Professional Vikings talk friendship and transition to a new country
It’s not every day you see a Division II school produce six professional basketball players from the same team.
If there is one person to put this feat into perspective, it is John McCarthy. McCarthy founded smallcollegebasketball.com, a platform dedicated to recognizing four-year college basketball programs who compete at the non-National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I level.
In the past, McCarthy has worked as a coach, athletic director and served on the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Committee.
“That's pretty unusual,” McCarthy said. “I mean, to have six players off of one Division II roster to eventually play professional basketball at any level is pretty remarkable.”
However, pertaining to the 2017-18 Western Washington University men’s basketball team, it is not so out of the ordinary.
Trey Drechsel (6-6 guard), Logan Schilder (7-0 center) and Daulton Hommes (6-8 small forward) are just some of the matchup nightmares the Vikings presented on the court. Those three are playing professionally overseas beside former teammates Trevor Jasinsky, Deandre Dickson and Siaan Rojas.
“We had a glutton of talent at a certain position with a lot of big kids, and that is something overseas guys look for,” Head Coach Tony Dominguez said. “They are a great group of guys who work extremely hard and I obviously am so proud of them.”
The Western Front talked to the six professional Vikings about their experiences at Western along with how they are fitting into their new homes abroad.
Trevor Jasinsky: Netherlands
“You know, [2017-18] was probably the most fun I ever had playing basketball,” Jasinsky said. “Those guys pretty much became some of the best friends I have and, you know, we were crazy talented but I just gotta say I love those guys so much.”
Jasinsky never missed a game in four years at Western and is one of five players in the school’s history to finish in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding.
He signed his first contract in July to play overseas for Basketball Academy Limburg in the Netherlands.
“The game is more physical and guys are just bigger, better, faster and stronger,” Jasinsky said. “It’s definitely a bit of a transition in terms of basketball, but so is the experience of being immersed into a new country and culture. It’s just been a really, really eye-opening experience so far, and I’ve loved it.”
Jasinsky said he cherishes his time at Western, where he met some lifelong friends.
“One of the biggest things I miss is just representing the community and school,” Jasinsky said. I feel like I met so many good people up there at Western — whether it be students, faculty or the athletic department staff. I just really loved being able to represent them up there.”
Due to the pandemic, Jasinsky’s season has been put on pause. He is now back home in Camas, Washington for the time being.
Daulton Hommes: Italy
“We always had the team over,” Hommes said. “We had Thanksgiving at our house and other things like that, so it was just great to have, you know, that brotherhood where we shared all these memories together.”
Hommes played two seasons for Western before transferring to Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, at the end of the 2017-18 season. At Point Loma, Hommes was named the Division II National Player of the Year and ultimately decided to forego his senior season to play professionally. Hommes signed a contract in 2019 and played one season with the Austin Spurs — an NBA G League team — before moving to Italy to play for Guerino Vanoli Basket.
The G League is not playing games during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wasn’t expecting this, but I’m definitely happy I made the move,” Hommes said. “To come out here and play in front of scouts has for sure been a blessing.”
In his time spent overseas, Hommes has averaged over 18 points and five rebounds a game.
Hommes was born and raised in Lynden, just north of Bellingham. He said having friends and family just down the road always made Bellingham feel like his home.
Deandre Dickson: Montenegro
“It was fun to play with guys who had that skill level and just always make each other better,” Dickson said. “It's amazing to see everybody play professionally, and I'm just happy for all their success.”
The 6-foot-9 forward played two seasons at Western after transferring from Bakersfield College in California. In 2017-18, Dickson was named Western’s co-male Athlete of the Year.
After Western, Dickson made the jump to play overseas. He played two seasons in Slovakia before moving to his current team, KK Ibar Rozaje in Montenegro.
“The transition was pretty easy other than missing family back home and the time difference being the hardest part,” Dickson said. “I always liked meeting new people and experiencing new things, and I’ve been very fortunate to play for teams who have been so inviting.”
Dickson said his biggest takeaway from playing overseas is understanding new languages, cultures and how everyone is different but all the same in the end.
“Aside from basketball, we were all very close,” Dickson said. “These will be my friends for life. Those are my brothers.”
Dickson still plays video games with his former teammates from time to time and plays basketball a few hours away from ex-teammate Drechsel.
Logan Schilder: Austria
“We all really liked and cared for each other on the court and even more off the court,” Schilder said. “I think that was one thing that was really special about that team. I talk to the guys that are over here at least once a week just to catch up.”
The 7-foot center from Bellingham played one year at Whatcom Community College before transferring across town to Western. Ranked fifth all-time for blocked shots at Western, it didn’t take long for Schilder to sign his first professional contract. He now plays for SKN St. Pölten in Austria.
“I’m loving it — it’s everything I could have dreamed of,” Schilder said. “I think the level of play is definitely higher, but I was just put in such a great situation which made the transition easier for me.”
Schilder is a dual citizen of the Netherlands and the United States.
“My family is from the Netherlands, so I’ve lived over there and traveled around but never been to Austria, but still kind of knew what to expect,” Schilder said.
Schilder said some of his fondest memories at Western were made with his fellow teammates, hanging out at each other's houses or making the occasional Costco runs.
Siaan Rojas: Colombia
“We had a lot of different personalities on that team,” Rojas said. “Off the court when we were all together, we were all just a bunch of goofballs, and it was a lot of fun.”
Rojas transferred from Santa Rosa Junior College in 2016 and played two full seasons at Western — Rojas used a medical redshirt season in 2018-19 after injury — where he averaged almost 10 points and four rebounds per game. In September 2020, Rojas signed his first professional contract with Piratas de Bogota in Colombia.
“It’s tough, but I think Western got me prepared, and I think I’ve adjusted very well,” Rojas said.
Rojas holds citizenship in Colombia, where his father was born and raised and where his grandparents still live.
Right now, Rojas and the rest of his team’s league are in a “bubble” to reduce the risk of having their season canceled.
“So all players and coaches are in one hotel, and we can’t leave that hotel,” Rojas said.
The biggest thing Rojas misses about Western is being able to interact with people in his second home.
Trey Drechsel: Serbia
“I went through a lot with those guys, and that 2017-18 season will always be special to me because that was the first full season I got to play due to injuries,” Drechsel said. “We were all such good friends, and I’ve never been on a team similar to that in regards to being so close with everyone on the team.”
With three seasons at Western under his belt, Drechsel decided to transfer to Grand Canyon University, a Division I school in Phoenix, Arizona. Drechsel now plays professionally in Belgrade, Serbia, for KK Mladost Zemun.
“I was able to tap into myself and learn more about my emotional intelligence,” Drecshel said. “I fit in really well with the people in Serbia. It’s been really cool to learn about their culture, and they just really accept me as one of their own.”
Despite transferring to Grand Canyon University, Dreschel still thinks highly of his past squad.
“You don’t really see that much talent in a Division II team, and when I made the jump to Division I, I would have arguments with my Grand Canyon teammates about how my old team [Western] would beat us that year,” Drechsel said.