Catching Up with Drake Diener

It's been over a year since Drake Diener suited up in a DePaul uniform, but his name is still held in high regard by Blue Demon fans. A clutch performer, and strong student, Diener was a fan favorite during his four years at DePaul. Diener's shooting abilities and team first mentality made him invaluable to this team along with fellow classmates, Levar Seals and Quemont Greer.

What was not known by DePaul fans was the determination it took Drake to fight against Crohn's disease from which he suffered stomach pains, and fatigue among other symptoms. Towards the end of his senior season, Drake noticed changes in how he felt. "I started to feel fatigued towards the end of the season, and I thought it was because I wasn't prepared. I realize now that it was really the beginning," said Drake.

As the season ended, Drake soon noticed that stomach pains were becoming a common ordeal. "I would have these stomach pains and I had no idea what was wrong," said Drake. Doctors soon began to wonder with Drake what was wrong with him. "The doctors said there was a slim chance it was cancer, and that gets you scared," admitted Drake. "Nobody likes to hear the word cancer."

Doctors then diagnosed Drake with Crohn's disease, which causes chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract. Drake had to endure two surgeries, and a couple procedures to help him recover. "A few days after surgery, I realized how serious this was," Drake explained. "It was a long five hour surgery and they had just removed a plum-sized mass from my stomach." The condition and procedures left Drake much weaker. "I lost 45 pounds," Drake explained. "When I left the hospital in mid-October I knew it would be a gradual process to get back."

Drake then started his remarkable recovery. "At first I started out slow to get a feel for everything. When I started to get into a flow, then I started getting comfortable again. Between March and April is when my weight was back to normal," Drake recalled.

Drake's battle against Crohn's disease has given him a mission to spread awareness about the disease and to help out others inflicted with it. Drake spoke about the upcoming "Cagers for Crohn's" benefit as well. The event hopes to raise $10,000 through donations, ticket sales and an online auction. "It's going to be a great time. We really have a great basketball family. We have eight teams of guys who graduated from 1967 all the way to 2004 and it should be a great time," Drake said.

When asked how his team would do in the tournament Drake responded, "We're going to win it." After hearing that cousin Travis Diener of the Orlando Magic is on his team, it's easy to see why he's so confident. "Me and Travis are a pretty good one-two punch, and we have some other guys that will contribute. There are some other teams that are tough, but I think we'll win it."

Drake also spoke about the future of the event. "I'd like to see this made into an annual event. It would be great if we could make it bigger and add some more variety to it," Drake explained.

Besides helping to spread awareness for Crohn's, Drake is still hoping to play professional basketball. "The NBA is my goal, but I'm looking at all of my options." Drake has been working out on the DePaul campus and at Hoops the Gym, Chicago's legendary training ground. "It's great to be playing at Hoops," explained Drake. "There have been some very good pickup games there."

Drake was also recently in Orlando where he had a two hour workout for NBA teams. Although he was not a part of the Orlando pre-draft camp, Drake was happy about the workout. "It was great to play in Orlando," said Drake. "We had a chance to workout between the games there and we had almost every team there to watch it."

After the draft Drake hopes to get his name out there by playing in the NBA summer league. "I would like to make a summer league team and play well there. It would be a nice step towards making a team." Drake also is confident that he can play with any team and help contribute. "I think I can adapt to any team's style of play. I'm a good shooter, and I take pride in that. I'm a team player, and I play smart. I'm not going to make dumb mistakes. It also helps that I can play off guard or point guard," said Drake.

Drake's determination to get back on track after his battle with Crohn's disease is something we've come to expect. Drake has shown that he is a tremendous competitor who never gives up. It would not be any stretch of the imagination for Drake to achieve his basketball goal of the NBA.

The public is invited to send their monetary support for "Cagers for Crohn's" to National Exchange Bank; Attn: Teri, Customer Service; P.O. Box 988; Fond du Lac, WI 54935. Checks should be made out to "CCFA."

Also just set up is the online auction which can be found at:

Cagers for Crohn's

For more information visit and listen to News-Talk 1450 KFIZ in Fond du Lac.

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