DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell relishing the chance to win BCL
By Semih Tuna/ email@example.com
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell talked to Eurohoops about his decision to join Galatasaray Nef and the opportunity to win the Basketball Champions League, among other topics including the NBA.
“I like playing in the Basketball Champions League. This is my third season,” he mentioned noting the two previous runs as a member of the Bakken Bears, “I have seen the growth from the beginning until now. I like the way that they handle everything as far as the social media and keeping everyone involved and doing these different ratings and stuff like that. I think they are on the rise and have the potential to be one of the best leagues in the world
“For sure,” he added regarding the chance of winning the BCL title this season as a member of Galatasaray.
Akoon-Purcell, 28, is far from considered a stranger to the competition. This season, he has produced 21.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per Champions League contest. With his help, the Lions topped Group E of the Regular Season to clinch a direct berth to the Round of 16.
Coming out of Illinois State in 2016, the Trinidadian-American forward made his way to Europe and played in Denmark for the Bears. Besides winning a couple of domestic championships, he logged 18 appearances in the Basketball Champions League. He added two more as a member of the Denmark outlet in the 2020 BCL Qualifiers.
“I knew I had the opportunity to go overseas and I took the opportunity,” he recalled, “I think it turned out good. I learned over the years and know the difference between the countries, the leagues, how things work, how agents work. Early on in my career, I wasn’t really educated and didn’t know how things went. That’s what led me to the different places I played early on.”
Other European stops featured Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel and Le Portel in France. The last couple of seasons, he stayed in Turkey shifting from Tofas Bursa to Galatasaray during the offseason.
“We had talked about me coming back, but I was also focused on trying to get back to the NBA this summer,” he told Eurohoops painting the picture of his move between Turkish BCL clubs, “By the time I made any decision, Tofas already had its roster and then Gala came into the picture and I decided to come to Gala because I actually do like Turkey.”
“I wanted to be a part of something special, which I thought I can help with. I knew Dee Bost and Melo [Trimble] before coming here. Also, Kerry [Blackshear Jr.] and I grew up in the same neighborhood. So, the roster was one thing,” he added, “Last year, Gala was not that good. They were on the verge of getting relegated. So, I wanted to come here and see if I can help make a difference with what they had going on last season. Of course, finances were something else. I heard the fan base was good. And I get to see that now.”
Making it to the NBA
In 2018-19, Akoon-Purcell appeared in seven NBA games for the Denver Nuggets.
“It was definitely a dream come true,” he mentioned, “The lifestyle of an NBA player is different. It was new to me. It was also a great experience. I got to be around some very cool people and experience some different things I didn’t growing up in my childhood. It was a dream come true and I had a lot of fun being in the NBA.”
Nikola Jokic was among his teammates, a few years before being named NBA MVP.
“I had a great relationship with everybody on the roster. And I still communicate with the majority of them to this day,” said Akoon-Purcell, “Jokic, I knew that someday he would be the NBA, just by being his teammate. He’s a great guy and a great player.”
It has been a crazy ride through multiple European countries, besides enjoying the opportunity to display his talents in the NBA. Returning the world’s best league remains among his priorities.
“I am open to going back to the NBA as long as it is the right situation,” he told Eurohoops.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League