Sunday, February 21, 2016

NBLCNET Player Profile: Stephen Maxwell

Maxwell in his rookie season with the London Lightning.

Get to Know Him

Favorite Hobbies: Movies and video games
Favorite Song: "The Zone" by The Weeknd ft. Drake
Favorite Movie: Fury
Favorite Memory: When his older brother taught him how to play basketball for the first time
Favorite Sports Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Favorite Nickname: Mad Max
Places to Visit: Italy and France
Career Goals: Sports analyst
Interesting Fact: Was best at drawing in his childhood
On the NBL Canada: "I think teams in Europe are now realizing how much talent is in this league and players like myself are able to benefit from the exposure this league provides."


Stephen Maxwell was born in Los Angeles and raised in the nearby neighbourhood of Woodland Hills, California. He began playing the game of basketball at  the age of seven, and also played one year of football, but it didn't have the same appeal to him that hoops did. Maxwell was forced to be a defensive tackle despite wanting to have a more fast-paced role on the offense. His true passion was to challenge his older brother, Kevin, in his driveway.

Stephen was always beaten by his brother while growing up, but instead of getting discouraged to continue, he embraced it. The experience motivated Maxwell to play competitively and also helped him fall in love with the sport. In his childhood, he began playing organized basketball in a rec league at Winnetka Recreational Center in his hometown.

Maxwell, age 10, with the Pop Warner team Reseda Broncos.

Maxwell attended his hometown school of Taft High School, who ran a basketball program with winning traditions. As an eighth grader, he attended the tryouts but was told that only a handful of freshman had made varsity. To his disappointment, Taft head coach Derrick Taylor placed him on the junior varsity team. But as the season progressed, Taylor noticed the amount of hard work that Maxwell was putting in on the court for the JV team. The coach was convinced that he would be a key part of his team for the following season.

But come sophomore and even junior year, Maxwell felt the same frustration that he felt while playing football back in his childhood. He found himself sitting on the bench for most of the game, watching his teammates on the court. At times, he desperately wanted to contribute—and he was certain that he could. It took all the patience that Maxwell had to get through those seasons. It was as a senior that the forward got the minutes that he desired. In his final season with Taft, Maxwell truly became a star on the team, leading them to a city championship title in 2011, something he still holds dearly today.

Maxwell skies for a dunk at city championship.

After coming from a prestigious program and having a solid season, Maxwell caught the attention of many colleges, but no one was willing to step out and give him the offer. Fortunately, Bobby Braswell, head coach for Cal State Northridge, a smaller school from the Big West Conference, gave him a chance to be a walk-on. Maxwell, himself, believed that he could have played at any level in the NCAA, but he was willing to showcase his skills against the bigger programs that he would face in the coming years.

The forward immediately fit in with CSUN, finding his game similar to the NCAA's style of play. He grew into one of the most talented athletes in the Big West, making first team all-conference as a junior. One of his best moments in college was when he got the opportunity to play against ranked Louisville and made the most of it. Maxwell recorded 20 points and 11 rebounds against the powerhouse program and proved himself that he could compete at that level.

Maxwell handles the ball against Cal Poly in college (Photo: USA Today)

Following his collegiate years, Maxwell signed with agent Austin Walton. Walton turned his focus to Europe to find his client a lucrative deal. Maxwell was hoping to play in a second or even a first league in Italy, Germany, or France. But in the end, he remained unsigned. To his relief, he struck a training camp deal with the London Lightning in the NBL Canada, and after a few weeks, he was notified by head coach Kyle Julius that he made the team.

In the NBL Canada, Maxwell has been pleased by his freedom to move away from the basket. He brought a hard-working mindset from CSUN and has constantly been putting it into action in his incredible rookie season. Maxwell anticipates that the Lightning will bring another championship back to London in May if they can keep their unselfish mentality going. And once the season comes to a close, he simply plans to head back to the gym and continue to become a better player.