Update: It is not the way Atlanta Hawks and North Carolina native DeAndre’ Bembry wanted to begin his second year in the NBA. Bembry moved to Elizabeth New Jersey after his freshman year to attend St. Patrick High School where as a senior earned a New Jersey All-State first team selection. Recruited by top colleges in the area, Bembry chose to attend St. Joseph’s. After a struggling his first seasons, Bembry led the team in scoring in his sophomore year. His last year as junior, his play opened the eyes of scouts. He was named to the A-10’s All Conference first team and won Atlantic 10 player of the year award. The Hawks selected Bembry in 2016 as their 21st round draft choice. He was looking to improve upon his rookie season after playing in only 38 of 84 games. Unfortunately, on opening night against the Dallas Mavericks, Bembry scored 6 points in 18 minutes off the bench before fracturing right wrist. He underwent surgery and is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks. Before the season began, Bembry talked with Industry Rules and reflected on playing high school ball in New Jersey, why he chose St. Joe’s for college, draft night and the family tragedy that brought him closer to his family.
AR – What was the transition like moving from North Carolina to New Jersey?
DB- It’s a lot faster. I had to definitely get used to it at first. It was a good transition. Most of my family is originally from New Jersey
AR – What was the competition like for you when you moved to New Jersey?
DB – There were a lot of talent at St. Patrick’s. A lot of talented guy like Kyrie Irving, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Al Harrington. I felt the competition was better.
AR – You decided to go to St. Joseph’s. Was that because you wanted to stay close to home?
DB – I wanted to stay for more recognition. They were a lower division school. Talking with Phil Martelli (head coach) and going down there and seeing how much opportunity and playing time I could get going into my freshman year. I knew I was going to be in Philly either way. It was going to St. Joe’s or Temple. It came down to being comfortable with the coaches. Also, it was only an hour and a half from home.
AR – After college what were your expectations going into the draft?
DB – After my sophomore year going into my junior year, I had a really good summer. I started getting more recognition. I started hearing my name about drafts. It opened my eyes up a little bit more than I thought. I thought about the future and where I could be drafted.
AR – When your name is called as the 21st pick of the Atlanta Hawks, what went through your mind?
DB – I got the call. They always call you ahead of time before they actually call your name. The head coach called me. I was with my mother and grandmother just thinking about where we came from. I went running through the room, through the hallway very excited.
AR- After the first 20 players are drafted and your name hasn’t been called, are you thinking, I’m not getting picked in the first round?
DB – No. I was going off the teams I worked for. How many workouts I had. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t worried but I knew I was going to get picked in the first round for sure.
AR – What teams did you work out for and what was that experience like for you?
DB – I worked out for the Sixers, both L.A. teams, Atlanta. I ended up cancelling the rest of my workouts when I found out the news about my brother.
AR – Did you get any feelers from the Knicks or the Nets?
DB – When I was talking with my agent and basically tried to work out only for teams that had first round draft picks because we knew the range that I was in. The Knicks and Nets didn’t really have draft picks for what we were looking for. So we were basically working out for teams that had first round draft picks.
AR – You were selected by Atlanta. What did you know about the team?
DB – As a team, it’s like a family environment. They like to share the ball and get each other involved. Talking to the assistant coaches and of course the head coach, I can tell they can make me better on and off the court.
AR – What can you bring to the team? What are your strengths?
DB – I can do a lot of things offensively. Whether it’s scoring the ball, being able to handle the ball at my size like a point guard or playing defense guarding the best player and not being scared to guard the best player. I have a lot of heart for the things I can do on the court. My best strength is leading the team. The 3 years at St. Joes, even as a freshman, I was the only freshman starting with 4 seniors. My leadership is my best attribute.
AR – Your Brother was shot and killed at the age of 20 trying to break up a fight. How close were you and him? Did anything positive come out of his death?
DB – He was the closest to me other than my cousins. It definitely made me get closer to a lot of other family members that I wasn’t close with. I guess that would a positive.
AR – The one player you looked up to growing up?
DB – Magic Johnson.
AR – The one player you looked forward to playing against?
DB – Steph Curry or Kevin Durant
AR – What would be a successful season for you?
DB – Getting a lot more minutes than I had last year. I played about 38 games out of 84 that we had. Just going out there getting on the court, being on the court and getting actual minutes this year. That would be a start for me.
Cover & Feature Photo by Atlanta Hawks