Making that first impression is so important in life no matter if you’re wanting to be a stock broker, paramedic or a cook. How you present yourself in that interview can be so vital and it isn’t any different for a professional basketball player. Usually the organization have the upper hand in the first talks simple because they have gotten recommendations from that player’s ex coaches and seen hours of footage. But not only does a club have to be 100% sure that they have the right player, but the player also has to be totally convinced that his new basketball home will benefit him in the best way as possible. If a player and coach don’t see eye to eye from the get go then that player has to go on and find the next possible team. Often one hears the normal bla bla in German basketball team’s press releases of how good the talks were between player and coach and that was it. In the case of wiha Panthers head coach Alen Velcic, you get that added bonus of more in depth detail from the players about his character. It doesn’t really matter who the player has been in the last years that has signed with the Pro A team from south west Germany, Alen Velcic has gotten the total positive full treatment from new players that have only spoken with him. You have to wonder what kind of a indisputable second impression he makes on players in that first face to face encounter at the first day of practice. New players Quatarrius Wilson stated this ”He’s all about winning and he has high intensity’ while Luka Dolman stated ‘The biggest thing for me is his passion for the game As a player I know he’s going to push me to be the best player and teammate that I can be’. The lauding of Alen Velcic just continues and continues just as the constant lauding for Giannis of the Milwaukee Bucks a day after winning the NBA title is non stop. The praising and good first impression of Alen Velcic wasn’t any different for new player Grant Sitton (206-F-93, college: Victoria) either. ‘ He is a straight shooter, He tells you what you need to hear and not what you want. I admire that in a coach. He seems to really care about coaching and the team and not just here for the money’, warned Grant Sitton. I don’t know how his first impression of Rostock head coach Dirk Bauermann was in January 2020 when the ex German national team coach came on board, but he didn’t want to answer a question about him so one is able to decipher that his experience with him wasn’t what he had expected. Sitton is back in Germany with a lot to prove and wants to make the next step with the wiha Panthers. That so important first impression has been great for Sitton, now the question will be, can he and Velcic harmonize on the court?
Grant Sitton who lists current NBA player Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs as his toughest opponent ever was born on April 27, 1993 in Brush Prairie in Washington state. He began his basketball career at Prairie High School. Instead of going the NCAA route, he had to start at the bottom at Clackamas Community College. It was here that he developed a chip on his shoulder. ‘I loved Clackamas I still keep in touch with the coaches and players there. A lot of good memories. I think coming from a community college you always have a chip on your shoulder but it helped me get to where I am today’, stressed Grant Sitton. He then went a rare route for an American and chose not to play in the United States, but in Canada for the University of Victoria. There was a massive advantage to playing in Canada something that Americans probably don’t even know about. ‘In Canada you get 5 years to play instead of 4 (in USA) coming from a community college I wanted that extra year to develop my skills as a basketball player’, remembered Grant Sitton. In his three years at Victoria he played a total of 68 games and really made a huge jump in his last two years averaging 14.4ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 81.8% and in his last season 19.2ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 77.3%. He was able to improve his scoring, rebounding and assists averages in every season. What his game gained in those three years continues to help his game today. ‘As I get older I’m better at reading and understanding the game of basketball as well as what I’m capable of on the court’, stressed Grant Sitton. He was a very consistent scorer in his last two seasons scoring in double figures in 34 of 42 games. He had unforgettable scoring explosions against Saskatchewan with 33 points, 32 points against Lethbridge and 30 points against TRU. He credits lead assistant coach Josh Mullen for being instrumental in him being a player that has had success everywhere he has been as a professional. ‘He believed in me and my goal to play over season and him and I spent countless hours over the course of my college career. His knowledge of the game is the reason why I’m the basketball player I am today’, warned Grant Sitton. He never lost a one on one battle in practice to teammate Hayden Leyeune and also remembers how lethal of a scorer Mr Canada and ex Fraport Skyliner Philip Scrubb was in school. ‘I remember Philip being unstoppable. We had the opportunity to play them multiple times and both times were a challenge. But it always fun to go up against a really talented player and he is one of the best’, remembered Grant Sitton.
The Washington native lists his five best teammates of all-time as Marcus Tibbs, Donte Nicolas, Jobi Wall , Rodney Glasgow and Noah Charles began his professional basketball career with BC Prievidza (Slovakia-SBL). He needed no time to adjust as he played 37 games averaging 14.2ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 81.1%. There are guys who play 10 professional season and never experience the feeling of winning that chip, but he did it as a rookie. He was a prolific scorer his rookie season scoring in double figures in 27 games. He scored 30 points and 25 points against Rieker KN and 25 points against Nova Ves. In his second season he played with top Dutch club Donar Groningen (Holland-Eredivisie) playing 41 games averaging 7.2ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT-2 (90.5%). He also got his first international club competition playing 14 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 7.9ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 34.8%, 3PT: 44.7%, FT: 88.6%. After winning back to back Dutch Eredivisie titles in 2017 and 2018, Donar Groningen couldn’t pull off the triple losing a fierce five game battle against Zwolle. Being able to play Fiba Europe Cup had a huge impact on his game. ‘The amount of exposure I had playing all these different teams in all different countries was eye opening to me. I tried to soak as much knowledge of the game of basketball I could bring surrounded by such good players’, remembered Grant Sitton. He scored in double figures in the Dutch league in 14 games including 16 points a piece against Limburg and Den Helder. In the Fiba Europe Cup he scored in double figures in five games including 18 points against Italian team Openjobmetis. He also had two ex BBL players that enriched his game with ex Bamberg guard Teddy Gipson and ex Ludwigsburg forward Jason Dourissaeu. ‘They are good guys I learned a lot about how to conduct myself as a pro and what it takes to compete at a high level. Jason and I were roommates when we would travel so we spent a lot of time together on the road’, added Grant Sitton.
In the 2019-2020 season he played with the Rostock Seawolves playing 26 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 46.0%, FT: 85.9%. He may not have good memories of Dirk Bauermann, but he does have very fond accounts of the faithful Rostock fans and that the versatile Donte Nicholas is one of his five best teammates of all-time is no surprise. ‘I loved the fans support in Rostock. I was chosen by a group of fans to do a meet and greet. They were a lovely family and still wish me luck. Donte and I are still good friends even after Rostock. He is by far one of the most versatile players I’ve played with. We used to play against each other in practice, it was really competitive and a lot of fun’, remembered Grant Sitton. He scored in double figures in only 8 games, but had three massive games producing 24 and 22 points against PS Karlsruhe and 23 points against the Niners Chemnitz. Last season he wanted to return back to Germany, but couldn’t and decided to go back to an old stomping ground with BC Prievidza (Slovakia-SBL). It was his best personal season as he played 25 games and was the second best scorer in the league averaging 18.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT-2 (45.8%), FT: 82.6%. It was a no brainer coming back to the organization that made him a champion in his rookie season. ‘What makes them special is that they were the first and only team to offer and eventually give me my first contract as a professional basketball player. I have a strong bond with management and the fans Over there and I will always be grateful for them’, warned Grant Sitton. He was unable to win another title as he lost a tough three game series it Iskra Svit. ‘Losing any playoff series is tough and yes I was disappointed but I was really happy with how hard my teammates played during the season and in playoffs they deserve the credit with how they competed’, stated Grant Sitton. He had huge games against Iskra Svit scoring 36 points and had 32 points against Lucenec.
So let’s fast forward to 2021. The ex University Of Victoria forward who lists Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Shaquille O’Neal on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore did only have the challenge last season of continuing to climb the basketball ladder, but also having to deal with COVID. The last year has been tough for everyone during COVID and he will never forget those boisterous Rostock fans and having a season without fans was tough. ‘The challenges playing with covid were hard but I think the management and players handle it very well. For me the only issue was that fact the was no fan interaction the whole time I was there. I always like to show my appreciation to them’, expressed Grant Sitton. He continues to grow as a player with every new experience in new countries and Covid also helped him grow as a man. ‘COVID gave me a new perspective of life and how you take for granted all the little things you can do. I’ve come to appreciate more of the small things in my life’, commented Grant Sitton. What didn’t happen last season finally came true again now as he will be playing in Germany again with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. He knows that he still has a lot to prove and with the ambitious Panthers organization, he has the perfect chance to. If COVID hadn’t come on to the scene, he may have remained in Germany last season. ‘Covid played a huge role. I’m very thankful that BC Prievidza offered me a contract and let me come in for the remainder of their season. They have always treated me well’, said Grant Sitton. That first impression that head coach Alen Velcic gave him was a big reason for him committing to the Pro A team. ‘I think it’s a good fit for me after talking with the coach and sharing our interest, I feel confident that we have the tools and the mindset to be a great team this season’, stated Grant Sitton. He has good and bad memories of his two games against the Panthers. The good memories was that he won both games, but the bad memory was that he didn’t have his A-game prepared. He put up a big goose egg in the first game and shot only 3/12 combined in both games. ‘Sometimes the bad games stick out more. I only remember the first game because I played so poorly’, stressed Grant Sitton
So what kind of player will German basketball fans see with the American who feels Michael Jordan is the best of all-time and the last movie that he witnessed was Space Jam 2? He will be on a club that will supply much scoring support with guys like Lamonte Beardon, Quatarrius Wilson Raiquan Clark and Chris Frazier, but there should be enough room and minutes for him to heighten his game even more from his Rostock season. People have compared his game to a white Kevin Durant, but he believes that is a joke. He doesn’t like to compare his game to only one player, but rather likes to take things from many NBA players. He is a modern day forward and even if he can bang, he does prefer to utilize his strong shooting ability. ‘I feel like I shoot a high enough percentage from the 3 point line that sometimes it’s better than shooting inside. That being said I pride myself on being versatile as a player’, expressed Grant Sitton. He shot 38% from outside in his last three seasons at Victoria and has continued to raise his three point percentages as he has shot above 40% as a professional in every league he has played in except the Dutch league. His recipe for success is based on two things. ‘My Dad and mom taught me the fundamentals as a kid as I grew older I watch good shooters and took parts of their shot and tried to add them to mine. But the secret is there is no secret getting up shots and gaining confidence are the two most important things when it comes to shooting’, warned Grant Sitton. But in order to be a modern day forward, you have to be able to do more and his facilitating will help out the offense this season. ‘I’m a great passer, I read the floor well and I understand the game enough to make my teammates better around me’, stressed Grant Sitton. He also knows that playing top at one end of the court isn’t the way to being that complete player, but you have to bring it always at both ends of the court. ‘Although I have improved my defense a lot over my career it’s always something I constantly try to work on. I feel that’s something that is holding me back to the next level’, stressed Grant Sitton. Hearing a comment like this has to be as soothing for Alen Velcic as it has been for Team USA opponents seeing them struggle the last weeks leading up to the 2021 Olympics. Not only did Sitton have a very positive first impression of Velcic, but so did Alen Velcic of Sitton. This has to be a match made in heaven.