Season two of Red Bull Midnight Run kicked off June 1 with the first stop in Washington D.C. The District had a strong group of talent show up including a few familiar faces and a ton of new ones. [Check out the top plays from D.C. here]
After the action, we were able to catch up with Donte Briscoe, a newbie to Red Bull Midnight Run and relatively new to the game of basketball in general. We were also able to sit down with Corey Almond, a returning player from the D.C. squad that lost to Chicago in the Red Bull Midnight Run Finals last year. Both guys were stand out players from Round 1, so we caught up with them to ask a few questions about their playing experience and D.C. basketball.
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Dime: How did you get started playing basketball?
Donte Briscoe: I started at Fairmont Heights high school in Prince George’s County, Maryland. I didn’t start playing basketball until my 10th grade year of high school. Once I started developing a love for the game, I started working out with a trainer by the name of Torres Brown who was actually training Kevin Durant at the time as well. He helped me get started.
Dime: That’s a pretty late start. What took you so long to pick up a ball?
D.B: I didn’t always love the game of basketball. Mr. Brown really helped me develop a passion for the game in high school. So after I began playing I just fell in love with it. Golf was my first love. Instead of taking golf scholarships I ended up going to Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. to play basketball, and I’ve just been playing ever since.
Dime: So you chose to give up Golf for basketball?
Dime: Did Torres Brown advise you to make that decision or was it something you decided you wanted to do on your own?
D:B Torres Brown definitely helped me. He’s the one that made me the basketball player I am. Due to the fact that my father died when I was two years old, I never really had a role model. So working with him I just continued to develop my game from 10th grade all the way until I left for Allegheny.
Dime: So right now what are your main goals going forward?
D.B: Actually I’m trying to make my way to go overseas. Right now I have a twin brother, two sisters, my mother, two nieces and two nephews. Right now they’re not being taken care of the way they really should be so I just want to use basketball as a way to give back to them.
Dime: How do you feel Red Bull Midnight Run can help you get where you want to go?
D.B: Red Bull Midnight Run can help me because playing against people with different games and different abilities helps me get better. The competition aspect of it really interests me. Just having the opportunity to play against the best players from each city makes me hungry to see how I stack up against the competition. I want to use it as a way to gauge myself and get better. It’ll help me open my eyes on what I need to work on to eventually achieve my goal.
Dime: Do you play in any Summer Leagues?
D.B: Yeah I play at Watts almost every year and I’ve played in the Goodman League a couple times. Summer League ball is much different than playing regulation basketball. But it definitely helps me develop my toughness and work on my one on one game. Playing without structure helps you develop your mentality.
Dime: From what you saw here in D.C., do you think this group has what it takes to compete for a title again this year?
Absolutely. I just feel as though everyone should bring their talent together. Out here, everyone is so quick to compare themselves to the next guy. Everyone wants to be better than the next player. But at the end of the day, basketball is a team game. As ball players from D.C, sometimes we tend to make it all about ourselves. I think if we can put together the right group of guys that are willing to bring everything they have to offer to the table and achieve a common goal I think we can win it all. There’s no doubt that we have the talent, we just have to put it all together.
Dime: You’re a familiar face around here. Last year you did King of the Rock and Red Bull Midnight Run, so what brings you back?
Corey Almond: First of all, I just want to thank Red Bull. A lot of positive stuff doesn’t come here often in D.C, but for them to just keep showing love out here and giving these guys an opportunity to play on a big stage like Barclays, it’s great.
But I’m coming back for season 2 because I’m bitter. I didn’t like the way we ended last year. I thought we had more talent than Chicago, but Chicago was a better team. They played together and put all their egos aside and they were able to win a championship. Coming so close to becoming the champs definitely made me want to come back and give it another shot.
Dime: How do you feel about your chances this year?
C.A: I definitely want to see them in the Championship again this year. I feel that this year we’ve got a lot more talent than we had last year, but we just have to bring it together. It’s not one on one so we can’t play like it’s one on one. Everybody has to check their egos at the door. We have to play team basketball to get the job done. With the talent we have in the gym this year, I think we’ll be able to do that.
Dime: Tell me about growing up playing ball and your experience with the game.
C.A: I grew up in Glassmanor, Md, just playing around the neighborhood in the rec center and whatnot. Then I went to high school in Gwynn Park. After that I went to Howard College and then to Sam Houston University, where I got the opportunity to play against John Wall. I actually had a career night against them. They didn’t really know about me coming in, so I had a lot of open looks and ended up hitting 11 out of 16 three’s that night for a Rupp Arena record. I finished with 37 points. It was a huge night for me and I definitely think that’s the night that jump-started my career. After college I played a year in the D-League, then I went to China, Turkey, just got back from Africa, and then I played another half-season in the D-League.
Dime: That’s a pretty extensive playing career, where do you think you had your biggest challenge?
C.A: Turkey. That was my first time in Europe. I played well in China, I played well my second year in the D-League, averaging 15 off the bench. But when I went to Turkey it was a whole different game that I was unfamiliar with. In the league I played in you could only play one American on the floor at a time, so my minutes were very short. When I got in, I was rushing it trying to get my numbers, and I’m used to letting the game come to me.
Dime: Was there another American on the team taking minutes away from you?
C.A: I had a center on my team that played 30+ minutes a night. He was actually really good so I was lucky to get 10. It was rough on me. I would love to get back there because they’ve changed the rule since then, and now they can play 2 Americans at one time.
Dime: Do you think you’ve gained enough experience to make another attempt at the NBA?
C.A: I definitely think I’m ready. I’m friends with John, so over the summer last year I had the opportunity to play pick up with the Washington Wizards. I really just want to be in the building with those guys. Just playing against them makes me a better player. Even if I don’t ever get the opportunity to make the team, just being around the team and learning from them makes me a better player. It’ll definitely help me when I get back to Europe and from there I’m just going to continue to get better until my time comes.
Dime: In terms of achieving your goal in making it to the League, do you think you’ve got a better chance playing over in Europe or playing here in the D-League?
C.A: The D-League of course. Just because it’s in the States and it’s much more hands on with the NBA. There are always a few scouts at every game. So just the fact that there’s always a scout in the gym makes it easier. But just like everything it’s political. So you have to take your bumps and bruises with it and just keep pushing.
Dime: Tell me a bit about the grind of the D-League and the politics side of it from your personal experience.
C.A: Well, obviously the scouts are there to see the big name players. They don’t really judge on a fair scale. I was in Maine training camp this past year before I went to Africa. I was the best shooter there and probably the best scorer. I outplayed everybody there and the coaches will tell you that. Despite all that, they didn’t have an answer to why they released me. He told me not to get discouraged because it was political. At the time they had Shelvin Mack, who was with the Wizards. They had Michael Downs from Gonzaga, who was with Boston. They had Xaviar Silas who was with Philly. Fab Melo who was with Boston, and Kris Joseph who was with the Celtics as well. So there just wasn’t any room for me and I understood that.
Dime: So does the political side of things discourage you at all? Or does it make you more determined to eventually overcome all that and make your way onto a Summer League team or get invited to a training camp.
C.A: Well with talking to John every once in awhile and being here at home I’d love to get a shot with the Wizards. They see me enough and I go up there and play every chance I get. So hopefully eventually I’ll get my shot. Whether it’s Summer League or a tryout or anything I just want to get in the gym. From there I feel like I can take care of the rest. Once I get a chance the sky is the limit.
Dime: The first step is winning this Red Bull Midnight Run, right?
C.A: Yeah absolutely. I can’t lose two years in a row. I just won’t let it happen.
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