St. John’s Marvin Clark II poised for a big senior season!

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Photo shared by Marvin Clark.

By Tom Ballato

Marvin Clark II arrived in Queens in 2016 after transferring from Michigan St. where he played two seasons under coach Tom Izzo. At Michigan St., Clark II played in 69 games where he started only 8. After sitting out the 2016-2017 season as per NCAA rules, Clark II started all 33 games for the St. John’s Red Storm in 2017-2018. He shot over 50% from the field and 41% from behind the arch in his first full season at St. John’s. Now he is preparing for his final colligate season.

Here was my conversation with Marvin:

You played 2 years at Michigan St. before transferring to St. Johns. How was your time at MSU under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo?

MC: My time at Michigan State University is a time that I’ll never forget. I made some of my most cherished friendships and memories there. I also learned a lot under Coach Izzo, life lessons that I’ll never forget. He definitely helped me become a better young man and player.

Coach Mullin and assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih have brought in recruits, but a lot of transfers. How does Coach Mullin get you all to buy in to his system?

MC: Coach Mullin doesn’t really have a system, we play off the strengths of our personnel. We play simple unselfish basketball, make the right and easy play/read and as a result of that we are a hard team to guard because everyone on the court is a threat.

Last year, your junior season you started and really got to showcase your game. Tell us how you think your year went?

MC: Last season was my best season individually from a production standpoint. I was able to legitimately grow and learn from mistakes I made on the floor. Along with seeing what I’m capable of and what I need to get better at and gaining confidence from that. Last year was a great year for me mentally.

Last year, you guys upset #4 Duke and #1 Villanova within a week of each other and that kind of sparked a turnaround in your season. Describe those wins.

MC: Those were definitely two great experiences in my life, two wins I will never forget! Even though last season wasn’t a winning season, our team showed a lot of perseverance and resilience. We never complained and we competed against every team we played. I’m not one for moral victories, but last season was a life lesson for everyone who followed and participated.

What can we expect from you and the team for your senior season?

MC: You can expect a team that lives by unselfishness and sacrifice for one another. We have a lot of talent and depth and a lot of guys that we can plug into multiple positions. It’ll be an ELECTRIC Year to say the least!! We Thank You REDSTORMNATION for your Die Hard support! STORMSZN is approaching and we can’t wait to see you there.

St. John’s under head coach Chris Mullin is preparing for a tournament run this season. They will look to turn it around after finishing 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the Big East last season.

The 3 point assassin: Max Hooper

By Tom Ballato

Max Hooper played at Harvard, St. John’s, and finished his college career at Oakland. Many people might remember him in 2015-2016 he took 257 shots and all of them were 3 pointers. Hooper took 490 shots in college and only 11 of them were within the arch. I caught up with the sharpshooter about his college days and what is next in his career.

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Photo shared by Max Hooper.

 

 

This summer you played on the Detroit Pistons’ Summer League team. How was the experience and where do you plan to play this upcoming season?

Hooper: It was a great experience to be around players and coaches who are motivated to make it at the highest level of the game. It forces you to work harder and be your best self. I am not sure where I’ll play this year, but I’m hoping to be in a great situation where my skill set is embraced and my coaches believe in me.

You bounced around in college from Harvard to St. John’s and then found a fit at Oakland. How would you describe your collegiate career?

Hooper: My college career was all about finding the right fit. At Oakland, Greg Kampe’s offense matched what I do on the court perfectly and I was able to perform well on the court because of that.

I’m sure you get this a lot, but your senior season you did not attempt a shot inside the 3 point arch. How did you manage that?

Hooper: My senior career was crazy because of all the attention that our team got as a result of me only shooting 3 pointers. Those who know me well know that 3’s are what I do, however I shoot the occasional layup or midrange jumper. Coach Kampe encouraged me to shoot 3’s whenever I possibly could as he knows the more I shot the better our offense performed. The more attention defenses had to pay on me on the perimeter it made life that much easier for Kay Felder to score inside.

How do you stay ready waiting for your next opportunity and what do you hope to do when your playing career is over?

Hooper: Staying ready is a challenge because you are constantly trying to figure out where you’ll head to play. For me personally, I’m in the gym everyday with people who push me to improve. I workout with Anthony Morrow everyday in the offseason. He is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA and he pushes me to be my best everyday. We have tons of shooting competitions and it gets really heated and competitive. Through this competitions we push each other to be better.  For me basketball is what I am passionate about and what motivates me. I want to coach basketball when my playing career is over. I’d love to coach in college or in the NBA, but I am open as to wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Tell me a little about your podcast? Check it out it’s called Shooting’ the Breeze with Max Hooper.

Hooper: My podcast was something that I did for fun. It was great to have candid conversations with the people that I did. It allowed them to share their stories and for others to learn from them. I haven put out an episode in a while. I think I need to do a new one sometime soon.

The comeback trail with Olek Czyz

By Tom Ballato

Olek Czyz grew up in Poland before moving to Nevada. He played at Duke (2008-2010) before transferring to Nevada (2010-2012). After graduating, Czyz went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft. Since going undrafted, he has played in Italy, NBA Developmental League, and Poland. He also represented the Polish National Team in 2015 and 2016.

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Photo courtesy of Olek Czyz’s Twitter. I do not own the right to the photograph.

 

You played limited minutes your freshman and sophomore year at Duke before transferring. How would you describe your experience at Duke?

OC: My time at Duke has been the most valuable time in my career. I have learned there a lot, but was not able to showcase it when I was there. I took everything I had learned at Duke and used it at Nevada and moving forward in my professional career.

 

 

You came to Duke as this freakish athlete and won the dunk contest at Countdown to Craziness. When did you realize you had this “ jump out of the gym” talent ?

OC: It stared at a really young age in Poland. I came to sports school and during the physical exams I placed the best in my class. Coaches had talks with my mom afterwards and said I have a natural athletic ability to be great. Ever since I started playing basketball on mini baskets I was dunking on them like none of my friends so I knew I had something going for me there.

At Nevada, you started for two years and ended up winning the WAC regular season in 2012, which was your senior year. What parts of your game did you see grow over collegiate career?

OC: I think it was my all around game and versatility what made me a good basketball player. During my offseason / redshirt transfer year, I worked extremely hard on a lot of shooting, ballhandling, passing, post game and above it all I worked on my body. Making sure my body was as fresh and ready as possible before each practice and game.

You played NBADL, Italy, Poland and for the Polish national team.  Was it hard to adjust playing overseas? 

OC: At first it was hard to adjust to Italian basketball. A lot of the stuff that you learn and do on daily basis in U.S did not translate to basketball in Italy. I really came into my own when I arrived in Pistoia. I had a great coach Vincenzo Esposito and a system that really worked for my style of play.

Who are some of your favorite teammates?

OC: To many great teammates to name, I can’t pick just one, but each team had some great characters.

Lastly, you are home now in Nevada. I see you are working as a trainer, started your own brand, and are rehabbing from injury. Tell us a little about what you do and are you planning a comeback?

OC:  After my surgery, I had a lot of energy that needed an outlet for so when I felt like I was ready I started my skills development business and have been very pleased with it. I’m in the gym everyday and continue to do what I love. I also started my rehab recently and it has been going great for me. It feels like I’m ahead of schedule but I have to make sure I don’t rush my comeback so I’m looking to be playing professional basketball again sometime around December. However when my career ends it is my goal to continue moving forward with with Skills Development in Reno area. It has been an absolute blast

Awesome to see that Olek is giving back to the Reno community while continuing to rehab from injury. Speedy recovery and hope to see you out on the court later this year!

 

 

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Welcome to TheNextProspect! My name is Tom Ballato, but most of my friends call me Tdot. I was born and raised in New York and ever since I can remember I had a love for college hoops and attending games. With this site, I would like to catch up with former college players, provide insight, and just have some fun.

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