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Meet Your Newest Terp: Ersin Levent

Sophomore Ersin Levent is the latest addition to 2009-2010 Men's Basketball team.
Sophomore Ersin Levent is the latest addition to 2009-2010 Men's Basketball team.

Last year as an incoming freshman, Ersin Levent (pronounced air-sin) was just like the rest of us.  He was a big sports fan, played some basketball in high school, and bled red and black as a Terps fan.  This year, he'll be suiting up for Gary Williams as a member of the 2009-2010 Men's basketball team.

What changed in a year?  The guy worked his butt off.  He trained, lifted, and ran every day, giving up his nights and weekends, all for a single purpose.  Ersin's story is one of hard work and dedication and I can't think of a better guy to wear the name "Maryland" across his chest.  We were lucky enough to sit down for an "exclusive" interview with the 6' 7" small forward, so without further ado, we introduce to you the newest member of the Terrapin basketball team, Ersin Levent.   


Could you describe the process of walking-on to the MD basketball team?  It’s not like you just knock on Gary’s door and ask for a tryout, right?

I made the decision to walk on during spring break last year. From then until September, I trained with my assistant high school coach, who owns a training company. He and his training crew trained me nearly 4-5 days a week from last May through last weekend. One of his crew is Landon Milbourne’s father, Andre. After training the first few weeks he hooked me up with Byron Mouton, who invited me to play pickup a few times a week.

I did this all throughout the summer playing with the UMD team, various retired European pros, various NBA players, and various ACC players who were home for the summer. I also played in a rec league with some UMD friends which was nice because I got a chance to practice some things that I had learned. In addition I lifted weights 4-5 times a week and ran intervals of 2 miles twice a week. Late in the summer I played in the Kenner League at Georgetown, with a bunch of their current and former players. At this point it was August and I called coach Ehsan and let him know who I was and what I had been doing all summer. He told me to keep playing pickup with the guys until the tryouts, so I did. I was becoming very familiar with the players at this point as I was playing with them everyday, and I met the other assistant coaches. I guess I was doing ok in the pickup because a few weeks into the semester I was told that I made the team. I feel like it was a combination of being a good player, and the fact that I had a 4.0 gpa. 

How heavily were you recruited out of high school? Did you ever think you’d be playing basketball for Gary Williams? 

I was recruited by only Catholic University (a d3 school). I never thought I would play basketball in college, especially for Gary Williams.

How did you find out you made the team and what was your reaction?  Top 5 moment of your life?

The assistants told me one day before I played pickup. I was so excited inside, but I played it off like it wasn’t the biggest deal. I was really surprised because they told me earlier than I thought they would tell me. Definitely a top 5 moment of my life! Probably my #1 sports experience.

You haven’t been on the team very long yet, not even enough for an official practice.  Have you spent much time with your teammates?  If so, has anything surprised you about one of them?

 I went out with them one time to a soccer game. I have spent a good amount of time with them. We have preseason workouts everyday, and we still play pick up a few times a week. I probably spend around 3 hours or more with my teammates daily. I’m surprised by how hard Greivis works. Everyone knows about his ego, or his personality, but they don’t know that he works incredibly hard to improve his game and athletic ability. He is probably the hardest worker on the team.

Is Gary Williams as scary as he looks?  You haven’t been the target of one of his famous rants yet, have you?

I have to say up to now he hasn’t been very scary, although I know the reputation he carries so I get a little nervous around him. I’m not used to him being my coach yet.  He hasn’t ranted too much yet, but I messed up on a couple drills and he made sure I knew about it haha. 

Back to basketball.  What do you feel is the strongest part of your game?  How do you think you can contribute to this team?

I’m a good shooter, and I work hard to fight for rebounds. I did more than that in high school, but the ACC is a much higher level. I can contribute by playing really hard defense in practice, and by grabbing as many rebounds and loose balls that I can. The other guys can worry about scoring, that’s why they were recruited.

What are you looking to accomplish this year, on a personal level and as a team?

On a personal level I want to get some playing time (it doesn’t matter how much). I’m also trying to maintain my good grades. It was a lot of work last year, and it will be even harder this year. As a team we want to win the ACC, and we are trying to go deep in the NCAA tournament.  

Last one: On a scale of one to ten, how much do you hate Duke?

10 no doubt, but I have a lot of respect for Coach K, especially after watching what he did with the Olympic team.