Credit: ZUMA Wire-Scanpix
Credit ZUMA Wire-Scanpix

Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz embark on their 22nd consecutive Turkish Airlines EuroLeague journey, taking on Olympiacos Piraeus at the Peace and Friendship Stadium Friday night.

Steven Enoch

Steven  Enoch
Team: TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Position: C
Age: 24
Height: 208 cm
Birth place: United States of America

If the Spanish team has grown accustomed to the competition, for Steven Enoch tonight’s game will constitute his debut on the biggest stage of European basketball.

Just two weeks after turning 24, the Norwalk, Connecticut forward-center has the chance to showcase his abilities against the league’s best bigs.

Coming off a successful professional debut with ACB side Monbus Obradoiro, where he averaged just over 15 minutes in 36 games, with 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds on average, Enoch continued to try out his shooting skills.

He made 13 of his 39 attempts, a percentage that he might need to improve in order for Baskonia to make up for the long-term absence of Alec Peters, one of EuroLeague’s most effective stretch ‘4’s.

“I’m really happy we’re playing in the EuroLeague. I don’t have expectations,” Steven Enoch told BasketNews. “I’m just looking forward to showing my work and my everyday practice for our team to reach its goals.”

So far, it seems that he and Jayson Granger have developed a very effective on-court chemistry. Upon his return to familiar territory, the guard from Uruguay seems eager to get the best out of the former Louisville standout. Is it so?

“I think Jayson is definitely a very experienced point guard,” Enoch utters. “He knows how to direct big guys, get us to the right spot. He’s a good floor leader and a great guy to have around. I feel like this team definitely needs him, and I’m grateful to have a point guard like him to help me.”

His EuroLeague debut will take place in Piraeus, against Olympiacos. The EuroLeague rookie concedes that he’s not very familiar with them as a team but has received some positive information about them.

“One of my old teammates from last year in the ACB (Antonis Koniaris) used to play for Olympiacos. He told me a lot of good things about the place, the team.

I don’t know their strengths and weaknesses, but our main focus will be to stay patient, play our game on offense, try not to be rushed by their intense defense, and play our solid defense on the other side of the floor,” he commented referring to the upcoming game.

After spending two seasons mostly relegated to the bench of then UConn head coach Kevin Ollie, Enoch decided to pack his bags and head to Louisville to play for legendary Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino.

In his first season on the floor as a Cardinal - and after Pitino had been fired following the third scandal that took place under his watch - Enoch developed into a legitimate low-post scorer who combined an old-school offensive game with the stretch shooting of a modern big.

He could dominate games and opposing defenders who weren’t prepared to deal with his massive frame and physicality. Looking back, he thinks that college prepared him for pro basketball.

“Because along with learning how to be a basketball player, I learned a lot off the court as well, Enoch recalled. “At the University, I was studying communications. Growing up, I wasn’t one of those that was able to communicate well, on or off the court.”

“Basketball-wise, Louisville definitely prepared me to play against the best competition every day and in every game. There was so much more I had to learn once I became professional,” he added.

Coming to Europe after not getting drafted, Enoch was entering unchartered waters. Luckily for him, his team and coach in Spain paved the way for interesting things to come.

“I credit Obradoiro for sure, but I didn’t know what to expect coming to my second season as a professional player. I just knew I wanted to make it this far, making sure I worked hard to get there.

Obradoiro showed me the way, and Moncho (Fernandez) really helped me become dynamic. That’s something that he spoke a lot about almost every day,” he says.

His former Louisville teammate Jordan Nwora won a ring with the Milwaukee Bucks last summer. The Nigerian international, who was a second-round pick in 2020, participated in five play-off contests with the champs.

He teamed up again with Enoch on the Bucks 2021 Summer League roster. “It was a good experience,” the player of Baskonia recalls.

“I’ve known Jordan for a long time. It felt good to be back on the team with him. Congratulations to him for winning the championship with the Bucks.

But just being able to call each other’s teammates again, even if it was for two weeks or so, felt great. We were able to catch up and spend time on the court working together. He’s a real brother.“

For quite a few players, the Summer League offers the ideal platform to get some NBA looks. For others, the EuroLeague gives them the chance to show what they can do and be evaluated on a long-term basis.

Steven Enoch believes that EuroLeague prepares players to play anywhere.

“I feel this is probably the highest level of competition tactically that you will find in the world. In the Summer League, you have more looks in terms of NBA people who are there to watch games. But if they want to know your game inside and out, the EuroLeague is definitely a better platform.”

Credit ZUMA Wire-Scanpix

Enoch has played for Armenia in several international tournaments, having obtained dual citizenship and despite his holding no Armenian ancestry. Despite relishing the time he spent with them, it looks like he's not going to join them in any of their next competitions.

“I haven’t played for Armenia in a few years since college. I got the opportunity to play for them in my first year (editor’s note: in 2016, at the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship). It was a good experience.

I am most thankful for the opportunity because I was able to go outside the country and play in different competitions and at different levels of basketball at a very young age. So, I am more grateful for the early experience,” he concludes.

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