We continue our interview series at Eurospects.com with Jeremy Sochan taking the spotlight in this episode. Jeremy after leading U16 Polish National team to division B championship in Podgorica last year, took his talents overseas and joined prestigious program La Lumiere in Indiana. Let’s catch up with him on his development in America, learn about his background and find out what he’s looking forward to in the future.
For those who are reading this but might not know you, could you please tell us a bit about your background? Where were you born, grew up and started playing basketball?
So my mom is from Poland and moved to the States to play basketball in Oklahoma (D2 school); she then met my dad who also played basketball there. I was born in 2003 in a very remote place called Guymon in Oklahoma, however after she graduated we left in 2005 and moved to England. We lived in Southampton for a few years until me and my mom moved in with my stepfather in Milton Keynes. I started playing basketball when I was six for Solent Kestrels, but when I moved to Milton Keynes I played for MK Trojans before going back to Kestrels for a year when I was 15.
Why basketball, in the country dominated by football, rugby and cricket? What drew you into the game?
My family is very sports oriented; it’s been a big part of our life, both of my parents played basketball and my grandparents were also involved in sports. My brother is also in love with sports, playing basketball and football, and he’s a really good runner! I started playing basketball and I loved it, although I also played football (as a goalkeeper) as everyone plays in England, and I even played rugby for school! I managed to play football and basketball for a few years, but it became increasingly difficult to combine the two, and a point came when I had to choose… It was a hard decision for me because most of my friends would play football, and I was pretty good, but basketball was in my blood; my mom stopped playing basketball because she was 3 months pregnant with me haha! It also came naturally to me, and it suited me more. So I chose basketball over football! Now my brother has the same problem to face, I believe he could have a really good future.
Who’s is your favourite player and why? Who do you study? Which teams/leagues do you follow?
My favourite player is definitely Kevin Durant because of how different he is, the game comes so naturally to him and his abilities are unreal, especially for his size… I’ve always looked up to him and he also played for Oklahoma City Thunder. I’ve studied a lot of different players ranging from point guards like Sergio Llull, Russell Westbrook, Donovan Mitchell to bigger players like KD, Luka Doncic, Paul George, Jokic, Embiid – I can learn from all of them… I don’t really follow one team but OKC is my favourite team. However, I will always try to watch basketball games if they are on the tv or online, and I regularly watch highlights of teams from the NBA, EuroLeague and NCAA. I watch teams like OKC, Celtics, Clippers, Mavericks, Anadolu Efes, Real Madrid, CSKA and a ton of college basketball teams…
What do you think your strengths are on the court?
On the court my strengths are:
– I’m a versatile player and can play in many positions
– I’m a team-first player and do the job I’m asked to do. I’m a two way player and I like to defend
– I think I have really good court vision and my play making ability is good
– I’m also a good scorer and rebounder
– I’m unselfish
– I listen to people – my coaches and my teammates
– I’m mature
Off the court?
– I’m respectful
– I’m mature
– I’m organised
– I’m determined
– Good at communicating
– Good sense of humour
– I believe I understand people
Is your passing touch something that came naturally to you or did you decide you wanted to take your game in that direction?
Oh it definitely comes naturally to me! My mom was a point guard, so I probably took it from her. I also really enjoy just giving someone a good pass and assisting my teammates.
In the summer you’ve led the Polish U16 National Team to division B title and got selected as an MVP, can you describe your experience? What did that mean to you?
The experience was crazy! I loved the whole journey to the championships in August, we had a great team. Everyone knew the end goal and we got there with a lot of fun and hard work. It meant a lot because we worked hard for that moment and we were successful. Previously, I got selected to the 2002-team and while we weren’t as successful and it wasn’t the best experience, I believe it gave me a lot both as a player and a person.
You have had many offers from top clubs in Europe, why did you decide to take your talents to the States?
I decided to go to America because I’ve always dreamed of playing in college and I believe the level of exposure is better in the US. In addition to that I wanted to continue my education, and combining that with basketball works really well in America, especially at La Lumiere.
How would you compare the level of competition? What differences can you see between European and American basketball?
I feel like the level of competition is better in America because there’s bigger investment in basketball here, although I do believe there’s been big improvements in European basketball too. Even in England where everyone plays football (soccer), and it's dominated by that, cricket and rugby, basketball has been growing. There’s a lot of difference in basketball – in America the game is a lot more physical and quicker. Secondly, the rules are different which makes a big difference. Lastly, I think the biggest difference is players’ mentalities… In America, I realised players are a lot more confident, and when they make a mistake they just play on.
What adjustments you had to make in your game?
First of all, I had to adjust to the physicality of the game but I also had to adjust mentally. There were a lot of moments when it was really hard for me, but I had to get through them. Also, I had to adjust to my teammates, we have a lot of scorers so I realised that my role would be different, and I won’t get the ball as much.
How would you describe your role on the team?
I think I have a pretty big role, and I play a lot of minutes. I’m one of the bigger, stronger guys on the team this year so I realised that I’m not going to be as ball dominant, and I’m not going to get that many shots up. It’s about good decision making and being efficient. I still believe my role is to play make, and I try to make winning plays for my team. On top of that, I need to play good defence, rebound well and encourage my teammates.
How is your season going on so far? Anything you would like to highlight? Anything you are looking forward to?
The season is going well, we have won 20 games and lost only 3. We now have only 3 games left and hopefully then get selected to Geico Nationals in April – where the best 8 schools in the country play for the title! I’m looking forward to competing in Geico Nationals, which is in New York – hope we’ll make it! Also, I can’t wait for the AAU season to start and hopefully play for U18 Poland team in the summer.
How has your game grown since joining La Lumiere?
I believe I’ve got a lot more confident and I think I understand my body more. On top of that my shot is more consistent.
What would you like to improve in your game?
I would like to improve:
– Continue to improve my shot, especially the consistency
– My dribbling
– Speed with the ball
– EVERYTHING – I want to keep improving!
What in your opinion are the most important aspects of the ‘’team’’?
There’s a lot of aspects, but the most important ones are:
– Having on and off the court relationships
– Being able to talk and take criticism
– Understanding that there’s no I in team and that playing as a team is a lot more fun
What are your goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My goals are to grow as a basketball player and a human being, and I do see myself playing in the NBA in the next few years.
Do you have any other interest outside of basketball?
– Listening to music
– The Xbox