F.A.Q

OlekSlam
In 2018 you are coming off 2 Surgeries. What are your goals?

I want to rehab and come back stronger than I was before. Also in the meantime while my body takes time to heal I want to coach and develop basketball players in Reno Nevada


Why did you not finish a season in Caserta in 16-17?
I had to go under knee surgery couple games after the season has begun. I have tried to play through my injury, but the situation only got worse as the season went on. I have been rehabbing and aimed to come back and finish the season in May with Caserta, however the team has decided to void the contract.


In 2016 you have signed with Italian team Pistoia right before the beginning of the season. Why did you wait so long to sign a contract?
I wanted to be in a situation where I can excel. It is always important for me to play at the highest level and I felt like in Pistoia I could do it. I had a good feeling going into this situation and believed that this is an opportunity to play at the high level and be a contributor for teams success.

How was playing for the Senior National team in 2015 Eurobasket ?

I had a lot of fun being a part of the team and finally experiencing something I have dreamed of since I was a little kid. It felt good to be there and play for the country of Poland.


What happened in the summer of 2014?

I had big plans regarding NBA summer league as well as playing for the Polish national team. Before the Summer League I finished a couple workouts with the Miami Heat. I was excited to keep on rolling and most of all having fun playing that summer. Unfortunately I sustained an injury which forced me to back out of the NBA summer league as well as playing for the Polish national team.

You signed with Enel Brindisi for 2014-2015 season, however, the team ended up not passing you through physical exams. When do you expect to be back on the floor?
I have been practicing since October with a local team Asseco Gdynia. Although before I joined the team for practice I visited a specialist in Munich, Germany, Dr. Wolfhard Muller who specializes in hamstring injuries. It was a blessing to work with him and currently I'm back to 100%. I'm hungry and really excited to be back playing basketbll.

You started the NBA DL season with Fort Wayne Mad Ants, half way through the season You have been with Canton Charge. Why did You switch teams ?

Changes in the d league rosters happen very frequently. Basically the Canton Charge and Fort Wayne Mad Ants are a completely different teams and the rosters have entirely changed since day 1 of the season. Eater way the change was made because the opportunity with Canton Charge was going to benefit me more in terms of minutes and style of play.

Milwaukee Bucks invited You for a pre season in 2013.
It was a great opportunity and something I have been wanting to do my whole life. I have been trying to make it to the NBA for a couple years so I was really exited when I heard the news and got the invitation.

What is the difference between NBA DL and basketball in Italy ?
There is more athleticism and length in the NBA DL. I think its a really good league but Italy is a bit different and it is much more half court oriented basketball. The rules are a little different and You have to adapt. NBA DL is definitely based isolation plays and creating shots on Your own, in Europe in countries like Italy it the whole team works to gain advantage on offense.

How was playing in Italy for Virtus Roma ? 
It was a lot of fun, we had a really good group of guys and at the same time we lived in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We have played in the finals and had one of the most successful seasons in the history of this club. It was a great experience.

How did your basketball journey begin?
There was not a lot of basketball in my early childhood. As a very young child, above all sports, I enjoyed playing soccer and I wanted to become a soccer player. Soccer is most definitely the most popular sport in Poland. My colleagues at school also played soccer, and were strictly interested in this sport. It was hard to join a sport that was much less popular, such as basketball.I was always a very active child, but like any child I dreamed of many things and I did not know what I wanted to be.
At one point I wanted to be a veterinarian, firefighter, even thought about joining the military. This all changed when I was about 10 years old, because I decided that one day I will become a professional basketball player. It turned out that our condominium in Gdynia, Poland was located right by one of the most popular Sports Schools in the country, which had an emphasis on basketball and gymnastics. Unfortunately, I was not able to join this school until I turning 10 years old. This is because the school was not accepting any students below 4th grade. At the time, when I was 8, my mom took me to an open gym at the YMCA in Gdynia, with my sister. We were playing against other kids, who were as old as 16 years of age.
I had completely no idea what to do with the ball or how to play the game. I got frustrated and didn't like the sport at the beginning. The only thing that I ever thought that I mastered at YMCA was karate. I showed up to two karate lessons and told my mom that I don't want to go back because I've learned everything and there is nothing more for me to learn. Anyway, after a few months I tried to play basketball again, my mom took me to the Sports Basketball School across from our house. She wanted me to participate an open gym session, but the school Director who was running the open gyms told us that I would get hurt and told me that I should wait until I turn 11. After a few years of waiting, I was about 10 years old when they finally allowed me to come and run in the open gyms at the school. I think that's when my interest in basketball started, but I became addicted to it when I became a student at the Sports Basketball School and turned 11-year-old.

You moved to the U.S. from Poland. Why, of all places, did you end up in Reno, Nevada?
I moved to the United States when I was 14 years old. When I got involved in basketball I wanted to go to the States because basketball was a lot more popular there. I wanted to train under more experienced coaches and play against the best players in the world. 
One day this dream could become reality.
My mom met my step-father when I was about 11 years old. When I was 13, they got married in Poland, which gave us the opportunity to live together either in Poland or in America. When this possibility became a reality, I started to have second thoughts and I did not want to leave Poland.
I was very involved with my friends and family and did not want to leave them behind. It was hard to leave our friends and family, but we couldn't let this great opportunity slip by. We could live the American Dream, and we had a chance to live an easier life.
It was my dream to make it to the NBA at this point and I knew that I would give myself a shot at it if we would make that move. I finally convinced myself and everyone in our family was for it.
So in 2004 my mom, my sister, my step-father and I moved to Reno, Nevada. The reason behind Reno is because my step-father had some family in the area. He also knew Reno very well, so that was the most logical place for us to start. 

How was your transition from your life in Poland to that in the U.S.?
It was extremely tough for me at first, but I had right people around me to help me get through. When I was 14 and my sister was 17 we attended the same High School (Reno High). My sister could speak English much better than I could because she had taken classes at a Polish-American school for one year and was a foreign exchange student in Seattle, WA the year before we all moved to Reno. I remember that I was very nervous on my first day at Reno High. I knew I would have big problems with communicating and understanding teachers and students. I went in to my first class a couple of minutes early just to make sure that I was in the right place. Once I got there, some kids tried to talk to me but I had no idea what they were saying.
It was really frustrating and awkward to not be able to exchange sentences with them. I would simply respond "Sorry, I don't speak English." The class started and I couldn't understand the majority of directions that the teacher was giving us. The whole class would follow but I was falling behind.
Before the class ended, I decided to just walk out of the class. Once the school bell rang for a short break, I found my sister and told her about what happened. It was a tough first day which stretched into a long challenging year. The only thing that kept me in a circle with others was basketball. It was a great way for me to get to know some people, but I hardly knew anything more about them than how they are doing on that given day and all the basic information about them. I couldn't have a conversation with anyone because I simply didn't speak English that well. I felt like I was finally adapting to the culture and kids at school when I was finishing my second year at Reno High. People started to recognize me more, because I started to become one of the better basketball players around the area and people recognized me as a Polish basketball player. 

olekWhy did you pick Duke after High School ?
It was a combination of things. When I was a sophomore, our new High School coach Kyle Schellin saw me for the first time and told me "you will be a Division 1 NCAA basketball player." At the time I had no idea what that meant. I knew very little about basketball besides the NBA. Ever since that day, I've learned quickly what NCAA is. 
During my Junior and Senior season I have collected a lot of offers from a lot of different schools, but the most important thing to me was to be coached by the best coach out there.
I wanted to get better and I thought that I had the best chance of doing so if I join forces with Coach K. 
I realized that it would be very special for me to play for him and I just felt honored to become a part of something big. Duke was one of those teams that were extremely popular and I fell in love with everything it had to offer.

Why did you transfer to Nevada?
Despite the fact that I've learned a lot at Duke and I was a part of the team, I felt like I was not contributing enough and my minutes were limited.
After a year of learning the system and buying into the program, I still was not getting significant minutes on the court, which started to become more and more important as the time went on. I was getting frustrated because of the amount of hard work and time I was putting into it. I simply needed to press a restart button and re-motivate myself to get back to work and finish my college career on a high note. I thought that by transferring back to Nevada I would get an opportunity to play in a system that would benefit me as a player.
I also knew that we would have a talented team coming in and we could do something special. I was also familiar with the area, which made things easier for me. 

What do you do when you're not playing basketball?
I try to stay active and play different sports, for the most part. Recently I've picked up golf. I find it very relaxing on the weekends. I also enjoy playing tennis, racquetball, ping-pong, bowling etc. I also play some guitar and video games. Recently, I enjoy playing strategy games and first person shooters the most. I also watch a lot of movies; so many that I probably average one a day.

Who is your favorite basketball player?
There are a lot of players that I look up to. I think that my biggest inspiration came from Vince Carter. Ever since I saw him dunking I wanted to be just like him and I wanted to dunk on people just like he does.

What is your favorite NBA basketball team?
I don't have a favorite basketball team. Right now I'm just a fan of players from different teams, so when I watch basketball games I just enjoy watching and picking up on the little things that elite players do.

Do you ever go back to Poland?
Yes! I still have a lot of family and friends back there that I visit with. It has been difficult to be here last couple of years but I finally had a chance to come back in 2014 and enjoy some time with my family.

What did you study in college and what degree did you graduate with?
I studied and graduated with a degree in Speech Communications. I minored in Community Health Sciences. Overall, my studies were centered around psychology, interacting with people, improving health, dealing with and preventing injuries.

If you didn't play basketball what would you do?
It's a tough question, I never really think much about it because I love basketball so much. I think that I would still stay involved with basketball, whether it's coaching or training athlet... I would like to always be involved with the sport. 

What is your favorite spot to eat at in Gdyina and Reno?
In Gdynia I would have to go with a Kebab from Swietojanska and Luna Bistro. In Reno, I enjoy Rickshaw and Wasabi Sushi. We have some of the best tasting sushi in the world over there !!

Do you own Czyz's appliances in Reno?
I get this question asked as much as any other question. Sadly, I don't, but the people that own the spot have come to one of my high school games at Reno High and introduced themselves to me. They are very nice people!

What is your favorite TV Show?
I enjoy The Walking Dead and South Park the most. I really do not watch to many TV shows, I spend most of my time watching videos on YouTube.

What kind of music do you listen to?
I like a lot of varieties of music. I like rock, dubstep, hip-hop, pop... I could listen to anything but country music.

How do you say your last name?
Czyz - Chiz

What will you do after you are done with your basketball career?
I would like to make basketball more popular in Poland, for the most part. If I have a chance I would love to open up a facility or run some camps for younger kids.

What advice would you give to young basketball players?
I think that the most important thing in an athlete's early years is to enjoy the sport. My best advice would be to have fun with it, play hard and enjoy your journey with your friends/teammates.

What position do you play?
SF/PF 3-4 

What is the best advice you have ever received?
Keep the game simple and be who you are out there. 

Who is your agent?
Hubert Radke from Limelight Hoops. 

What is the best dunk you have ever done?
360 through the legs.

When was the first time you dunked?
I was 13 years old and in 8th grade. I had a breakaway dunk during that season with my team in Gdynia.

Did you ever work on your hops?

I would always try to jump as high as possible. Even before I started dunking I would attempt to dunk or pull the rim down. I think if you practice doing that you will eventually get your body used to these mechanics. I also did a jumping program for a couple weeks when I was 13, but I would not recommend anyone at such young age does that.

What made you choose basketball over soccer?
One huge advantage basketball had over soccer was the fact that I could come out on a playground and play by myself as well as with others. I did not have to depend on having a partner to shoot hoops, I could play imaginary games with myself, I could imagine that I'm taking a last second shot or crossing over a defensive player and making a layup. Besides that, I felt like I was picking basketball up fairly quickly. I felt like basketball was the perfect fit for me. Ever since day 1 at the basketball practice at the Sport Basketball School I wanted to challenge everyone, I wanted to be the best player out there. The cool thing about basketball was, and up to this day is, that I was learning more about the sport every time I stepped on the floor. I felt like there was always something I could work on, there was always an aspect of the game I wanted to improve on. In basketball, the sky is the limit and there is always something you can do to make yourself a better player. I was excited to come back every day and take more shots, run from one basket and bring it back to practice the following day and showcase it in front of my coach and friends.

What is it like to play in front of thousands of people?
It's a lot of fun. I think that as much as I enjoy playing basketball for myself, I enjoy playing for the fans. For all the dedication and hard work that I put into basketball I think of it as a reward. I'm always looking forward to playing in front of big crowds. I feed off the crowds' energy at both home and away games. 

 

 

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