Rienk Mast is a 16-year old talent player that is playing for Donar Groningen. Though scouts already know where to find him, he has decided to finish his high school in the Netherlands, before taking the next step in his basketball career to go abroad.
1. At what age did you start playing basketball?
I started playing basketball when I was eight years old.
2. Does your family play sports as well?
My parents used to play korfball, a typical Dutch sport. My little brother and I were just more fascinated by basketball, so we decided to join basketball instead of korfball.
3. What teams did you play for?
Celeritas Donar, Basketball Academy RTC Noord and Donar Groningen. These teams are all based in Groningen, one of the regions in the Netherlands.
4. Do you have hobbies besides basketball?
Besides basketball and school, there is not much time left.
5. When did you realise you could make a career out of playing basketball?
Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I never doubted that. My hard work and dedication prove that I have it in me.
6. In this day and age, you see a lot of young European talents joining American high schools. You decided you wanted to finish high school first, before embarking on your basketball journey outside of Groningen. Why is that?
The reason is that I’m a good learner. I am almost finished with the highest education possible in the Dutch high school system. The school also makes it easy to combine sport and learning. This together with the opportunity to still learn a lot from Donar is why I’m choosing to finish my high school in Groningen.
7. Do you already have plans to go abroad in two years? If so, where?
I would like to go to college in the US after I finish my education in the Netherlands. The only way I will take that chance is if there is a good offer available for me.
8. You played in the U16 European Tournament last summer. Two of your teammates recently went to a new high school in the US. Do you ever talk to them about their new experience over there?
No, besides the Dutch team training we don’t really keep in touch.
9. What did you learn from u16 European Tournament last summer? What was it like to play against the best players from other European countries?
I already had some experience because I had already played at the European Championships twice before. It is a great experience every time to be able to play at that level.
10. Do you follow any players from the Dutch national team? If so, Why exactly that particular player?
I do not specifically follow a particular player. I do follow the Dutch team and their games.
11. Basketball takes a lot of time and to get further you often have to give up other things. Did you also have to give up certain things for your basketball career? And was that worth it (until now)?
I work out at a personal gym only for athletes. Because of this I already have friends who train about as much as I do. That is why I never really had to give up on certain things. It is sometimes tricky during holidays to go on vacation with my family, but I always try to make it work.
12. What does an normal week look like for you?
As I said, I am at a school that combines learning and sports. The school’s timetable is organised in such a way that there is room to practice in the morning and the afternoon. They are very flexible at school so you can slide in with lessons if that is necessary for your practices or competitions. Sometimes, I have one or two mornings off so that I can catch up on my lessons. Furthermore, I practice every afternoon, two games in the weekend, and sometimes, if the first team of Donar plays on Sunday, we train on Saturday.
13. You play with the DBL and DTL team of Donar this season. What is the difference between the two competitions?
With the DBL team, it is mainly practicing, and I sometimes play a few minutes in the game to gain experience. The opponents are often older and physically stronger there than in the DTL. I play a lot of minutes for the DTL team. I am one of the essential players there.
14. Donar has two great centers, Thomas Koenis and Drago Pasalic. What can you learn from them?
I mainly learn how to train and play at a higher level. I play more as a power-forward myself. In addition to Drago and Thomas, I also learn a lot from Arvin Slagter and the rest of the team.
15. What do you want to improve this season?
My footwork, athletic ability and my shot.
16. Can you describe your playing style?
I can play both inside and outside, a bit like a stretched 4 / power forward.
17. What can you contribute to the team?
Being a hard worker, grab rebounds, passer and I often see the best option to pass to.
18. How do you become a good center?
You have to be big and strong, be able to give a good screen, finish inside with both hands, know where to stand and keep your position. As a power forward, good overview from an outside position and a good shot is also necessary because you often stretch the field.
19. Can you work on improving your rebounding ability or is it mainly intuition?
You can always get better in boxing out, but in the end, it often comes down to repeating the same move over and over and so creating the feeling of knowing when you can best move where and where the ball will fall. Position is very important, but the most important is your mindset. You have to want that ball.
20. What is your most important skill in the court?
You have to have a combination of good skills. Otherwise, your defender can focus too much on that one particular skill.
21. Do you have a basketball icon? And why exactly?
No, I do not have one specific example.
22. What is your favorite team? And why?
Donar of course.
23. What is the best (basketball) tip you have ever received?
Throw the ball into the hoop.
24. Where do you see yourself in five years?
When I go to college in America, I will be in my senior year. Then I hope i will go to the NBA though the chance of that happening is of course minimal. I can also see myself joining a good team in Europe.