Ryan Stephan (US citizen) played with the Pirates in the QBL last season and unfortunately injured his patella tendon mid season. He returned to college to have a stellar season culminating him being awarded best player in Div II NCAA. The previous year it was won by Aussie, Mitch McCarron who played for Northside Wizards. These players were kind enough to take some time out of their busy schedules to speak to Basketball Queensland about how QBL affected their development and what the future holds…..
Interview with Ryan Stephan
Q Congratulations on your Player of the Year (POTY) award. You were second in scoring and fourth in rebounding in the USA. How is the award decided?
A I am honestly not sure how the award is decided. All I know is that I’m extremely grateful to have received this award and follow in the footsteps of other great players like Mitch.
Q You played with the South West Metro Pirates last QBL season. How did it come about that you came to play in the QBL?
A Peter Pollock reached out to me over Facebook after having another RMAC standout Alex Hererra play for the Pirates the season before. We put up similar numbers and I think Peter and the Pirates were hoping for similar production in the QBL.
Q You are the second recipient of the POTY Award that has played in the Queensland Basketball League, with Mitchell McCarron (Northside Wizards) winning the award in 2015. You played against Mitch when he was at Metro State. Did you speak to him about the QBL before coming over?
A I did speak to Mitch before coming over about the QBL in general and about the possibilities of joining him and Nick Kay on Northside. It didn’t exactly work out and I felt very interested in joining the Pirates after the season I saw Hererra have with them the winter before.
Q The QBL has a long history with some quality US players and Australian players. How do you rate the QBL compared to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) that you and Mitch played in at college?
A I think the QBL is a better league than the RMAC overall. There is a wider age range in the QBL which in my opinion leas to a larger talent spectrum. But it is still very close as far as the top talent goes. Let me put it this way. If the QBL played the RMAC in an all star game, and we had Mitch and Nick on our team, it would come down to the wire. If we didn’t have the two of them, I bet we lose by 15 at least.
Q Do think the QBL experience helped you develop as a player and person? If so, in what ways?
A Absolutely the QBL experience helped me as a player and a person. As a player, I was humbled. I had a monster year before being brought out there and I thought I would go out there and put up similar numbers. There were times I felt like I was hurting our QBL team more than helping it. I had to learn to try and play as the 3rd or 4th option on offense because of the way things were going for our team. It taught me how to focus on different aspects of my game. As a person, I learned a lot about myself and how to live more on my own. With only having practice twice a week and a couple Aussie Hoops sessions here and there, I had to find ways to kill time and not let myself become home sick. Yes at 21 I still got home sick and I’m not ashamed of it. I also learned how to interact with different personalities on the floor and off the floor. Our team had guys from age 17 to upper 30s. Each of us had different reasons for being apart of the team and looked at our season in different ways. I’m not sure how to describe it but when you’re apart of a team that has 20 year age differences, you’ve got to find ways to get the most out of every guy as their teammate. I did my best to do that in my six games before injury.
Q Now that your college career is over what are your plans? NBA? Europe?
A I am planning on signing with the same agent as Mitch and pursuing my professional options. My body needs a lot of work and I plan to spend my summer becoming the best version of myself I can be before whatever professional options come my way. I have been told I’m a good fit for Europe with my style of play. But I would love to come back to Australia. I would say the NBL is where I would like to play most after the NBA. But I know the odds of me making either are very small. One step at a time
Interview with Mitch McCarron
Q Mitch, you were the first QBL player to win this award, how much do you think growing up in the QBL helped you in your journey?
A I would say that my 2014 year in the QBL was most important. Most of my seasons had been cut short, electing to go back early to Denver before school started and unfortunately having to miss the majority of games. 2014 was a huge off season for me, as I took a lot of confidence from my play in the QBL, and transitioned straight into my senior season at Metro.
Q How does QBL compare to RMAC?
A They are two very different leagues, and I think age and experience plays a huge part in that. The QBL has some tough teams with players from various levels, especially when you consider the majority of the Northern teams that often have players with NBL experience. The RMAC was always fun to play in, due to the various different styles and tempos that teams tried to play at. We were fortunately always up around the top of the ladder during the season, so you knew that you would get everybody’s best game regardless where you played. I began to like that, and knew that we had to come to play each game.
Q You have had one season in Europe in Spain what was that like?
A Spain has been a great experience! Personally it’s been up and down statistically, but the most important thing is that we are winning. We won the Cup game at the half-way point of the season which meant so much to the people of Palencia. We don’t really have cup games in Australia so I didn’t really understand why it meant so much, but seeing the passion from the fans during the Cup game made me extremely grateful to win one as a rookie. We are currently in first position in league, and need 2 more wins out of four games to secure the league title. Very exciting times! Off the floor, it’s a completely different lifestyle and culture to that of Australia and America, but I’ve really enjoyed the laid-back people and the food is incredible.
Q There is a lot of talk surrounding the Bullets coming back into our NBL this year. What are your plans for the next season? NBL? NBA? Back to Europe?
A I honestly have no idea what my plans are for next year. I’m really enjoying my time here in Palencia, and have done a lot of winning as a rookie which always feels great. It will just depend on the offers that come about this off-season, and I’ll work with my agent to make the best possible choice.