I had the opportunity to catch up with former Blue Devil and Wolf Pack forward Olek Czyz. 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.
Here is my conversation with Olek:
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!
Written by Tom Ballato.