The NBL Weekend Takeover for 8/9 December will see Essex Leopards take the reins of the NBL Instagram story.
We caught up with Leopards' Chuck Duru of their takeover weekend, in our latest Player Spotlight feature.
Name: Chuck Duru
Team: Essex Leopards - NBL Division One
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 6’3" small forward from North London, in my sixth season playing in the Senior NBL and my fourth in Division One. I have been playing basketball competitively for 12 years now.
I began my career at Barnet Bulldogs playing Under 16 and Under 18 there, then went on to play for Hackney Community College Basketball Academy. I played in the US for one season at Southern Tech Prep Academy, before returning to study and play with Team Newcastle University in Division Four, then had a season with Team Northumbria in Division One.
The last two seasons I played for Hemel Storm in Division One and I am currently in my first season with Essex Leopards.
What brought you to the NBL in the first place?
I have always wanted to compete against the best level of competition so came to the NBL to do just that.
What was your first impression of the NBL? How has that changed?
The NBL has changed since my first season in Division One to now. The league is more competitive from top to bottom and there is a bigger gap between the top and the lower leagues from my experience.
What was your first "bright spot" with your team?
Our first bright spot this season has to be reaching the semi-finals of the National Cup. Having won the cup last season with Hemel, I am looking forward to having the chance to make back-to-back finals with different clubs.
What was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge as a player is balancing my full-time job as an accountant with training and playing basketball. I have recently been promoted at work so have increased responsibilities, but I have to ensure I continue to staying in good shape to help my team be successful.
What changes have you noticed in yourself since joining the NBL?
My basketball IQ has definitely improved - this is thanks to the great coaches I have had over the years, as well as my own personal commitment to improving my understanding of the game.
What are you working on right now, what are your current goals?
A individual goal that I have set myself is to be in the best physical shape possible for the duration of the season.
What is your favourite NBL memory?
My favourite NBL memory was winning the National Shield with Team Newcastle in 2015. It was a great achievement as a Division Four team in our first year, beating a strong Liverpool side (who were promoted to Division Two that year), and a testament to all the work myself and Coach Ian Hewitt did to get an NBL team into the league that year.
What advice would you give someone who is just getting started in basketball?
I would advise someone getting into basketball to firstly identify what they want from the game and devise a plan of how they intend to achieve it. For aspiring young players, invest your time and money into achieving those goals and become a student of the game. Watch as much high level basketball as possible, which will help develop your understanding of the game.
What do you like to do outside of basketball?
Outside of basketball, I work full-time as a business tax accountant in the City. As for hobbies, I enjoy hanging out with friends, watching football and listening to music.
Finally, who is your favourite British basketball player and why?
My favourite British basketball players would be two of my ex-teammates, Prince Lartey and Tayo Oyefusi.
Prince has a combination of passing skills, ball-handling and basketball IQ that take his play-making ability to another level, so much so that the game is easy when playing with him.
Tayo has the ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor and is the best ‘undersized’ rebounder I’ve seen in this country in my years of playing. He is a great asset to any team and one of the toughest competitors in the league.
You can follow Chuck's progress this weekend when Essex Leopards takeover the NBL Instagram story!