For young Australian Brock Motum it’s all about staying the course to his ultimate destination: the NBA. Groomed for professional basketball at Washington State University, Motum went un-drafted at this year’s NBA draft, but that did not deter the 23-year old.
Currently cutting his teeth in Italy’s top league with Vitrus Bologna, Basketball Australia caught up with the 6’10 center to talk about life in Europe, and how he plans on getting back to the NBA.
Basketball Australia: Let’s begin at the NBA Draft. You entered your name, but weren’t selected. How did that feel, and what was your thought process at the time?
Brock Motum: Initially it was pretty disappointing. I knew my chances weren’t definite but I thought I’d put myself in a good position to get my name called out at some point. Obviously it didn’t happen, but I had another chance at [NBA] Summer League. I did what I could there, but unfortunately that didn’t work out so I ended up in a great spot over here in Italy and I’m looking forward to having a good year.
BA: How did the Summer League gig come up? Was it a byproduct of not being selected, or was it just a result of your management calling teams up and offering your services?
BM: Yeah, that and the workouts that we had. I’d worked out with the 76ers, and they obviously liked me, but not enough to draft me so they wanted me to come in and play with their Summer League [team] and try to make the roster that way.
BA: How did the experience help you? You were playing against NBA-level talent.
BM: It was good interacting with those guys, and matching up against them in a couple of games. It was a good experience. Hopefully I can get back there and be a little better than I was this time.
BA: You’ve got an NBA out-clause with your current deal in Italy so you can head back to the U.S. if need be?
BM: Yeah, that’s the plan. I’ll need to do something pretty impressive [in Italy] for that to happen so hopefully I can play well over here and within a year I can get back [to NBA].
BA: The Italian league is considered one of the top European Leagues. Did you feel that was the best option for you to get back to the NBA versus staying in America and going the D-League route?
BM: I thought so, yeah. European leagues are highly regarded around the world, especially the Italian League – it’s really highly respected, I know within the NBA [especially] – so I think this is my best pathway, coming over here [and] improving, working on my game and playing well. Hopefully that reflects in good regard.
BA: What’s the transition been like being in a non-English speaking country with a different culture? Not just socially, but it’s a different type of game than the NCAA you would have been used to?
BM: It’s been a good transition. The standard of living here is high. I’m enjoying the basketball, a lot of learning, a lot of improving. A few tweaks to my game that I’ve had to make, and I’m currently making. Initially there’s a few things that I’ve highlighted that I need to work on in order for my game to able to flourish over here.
BA: Did you ever consider going back to Australia and possibly playing in the NBL?
BM: Yeah, I definitely considered playing in the NBL. It’s a great league and what they’re doing back home in terms of advertising and new ownership is great. All I hear is good things. Hopefully that continues to get stronger, but I felt that, personally, my best chance to get back to the NBA was coming over here.
BA: San Antonio’s Aron Baynes is another of our guys who didn’t get drafted, went to Europe and is now in the NBA. Have you reached out to him for any advice?
BM: Yeah. I actually went to the school that he went to (Washington State) and his route is something I look towards to try and do. We haven’t spoken too much about the specifics, but I get the gist and that it’s a lot of hard work and a grind. Hopefully I can follow his footsteps.
BA: We have four Aussies in the NBA, plus some young stars emerging. If we can get you over there too, it’s great for Australian basketball.
BM: It’s a testament to the roots back in Australia and the development [of players]. It’s a great game and juniors who play it are coached really well. If we can continue that success and keep sending guys to the NBA that’ll be great.
BA: Do you have national team representation in your sights? Is that something you’d love to do?
BM: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I think any kid that plays serious sport would love to represent their country, and if I get the opportunity to do so I would definitely do that.
BA: What’s been the major difference for you playing European basketball, and having played college ball? Is it a major step-up to Euro ball from the college style?
BM: I’d say so. In college the oldest guys you’re playing against are 21, maybe some 22-year olds, whereas over here they’re grown men. It’s the same thing as coming straight out an amateur level to a pro level. Guys are grown men, they know all the tricks of the trade, are savvy, know the veteran moves they can pull. I’d say playing against men would be the biggest transition for a lot of people.
For myself, that and the opportunity to learn from those kinds of guys--- initially the first week or two, it was noticeable. After that you start learning things and you do it back to them.
It’s good to be able to keep adding to my game by learning.
BA: What’s the future hold for Brock Motum? Where do you see yourself in twelve months?
BM: Hopefully I continue to improve and have a good year over here and hopefully get an opportunity to go back to the Summer League and do well enough to earn a roster spot on an NBA team for next year. Hopefully this summer I [also] get a chance to represent my country at the World Championships.