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Interview with Ace Custis | Part 2

Interview with Ace Custis | Part 2

With March 29th marking the 15th anniversary of Virginia Tech’s 1995 NIT Championship Game win over marquette, Niemo spoke with the star of that team, Adrian “Ace” Custis, right after he helped his Panasonic Trians team clinch a playoff spot in the Japanese Professional League.  Ace is married with two sons, Charles and Ace Jr (Deuce), with a third son (Evan) expected today, March 30th!

Part 1 of the interview focused on that 1995 NIT Championship run, Ace’s Hokie career, and his memories of Virginia Tech.  Could we see Coach Custis some day?  Ace Custis Interview Part 1

Click on the Play icon below to listen to Part 2, which dives into his professional playing career and his life in general.  And he answers how he got the nickname “Ace”.

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Here is the transcript from Part 2 if you cannot listen to it.  Please note the transcript was done by a third party so please excuse any typos, misunderstandings, and the capitalization of other schools.

Niemo: So tell me more about playing in Japan and playing for the Panasonic Trians. How’s that going?
Ace Custis: I play here in Japan. This is my seventh season here. I played the first three years with a team called OSG Phoenix and then I changed teams and I came to Panasonic.
Playing basketball here, I mean it’s great. It’s first class. They treat you with so much professionalism. Everything is on time, what I mean on time, your money, your services, anything you need is first class.
This is my fourth season here. We just won today. We advanced to the playoffs, which starts next weekend. We are the 3rd seed. We’re playing the number 2 seed. So hopefully we can go in and play well against them.
You know, playing basketball here in Japan I mean, I’ve loved it. I’ve loved it for the last 7 years. I played other places during the summertime, over the last 7 years, but you know, I really love Japan.
Niemo: You’ve also played in other places like Italy, Syria, Lebanon and the Philippines. What’s the favorite place you’ve played? Is it Japan?
Ace Custis: I’ve never played in Italy. I’ve played in the Philippines. I’ve played in Lebanon, Philippines, Syria, Qatar, Venezuela. I’ve played in a lot of different places. My favorite was probably Lebanon because everyone speaks English, basketball is so competitive, and I really, really enjoyed my time there.
Ace Custis: Japan, I really love it here. Now they’ve changed the rule the last two years that you can only have one import on the court.
So I only play 18, 19 minutes of the game. So the stats, you don’t get your own personal stats and all that which is fine with me. I’m about winning. I don’t care about the stats. But, as a competitor, I want to be on the court and during the crunch time of the game.
Niemo: Right.
Ace Custis: Some times I wanna be on the court but playing 17, 18, 19 minutes a game sometimes 20 minutes you don’t be on the court during the crunch time.
So, it is kinda difficult with this new rule. You know, a lot of my friends always say wow, you only averaged 10 points. 5 rebounds? Wow, that’s terrible. But they don’t know that I’m only playing half the game.
Niemo: [laugh] Right. Yeah I was wondering why your rebound numbers were down but that explains it
Ace Custis: My teammate now here, his name is Jerald Honeycutt, and he was in here. Yeah, he was in, he just came to hear, and when I was talking about, uh, um, Kentucky players. He’s the one told me Derek Anderson, naming some more players during our time. Um, he was like, back then I didn’t shoot 3 pointers. Now, all I do is shoot 3s.
Niemo: Yeah, I remember him from Tulane.
Yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. I was checking out your stats and seeing you’re hitting about 35% and cranking up about 4 three-pointers a game.
Ace Custis: Most of the year I was like 42%. But then I ran into a little slump and I started shooting bad from 3. But, you know, playing overseas I had to adjust my game. And so I stayed in the gym, working on my perimeter game, shooting more 3s.
Because when I was with the Dallas Mavericks, I played the 2-3. So the guy’s like, “Ace, you need to work on your range”. So I stayed in the gym with Hubert Davis and we was always shooting jumpers and working out and trying to improve my range.
Now I don’t go inside too much. I like shooting the ball outside [laugh], staying outside.
Niemo: What’s the coolest place, what’s the most interesting site you’ve seen in your travels?
Ace Custis: As far as basketball?
Niemo: Well, let’s say for example I went to Rome 5 years ago and I loved the coliseum. That was really interesting for me. What’s something really neat you’ve been able to see on your travels, that stands out above the others?
Ace Custis: For me, traveling, I appreciate it. I’ve seen the world, thanks to basketball giving me the opportunity and opened doors for me. But, for me it’s a job. So, you know, my mom always tell me, “Ace, take pictures.” I’ve never taken pictures overseas.
I tell her it’s my memories. So my wife comes over and see she takes pictures, but for me, I’ve never really taken pictures. It’s a job for me.
I don’t go sightseeing. I don’t go to the mosque, and I don’t go to the temples in Japan. I don’t do all the sightseeing. I go to the gym. I go to practice. I do my job, and then I go home.
I know it sounds a little boring, but that’s how I approach.
Niemo: But hey, that’s you and that’s your work ethic. It’s gotten you a good career.
I think I know the answer to this one looking back on that answer. Do you wish you could have spent your entire career in the NBA here in the states or are you glad to have had the experiences of the world you have had?
Ace Custis: [laugh] If you told me 20 years ago that I would be playing basketball in Japan overseas, I would have laughed in your face. You know, me and Honeycutt was talking about that 2 weeks ago. Cuz you know, he was highly recruited out of high school and he was a McDonald’s All-American. He played in the NBA for a while. And we were saying, “Who thought we would be teammates in Japan?”
Playing basketball in the NBA was the greatest experience of my life, when I was with the Dallas Mavericks for that year that I was on injury reserve. I mean everything is 1st class. Everything is so professional. And even when you get injured.
The treatment that you receive is top of the line. So you get the best treatment and we are not even gonna talk about salary because, you know, playing in the NBA gives you the opportunity so you can make a good living for yourself and your family. So I would love to have had an entire career in the NBA. I look at guys that are still in the NBA from when I was playing and you know, I’m friends with a lot of those guys. I met and seen and played against in college and different tournaments. I’m happy for those guys who still in the NBA still doing their thing and still playing well.
Niemo: You mentioned you got married 8 years ago. What’s your wife’s name?
Ace Custis: Her name is Denedra, You know she went to Virginia Tech, she’s a Virginia Tech alumni as well.
And she’s having a kid too, well, not she, WE are having a kid this week coming up. She’s supposed to have the baby on Tuesday.
Niemo: Oh wow!
Ace Custis: March 30. So, you know, life, playing overseas. I can’t make it home for the delivery because we’re in the playoffs. So you know, I, I told her, I told her blame me. It’s called bad timing. I was I was a couple weeks old.
Niemo: [laugh]
Ace Custis: But you know I was not want to be there for my family, but I have a job to do and I can’t let my teammates down. And to go home for the delivery then come back because we are in the playoffs coming up. So if we lose the season’s over.
It’s a boy, and we’re gonna name him Evan.
Niemo: What are the other two sons’ names, if you don’t mind me asking?
Ace Custis: I had my other son when I was at Virginia Tech. His name is Charles. And then my second son, he’ll be five in May, his name is Adrian Custis, the 2nd. Nicknamed Deuce.
Niemo: Now let me ask you real quick how did you get the nickname Ace?
Ace Custis: Ah, my grandfather gave it to me when I was a little kid. I was always around my grandparents when I was growing up and you know, we used to cut grass, go fishing and do all the things men do. As he would say, “You know, I was his number 1 ace.” No matter what he did I’d try to do it. Emulating what he was doing. And he said I was his number 1 ace. So everyone started calling me ace in my family.
I started playing little league sports. Everybody started calling me Ace. So the newspapers and coaches and teachers and everybody continues to call me Ace. So it, it kind of stuck with me from there.
Niemo: Do you have any final thoughts or stories you’d want to share with me?
Ace Custis: You know, I’m a Hokie for life.
My kids, my family, everyone is Hokies. My mom tunes in, watches Virginia Tech no matter what it is on, on TV. It could be any sport. Any time you talk about Virginia Tech my family tunes in. And, you know we are proud Hokies.
Virginia Tech has done so much for me and I will always be proud to call myself a Hokie.
I look forward to Virginia Tech’s success in all that they do in all sports. And I will always support, and acknowledge Virginia Tech.
Niemo: Yeah that’s great. I think that’s the way pretty much all of us feel that we all feel about VT that went there.
Ace Custis: You know, in my area. I live in Suffolk. I live in Suffolk during the off-season. There are a lot of Virginia Tech alumni there. And one of the biggest supporters I ever think I’ve known is a guy named Mark Edwards. Me and him played in a 30 and over league last year. And we won the first championship in his 12 years of playing. In the 30 and over league.
And he actually played in the same practice jersey that I played in when I was at Virginia Tech. He bought it all off Ebay.
So I used my practice jersey to play in the 30 and over leagues. I went to his house and I don’t think there’s a Virginia Tech alumni with more Virginia Tech memorabilia.
He had a room dedicated to Virginia Tech.
Niemo: [laugh]
Ace Custis: To see someone so Hokie oriented, I mean that can bring a smile upon your face.
Niemo: Right, yup, I mean that’s Hokie Nation right there. Ace, thank you so much for doing this. Good luck to you with Evan coming up in a couple of days and also in the playoffs with Panasonic.
Ace Custis: Alright, appreciate it.
Niemo: Alright, thanks so much.
Congratulations in advance on the birth of your third son.
Ace Custis: I greatly appreciate it.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1215 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • Mark Edwards

    Nice article. Ace is great Hokie and friend…glad you wrote an update about him. Can’t believe it’s been 15 years!

    Smithfieldhokie
    Mark Edwards

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