With the end of the college career comes the start of a potential professional one. And we are going to be following the rise of a baller that, if you have been following us here on The Can Ball Report, should already know about. Come join us in On the Come Up with Diego Kapelan ...
In the same vain as our From Long Distance segments from this past season, we have a new segment that we will be calling On the Come Up. Here we will be chronicling the life of a Canadian basketball player on his way to make it as a professionall in this crazy game that we love. We have the great fortune of Vancouver's Deigo Kapelan as our guide in this forray into what is poised to be an adventure for both Kapelan as well as us. So without further adieu we present On the Come Up ...
First, let me start by introducing myself...
My name is Diego Kapelan. I was born in Bosnia but raised in Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada for all our non-Canadian readers). I played HS ball at THE King George Secondary School in Vancouver's west end and played my college ball at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. I'm currently signed to ASM Sports starting my first pro season.
In my senior year in high school I averaged just over 30ppg helping my team win the AA Lower Mainlands and we finished fifth at the AA provincial championships. I happened to be the leading scorer for that tournament. I played in the BC All-Star Game and was also nominated to the All-Canadian game. I'd like to give a special shoutout to all of my teammates that year because they really got the ball rolling to making my dreams become a reality.
One of my problems (in my final year of school) was that I didn't graduate on time. I took correspondence courses and got my high school diploma in November of 2005, not that June like the rest of my peers. That meant that the season of 2005-2006 I didn't play organized basketball. I just worked out on my own and caught pickup games at local rec centers.
This hurt a lot and I spent many nights in my bed just thinking about how hard I worked and I didn't want to let that go to waste. I come from an extremely hard working family and most importantly I didn't want to let them and others close to me who always supported down.
During this time I was receiving interest from Marshall, Delaware, Cal State-Northridge, Hampton but no serious offers. Then on a regular day that I was headed to the gym to hoop I was on the bus with Chris Shields who is the first cousin of NBA legend Joe Dumars. He tells me his cousin, Dave Dumars (Joe's older brother) is the head assistant at McNeese State. Chris says that he couldn't promise anything but if I had a tape he would watch it for sure. Before I knew it Coach Dumars was on the phone with me and wanting me to come down to Lake Charles.
I was also ready, my dream starting to come true.
Now I knew that with a little more exposure and better grades I could play at a school in a major conference so I decided that I would attend a nationally ranked prep school Lutheran Christian Academy aka Philly Lutheran located in North Philadelphia. But after the school ran into some problems with the NCAA I decided that it wouldn't be best for my future if I attended the school. So I immediately called Coach Dave Dumars at McNeese and told him I would be coming down.
Before I could play, there was another problem: I didn't meet the NCAA clearinghouse eligibility requirements. So now I had a decision to make: either go to junior college on scholarship for two years and graduate to get eligible or go to McNeese for a year and get my grades up so that I would be eligible to play. The only catch with option B was that I had to pay my own way through school for that 1st year at McNeese.
With the support of my family I decided to go to McNeese for that year. One week before I was to depart and just when I thought everything was set I found out that the head coach who was recruiting me, Tic Price, had been fired. I was relieved to hear that the new coach, Dave Simmons, said he would be keeping all of the assistants so Dave Dumars who recruited me would also be there.
I have to admit that the first year at McNeese was tough. It was my first time being away from home for so long and the south was a total culture shock to me because I was from waaay up north. Also, not to mention this would be the second year in a row that I wasn't going to be playing organized basketball. (As an academic non qualifier) I wasn't allowed to practice or do anything with the team because NCAA rules prohibited me. Luckily our school had a program called the PROP-48 which was for academically ineligible athletes. I was the only basketball player and the rest were football players. We lifted and ran every morning at 6am for the whole year! Going through this experience made me tougher as a basketball player and person and it really paid off because I would be stronger and more ready to play than most freshmen.
So I spent the past 5 years living in Southwest Louisiana. My senior season was pretty fun. We won21 games and we won the Southland Conference regular season championship which guaranteed us a spot in the post season NIT tournament. It would have been a dream come true to play in the NCAA Tournament but we fell a little short. We ended up losing by three points in our conference tournament final to UT-San Antonio. My college career ended up with a home game loss to Boston College in the first round of the NIT.
In the end I averaged 14.9 ppg for my senior year. I finished 2nd all time in school history with 295 career 3pt FGs made. I hold the record for 9 three pointers made in a single game (twice) and I also had a career high of 39 pts in a game. I made the Southland Conference All-Tournament Team, 2nd Team All-Southland Conference and 2nd Team Louisiana Sports Writers Association. (Diego was also a 2nd Team NC-Double-Eh All Canadian by the way.)
Just a day before the Final four me andmy girlfriend went to Houston, met and had dinner with Justin Zanik of ASM Sports. We talked a few times before and I was strongly considering signing with him. After our dinner I was positive that this would be the right decision and signed. He's also the agent for Levon Kendall and Carl English. ASM is one of the world’s biggest and best sports agencies. A couple of their NBA clients are Chauncey Billups and Kevin Garnett (Not bad at all-Ed.).
This spring I graduated from McNeese State University with a General Studies degree and the day after I was on a plane to Las Vegas to start training at Impact for my first pro season.
Next time I'll be talking about my stint here in Las Vegas, the relationships I have built here and also my future plans!
Shoutouts to God, my family and my McNeese Fam (repeat!). And shoutout to my roommate and future Canadian National Team member Jamie Vanderbeken!!
Until next time …
A big shout to Diego Kapelan for allowing us into his world. To get a daily glipse of Diego, check him out on Twitter at DKap_0@Twitter. Be sure to check out his next installment right here on the Can Ball Report and remember that questions for Diego can be left in the comment section below or emailed to us here at firstname.lastname@example.org.