Updated: Jun 11
6’10” and 6’9” forwards and identical twins Guillermo and Jorge Diaz Graham have only been in the United States for a few months, but have already made their mark at the renowned IMG Academy (FL). Hailing from the Canary Islands in Spain, the twins got their start playing for local clubs before they moved their way up the ranks within the Spanish basketball leagues. After a global pandemic threw a wrench in their recruitment plans, the twins opted to come to the states regardless to focus on basketball and academic opportunities. Aside from positional size and fluid athleticism, Guillermo and Jorge bring versatility, shooting, passing, creating, and a mature feel for the game to any team and both are eager to show colleges they’re worthy of attention.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, the Diaz Graham twins discussed their unique basketball journey, off-court interests, adjusting to the states, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospects Guillermo and Jorge Diaz Graham, from the Canary Islands, Spain:
Pro Insight: Can you talk a bit about your background?
Guillermo Diaz: So we’re from the Canary Islands, Spain. It’s like some islands off of Africa. Not many people know much about it. We’re twins and we’ve been playing basketball since we were five years old and we’ve been playing together this whole time. We also played soccer when we were young — we used to play a lot of sports and we grew to like a lot of sports.
PI: How did you guys get your start in basketball?
Jorge Diaz: It’s hard to explain, but the doctors told our parents that we were going to be very tall. Like two meters. So my dad wanted us to play basketball. So we started at five years old in a little club called Santo Domingo. Then when we were 17 we moved to another club, the Canarias. My father knew that we were going to be tall so he wanted us to play basketball.
PI: Did your parents or other family members also play basketball?
GD: No. Our dad used to play basketball, but not like for real. Just for like playing with your kid. We don’t have many other athletes in the family, we’re the only ones to be playing at this level and it’s a lot of pride for us.
JD: We don’t have any other siblings.
GD: Yeah, it’s just us two.
PI: Where do you get your height from?
GD: We don’t really know. Our father is tall, but he’s not that tall.
JD: I have to say, our grandparents are very tall.
GD: But not like us, I’m 6’10” and he’s 6’8”.
GD: 6’8”. [JD whispers 6’9”] And we are like the tallest ones in our family ever.
PI: Would you say soccer was your first love or has basketball always been your top sport?
JD: When he [Guillermo] was a kid he wanted to play soccer not basketball. I always loved basketball more that soccer and when we grew up he realized that he couldn’t play soccer [Guillermo laughs] so we have to play basketball.
GD: Also we played soccer because of the school, because we played with our school mates. It was nothing serious.
PI: Describe one another’s game.
JD: I think he’s very tall, but also very skilled. Like he can shoot no problem. He’s like Nikola Jokic, he’s a good playmaker and can pass the ball very good. For being that tall he’s so nice and so skilled.
GD: I think our game is very similar, but he likes to play more of the forward position because he can move faster. He has good footwork, good ball handling, good shooter, and good playmaking.
PI: How would you describe your on-court chemistry?
JD: Yeah, we have been playing so much so sometimes we just need to look at each other's eyes to know what to do. Our play is like when he’s in the post I pass him the ball and just cut to the rim and he gets me. It’s always a free basket. We’ve been doing that so long it’s just like a habit.
PI: Where do you feel like you can both improve the most?
GD: These past weeks I’m just focusing on my finishing touch at the rim and also our athleticism, like our strength. We’re lifting and that type of stuff. So I would say my finishing touch at the rim and improving my shooting consistency. Here at IMG we have amazing facilities so I can go at night to an open gym and put like 500 shots up with the machine. So that’s something that I didn’t have back in Spain. So I think I’m getting better just shooting and shooting.
JD: I would say of course my body, we’re trying to gain some pounds, but also keep our athleticism. With basketball I would say, I make a lot of turnovers, so trying to read the game better. Sometimes just chill and learn to read the game.
PI: What would you say is an underrated aspect of your games?
GD: I think he can play a lot like taking and ball-handling screens. He can play well. He can stop and shoot, make a good pass, go hard to the rim. I think he could be a problem with this, but he’s not used to doing it, he could do it.
JD: I’ll say when he has the ball in his hands good things happen. He has very good vision for players cutting or finding open teammates. So he’s like a forward, but he could play as a guard. When he has the ball in his hands he’s so good. Like the team is better when he has the ball in his hands.
PI: Describe your time playing with the Spanish National Team — what has that experience been like?
JD: I played a little bit with them in training camp, but never played an official game.
GD: The experience is amazing. Going to the national team with kids from all of Spain and having a good team. I think we did so well because we were a very good team, not only on the court, but also off the court. I think that the best thing I can get from that experience is the people that I met there and the relationships I got from that tournament. Also, playing with the national team gets you a lot of opportunities. There are a lot of people watching, so it’s a great opportunity.
PI: What’s the story behind joining IMG? What led to that decision?
JD: Like our first idea was going to college. We should be in college this year, but because of COVID recruiting from Europe and international players was hard. So we don’t have “good offers” I’d say. We had some friends that helped us with all of this stuff and they told us about prep schools so we started looking up prep schools. I remember one day they contacted me, Jim Carr at IMG, so we talked with Coach Carr and he gave us scholarships. It was random, we were first going to college, then prep schools and suddenly like one month before going IMG appeared.
GD: Why we are here is having the opportunity to study and play basketball at the same time. Back in Europe it’s so hard to play at a good level and keep up your studies. Here in USA the NCAA is amazing, there’s really good competition and they take care of not just the athletic part, but the student part. That’s why we’re here.
PI: What are each of your interests academically?
GD: I want to get a degree in something related to technology. I like technology. I’m good at mathematics, physics, and science. So something related to technology.
JD: I like more computers and programming. Something in that.
PI: Does IMG have some of those programs?
GD: Yeah, right now we’re taking a robotics class as well as 3D design and in Spain we don’t have that. Like here we’re just making robots and it’s something amazing.
JD: We have a lot of resources, so it’s great.
PI: How long have you guys been over here in the states?
JD: We came September 5th, 2021, so like 2 months.
PI: What has the adjustment been like?
GD: We’ve been so lucky, our teammates give us a lot of support and help us a lot getting in with people. I think we are doing pretty good. We’ve made a lot of friends, we’re playing good in the basketball system, so I think we’re doing pretty good.
JD: We were a little bit afraid of the basketball adaptation, but that’s been the best part, it’s been so easy thanks to the teammates and all of that.
PI: What were your expectations of the United States? Is the reality living up to those expectations?
GD: Yeah, I expected the USA to be like big or huge things.
JD: Like oversized.
GD: And it’s reality, everything is huge. The food here is huge, the facilities are huge, everything is huge. I’m used to being in Spain where places are small and you come here and everything is so huge. And more in our islands everything is more little than usual, so being here is like “Yo [motions his hands up like an explosion] it’s amazing”.
PI: How has your game grown in the short amount of time you’ve been here?
JD: I think here people play so hard. If you're not going hard they’ll get you off your game so you have to adapt to playing hard and I think that I needed this. My game is growing because I’m going hard where before I didn’t and I lost so many balls. Right now I think I’m doing well with that part. Also right now I think my shooting consistency, like training and shooting a lot of shots is making me better.
GD: Just going to practice every day and knowing every guy is going to kill. Here in the USA the mindset is going hard every day, working, working, and working. We have practice in the morning, in the afternoon, the open gym and everyone goes. Shooting, ball-handling, finishing touch, everything. The work ethic here is making us improve a lot.
PI: Is that work ethic and need for development something you guys have been craving a bit and are now finally getting?
JD: Yeah, like it’s different because here at IMG it’s all focused on the athlete. The schedules are made for practice, like back in Spain it’s a lot harder because school is apart and basketball is apart so the schedule is so hard. Like you finish school at 3PM and then you have practice at 8PM. Like this makes practicing a little bit harder, but I like it more here because it’s made for the athlete.
GD: Yeah they make it an easy way to do it. Like if you want to work hard it’s easy for you. You have no impediments. You have all the things you need to get in and work. So that’s something I’m so happy to have.
PI: What sort of advice would you share with other international players thinking about playing in the US?
GD: Just if you’re hesitating because maybe it’s going to be hard for me or the adaptation is going to be hard, like because when we first come here our first thought was, “what if we go there and we don’t have a good adaptation and we have a bad experience?” And no — here, you have good stuff and amazing teammates. American people help you a lot, I feel like all of my teammates, since the first moment have taken and helped me have a good adaptation.
JD: Like if you’re afraid of maybe, “oh I’m going to lose my friends and family,” today you have great technology. So you can talk to your family through FaceTime every day. When you go to the states you make new friends. It’s so easy to make friends here, people are so nice. So yeah don’t worry about that.
PI: Is there anything you wish you knew before coming over?
GD: Yeah. Like we have to bring sheets for the beds and a lot of stuff for our dorm. Because we came here thinking we’ll have all of the necessary things and we just are here like the first three nights we were sleeping on the couch [Jorge laughs] because we didn’t have sheets. But then we got settled in — we got a mini-fridge and microwave for our food. Bring a microwave and a fridge because it’s so necessary [Jorge laughs] because if you want to put on weight and be eating, bring one.
PI: How are you guys liking the food here?
JD: I’ve only tried fast food or the cafeteria. I’m going to say fast food is the same as Spain…
GD: No, it's better. You have like 200 different fast food places where in Spain you have McDonald’s and Burger King.
JD: And KFC...but it’s the same where you have hamburgers, nuggets, fries. But I’d say the size is bigger here. Also the price. I’d say I prefer Spanish food.
GD: One thing I hate, but maybe it’s only in Florida or IMG is like I hate spicy food. There’s a lot of spicy food and here they make spicy food every day. Like you’re eating a fish and it’s spicy and you’re like, “what?! How do they make a fish spicy?!” It’s something I don’t like.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
GD: At first we didn’t have a lot of offers, but maybe when I got to the FIBA Challengers I got more offers, but being here at IMG a lot of new colleges have been interested. I think we will get more when we continue playing games.
JD: Right now I would say the best interest we have now is like Santa Clara, the coach and college is good. I have Samford, Charleston, Loyloa Chicago, etc.
GD: The biggest one we have is just interest from Gonzaga and that’s all I think.
PI: Did you guys have any dream schools growing up?
GD: No and because I knew about the NCAA for the first time like two years ago. Like I think I have seen like four or five NCAA basketball games because in Spain you don’t have the games on TV. It’s a bit more difficult, you have to pay to watch the games. So we didn’t really know about the NCAA, so we don’t have a dream school.
JD: When I play 2K in the career mode I remember Michigan State, UCLA, UConn, etc. When I came to the states I was like, “woah it’s real, it’s not a video game, anymore.” But I don’t have a dream school.
PI: Are there any schools that you’d like to hear from?
GD: Yeah of course like a big college like Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, UConn. All of those big colleges, we would like it obviously, but we have to work more for it.
PI: What are you looking for in a college program?
JD: I think the academic part is so important. Like they have the degrees we want, but also a good academic reputation. But we also want to go to a place where we can fit in the style of play. Also a place where we can play, maybe if we go to Duke or Gonzaga it’s difficult to play because they have great guys. Somewhere we have opportunities.
GD: Also I would say somewhere where they understand our game, how we can grow in our game and how we can become better. How to get us stronger, all of those things are important.
PI: What are some things each one of you brings to a team off the court?
GD: Our teammates, we have a really good relationship with all of them. I think Spanish people are good people [holds two thumbs up] and they’re funny, also.
JD: We make a great environment on the team because we are funny and are good kids.
GD: We like to prank a lot.
JD: It’s good to have us [laughs].
PI: Are there any players you model your games after?
JD: I like KD because he’s so similar to us or maybe Kristaps Porzingis because he’s European. I like their style because they’re so similar to me and I like to learn from them.
GD: I would say Nikola Mirotic, he’s just like us...well more like me because he can shoot the ball from 3 or from 2. He can play in the post. I would like a mix between Nikola Mirotic and Nikola Jokic vision. The perfect me is like that mix.
PI: What motivates you guys to work hard?
GD: I would say to take advantage of things. We have very good conditions to play basketball: we’re tall, we have length, we have good footwork, etc. I think having this I have to make it worth it and take advantage of stuff. Like I have these things and I have the opportunity so let’s make it worth it.
JD: It’s like when you realize what you can get or what you can achieve it’s easier. I’m working hard because I have the opportunity and it’s just me. I have to do my work to get what I want and it’s easy.
GD: Since we’ve been playing basketball every player we’ve met a few are still playing basketball because not everyone can succeed. I think we have the opportunity and we have to make it worth it. If we have the opportunity we have to take it. Also, my motivation is that I can have my studies for free. I don’t want my parents to pay for my education. Like if I can get it I would be so proud of myself. Like my dad before coming here he was like, “if you achieve your degree for free I would be so proud,” so I think that.
PI: What are your short and long term goals?
JD: I would say right now the short term would be to get to college and make good decisions there, good performance, getting good numbers, and maybe play pro. And if you couldn’t play pro for something then you have a degree. Like having a good degree from the USA in college opens a lot of doors for jobs. Having a good job and one I like to do.
GD: I would say the same, like in the short term get to a good college and make a good decision there. Also improve our strength, get some pounds. Long term, play pro and if we cannot for some reason, then to have a degree to get jobs.
PI: What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received? Why did it stick with you?
GD: I would say “nothing is forever.” In any moment you can get a broken knee and your messed up and no more basketball for you. Then what? You cannot focus all of you in basketball because first of all basketball is not forever and second of all you can be done and be messed up. So you always have to have a second option and always with your feet on the floor.
JD: Also our parents taught us to be humble, be good kids, and be good with everyone. Thanks to that, we are here right now. Be humble, keep your feet on the earth and just be a good kid.
PI: What are some of your interests off the court?
GD: We spent a lot of time on PlayStation before, not now because we don’t have it with us. Now I would say we spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos. Basketball doesn’t leave me too much time to have hobbies so I would say play video games, watch videos, or be with my friends.
JD: When we were back in Spain we would play video games with our friends and a lot of our friends play PlayStation. Spending time with friends or family.
PI: Which video games would you guys play?
JD: With friends it’d be Fortnite or Rocket League. Fall Guys is so fun, too.
GD: It’s a random game. For me it makes no sense.
JD: It’s random, it’s just like running and it’s so funny.
GD: No it’s not [smiles].
JD: Playing with friends is the best.
GD: We used to play like free games because all of our friends had the same games. In quarantine we played a lot of 2K with our friends, we bought it and we spent too many hours on it.
PI: Which one of you guys is better at 2K?
GD: I would say he’s better at playing, but during quarantine my play became better than his.
JD: My career was better is what he is saying. I had players with short arms.
GD: He has a center with like T-Rex arms, he has no arms so it was just so funny. My play is the best, but playing in tournaments and live games, he’s better.
PI: Any shows or books you guys are into right now?
GD: Right now we’re watching all of the Avengers movies with a teammate. Like one week ago it was like parents week and so parents of kids from here came to campus and with one of our teammates and his parents we went to the cinema to watch Venom 2. I didn’t watch the first one or all of the Marvel movies so I didn’t understand anything. They started talking about the multiverse and stuff and I was so lost. And they were like, “okay, we have to watch all of the Marvel movies since the first one.” I think we’ve already watched like 15 movies.
JD: Back in Spain I was watching Prison Break, but I don’t know why it doesn’t appear since I moved to Florida. So right now I’m watching Breaking Bad.
PI: If you were to relate yourselves to a Marvel superhero — who are you most like and why?
GD: Yo, that’s a good question [leans back in chair].
JD: I would say you’re like Hulk because you get angry, bro [laughs].
GD: No, no...I would say like Clint [Hawkeye] because he has good aim.
JD: He’s not a superhero, he just has good aim.
GD: He’s a superhero, bro.
JD: I would say Iron Man because I’m so smart [Guillermo’s jaw drops]. Yeah, Iron Man because I like technology and I’m so smart. I’m also like Tony Stark [laughs].
PI: Say you woke up with $10 million dollars in your bank account — what would be your first purchase?
JD: I think I would get some gifts for my family or friends…
GD: [shaking hand] no, no, no…you wouldn’t do that, bro.
JD: What I want I already have it. I don’t want nothing more.
GD: Oh my God.
JD: I don’t want a car because I don’t have a driver's license. I don’t want video games because it’s not expensive. So just purchase some gifts for friends and family. I don’t want nothing.
GD: I would get a car. Right now especially because to leave campus we have to take an Uber so if we had a car it’d be so nice. I’d buy a car first. I’m not a nice guy [laughs].
PI: Do you have a dream car?