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, the NBA Developmental League, and Poland. He also represented the Polish National Team in 2015 and 2016.
You played limited minutes in 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 had learned a lot there 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 started at a really young age in Poland. I came to a sports school, and during the physical exams, I placed the best in my class. Coaches had talks with my mom afterward 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 your collegiate career?
OC: I think it was my all-around game and versatility that made me a good basketball player. During my offseason/redshirt transfer year, I worked extremely hard on a lot of shooting, ball handling, 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 in the NBADL, Italy, Poland, and for the Polish national team. Was it hard to adjust to playing overseas?
OC: At first, it was hard to adjust to Italian basketball. A lot of the stuff you learn and do daily in the 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: Too 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, starting your 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 every day 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 Skills Development in the Reno area. It has been an absolute blast.
It is great to see that Olek is giving back to the Reno community while rehabbing from injury. Speedy recovery, and hope to see you out on the court later this year!