D.J. Strawberry: Ripe With Opportunity
By: Calder Hynes,

Being the son of former Major League Baseball All-Star Darryl Strawberry might lead you to believe that if D.J. Strawberry would end playing a professional sport, it would be baseball. However, he has forged his own unique and well-traveled path to the professional ranks.

Growing up in Southern California, the New York City native followed in the footsteps of another famous relative his uncle, former Orlando Magic draftee and 1997 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Miles Simon to play basketball at Mater Dei High School in Los Angeles.

Although many top colleges close to home (including his uncles alma-mater, the University of Arizona) showed heavy recruiting interest in the 6-5, 205 pound guard, D.J. decided to blaze his own path, ultimately electing to travel cross-county to the University of Maryland.

On his decision, the former Yankees batboy offers, I wanted to get away, do my own thing, play a fast-paced, up and down, fast-break game in the ACC.

Since being selected by the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the 2007 NBA draft after a successful four years at College Park, the 25-year-old has also logged minutes for the Houston Rockets, the D-Leagues Albuquerque Thunderbirds and Reno Bighorns, and Italian Club Fortitudo Bologna.

Through it all, the Sept. 17 free agent signee has kept an optimistic outlook on his varied experience, especially toward his time in the D-League.

That experience has helped me a lot. I havent been known for my scoring ability, but going down there where the coaches focus on you, and run plays for you, and allow you to score the basketball has helped. I have a lot more confidence in my game.

The multitude of experiences have given the third-year pro a fine perspective off the court as well, as evidenced by his participation in ex-teammate Steve Nashs annual charity basketball game in Vancouver and well as Nash and future teammate Yao Mings similar fundraising event in China in the summer of 2007.

Those were two of the best experiences Ive ever had in my life. It was good for charity, and it was good to get out with a group of NBA guys that are not on the same team and connect, have fun, and go play basketball.

That outlook will serve D.J. well wherever his journey leads.

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