Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Uno En Uno With: Mel Esso and Nicolas Elame

ZS: What were some of the positive draws of the American game and which factors were influential in coming to the U.S. from France and prolonging your career as a student-athlete?

ME: I came to the United States to become a better athlete and utilize my athleticism and my aggression more. The American game is faster and more physical, so I think I'm in the right place as far as improvement.

NE: I watched guys like Tony Parker thrive in the NBA, that basically showed me that the American game was the most competitive in all of the world. You don't see this type of basketball in the NBA just everywhere.

So, I wanted to go for my dream of getting a scholarship. I know every kid dreams of going to the NBA but I'm realistic that I want to get close to that dream so I have to keep working.

ZS: Which aspects sold you on the prep program, The Conrad Academy, and the level of basketball we've got going out here in Central Florida?

ME: coach Johann (Mpongo) his brother was my coach in France and he basically told me which aspects of my game could improve. From assessing it all, he basically told me that the United States would be the perfect place for me to expand my game.

NE: I pride myself on being a tough-nosed guard who can shoot and get to the rim. I also play tight defense and try to cause disruption for opposing backcourts. So, watching how the game is played through guys like Tony Parker and Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo, I figured this would be the best place. I also learned about the SIAA and realized it was a tough conference with West Oaks and ACD and Potter's House, so I liked the idea of having a big challenge every night.

ZS: Speaking of the increased level of competition, in which ways have you been raising your level of play to meet the brutal nature of this unforgiving SIAA league?

ME: From the very beginning, coach Brad Traina has helped me get a better shot. He's shown me the different style of defenses that we will face this season. So because of that, the elevation on my shot has increased. Coach Brad is like a, how do you say it in the United States? A basketball wizard. He knows everything and he makes sure I apply all of these details to my game.

Coach Johann helps me with ball handling and being aggressive and not being soft. He was a big, bruising forward back when so he knows the game.

NE: The two areas that both Brad and Johann have been consistently helping me with are my dribbling, my tighter handle, and how to knock down the medium range shot and be a dependable threat with this.

ZS: What did you learn about your game from the recent Dodge Florida Shootout this weekend?

ME: I learned that I need to use my length and drive the ball more. When I attack, I have the option of either scoring or finding a cutter or going up hard and drawing the foul. So, being more willing to put the ball on the deck and attack is major in my development. At 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, I've got to use my body to my advantage.

NE: It showed how the whole pace of the game is different. I learned that I have to be more aggressive in the American game and am really going to have to work to get my shots and score. It is a challenge and it's a unique challenge which I am ready for.