Q&A With Former Triton and Current Professional Basketball Player Jeff Van Dyke
A San Diego native out of La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, guard Jeff Van Dyke transferred to UC San Diego in 2014 after spending his freshman season at Pepperdine.
During his first year as a Triton, Jeff played in all 27 of the team's games, averaging 7.3 points and 1.3 rebounds while hitting 50 three-pointers, the second-most on the roster.
Unfortunately, shoulder surgery and multiple concussions kept Jeff off the court for his final two years. A Communication major with a Business minor in UC San Diego's Marshall College, he graduated in 2017.
Jeff has made a stellar comeback and is currently playing professionally with the Sutherland Sharks of the Waratah Australian Basketball League. A suburb of Sydney in New South Wales, Sutherland is about 19 miles south of the city and has a population of just under 11,000.
One of just two players to see action in all 19 of the team's games thus far, Jeff leads the Sharks in scoring at 14.9 points per game and is atop the league with 71 three-pointers made. He's averaging 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists and has netted at least 10 points 13 times, including a season-best 30 against the Penrith Panthers.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, Sutherland holds an 8-11 record and sits in a tie for seventh place in the 11-team league.
We recently caught up with Jeff to see how life in the Australian professional ranks is going.
Q: Can you give us some insight on how you and the team have been playing this season?
Jeff: I personally have enjoyed playing basketball again and being fully healthy has allowed me to be confident in all aspects of my game. As I got more comfortable with Australian basketball and competing everyday with my team, I definitely improved throughout the season. Our team is young and a bit undersized but our up-tempo pace and quick offense has given teams in our league some problems. Off the court we are all extremely close, which has developed into a fantastic chemistry on the court.
Q: How would you describe the level of play in the league? Where do most of the players come from?
Jeff: Top to bottom, the level of play in the Waratah League isn't as strong as NCAA basketball, but there are certain players who have played professionally all over the world and it's fun to match up against them every week. About 90% of the teams in the league have at least one American import with some European players sprinkled in. The rest are Australian. The No. 1-seeded Newcastle Hunters just beat us last week with three Americans, one who played at Michigan State with Draymond Green.
Q: Can you tell us a few things you have learned from playing professionally?
Jeff: One thing I've learned from playing pro basketball has been to not shy away from creating friendships with your teammates or "mates." You gain so much independence living in a country so far away that having a solid group of mates can make the experience 100 times better. Also, the need to really take care of your body day in and day out is something I learned very quickly.
Q: How has it been living in Australia?
Jeff: This is my first time in Australia but I will definitely be back. Sydney is an amazing city and there is so much to do including the bridge climb over the famous Harbour Bridge, which I'd recommend to anyone traveling over here on vacation. The people all over Sydney are extremely welcoming and they really know how to have a good time.
Q: What are you up to in your free time?
Jeff: I lugged my golf clubs out to Australia so I try and get out on the course with a few guys on the team. The beaches here somehow surpass San Diego's, so I try and head out there whenever it's warm, which is rare in the winter. I've also been to several footy (rugby) games - I'm a huge Sydney Swans fan.
Q: Plans after the season ends?
Jeff: I'll be back home in Encinitas in a few weeks, so I'll more than likely start working for my dad's company full time or apply for a few jobs in sports marketing in San Diego and Los Angeles.
Q: Are you still following the Tritons?
Jeff: I definitely follow UC San Diego basketball closely. The team has the best coaching staff in America and I can't wait to see them match up against Division I competition down the road!
Q: Anything else to add?
Jeff: It killed me not to be able to play my last two years at UC San Diego due to injuries. It's a win in itself that I'm playing again!
PREVIOUS Q&A FEATURES
4/4/18: Adam Klie (Men's Basketball)
3/23/18: David Hadler (Men's Fencing)
12/20/17: Taylor Tanita (Women's Basketball)
11/16/17: Arman Momdzhyan (Men's Water Polo)
11/11/17: Ella Verhees (Women's Cross Country)
11/1/17: Katie O'Laughlin (Women's Soccer)
10/23/17: Adam Navigato (Men's Golf)