By Xavi Sentís
Spaniard Sebastian Saiz (C 6’8”, 1994) played in Estudiantes (Madrid) since 2009 until he came to USA last year to play for Sunrise Christian Academy before he committed with OleMiss. In Prep High School he averaged double figures (15 points and 10 points) in his senior season and led his team to a 27-2 record. He didn’t have time to rest last summer, because he played with both Spain’s youth national teams, where he played in the WC U19 that was hosted in Prague and either, two days later, started the EC U20 at Latvia. In the FIBA WC U19 Saiz averaged 9,6 points and 9,4 rebounds per game and Spain finished at 5th place with a record of 7 wins and 2 losses. Meanwhile, Spain won bronze medal with a 6-4 record in the EC U20. In the bronze medal’s game he got tournament highs of 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Spain beat Russia 70-63. We want to know something more about his experience in USA and his future plans.
-Although this is not you first year playing in USA, what are your feelings in your freshman season in College?
I’ve actually been here since last year. I was thinking it was going to be similar to last year but it wasn’t. Not even close. Everything is so difficult and there’s so much different stuff. You have to be stronger and faster than everybody. Something that surprised me, too, is that you play three games in a week. You have to move fast. I like that, too. I like it a lot. You don’t realize it when you’re a freshman but since I’m a sophomore now, you realize that the season goes so fast. We played 33 games and it went so quick you didn’t even realize it.
-Last year in High School you had a great season and I suppose that you got a lot of experience in USA basketball, isn’t it? What do you think about young European players who start to play in college directly from Europe?
I think every year more players are coming from Europe to play here in the U.S. In Europe, almost every young player that has played basketball signs with a pro team and signs a contract. If you want to play college basketball, you can have that. It’s a good experience when you can improve in your years before you get to play pro. That’s a pretty cool experience. It’s something that not everybody can do.
-In the first part of the season, you played coming off the bench, how were you feeling in this role?
I was pretty excited because I was starting to be important on the team. When you come here, you have to learn to work with the team. The worst part was the game was fast for me.
-Last summer you didn’t have a lot of time to rest your body and this year you will play with Spain youth national team again. What expectation do you have about this EC U20? What kind of team do you think it will be?
It’s going to be the same team. We’ve known each other for a long time. This year everybody has grown and more experienced. We always have one of the best teams. We always get to the quarterfinals, but it’s that game that we’ve lost. I’ve felt like we haven’t been mature enough to approach that game. We’re better now. Everybody’s roles increase because everybody is playing in the big leagues now. I think we’re going to have a pretty good team. It’s the last summer that we’re playing together. That has to be motivation for us. If we don’t win this year, we don’t have another year.
-How is your relationship with your teammates?
With my teammates here at Ole Miss, they accept me being from Spain. They are very good teammates. We didn’t have any fights or any problems. It was nice and welcoming. With the national team, we’re like a big family. Everybody has known each other from a long time. We know how to play together. We’re always together.
-When you finish your senior season in college, where would you like to play? If you have to return to Europe, which would be your favorite team?
I came here to play in the NBA. I have that expectation.
We want to thanks Daniel Snowden for his friendliness and efficiency and, of course, to Sebastian Saiz for taking his time to answer our questionnaire.
Twitter of the author: @garden7613