and Odell Hodge as my GM, both Americans who married Belgian women. So they spoke perfect English and it made my transition easier than most places. I had some guys on my team my first year that I’m still cool with too this day. We had a great group and made it to the playoffs in our inaugural season. Off the court was a little different. When I was at the airport waiting to board my 10 hour flight to Belgium, I received a call from my assistant coach from college, telling me my best friend and former roommate Matt Derenbecker had taken his life with a gun. So that first year, having that heavy on my mind, while simultaneously missing my family and friends, it was a struggle for the first few months. I’m thankful for the great group of guys that we had or I’m not sure I would have made it through!
« Those first few years are tough for most Americans, but I think the best thing you can do is immerse yourself in the culture and try to grow as a person » Devin Oliver
The year after, you have been cut during the season in Turkey before signing with a french D2 team. Do you think that most of american players has to adapt to a new environment, culture and way to play basketball during his first years in Europe?
I was actually cut from my team in Israel that year. It was definitely a much different world than Belgium. However, the thing that really threw me off was it was my first experience with money issues in Europe. We hadn’t been paid for the first few months and it was difficult for me to understand why. In my mind, I wasn’t willing to be there if I wasn’t getting paid so I wasn’t focused on basketball. Those first few years are tough for most Americans, but I think the best thing you can do is immerse yourself in the culture and try to grow as a person!
Being 28, after playing five seasons in the top leagues in Slovenia, Germany, France and Turkey, you are now a player referenced on the European circuit. Are you currently where you always wanted to be growing up? If not, what are your goals?
First and foremost, thank you for the recognition. Man, to be honest, growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, there is maybe a handful of guys who can say they played a professional sport, let alone basketball. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how lucky and blessed I’ve been to see the world, encountering different cultures and all different kinds of people. I’ve won championships, I’ve won MVP’s. I’ll never stop dreaming to achieve more because that’s who I am as a person. There is one thing I still want to accomplish, and that’s play at the highest level, which is Euroleague!
Do you have a dream city to play and live in?
A dream city that I would love to to play and live in is Tel Aviv. In my short time in Israel, I was close to Tel Aviv and absolutely loved the city. Plus their fans are some of the best in the world. I wouldn’t be mad at Madrid either! 😁
What’s the best thing you appreciate and the worst thing you don’t like about being a pro basketball player overseas?
The thing I appreciate most about being able to play pro basketball overseas is the opportunity to travel the world. I’ve been to more countries that anyone that I know. To do be able to do this because of a game is amazing! The worst thing about being a pro overseas is definitely missing out on holidays, birthdays, weddings and funerals at home. I’ve missed so many events and that’s been very difficult.
To conclude, do you have something else to tell to your fans and people reading this interview?
To all of my fans and people reading this interview, I would just like to say thank you for continuing to support my career and my journey. I hope I’ve always represented myself well as a basketball player but more importantly, I hope I have represented myself well as a man!