BUSAN, South Korea – The KT Sonic Boom are back for another year of Korean Basketball League action, and this year, they have a new-look squad with fan favorite Charles Rhodes having taken his talents to Turkey. The Sonic Boom have gotten off to a slow start, having lost their opening games to Goyang and Ulsan Mobis Phoebus, but the squad is hoping to recapture some of the success from the past two years. Last year, the Sonic Boom were knocked out in the semis by eventual league champs KGC after finishing the season in third place with a 31-23 record.
Darian Townes was selected by KT in the KBL import draft in Las Vegas in July to lead the charge this year, and Haps had a chance to catch up with the 28-year-old ex-Arkansas Razorback about his thoughts on the upcoming season, and his adjustment to basketball life in South Korea.
With fan favorite Charles Rhodes now gone to Turkey, the biggest question fans are asking is: Who is Darian Townes?
I would like the fans to understand that I am a very passionate person and player. I take basketball very serious.
What kind of conditioning do you do to keep in shape during the season and the off-season? What's the secret for you to keep in shape?
During the season (Europe and here, so far), we do two practices a day. I try to treat our practices like games to help me get in the right shape for the season. During the off-season, I play every day at the fitness gym and will try and catch pick-up games as much as possible. I do participate in some summer league games towards the end of summer.
How do you think the injury to Brandon Costner will affect KT? Will they miss his size in the paint?
He was obviously a good player and would have been an asset to KT, but we want him to get healthy first and foremost. Having Jasper come in will bring in some experience and leadership.
What chances do you think KT have this year to win a KBL title?
I think we have a great chance at winning a KBL title. We have a great coach, great players but with that being said, there is going to be competition. We are putting in hard work and our goal is to win it all.
How's the chemistry with the other teammates so far?
Chemistry is good, we are still learning each other's strengths. I enjoy joking around with the guys and as the season goes on, I can see some good relationships being formed.
Some foreign players have clashed with Coach Jeon in the past, as he's known to demand a lot of his players to practice. What do you think of his coaching style compared to other coaches you've had in the past?
Having a coach that pushes you is not a bad thing for me. He makes you work to become a better player. I respect coach and that alone makes me want to keep striving for our goals. Coach Jeon actually reminds me of a Serbian coach I had in Poland. Having a passionate coach encourages players to step it up and that will help everyone in the end.
Jumpball Magazine has called you the "Tim Duncan of the KBL". Are there any players you base your game off?
I feel honored to be called "Tim Duncan of the KBL" because he is my favorite player. I always admired his game growing up and there are a few moves in my game that I credit to Duncan. Of course, there is a lot more work to be done to be in the same category as Duncan, but I do admire him.
Who would you consider are the top five basketball players on the planet right now?
My top five would be: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
How would you rate the level of basketball in the KBL right now? What are the differences in the Korean league compared to other leagues you've been in?
Every league I have played in has been different. Every league has its own style of play and for me the KBL so far is a tough league. It's still early and players are trying to get in the swing of things, but as far as preseason has gone, it seems to be a fast-paced league.
What's the most difficult thing about being an overseas basketball player?
Being away from my family is the hardest part of this career. Also the language barrier, to me, is always difficult.
How's your adjustment been to Korea so far?
I'm still getting adjusted, of course, but definitely the first week here was the toughest for me. Leaving my five-month-old son behind was extremely hard, but he will be here soon. Since then, I am getting more comfortable and making this my new home.
How would you assess your strengths and weaknesses as a player?
I get this question all the time, and hate answering it (laughs). My response to you is that you will just have to come out and watch me put in work!
Previous excerpts from this interview appeared on Eurobasket. You can check out more on the Sonic Boom, including their schedule, ticket prices and game action on Haps' Sonic Boom page here.
Lead image by Marc F. Henning. Additional photos from Busan Ilbo and Osen.