From Padova to San Antonio, Texas. It is not an easy road the one Giovanni De Nicolao took. basketballncaa.com will pay close attention to the season of the Italian players that moved to the US this year, starting with the 20-year-old guard, brother of Andrea (Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia) and Francesco (Assigeco Piacenza). In this interview, Giovanni De Nicolao tells us what he expects of his season with the RoadRunners at UTSA.
What brought you to this decision to move to the US?
My desire to get better and experience a different path.
How did you get a scholarship from an American college?
Through my brother’s agent, Andrea Ricci. A few colleges showed some interest last year and when the season was over they offered me a scholarship. After passing the required exams, I enrolled.
Do your peers follow the Ncaa or do they not?
My peer basketball players do, especially March Madness.
Why aren’t there more Italian players interested in an experience in a US college?
I’m sure many players would love it, but they don’t really try to.
You had the chance to talk to Amedeo Della Valle, what did he tell you about his experience at Ohio State that convinced you to play in the US?
Della Valle helped me in my choice through my brother Andrea, but more than Della Valle, I talked about it with Federico Mussini and my US teammates this season (TJ Bray and Brett Blizzard). They told me how in the US you tend to do a lot more individual work and how that was one of the best time in their lives.
You’ll be at San Antonio, the biggest university in the city, but UTSA just had a terrible season. Did you watch any film? What do you know of the roster for next season?
The team changed a lot from last season, there’s a new coach and good players joined the team during summer. I know we will try to play fast and be unselfish, we will try to play as a team and don’t rely on individual talent.
This is Steve Henson’s first experience as a Head Coach. After talking to him, do you think his experience as a player in Italy (Rome and Pesaro) will help you?
I talked to him a lot and he can’t wait for the season to begin. Coach Henson had an international career and he knows what it means to play and live in a different country, I’m sure his experience will be very useful to me.
As a player, he was your typical white, not-so-athletic player with good fundamentals. Sounds familiar?
My brothers? 😀 I guess you could say coach Henson and I are kind of similar players.
You are an “old school” playmaker, do you think it’s getting harder for players like you to find time on the court?
You see “old school playmakers” less and less, but it’s mostly up to the coach and the kind of team that he is building.
Could you tell us a funny story related to your US experience?
Well, the experience is about to begin, but I can tell you how coach Henson, during the long process of getting all the papers done, reassured me by recalling his experience overseas, Italy included, when they kept telling him that everything would have been done by the following day. So he decided to comfort me saying that everything would have been done by the following day.