Cal Poly Mustangs ended their 2007 basketball season with their best record yet and the most wins overall since the 1991-92 season due to a huge contribution by one of their star players, Derek Stockapler.

Stockalper will be leaving his current home in San Diego and return to his native homeland on July 17.

He will first head Lugano, Switzerland where he’ll get settled into his apartment for the upcoming year. Once there, he’ll report to Geneva on July 21 and head off to France where he will attend training camp.

“I have no idea what to expect playing for the national team,” he said. “It is all new to me but I hope I can make a contribution right off the bat.”

While preparing himself for his time in Switzerland, Stockalper has been sticking to what has always worked best. “I haven’t done much different than what I’ve done in the last few years preparing for Cal Poly’s season,” he said. “I have an individual workout in the morning from 11-1, and then I go back to the gym in the evenings and play basketball from 5 to 7.”

Training and staying in shape will be a major factor for this 6-foot-5 inch player. One of the major aspects of playing for the Swiss team will be being able to go against the French National Team which includes about eight NBA players, including San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker and Phoenix Suns’ Boris Diaw.

Luckily, Stockalper doesn’t feel pressure, a trait embedded into him by his former coach at Cal Poly.

“I know it will be just like when I play for Cal Poly,” he said. “Coach Bromley did a great job filtering the pressure away from his players.”

As for his own team, Stockalper will find himself playing alongside players such as Chicago Bulls rookie Thabo Sefolosha.

“I haven’t done anything yet to prove to others I belong in the same playing field as them just yet,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and I know I will be able to prove to the others on the team that I belong.”

It seems Stockalper should have no problem showing that he does indeed belong. Stockalper shot .540 from the field last season, including a .496 mark from 3-point range. He was also led the Mustangs in points and rebounds.

Switzerland has always been a huge part of Stockalper’s life. Born in Vevey, Switzerland, on March 4, 1984, he says he has always been more of a European style player. European style seems to run in his family, for Stockalper’s brother Doug also played professionally over in Switzerland after his career at the University of San Diego.

Stockalper said there will be major differences not only in the European style of play but in playing with completely different people from a culture that is much different from the U.S.

“European basketball focuses a lot more on the concept of a team, while American players usually want to showcase their individual talents and play more on the selfish side,” he said.

“It’s a huge honor to go and represent the Swiss people in the European community,” he said. “I think it is a fantastic opportunity for myself and I am planning on taking full advantage of the situation.”

So what’s next for Stockalper? After a few years of experience playing for Switzerland eventually he would like to play in the Italian League. But for now, he is “really looking forward to traveling and finding out what other countries have to offer in terms of basketball competition,” he said.

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