The well-traveled Dominik Olejniczak grew up in Poland and has had his passport stamped all over while playing basketball in Europe and this summer in China.
Now the graduate transfer from Ole Miss has landed at Florida State for his final season of college basketball. He spent a season at Drake before moving to Ole Miss, where he graduated and then spent his summer in part in Tallahassee and in China while playing for the Polish national team in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball. Olejniczak played against some NBA stars, giving him confidence as he prepares for the upcoming season with the Seminoles, who open preseason practice on Saturday.
Below are some highlights of Olejniczak’s conversation with the Osceola:
What was the experience like playing for the international team?
Olejniczak: It was a great experience just being out there with the best players out of my country and also the best players in the whole world. It was just great to be there to watch them not just on the court but in the hotel, how do they interact, what do they do off the court. All the little stuff. That was really valuable for me. I was playing with the NBA guys and right now I’m coming back to play in college. I’m not going to play anybody better than I was during the summer. That’s a huge boost in my confidence.
Why was FSU the right fit for you?
Olejniczak: At first I was looking for a really good connection with my teammates. My visit was short because I was still in school trying to graduate from Ole Miss. I only had 24 hours. But within 24 hours the guys showed me really what they are about and how close they are. I really, really loved it. That was the most important thing for me for my fifth year. I also like the great history of the bigs. Coach Ham (Leonard Hamilton) uses bigs all the time. He always has 7-footers on his roster, so that was also good.
I’ve been here two months during the summer. The practices I can tell how much emphasis coach Ham is putting into fitting the bigs (into the offense), rolling and passing the ball to the big guys. That’s amazing.
How did you get connected with FSU?
Olejniczak: (Former FSU assistant) coach (Dennis) Gates reached out to me. We already had a history because he was trying to recruit me out of Drake when I was transferring after my freshman year. So I already had a history. I knew him, I knew coach Ham a little bit.
How did you get started playing basketball in Poland?
Olejniczak: My mom was a pro basketball player. I was always around her going to practice with her but I never was interested in any sport. … I never wanted to do any sports. And when I was 11 or 12, my parents (Joanna and Grzegorz Chelczynska) told me, ‘OK, you got to go and do something with that or it’s going to be a waste.’ So they forced me for the first year and a half, driving me to practices, making sure I’m there, and I just fell in love with it from there.
How many languages do you speak?
Olejniczak: Polish and English.
Of all the places you have traveled, and you can’t pick a place in the U.S. or Poland, but what has been your favorite?
Olejniczak: China was the most fun experience for me because it’s a completely different world. All of the countries in Europe are about the same. And China is really completely different. That was pretty cool for me. And it was also my second time there and this time I got to travel a little bit more. I got see more places. I did not like the food there at all.