By Bugra Uzar/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Transition from USA to European basketball wasn’t initially smooth for Zach Auguste but it didn’t take him long to reveal on court some of the powerful game he brought with him.
While a rookie in Europe and pro player for the first time in his life, Auguste managed to post a career-high 31 points (plus 14 rebounds) last week in a victory of Usak Sportif over Rosa Radom, earning MVP honors for Round 11 of the FIBA Champions League.
Perhaps it’s not a surprising that a major European club is already interested in him, as he reveals to Eurohoops. The Greek-American power forward also talks about the inheritance that his days in Notre Dame left him, his NBA ambitions, why he picked Turkey and Usak Sportif as the first destination of his professional career and… his desire to play for the Greek national team.
Did your years in Notre Dame provide you with the best possible “school” when it comes to getting prepared for pro basketball?
“Looking back, attending the University of Notre Dame was by far the best decision I could have made when deciding a school to enroll in. My four years at Notre Dame definitely prepared me to become a pro, both physically and mentally.”
The L.A. Lakers signed you on August but then waived you near the end of preseason. Does this give you an extra motivation to get in NBA in the near future?
“Falling short on my ultimate goal of playing in the NBA humbled me and allowed me to gain extra motivation to prove to the world that I can and will play at the highest level. This also helped me realize that there are many things I need to polish in my game.”
Why did you choose coming to Europe after being cut by the Lakers?
“My family, agent, and I came to the decision that coming overseas would be the most beneficial for me as a player in terms of level of competition and recognition and would allow me to work on certain parts of my game so that I can become more of a threat on both ends.”
Did you receive any other offers besides the one by Usak Sportif?
“Yes…. I had several offers in my hands. I also spoke on the phone with the coach of one of the biggest clubs in Europe and he said that they want me for next year. He thought that Usak was a good place for me this year.”
There must be other reasons behind choosing Usak, right?
“Yes. We felt playing in the Turkish league and the Champions league provided me with the best opportunity to excel and the best level of competition to face. Usak Sportif offered both these things, hence my decision to come here.”
Your mother is of Greek heritage. Are you in the process of getting a Greek passport? Perhaps to play in the Greek national team?
“My agent is working on it My agent is working on it and I have submitted all the paperwork and I will have it soon. And yes, it would indeed be an honor to represent the country of Greece.”
Team rosters and salaries in the NBA were recently increased. Do you think that this will help you get back to the NBA?
“My motivation to get back to the NBA is a priority. I’m working everyday to accomplish this goal and will not give up until I do. Already there are teams interested for summer league so I will just keep working and find the best situation when the time comes. But for now, my #1 priority every day is to help my team win. This is all I care about now so I work hard every day to win.”