Jon Diebler thriving professionally in Europe

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By ANDY WOLF
SPORTS WRITER
KANSAS — Basketball has always brought the Diebler family together.
It has surrounded Jon Diebler his entire life, learning the sport at an early age from his dad Keith Diebler, who is now the head boys coach at Lakota High School.
Using that strong fundamental help from his father, Jon has seen his talents grow into becoming an illustrious shooter at every level he has played.
Now playing in the Turkish Basketball League for Pinar Karsiyaka, based in Izmir, Turkey, Jon is still under the signing rights of the Houston Rockets, whose NBA roster he eventually hopes to make.
“Ultimately, it’s a blessing to be able to play basketball for a living,” Jon said. “I’m playing a game for a living. I’m just thankful for every opportunity that I’ve had.”
Last season, Diebler averaged 9.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 36 games for Pinar Karsiyaka, which fell in the semifinals of the Turkish League playoffs.
He also connected on a team-high 44 percent (98 of 220) of 3-pointers.
Jon’s professional experience has not only shaped his game, but the teaching relationship he has had with his father.
“He’s at the level now where he knows what to do and to correct what he’s doing,” Keith said. “It’s probably reverse now. I pick his brain more than he picks mine.”
Keith, in his first year as head coach at Lakota, invited Jon to help out Thursday at the Raiders Jam Session.
“(Basketball camps) are where we connect the most, when we’re on the floor, because it’s hard to get together,” Keith said. “We’ll always help each other. It’s a connection that will always be.”
The camp, running through Saturday for area boys and girls in grades 2-8, offered two days of shooting instruction and two days of skill work.
“Everyone has their own way of doing it,” Jon said regarding shooting form. “I just try to pass on knowledge to younger guys that helped me when I was their age.”
Jon Diebler played his freshman season at Fostoria High School before transferring with his brother, Jake, then a rising senior, to Upper Sandusky, where Keith became head coach after four seasons at FHS.
In his first season at Upper Sandusky, in 2004-05, Keith led the Rams to a 27-0 record and the Division II state championship.
That same year, Jake set the current state record with 294 assists in one season.
Two years later, Jon earned the Associated Press’ Mr. Basketball honor, scoring 1,102 points that year and setting the OHSAA record with 3,208 career points.
He made his next stop at Ohio State, where he broke the school and Big Ten records with 374 3-pointers.
He also earn the nickname ‘Threebler’ for his reputation as a sharpshooter.
After finishing with the Buckeyes — for whom Jake Diebler is now an assistant coach — Jon began working out for numerous NBA talent evaluators to determine his stock for the upcoming NBA draft.
“There were a lot of (scouts) that said we need shooters,” he said. “That’s what I was hanging my hat on.”
In the 2011 NBA draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Jon in the second round with the 51st overall pick.
“Heading into the draft I had to prove that I could guard people and I think I did a good job,” Jon said. “Getting drafted by Portland was an awesome opportunity.”
Unlike most NBA draft classes, the 2011 class entered the league amidst a lockout.
Despite getting drafted by Portland, Diebler could not sign with the team or have access to team facilities, trainers or staffs because of the ongoing lockout.
Because of his draft rights and a full Trail Blazers roster, Jon went to Europe to play.
“I had just got married and it was time to make a little money,” Diebler said. “Now, my wife and I love going overseas. We get to see the world and we’re having a blast.”
Diebler spent his first year with Panionios B.C., of the Greek Basket League.
That season he averaged 10.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while nailing 45 percent (81 of 180) from 3-point range.
The Houston Rockets acquired his rights from Portland in a three-team trade in the summer of 2012.
Diebler, however, joined on with Pinar Karsiyaka, where he has stayed for the past two seasons and will return for the upcoming season in October.
“It’s a different game, as you’re playing against grown men,” Diebler said of the level of European play. “It has been a challenge and definitely has helped me a lot.”
Though Diebler still has a desire to play in the NBA one day, he is making sure to get the most out of his time in Europe with the different style and approach to the game.
“I feel I’m in the prime of my career and I would like to play in the NBA,” Jon said. “If the NBA presented me an opportunity to that, I would love to try and pursue it.”
Though Jon doesn’t see himself defined only as a shooter, there’s no denying it is one of the top strengths of his game.
“There’s a lot of guys that have carved out a role as a shooter,” Jon said “It’s about timing and opportunity. I would love to take my chance against anyone.”

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