GREENSBORO, N.C. – Bas Leyte is great at adapting.
Bas Leyte – UNC Greensboro (Junior)
Afkomstig uit: Bergen op Zoom
Na twee seizoenen genoegen te moeten nemen met de garbage minutes, krijgt Leyte nu serieuze speeltijd. Vanuit een startende rol komt hij gemiddeld tot 9.1 punten per wedstrijd en 5.9 rebounds.
After all, the 6-foot, 10-inch UNC Greensboro (UNCG) junior men’s basketball student-athlete has adjusted to moving to America, attending different schools, and settling in Greensboro within the last 10 years.
A native of Bergen Op Zoom in the Netherlands, Leyte’s journey to UNCG has brought the Travel Channel to life.
“When I was 15 years old, I moved out of my house to live in Spain and play basketball there,” Leyte said. “On the island Gran Canaria, to be exact. I played for the basketball academy CBA. After a year of playing there, I made the transition to New Hampton School in New Hampshire.
“Looking back, that was one of the best decisions in my life. The community there was amazing, and I had such a great time there. The school had a lot of international students, so it was easier to adjust because I wasn’t the only one. I had been on vacation in America plenty of times, so I was already in love with the American culture. Adjusting wasn’t an issue at all.”
It’s a good thing the easy-going Leyte embraces change because he’ll be encountering another one when the Spartans start the 2021-22 season with a new head coach in Mike Jones. Leyte played his first two years under Wes Miller, who departed Greensboro to take the head coaching job at Cincinnati in May.
It’s been a refreshing mindset shift already for Leyte, who saw action in 29 games last season and enjoyed some impactful moments for the Spartans.
“I love coach Jones and what he is bringing to this program,” Leyte said. “Practices are tough as they should be. Coach and his staff bring so much good energy to the gym that it just makes every day more fun.”
Winning was fun last season for UNCG. The Spartans rebounded from a 1-3 start to the season and a 1-2 start to the SoCon slate to win 21 games, the Southern Conference tournament, and participate in the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis – a memory that will last a lifetime for Leyte.
Leyte grabbed five rebounds in 13 minutes against Florida State in the NCAA Tournament, which was played in a “controlled environment.” He scored a season-best seven points and pulled down six rebounds in a road game at Coppin State. The memories from the tournament will last a lifetime for Leyte.
“Even though we lost and fought a tough battle, I had so much fun playing in that game,” Leyte said of playing against Florida State, which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. “Last year was interesting, but I’ve learned that circumstances hold people back but not being circumstantial can get you very far.
“Realistically speaking, having fun doing this is so important because sometimes it gets so intense that you have to remind yourself that this is why you play in the first place. Playing in Indiana brought that to life for me.”
Leyte provided a lot of little things that rarely appeared on the stat sheet last season. He’ll be counted on to bring some of those assets to the floor this season. That means finishing around the rim, rebounding, and communicating, the DNA of Jones’ winning philosophy.
He has made quite the first impression.
“Two things stand out right away,” Jones said. “How hard he plays and his basketball IQ. Those two things are terrific qualities that he brings to the table. He’s hungry to prove himself. We have a lot of guys like that. He sees an opportunity to play more meaningful minutes, and I hope he’ll step up and take advantage of the opportunity. I like what I see so far.”
Leyte found his passion for playing basketball when he was 6 years old.
“My dad played basketball for a long time, so he was very supportive of me going to try it out,” Leyte said. “What made me want to go try it was because of my friend. When I was 6, I used to look up to my friends a lot, so when he went to go out to basketball practice one day, I said I wanted too as well. Ironically, he quit after a year or three, and I still love it till this day.”
An environmental science major, Leyte has found a home at UNCG. He is a member of SAAC. Leyte is usually smiling whenever he is inside the athletics building.
He loves cooking. His mom sends him seasoning and recipes to try. Leyte, who loves the smell of scented candles and nice cologne, recently finished watching “Squid Games” on Netflix. He’s planning to start binging “Manifest” during the season, which will help when those six-hour bus rides to Chattanooga and Mercer commence.
Leyte’s warm personality makes everybody feel like family.
“My circle here is what makes me love this place; though my family lives in the Netherlands, I consider Greensboro as my home,” Leyte said. “Campus gives me the feel of what college should look like. It’s funny that people ask me about being international, but I have been living here for so long that I speak better English than Dutch. International or not, I feel supported regardless due to the amazing people I have around me.”