The Japan Times will be featuring periodic interviews with players in the bj-league — Japan’s first professional basketball circuit — which began its third season last week. Trevon Bryant of the Tokyo Apache is the subject of this week’s profile.

News photoTokyo Apache center Trevon Bryant, a 23-year-old rookie, says he wants to be the best defensive player in
the bj-league.

Position: Center;
Age: 23
Ht: 207 cm;
Wt: 102 kg
College: California State Dominguez Hills

Q: What was your first weekend like as a pro player here in Japan?

Bryant: This weekend was a blast. I enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve never been in this type of atmosphere, this type of setting. I just loved every moment. It was amazing.

As a guy who’s trying to establish himself in Japan, how has Apache veteran center Nick Davis been able to help you make the transition from collegiate to pro player?

He’s taught me a lot. I listen to him and coach at every single practice, every chance I can get, on and off the court. I pay attention to people who did it before me . . . and they can give that type of advice to me and apply it to my game or apply it to life situations.

How did you get from Cal State Dominguez Hills to a full-time job with the Apache?

Well, one of my assistant coaches, Harry Bugarin, he made the calls. He pushed my name out here in Japan. And then coach (Apache coach Joe Bryant) came to see me play at the Drew Summer League and I did real well. So he was like, “I’m going to get you a trainer.”

So I worked out at USC for about three weeks from 5 to 7 (p.m.) and then he had one more workout for me at Venice Beach, and I did well there, too.

. . . So he pushed my name further and then they sealed the deal and sent me a contract.

Are you related to Coach Bryant?

We’re trying to find out. We could be, because he has family in Georgia, and I have family in Philly, so it’s a possibility.

What personal goals have you set for this season?

I want to lead the league in blocked shots. I just want to be that last line of defense for the team. I may be young, I may be the rookie, but I know defense. And I just have to adjust my game to fit the bj-league.

(In 2005-06, Bryant ranked 15th among NCAA Division II players in blocked shots with 2.4 per game. He swatted 44 shots more last season, averaging 1.6 per game.)

How would you say you learned defense?

I think my two years playing at Cal State Dominguez Hills really helped because my coach, Damaine Powell, he went to a lot of different D-I (Division I) programs and took their defensive principles and put it into ours. It took awhile for me to learn that, because I was just a raw street player, and then it just took repetition to learn it. . . .

I have a great eye for defense, and I’m still learning. I’m not the very best defensive player, but when time comes, then maybe I will be and I want to be the best defensive player I can.

After fouling out late in the fourth quarter last Sunday, Coach Bryant tapped you on the back as you walked back to the bench. How did that make you feel?

I felt a lot better because he also said, “Way to go at the ball.” That’s me; I always want to be a playmaker, even if it’s stopping somebody from scoring because that bucket could’ve pushed the game into what we really didn’t want: a really tight game.

Who is your favorite NBA player?

Kobe Bryant.

Which player do you try to model your game after?

The player I try to mimic or take everything from him is probably Tim Duncan.

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