Hey European basketball fans! We are continuing our interview series on Eurospects.com, in which we are trying to interview NBA Draft prospects all season long.
In this edition, our guest is Estonian forward Henri Drell from Carpegna Prosciutto Basket Pesaro. His basketball career road already led him to multiple countries in early age. Henri drew a lot of interest after a stellar U16 European Championship campaign with Estonia in 2016. Next season, he started playing for Baunach Young Pikes, farm team for Brose Baskets Bamberg in Germany. After 3 years in Germany, at the start of this season he went to Italy to kickstart his pro career with VL Pesaro. Versatile forward at 6’9 with impressive mobility and athleticism, Henri has the ability to lead his team in terms of scoring and create his own shot. He is already a vital part of his respective team this season. Let’s hear what he would like to say about his progress, settings and mindset!
Can you tell us a bit about your background, where were you born, live and started basketball?
My name is Henri Drell, I was born in Tallinn, Estonia currently living in Pesaro. Started playing when I was 9 years old. My both parents played basketball in national team level and I think because of them I wanted to start playing basketball. Moved to Germany when I was 16 and from this season I’m in Italy.
When did you think you have what it takes to be an elite pro player?
Since the beginning I was thinking about being a basketball player, but really started thinking about being a pro player at age of 15, then people started to see me and I saw I have some potiential skills to be a pro.
What do you think about Estonian Basketball? Is it the most appreciated sport in the country or does it have less exposure? Which players do you like the most from your country?
I think Estonian basketball is growing right now, it’s getting better every year, a lot of potential young players in Europe and USA. Basketball is definitely the most appreciated sport in Estonia.
You are still very young but you have already played in multiple countries across Europe in the last few years. How was playing and adapting to different environments at a young age? Do you advise other young players to pursue playing abroad?
At first when I left home when I was 16, it was very difficult, but with the time and work the adaptions come. Definitely I advise guys to go play abroad, specially players who are from smaller countries like me, where level is not that good and chances are not that big.
What do you think your strengths are on the court?
I think my strengths are my skills and shooting combined with my length, I can create for myself and for others and I can knockdown some difficult shots thanks to my size.
In which areas do you think you have room to improve?
I think I need improve everything, offensively to get lower and faster but lately focus has been on defensive side and mental side, lateral moves, close-outs, toughness, focus at all the times etc.
What do you feel like the next step is for you? You are playing in a competitive environment in Italian Serie A? How are you adjusting so far?
My next step is definitely to get consistent on Serie A level, until right now it’s been up and down season for me. I think adjusting has been good for me, because I had good games, bad games but I really feel like I can compete in this level
What do you think about your 2019-2020 season with Pesaro so far?
Like I said before, personally I have had ups and downs, but this what it takes to be here. At all I’m satisfied with experience so far just to keep working and give 100% in every game, it’s real business now. As a team I feel like we are getting better everyday
What are your opinions on the most important aspects of a “team”?
Most important thing is a being together and helping each other out in every situation, when the team is not together it’s hard to find peace. Everybody in the team should hype each other up.
What are your goals for the future? What kind of a player would you like to become and where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
My ultimate goal is to be a NBA player! I would like to become a player that everybody loves to play with, that I can make my teammates better through my game, in 5 years I believe that I see myself in the NBA.
What do you think about your chances for NBA in the future?
I think if I keep getting better and keep working everything is possible and I believe one day I will be there
Do you think 2000 generation in Europe is a strong group? Which players do you like from your own generation?
Yes 2000 generation is a group where might be the biggest potential, a lot of guys who have tremendous potential and talent. I like a lot of guys from my age, I like guys Sirvidys, Vrenz, Mikhailovsky, Jurkatamm, Jaakson, my teammates Eboua and Miaschi, there are so many guys who I like and I talk with from my age group.
Is there anyone do you like watching? Some player to role model?
I love watching Paul George and I like to learn his game
What do you like to do outside of basketball?
Spend time with my friends and family.