Before this summer, 6'5" Derek Stockalper was a relatively hidden talent in Carlsbad, CA, away from all the overhype of Los Angeles. Despite averaging 21.6 points per game, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a junior, Derek was your typical "overlooked" and "under-rated" player. Recruiting scouts are still trying to figure out just how to classify him. Is he a Shooting Guard, a Combo Guard, a Wing or a Small Forward? As recently as the early July ABCD Adidas Camp, Jerry Gale of SoCal Hoops summed up Derek and his blow up performance like this:
"Derek Stockalper. We vaguely remember putting Derek among the combo guards, but we'll have to move him to the wing forwards when we get a chance. Derek is playing absolutely spectacular here, and last night he had the dunk of the camp, a thunderous driving tomahawk dunk which had people murmuring for at least an hour afterward. He's scoring off slashes and drives to the basket and in transition and looking really good."
Needless to say, Derek is now ranked 5th (and rising) in the West by prepwesthoops, is no longer a hidden talent and is being heavily recruited by the likes of Gonzaga, San Diego and Utah. Zags Hoops caught up with Derek after his team made the Sweet Sixteen in the Adidas Big-Time Tournament at Las Vegas.
Derek first picked up a basketball when he was five or six. He doesn't really know if he was a natural or a project, he just played for fun. He had plenty of opportunity to tag along to the gym as his dad was a basketball player. Later, he tried other sports like football but learned it wasn't for him. In a school with 3000 students, you better be real good. Derek is all that, but in hoops, not football.
Asked if he had any basketball idols or heroes, he really didn't have any. He has never given it much thought. After some prodding, he admitted an admiration for Shane Battier, which speaks to the value Derek places on being an all-around student-athlete, on the court and in the classroom.
Q. Do you prefer an uptempo style of basketball, or a slower halfcourt style?
A. "Definitely uptempo."
When asked to name his most memorable game, Derek thought and said the playoff game a couple years ago at Torrey Pines High School. Carlsbad lost by four to Long Beach Poly which had Missouri starting point guard Wesley Stokes and other D1 players. The huge crowd and close game was a thrill.
The game he'd most like to forget was a loss to a terrible team last year when he fouled out in the second quarter. We didn't dwell on that one too long. Derek told us that he takes losses well, that win or lose he replays the game over and over in his head, analyzing what he could've done better or differently.
Derek has one sibling, an older brother named Doug. They play against each other, one-on-one, but only during summers now since Doug is off to college from Fall through Spring. There's never really been a sibling "rivalry," just both helping each other.
His strengths are obvious: leadership, team player, sound fundamentals and a hunger to win and constantly improve. He's also a very good shooter and scorer. Right now he is working to improve his ability to defeat a defender off the dribble and also to drive and pull up for the jumper.
Asked about a game in which he scored 31 points and carried his team to a big win while sick, Derek elaborated… He not only had mono but also Scarlet Fever and was heavily on antibiotics. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is one tough guy. He's a team player but has the instincts to put his team on his back and lead them.
He's very interested in earning a business degree and when asked if he couldn't play basketball, what he'd do, Derek answered: "Study more." Even though he has a 3.6 GPA, he still says he has mostly just cruised and could do a lot better.
As of this writing, Derek doesn't have a visit set up yet for Gonzaga but he's planning to. He says Gonzaga calls him weekly, and San Diego and Utah are also recruiting him hard.
"Seinfeld" is his favorite TV show and he doesn't have any specific music that's his favorite, he'll listen to whatever is playing. He likes to hang out with his friends, hit movies or go to the beach, maybe play some video games...that is, when he's not playing ball.
He is a nice guy to talk to, has his act together and will be a credit to the university lucky enough to successfully recruit him.