After going undrafted in this past June’s NBA draft and being released by the Dallas Mavericks in training camp, Memphis Tigers’ Darius Washington finds himself in Greece. His team, PAOK Marfin Thessaloniki, is currently tied for 5th place with a 5-4 record. The Greek league is packed with former NBA/NCAA point guards besides Darius – Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Keydren Clark, Tony Delk and Scoonie Penn all call the league home. PAOK also competes in the ULEB Cup (4-2 record, 2nd place in group), which consists of teams from all over Europe. Washington is putting up averages of 10.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.3apg & 2.3spg in three Greek league games including 21 points, 5 assists and 3 steals in his team’s last victory. In three ULEB Cup games he is putting up 13.0ppg, 2.3apg & 2.3spg.
CHN: How did you end up in Greece?
Darius: My agent had some overseas connections.
CHN: Originally you signed to play in the NBDL, correct?
D: Yea, I got drafted to the Austin Toros.
CHN: What made you jump to Greece - mostly the money?
D: Part of it, but I really wanted to get a jump on playing against other pros.
CHN: How have you found the competition in the short time you've been overseas?
D: Very competitive. I played against ex-NBA players and some well respected Euro players.
CHN: Do you find the European style of play different from the NBA?
D: Absolutely - very physical and more team oriented - only the strong survive.
CHN: Was it a big adjustment for you your first few games?
D: Yes, because of the crowd being aggressive and the players being older and trying to communicate with my coach is sometimes hard because of the language and me being a point guard and a leader the language is tough.
CHN: Is all the coaching/teaching done in Greek?
D: There is some in English and we have a translator.
CHN: It seems, at least from looking at box scores, that you have gotten used to the style of play in the recent games.
D: Thanks, just trying to learn the game as a whole and being able to run a team is really important for my development.
CHN: So I take it you have the typical import contract - 6 figure contract, free rent and car?
D: Something like that with a few incentives.
CHN: Such as?? Care to reveal?!?
D: Performance incentives, playoff bonuses, all star appearances, etc...
CHN: Do you have an "out" clause if another team in Europe or the NBA wants to sign you?
D: I don't know all the details but I think it is set up that way.
CHN: Is it only a one-year deal with PAOK?
CHN: When they released you did Dallas (Mavericks) tell you what you needed to work on to make it to the NBA?
D: Yes, I spoke with the coaching staff and talked about some things. I know I need to be able to run a team and just be able to play and to gain more court time on the professional level.
CHN: In hindsight, do you feel that playing at the University of Memphis was the right choice for you in regards to the development of your game and preparing for the NBA?
D: For the two years I was there I felt that my game had matured enough for the next level.
CHN: So no regrets that you kept your name in the draft then?
D: Absolutely not. I’ve always been taught that once you make a decision stick with it.
CHN: Heading into the draft there didn't seem to be any guarantee that you were going to be picked - were you advised that a team was going to pick you?
D: Nobody really knows that they are going to be picked. It is in someone else’s hands so you go with what you think is best.
CHN: Do you think that the main thing you need to work on to make it to the League is more "pure" point guard skills (running an offense, etc.)?
D: Yes, and I'm gaining it here.
CHN: Your league in Greece is jam packed with former NBA/NCAA point guards.
D: Yea but I haven't played against all of them yet.
CHN: Who is the toughest guy you've been matched up against so far in Greece?
D: Fellow Memphis alumni Antonio Burkes from the Serbia team.
CHN: In ULEB Cup action, right?
D: Yep. Did you see the tape from that game?
D: The fans rioted. It was on ESPN and other stations in the U.S.
D: Yea it was crazy. 7000 fans rushed the court.
ESPN Link of Fight - http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2688668
D: We played and won ending their 7 game winning streak.
CHN: I want to know who is the toughest guys you've gone up against at each level?
CHN: We'll start with high school.
D: Amare Stoudemire/Sebastian Telfair.
CHN: I figured Telfair would be mentioned!!
CHN: The book about him, The Jump, made you two out to be big time rivals. Is that true?
D: Only on the court.
CHN: How did you feel about that book?
D: I'm fine with it because it is his story. How can you judge someone’s story.
CHN: Right - but if I remember correctly it wasn't very flattering to you or your dad.
D: Again it is his book and he wrote what he felt was his truth so the world will just have to wait on my book to hear my truth.
CHN: Who was your toughest matchup in the NCAA?
D: UAB was my toughest. That whole team had those speedsters that wore me out.
CHN: What’s been your career highlight so far?
D: Coming to a team like PAOK that was struggling before I got here and being able to help them win games and advance in the Greek league and the ULEB Cup.
For more info on Darius, check out his website www.dwash.net.
CHN is looking for other former NCAA stars to do interview pieces with. If you are a former player (or a friend/family member of one) please drop us a line at email@example.com.