Feb. 26, 2009
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
It hasn’t always been easy at Eastern Washington University for senior guard Adris DeLeon, but he certainly made it look easy on Jan. 17, 2008, at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
That night, during his junior season, he scorched Northern Colorado for 42 points when he made 14-of-28 shots from the field and 11-of-16 free throws. His scoring performance ranked 19th in the 46-year history of the Big Sky Conference, and the only better games in school history were the 45 current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored in January 2006 and the 44 David Peed had in December 1988.
But getting to the court hasn’t always been easy for DeLeon, who is one of four seniors who will be playing for the final time at Reese Court this Saturday (Feb. 28) at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time when Eastern hosts Portland State.
A transfer from Southern Idaho Junior College who also attended College of the Siskiyous in California, DeLeon was cleared by the NCAA to play his junior season just hours before Eastern’s opener against Washington State on Nov. 9, 2007. He went on to average 12.5 points and 3.1 assists in 27 games last year as a 12-game starter for EWU.
As a senior, after the NCAA ruled that EWU did not properly follow its academic recovery plan to keep DeLeon eligible, he was forced to miss the first eight games of the season. He was officially cleared to play on Dec. 12 and made his first start of the season against Sacramento State on Jan. 4 when he had 17 points and three assists.
He has started EWU’s last two games, and had 16 points, five assists and four steals in a crucial 60-59 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 21. For the season, DeLeon has averaged 6.2 points in an average of 17.8 minutes per game as a five-game starter.
DeLeon enters Saturday’s game with 17 starts in 46 games played, having averaged 9.9 points and 2.3 assists in those 47 games. He is originally from the Dominican Republic and moved to the Bronx, N.Y., where he has since become a legend on the summer streetball circuit in New York City. Nicknamed "2 Hard 2 Guard" while he was there, he followed a similar path to EWU as fellow senior Andy Genao, who is also from the Dominican Republic and later moved to the Bronx.
Q: Looking back on your basketball career at all levels, what is your favorite moment and why?
A: "I have two of them. One was right here against Northern Colorado when I went off for 42 points. The other was in Hutchinson, Kan., when we were playing in the NJCAA National Tournament against Coffeyville Community College when I scored 17 points in like two minutes."
Q: What will you remember about your time at EWU the most?
A: "Coach (Kirk) Earlywine getting on me all the time. He and Coach (Jamie) Matthews are always on me making sure I am doing well in my classes so I can graduate. I’ll probably miss that the most."
Q: What are your career goals for after you graduate from Eastern?
A: "After I graduate, I have a couple workouts lined up by my coaches, so I might go to my country and play for a little while. After that, in the summer I’ll see if I can play in Italy or overseas somewhere."
Q: How hard was it to deal with missing the first eight games this season?
A: "It was tough at the beginning, just because it wasn’t my fault that I was sitting out. I would just come to practice and sometimes I was able to practice with them, but a lot of the time they were working on offense and things like that. I just tried to stay positive and every game I would get into the game from the bench and try to motivate my team. The coaches told me to wait it out and my turn would come."
Q: What was it like to finally get out on the court with your teammates in a game?
A: "I was kind of nervous at the beginning. When I got in, coach told me to just relax and take the open shot -- don’t rush it. He told me to just wait for my turn and that I’d get into the rhythm. It was a good feeling to finally get out there with my team."
Q: Who was the best player you played against in New York?
A: "Ron Artest. He was pretty tough to play against." Note: A YouTube video of DeLeon dribbling between Artest’s legs may be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsVoh3ZxdXQ
Q: What aspect of basketball do you cherish the most?
A: "Crunch time. I like when there are two seconds left and the crowd is into it. That is my favorite part of basketball."
Q: Who have been the most influential people during your playing career?
A: "My family. They always keep me positive. A good thing that has happened for me is everywhere I have been for basketball – junior college, here at EWU, etc. – I have had really positive coaches and people around me. I have been very lucky to have that. A couple months ago, a coach from my AAU team died suddenly. He was a person that really pushed me to go to college and get a degree."
Q: If you could play a one-on-one with any athlete who would it be and why?
A: "Ray Allen. I would love to play against him and meet him. It is not just him being a great player on the basketball court -- it’s the way he acts. On the court and off the court, he is a big inspiration to me."
Q: What do you feel is your best basketball attribute?
A: "Ball handling. I love when I get into the game and my handles feel good. That is probably what Coach Earlywine gets on me about the most."
Q: What teammate have you picked on the most in practice with your ball handling skills?
A: "Andy (Genao)! He takes it personal every time I cross him over in practice. After practice I tell him how bad I made him look and he will deny it. He always says there was water on the court and he slipped."