Shannon Bogues is a 23 year old 190cm guard from Killeen, Texas that is playing hiss econd professional season and first with the NINERS Chemnitz (Germany-BBL). Last season he played his rookie year with the Wisconsin Herd (NBA G League) playing 41 games averaging 10.0ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 26.8%, FT: 72.1%.He began his basketball career at Ellison High School and then paid his dues at McLennan Community College (JUCO) averaging 16.1ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 65.5% as a freshman and in his second year averaged 18.8ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.8apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 46.0%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 76.6%. He then made the jump to the NCAA playing with Stephen F. Austin State University (NCAA) averaging 15.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 79.3% as a junior and as a senior averaged 17.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 78.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Thanks, Shannon, for your time and talking with germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
I’m in Chemnitz Germany right now and I spent my summer in Texas, Killeen with my family. I had a very good time this summer and spent most of my time in the gym and with my trainer that I’ve known for 10 years now.
Talk a little bit about the last 7-8 months. You played your last G-league game on march 7th against Capital City. How tough was so many months without any more competition?
The last 7-8 months been kind of tough but I spent that time working out with other professional athletes. We would have pro work outs invitational only. We worked on our game. So yes, the last couple of months have been different but still experienced a lot of good things.
How did you experience the whole Covid-19 crisis in 2020? What was the most challenging thing about life and finding ways to work on your fitness and game?
Covid-19 changed a lot this year but I’m pretty sure it affects everybody in a different way. For me it was kind of rough because it stopped me from going to the gym and working out the way I usually would. Another big factor about the Covid-19 that affected me as well was the social distancing. I wasn’t able to work on my game and play with other professional athletes.
How do you feel did you benefit from Covid-19 and how did it make you stronger as a man in general?
It made me realize how important health is. Especially in rough times like that, we all should really know how important it is to look out for each other and make sure we take good care of ourselves. That’s a lesson I’ve learned.
Congrats on singing with new easyCredit BBL team Niners Chemnitz. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?
To be honest with you, I didn’t know a lot about it at all. But from what I was told from other players, is that Germany is a great environment to live in and especially to play basketball at.
Coming in and helping a new team find their way in the BBL was a big desire for you in coming to Chemnitz. What other reasons sold you on this club?
I really liked what I’ve heard about the team’s culture and I wanted to experience the other side of basketball on a different continent.
What was your early impression of head coach Rodrigo Pastore? He is without a doubt one of the up and coming coaches in Germany.
When I first met coach I could already tell that he is a tremendous coach and it was obvious that he has a great personality on and off the court.
I can well imagine since playing at McLennan Community College (JUCO that you developed a chip on your shoulder early on. Is that chip something that gets heavier and heavier each season.
Yes, it definitely gets heavier every season, because I feel slept on and I will eventually wake them up.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a very quick versatile guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?
Russel Westbrook / Victor Oladipo / Derrick Rose
You’re a point guard that can score, but If you had to pick your absolute biggest asset on the court what would it be?
I would say my speed and my thrive to help others to be the best version of themselves.
The Niners Chemnitz will have many scoring options. Could you see yourself being more of a playmaker this season and reaching 4 assists something you never did at the JUCO, NCAA or G-League levels?
Yes, that is an easy task to accomplish.
You’re also a very spirited and focused defender. Last season with Wisconsin you had John Little as an assistant coach. Not long ago he was one of the top defenders in the BBL and played like a ruthless and nasty pit bull. How do you feel did he help you most on the defensive end last season?
He taught me a lot about how to be aggressive on the defensive end without fouling. He was a great assistant coach. He helped me a lot on and off the court.
On what things did you work on most this summer on your game so you will be best prepared for the BBL?
I worked the most on my three-point-range.
Last season you played in the G-League for the Wisconsin Herd (NBA G-League) averaging 10.0ppq , 2.5rpg, 2, 0apg, FGP: 52,9%, 3PT: 26,8%, FT: 72,1%. What was your wake up call to playing for a NBA farm team?
There was not really a wake up call. For me it was always important to be the best version of myself.
What kind of an experience was it battling Frank Mason and Jaylen Adams? What do you feel was still missing from your game to get a call up?
To be honest it was just a matter of timing. They’ve both played two seasons in the NBA and this was my rookie season.
You played your first 2 college years at McLennan Community College (JUCO). How do you feel did you benefit most from this experience where you were known as the lights out long range threat?
Playing JUCO basketball literally changed my life. It was a great experience with a lot of ups and downs.
You then played a Stephen F. Austin State University (NCAA) from 2017-2019 playing a total of 64 NCAA games. How memorable was it winning the 2018 Southland Conf. Tournament?
It was great being a part of this winning season. That was something I’ve always dreamt about.
You had many fond personal moments but how much do you still remember from your 66 points combined against Northwestern State and Texas A?
I remember every last bucket I had against Northwestern State.
You hit Louisiana Tech for 33 points on 9 three’s but lost 96-93. Was that one of your most bitter loses? That loss hurt but we made a couple of mistakes during that game. But at the end it was a lesson we had to learn and work on.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Ivan Canete?
Me, myself and I
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA or anywhere that went to the NBA?
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Jemerrio Jones Frank Mason Jaylen Adams Rayjon Tucker Leon Gilmore
What is your personal opinion between the never ending debate between Michael Jordan and Lebron James concerning who is the greatest of all-time?
Michael Jordan was a straight killer in all aspects, but Lebron and Kobe are the only ones on his level. They are legends.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I’ve watched is called ‘Fatal Affair’.
Bryce Leavitt is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Kennewick, Washington that completed his third with TV Ibbenbueren Basketball (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 24 games averaging 15.1ppg, 7.7rpg, Assists-1 (7.3apg), 2.0spg, FGP: 63.3%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 81.0%. In the 2017-2018 season he played with the WWU Baskets Muenster (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 13 games averaging 15.7ppg, 9.2rpg, Assists-1 (9.5apg), 2.3spg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 83.5%Last season as a rookie he played with TV 1864 Salzkotten (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 23 games averaging 20.3ppg, 7.9rpg, 4.6apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 84.9%. He got college basketball experience with three schools with Washington St. (NCAA), N.Idaho JC (JUCO, starting five) and Seattle Pacific (NCAA2) where he played his last two seasons and as a senior played 31 games averaging 9.6ppg, 6.8rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 22.0%, FT: 78.8%. He spoke to germanhoops.com during COVID-19.
Hi Bryce where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
Hey Miles, I’m currently back in the states in my hometown Kennewick, Washington. My mood is good, just patiently waiting to see what’s next like everyone else in the world.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
No, I don’t think anyone I know expected it to be this serious. Everything happened so fast on my end, I didn’t really have much time to think.
How have you experienced the day to day life in Germany during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
I didn’t get to experience much of the effect on Germany because I left so fast. We found out our season was canceled on a Thursday, and I was on a plane back to America that Saturday.
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing.
I definitely came to realize how hard it is to avoid germs. I try to be more aware about the way I handle myself in public now.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
It was super disappointing to have the season cancelled right before playoffs. It was rough for all of us players to lose a couple months salary and a chance to play for the title. But at the same time, it made sense to me that this was one of those things that was much bigger than sports.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans? That would be wild to play with no fans. But it would just be like an open gym. At the end of the day, hoop is hoop.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person? –
I think this quarantine has forced everyone into a state of reflection. So just spending a lot of time working on myself, and thinking about what’s really important to me.
Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
I’m guessing a majority of players are using this quarantine to give their body a little break. Rest and heal up. I’ve been shooting every day, but I just now started doing a full strength program. It was nice to give my legs some active recovery for a month. Now I’ll be able to have an extremely strong offseason leading up to my next opportunity.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
Yeah, I’m just waiting to see how everything unfolds. It will be interesting to see what happens with league rules, team’s budgets and how they approach free agency. I’m just going to stay patient and let my agent handle all that.
How have you experienced the day to day life back home in the States? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls.
Day to day life is pretty slow right now. When I’m home I usually work as a substitute teacher and coach kids on the side, two things that are impossible at the moment. So I just go to the park every day for shooting and ball handling. Then do some strength/core work in my garage.
If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
The two guys I’ve talked to most lately are Brock Motum, who’s playing in Spain. And Matt Vest who plays in Germany for Jena. They are two good friends that I stay in touch with year round. Ironically enough Matt’s first child was just born, and Brock’s is due real soon. Congrats to them both.
Let s talk about the Ibbenburen season. The club finished 15-9 and in 4 place. How would you summarize the team effort for this season?
It was a good season. We fought our way to the top of the league and would have had a chance for the 3rd seed during the last weekend of the regular season. We really took a strong step forward from their previous season. I wish we could have been more consistent, but I’m proud of the season we had.
It was a tale of 2 seasons for Ibbenburen. It started hot with a 10-2 record and then finished 5-7. Why did the team slow down in the second half of the season?
We just hit some adversity like every team deals with. During the 2nd half of the season we had some injuries and played all the top teams on the road. Our league was super deep this year, anybody could win on any given night. I liked the way we were coming together down the stretch, we were going be dangerous in the playoffs.
Despite losing 2 of your last 3 games how confident are you that the club could have turned it around in the playoffs
Like I said before, I don’t think anybody in the league wanted to see us in the postseason. We struggled with consistency at times, but we had some real firepower.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Regionalliga this season? –
The toughest battles were with my teammate Marco Porcher everyday in the gym. But the toughest opponent was probably Curtis Hollis on Rhondorf. I respect his game a lot, we had some battles during the year.
Let s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure was it playing with Juan Manuel Barga? He has a very versatile game like you. Could you soak something up from his game this season?
It was definitely awesome to play with Juan (and live with him). He’s an explosive player that can help any team win. The thing I admire most about Juan is his defense. His consistency and effort on defense are elite, he made everyone on the team play harder on that end of the floor.
One player that really impressed me was Marco Porcher-Jimenz. What do you feel is still missing from his game to play at a higher level like the Pro A?
Marco belongs in the Pro A, I don’t think he’s missing anything. He has a really complete game for an off-ball scorer, and he’s physical enough to play at that level. I think he just needs a team to believe in him and put him in a role that fits his strengths.
How much easier did a guy like German Benjamin Fumey make your basketball life with his play? What did you appreciate most about his game?
Benny made my life as the point guard way easier. He’s super experienced and skilled. It’s easy to play with a big that has those qualities.
Let s talk about your game. You sat out last year. Talk a bit how you spent your time last season after actually being with WWU Baskets Muenster (Germany-ProB) in pre season
It was tough to miss an entire season. But it helped me refocus as a player and improve some weaknesses. I spent the first half of that year, healing my injury and strengthening my body. Then I spent the 2nd half of the missed season working on my skills on the court. I was able to make some big strides and come back better than before.
Talk a bit about what kind of adjustment period you needed after sitting out a year? What was most difficult to get used to again and what things came naturally again?
Everything was pretty natural besides game shots and game cardio. Those are two things that you can’t maintain from the sidelines, no matter how hard you work.
This season you averaged15.1ppg, 7.7rpg,Assists-1 (7.3apg),2.0spg,FGP:63.3%,3PT:35.0%,FT: 81.0%. How content were you with your season?
I thought I had a solid season. Of course there’s things I could have done better and know I need to improve. But I’m proud of my performance after missing almost 18 months of basketball.
Your stats were a bit down in rebounds and assists from 2 seasons ago, but you still filled the stat sheet the way we know you can. How do you feel did you make strides in your third professional season concerning your game?
I never really judge my performance off of stats. Every team is different, and I just try to adjust my game to doing whatever the team needs to win. I know I made some strides in several areas this season.
You told me in our interview in 2017 that your speed is a hidden strength and ‘I feel like I can really improve the pace/tempo of any team with the way I play on both ends’. How do you feel have you improved with pace this season?
I think I started the season playing slower than I’m used to. By the end I was really starting to hit my stride with speeding up our team’s pace.
What is the toughest aspect of being versatile and consistent and being able to achieve more triple doubles? Obviously you need talented teammates, but how vital is basketball IQ?
Like I said before, I don’t ever play with stats in mind. I just play to win and let the rest take care of itself. But I think my stats have definitely benefited from having a high basketball IQ and my strong vision on the court. It also helps to be surrounded by good shooters.
In the past you had a Rajon Rondo who got many triple doubles and now it s Lebron, Westbrook and Doncic. If you could continue to refine your game even more what qualities of a Doncic would you like to have to get even more triple doubles? –
You just named some of the best players in the world, so obviously doing anything like them is going to help my game. I just try to watch the best players and steal little techniques/skills from their game. But at the end of the day, I’m my own player, and I have to play my style.
What is the next step for you? Will you return for a fourth season and will you finally play at a higher level? Your way to good for the Regionalliga and deserve a chance at a higher level? I personally would love to see you grind in the Pro A. –
The next step is up, it’s time for me to advance to a higher level. I’m healthy and I’ve proven what I can do to help teams win. I would love a chance to help a team in the Pro A.
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now? –
I don’t think he’s in the top 3 quite yet. But he’s for sure put himself in the top 10.
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant.. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence? –
Kobe was one of my favorite players ever, his death was devastating. He had a huge impact on my work-ethic and preparation. I used to read all the articles and stories about him spending crazy amounts of time in the gym. I’m pretty sure he motivated everyone who’s ever touched a basketball.
How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now? –
It’s a huge bummer that March Madness is canceled. I definitely feel sorry for the seniors who are losing the best part of their last season. I would just tell them to keep their heads up, because there’s better things ahead.
The extended basketball vacation away form the Dragon Dome didn´t feel like a long time for many, but moreover felt like an eternity. The last time that Dragons fans could witness a home game was almost 7 months ago. Back then all fans went home delighted having watched a 102-63 massacre over Essen. Not only was a lot different with the Dragons Rhondorf roster, but the usual procedure of watching a game was totally different. First of all the masks were standard procedure, not all stands were filled, because one had to obey to a 1,5 meter distance from the next person. COVID-19 was still very much alive, but at least basketball was being played again. The Dragons Rohndorf entered the season with a very very young roster with an averaged age of 20 years. Having a young team is risky, but it´s worth it if it means being able to develop young players like Oshane Drews, Ousmane Ndiye and Clint Schonheiter the way they want to. On the other side of the court were the Bringiton Ballers Ibbenburen that were able to keep 9 players from last season and boasted an average age of 28 years. The club had known German players like Benjamin Fumey and Daniel Boahane and had recently scoped up a real gem with Jordan Hill who had played at the very well known Wisconsin(NCAA) and reached an NCAA Final 4 twice losing to Kentucky and Duke and 2 NCAA Sweet 16´s. The guests were the favorite on paper while the Dragons Rhondorf were young and wild and had nothing to lose as they wanted to follow one of their season motto of leaving the court after each game as the toughest team. The Dragons Rhondorf gave it a good fight for 40 minutes, but half way through the fourth quarter, the experience and key plays of the Bringiton Ballers Ibbenburen was too much as they escaped the Dragon Dome with a 87-73 win. After the win an elated Jordan Hill looked like he had just won a March Madness game, but in reality had just only won a Regionalliga game. “We stayed tough and stuck to our system. We made smart decisions and got all in involved. We also played aggressive defense and stayed true to playing defense”, stressed Ibbenburen guard Jordan Hill. The Dragons Rhondorf played a good game, but couldn´t hold it for 40 minutes, but at the end young 18 year old Bruno Albrecht was upbeat about the team´s performance. “We had this game in our hands. After a weak first quarter, we fought back, but when we could of turned game around, we couldn´t. Our 1-1 defense wasn´t good. We gave up way to many open lay ups and didn´t play enough transition. We also didn´t play enough zone defense. You need experience o be successful at that”, stressed ex Ehingen guard Bruno Albrecht.
The Bringiton Ballers Ibbenburen had most guys on board except for Daniel Boahane while the Dragons Rhondorf were without Killian Binapfl, Oshane Drews and Ousmane Ndiye. The Dragons Rhondorf got off on the wrong side of the bed allowing the guests to get their offense cooking swiftly as they advanced out to a 9-3 lead. They were aided by 2 three´s from German Rene Penders who entered the game with 170 Regionalliga games played and also got a lay in by Spanish versatile guard Alberto Del Hoyo. Bruno Albrecht got quick confidence in his shot nailing a trey. Rhondorf couldn´t generate much offense as Ibbenburen continued to move the ball well and got many different players involved. German Benjamin Fumey who played 18 NCAA games with Valparaiso scored inside as did Italian guard Juan Barga as the guests led 13-5. Rhondorf showed quickly their inability to stop the 1-1 as Ibbenburen got easy basket after basket. Rhondorf had some luck that German double license player Gabriel De Olveira was able to play. He came off the bench and gave the Dragons some rapid energy with back to back buckets to cut the Ibbenburen lead to 17-9. But it was German Fumey who was in control. After a beautiful extra pass to set up Marcel Schroeder who played many years with ASC Goettingen, he stepped back and nailed a trey which was followed by another lay in by Juan Barga. The Bringiton Ballers Ibbenburen had the comfortable 22-15 advantage after 10 minutes. “Rhondorf had problems with Ibbenburen´s physicality while Ibbenburen got many easy baskets and hit their three pointers”, expressed ex Five magazine author Joerg Baehren. Ibbenburen were shootong an incredible 60% from the field and 75% from outside while Rhondorf couldn´t hit the ocean from outside shooting 25%. Ibbenburen also established themselves on the boards early 8-4.
In the second quarter the Dragons Rhondorf fought their way back into the game as young 18 year old German Bruno Albrecht took control on defense which sparked the turnaround. American Jordan Hill had watched the whole first quarter, but made his mark in the second quarter coming in and taking charge with a steal and bucket and soon after a jumper for the 26-19 lead. The American from Pasadena, California finished with 13 points and 4 dimes in 14 minutes. “I just followed coaches lead. He told me I would go in the second quarter and be aggressive. I cheered on the team and then came in and added a quick burst of energy. I just try to be as efficient as possible. That is the most important thing for me. I had so much fun out there. I love Germany”, stressed Jordan Hill. Ibbenburen continued to be in control getting a bucket from German Philipp Lennartz, a 20 footer from Jordan Hill and a lay in from Jan Treichel who had began his career in Vechta and were looking at a very comfortable 32-21 lead. This was the moment where the game could of turned very sour for the Dragons Rhondorf as their defense was failing. However Bruno Albrecht who is a vicious defender and takes it very personal when he gets beat took over as if it was a title game. He led his team on a big 13-0 run as he scored 11 points. His defense sparked the offense. He made 3 steals in a row which led to 2 instant baskets. He also sunk free throws and hit a pretty step back in your face trey to tie the game. He then gave Rhondorf their first lead of the game with free throws 35-32. “My job isn´t to score every time, but give the team what it needs at that moment. I get steals and hit three´s and be aggressive. In the second quarter I stepped up. It´s just hard to do that the whole game”, reflected Bruno Albrecht. In the last few minutes both teams exchanged baskets and leads as Del Hoyo scored and Paul Albrecht hit a nice hook shot. German Tim Kosel who entered the game with 88 Regionalliga games played and does many things you don´t see on the stat sheet made a lay in giving Ibbenburen the 38-37 half-time lead. “Bruno Albrecht turned the game around being aggressive on the ball and Ibbenburen couldn´t get into their plays. Rhondorf got easy baskets and back into the game. Jordan Hill gave his own impact on the game”, reflected ex Telekom Baskets Bonn press secretary Joerg Baehren. Ibbenburen continued to shoot out the lights being at 64% from the field and 60% from the three point line while Rhondorf continued to struggle from downtown at 16%. Ibbenburen continued to have the advantage on the glass 13-10.
In the third quarter, no club could escape as the game was tight and no club could lead by more than 5 points. There were also 8 lead changes as well. Rhondorf climbed out to the 46-42 lead as they got some key baskets from ex Leverkusen guard Jacob Engelhardt, Paul Albrecht and Bruno Albrecht. Every time when Rhondorf scored, Ibbenburen also had an answer. Ibbenburen got key baskets from Benjamin Fumey and Marcel Schroeder to cut the Rhondorf lead to 51-49. Rhondorf just didn´t have comfortableness on offense that Ibbenburen had and gave up the lead again as little used Jordan Hill displayed his efficiency nailing a trey for the 52-51 advantage. Barga continued to be aggressive with his drive and scored upping the guests lead to 54-51. Ibbenburen stayed calm and executed with their many weapons while Rhondorf was playing their hearts out, but inexperience led to more mistakes. German Mark Kotieno who had been quiet in the game and also had some misfortune on plays came up big in this phase with back to back buckets giving Rhondorf the 55-54 advantage. But Fumey and Hill continued to execute tying the game at 58-58. Ibbenburen closed out the third quarter with Del Hoyo scoring twice leading 62-58. “We had too many turnovers which allowed them to hang around”, stressed Jordan Hill. “They are a very good team and always had the right answer”, added Bruno Albrecht.
Ibbenburen would never relinquish the lead against the Dragons Rhondorf as they continued to fight but just couldn´t get over the hump. Just like in the third quarter, Ibbenburen continued to always have good answers available when Rhondorf threatened. De Olveira and Engelhardt scored key baskets to cut Ibbenburen´s lead to 67-65, but Ibbenburen had another perfect answer ready going on a 5-0 run as Del Hoyo scored and Hill made a steal and left handed lay in for the 72-65 advantage. Bruno Albrecht continued to play out his heart as he made big play after big play in another comeback attempt. First he made a touch down pass to De Olveira for the easy lay in and then made a lay in waiting until Fumey committed and then made a free throw getting his team back to 72-70. But Ibbenburen continued to be aggressive as Fumey continued to be a one man wrecking crew inside scoring 6 points as Rhondorf continued to make mistakes trailing 78-72. After a De Olveira free throw, the Dragons were behind by 5 points, but then came the game closer as they couldn´t get 5 defensive rebounds as Tim Kosel made the put back on the team´s 5th try leading 80-73. That pretty much slammed the door shut on Rhondorf as they had no gas left. Ibbenburen closed out the game with a 7-0 run to win 87-73. Fumey scored again and Kosel and Barga nailed free throws. “Our experience was huge at the end and we had guys stepping up. That play by Kosel was huge. We were playing volley ball and they couldn´t get rebounds. We fought hard and finished plays”, added Jordan Hill. “You can´t let a small player like Kosel get the basket on the 5th try. We should have boxed out better. We just couldn´t hit our three´s today which cost us”, added Bruno Albrecht. The Bringiton Ballers Ibbenburen were led by Benjamin Fumey with 22 points. Albert Del Hoyo added 14 points and Jordan Hill had 13 points. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Bruno Albrecht and Gabriel De Olveira with 21 points a piece. Ibbenburen shot 57% from the field and 56% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 19 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 41% from the field and 18% from outside and had 22 rebounds and 14 turnovers.
The date was Feb 29, 2020 and the Dragons Rhondorf had destroyed the hapless ETB Wohnbau Baskets by 39 points 102-63 as the team had found it´s self despite losing their star player Curtis Hollis 6 weeks earlier. The club was still strong without Hollis and with one game to go at number 1 team RheinStars Cologne March 7th, fans were already a step ahead and thinking and dreaming about the Regionalliga playoffs and returning back to the Pro B. However nothing of that happened as COVID-19 appeared and shut down so many things in society including sporting events. The 19-20 season was soon cancelled and the extreme “What could have been thoughts” occupied everyone and instead of finishing the season, taking a break and forming a new roster, the Dragons Rhondorf like so many other clubs had to see where their future journey would go. Rhondorf continued to get the support of their co-operations partner Telekom Baskets Bonn, but still the off season was a strange one as the transfer market for many clubs began later. The Dragons Rhondorf actually did get active signing German players early and keeping young prospects all through the summer, but everyone was wondering who and when would the import arrive? In early September I visited a test game in Koblenz and observed a shocking win over the favorite Koblenz who have a roster this season filled with talent and depth that could win it all in the Pro B. After the grind out defensive victory, I asked head coach coach Julius Thomas when the American would come. “We will be playing without an import this season. If we have problems in the season then we might have to sign an import”, warned head coach Julius Thomas. In the Regionalliga many teams live by their imports usually Americans. In the last 3 years the Dragons Rhondorf were fortunate to have gems like Kameron Taylor, Zygimantas Riauka and Curtis Hollis that carried the team in good and bad moments. There have been teams that have gotten by without an imports like Deutz, but most teams don´t risk it. Instead the Dragons Rhondorf will rely on young players with very little experience. Only one player Paul Albrecht is older than young head coach Julius Thomas. The rest are young, flexible, motivated and hungry players wanting to prove their worth while some others want to keep developing as players. Can an extreme youth movement give the Dragons Rhondorf success in 2020-2021? This could be a very risky experiment. “I think it can be risky to say that we want to finish the season at a certain spot. We want to play hard each game and keep improving. We have a very young team, but it is very talented. We want to give our young talents a chance on the big stage. This is worth the risk”, warned Dragons head coach Julius Thomas.
Last season the Dragons Rhondorf had the best offense in the Regionalliga West averaging 95 points per game and on some nights really dazzled the home town fans with an abundance of points eclipsing the 100 point mark 10 times. They were filled with offensive power and also the needed overwhelming experience at the point guard position with Anish Sharda and Enric Garrido Foz who were both 37 years of age. Their biggest weak point last season was their defense where they allowed 80 points or more in 18 games. The shoot outs are a very risky and dangerous way to live on the basketball court, but the Dragons Rhondorf simply were a way better offensive team than defensive team and were sometimes lucky that they were able to score more than what they gave up. Dragons associate head coach Yassin Idbihi has been known to have said that last seasons defense was the worst ever, but this season the club wants to make amends and play a lot better defense. Last season the club lived by gambling a lot, but had little consistency. They hope that it will be different this season. “We want to have more rules in the way we defend. We will gamble less and stopping the drive to the hoop will be essential. Clogging the lane each game will be vital for our success”, stated Dragons head coach Julius Thomas. On paper the club has a lot less fire power than last season, but will hope that they will be bale to live by their athleticism on the offensive end. “We want to play fast this season and give Paul Albrecht many touches. We will live by the short roles(pick and pop). We will have more structure than last season and play more team basketball. Good for grades”, stressed head coach Julius Thomas.
The Dragons Rhondorf kept a slew of players but also have added some new faces to help bolster the roster. Key players from last season Killian Binapfl(15,7ppg, 5,9rpg, 2,9apg) and Gabriel Olverira(17,4ppg, 6,6rpg, 1,6apg) remain, but it has already been communicated that they will have more of a role with easyCredit BBL team Telekom baskets Bonn which most likely hamper and cut down their appearances in the Regionalliga. The club also held a second talented big man with 20 year old Marek Kotieno(8,8ppg, 4,5rpg) who made big strides last season after averaging only 2/2 in the Pro B with Wolfenbuettel in 2018-2019. He will have a bigger and more central role this season. He could easily get the minutes De Olveira had last season and flourish. The team also kept 18 year old multi talented German/Lithuanian Simonas Lukosius who averaged 8,6ppg, 2,5rpg and 2,8rpg and shot a blistering 48% from the parking lot. This young gun could become another vital scoring option this season. “We want him to slip into being an impact player. He showed last season what he can do and deserves a bigger role this season”, stated head coach Julius Thomas. The team also kept Pal Ghotra who played only 6 games last season averaging 6,8ppg. The club hopes that they will be able to profit more from his shooting this season. The team also brought back huge 16 year old talent Ousmane Ndiye from Senegal. He goes to school up the road from the Dragon Dome at Hagershof and outside the classroom continues to work on his game. He played 4 games last season at age 15 and showed a lot of potential. His game reminds one of Kevin Durant and he is ranked second best for his age in Europe. “He will get touches and the shots he needs. He will get the freedom to make mistakes. He will be allowed to show exactly what he has to offer”, stressed head coach Julius Thomas.
The rest of the roster is filled with new players. The organization picked up 6 new players. The club gained the most experience with 27 year old Paul Albrecht who brings 162 Pro A games and 49 Pro B experience to Rhondorf. The ex U-20 German national player will have to provide scoring, but he will also offer something else vital. “We want to him to be more active inside”, stressed assistant coach Julius Thomas. The German ex Artland Dragons makes everyone around him better on the court. The club also brought in young talented Bruno Albrecht who began his career in Chemnitz, but last played in Ehingen playing 12 Pro A games and averaged 19,0ppg in the NBBL. He is a good playmaker that will get important minutes with the team. The club also brought in 23 year old Jacob Engelhardt who helped Leverkusen win the 2019 Pro B title. The pass first point guard is another guy who will play a vital role in the organization of the offense. Another newcomer is highly talented 17 year old Serb Nikola Petojevic who already turned heads in exhibition games. This is his first time in Germany hand and is the hardest worker on the team and doesn´t shy away from contact. Another new player for the Dragons this season is 18 year old 200cm German Clint Schonheiter. He won the 2019 NBBL title with FC Bayern Munich and last season played NBBL with IBAM(International Basketball Academy Munich). He didn´t play much the last 2 years, but that should change this season. The strong pick and roll defender is another player that won´t shy away from banging inside. Another new player is 19 year old 198cm guard Oshane Drews who already played Pro B with Stahnsdorf as a 16 year old averaging 6,7ppg. He last played NBBL with Braunschweig and will dazzle you with his fine 1-1 skills and has that dynamic fast break game that reminds you of Killian Binapfl.
This years Dragons Rhondorf club is very young and will feature an average age of only 20 years. The goals of the club are ambitious and the expectations are high, because the club has indentified that the talent is there. There are many talented and strong clubs in the Regionalliga West and the Dragons won´t step away from anyone. I think like with any young team that there will be growing pains, but this is a special bunch of guys with some having been off the radar´s of many clubs. Now it is there stage to step up and demonstrate what they have to offer. They have a lot of motivation and strong will to defend and want to be successful in that area. The offense is one of the question marks. Can they score enough to win games? A big part of the success will be just how involved the 4 double license players will be. Obviously a Paul Albrecht has to carry the team through out the season, but also the expectations will be high for guys like Marek Kotieno and Simonas Lukosius to have severe break out seasons. “We will concentrate on transition, making quick passes on offense and toughness will be our identity especially on defense. We want to be the toughest team in every game. We want to play with the teams at the top”, warned head coach Julius Thomas. Nothing is what it was like before COVID-19 and that is the same with the Dragons Rhondorf. They are a totally different club from last season. Just as much as Covid-19 surprised the whole world, the same is with the Dragons Rhondorf. If they get some breaks here and there, then they could surprise many in their quest to be successful this season.
After having to pay his dues in the German Pro B with the RheinStars in 2018-2019 and beginning 2019-2020 in Cyprus, Tucker Haymond finally got his first real professional basketball break when he was signed by Pro A team FC Schalke in January 2020. First came the tragic death of Kobe Bryant which could have been a bad omen for what was about to come, but the American fought through the tough loss and really proved that he could ball at the Pro A level. The Seattle, Washington native was just getting heated up in the German Pro A and then COVID-19 hit the world the way ex New York Jet legend Mark Gastineau did opposing quarterbacks back in the day and wiped out his season. After experiencing so much hard ship beginning the last season in Cyprus, then leaving and working out in Cologne and having to have a soar body every morning after a night on the floor and then living through the reality of the passing of Kobe Bryant, he finally was rewarded for all his neverending effort with a contract with FC Schalke. He had misfortune coming to a losing team, but he made the best of it putting up very respectable stats. Then his season ended abruptly due to COVID-19 and he had to live a new life like the rest of world having to deal with new challenges each day and finding a way to keep in shape and taking on the difficult search of finding a new team in hard times. “ Last season was definitely one to remember. There was a lot of ups and downs but I believe it made me a lot better because of it. I was able to become very comfortable with being uncomfortable and not knowing what else was next, but only staying positive and controlling what I can control which is preparation and mindset. Kobe Passing was really hard for me, he was a huge inspiration to me. Everything that happened last season has prepared me to be even better on and off the court, physically and mentally this upcoming season”, stressed Tucker Haymond. The idea of taking pen and paper and writing a book about his crazy season isn´t so unrealistic. At least he has found a way to document the past 12 months. “I thankfully actually recorded a lot of footage during this last year in the travel from country to country and how I was living, what I was doing every day in trying my best to stay ready for an opportunity. I will be making a short film to put out just to kind of give a more behind the scenes look at what happened last year, so my friends and family can see how different the overseas basketball lifestyle can really be, but why I love it so much”, stated Tucker Haymond.
It´s September 2020, but let´s rewind back to February 2020 when Tucker Haymond was playing out his heart with Pro A team FC Schalke. Just like most other players when the American who played at Western Michigan(NCAA) first heard about COVID-19, he thought the rumors were fake and nothing would come of it. But then within 48 hours everything changed and he was back on a plane on his way home. Having to end the season was on no players menu and just was a tough pill to swallow. “It was very unfortunate, especially in my situation for just having signed to Schalke and shortly after the virus shutting everything down. However, I know it was for a reason that was for everyone´s safety. Which is more important than sports. I know I would have been able to continue to improve my performances throughout the rest of the season and win games with Schalke, however I’m just glad that the proper decisions were made and everyone was able to remain safe with their families during the very unusual times”, stressed Tucker Haymond. FC Schalke had a tough season finishing in 16th place with a record of 8-19 when Corona hit and under normal circumstances would be playing in cities like Bochum and Itzehoe of the Pro B, but instead was allowed to remain in the pPo A on account of COVID-19. “My short time in Schalke was very good, I feel like we were just starting to get used to playing with each other with the addition of me to the team. I felt like we improved every game and had really started playing well. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t see what our future held with each other”, remembered Tucker Haymond. In the short time where the American was there who won the G-League title in 2018 with the Austin Torros, the club went 1-4, but lost some tough games like a nail bitter to Nurnberg 83-81. Haymond is more than convinced that had he been on board sooner, things could have happened in a more positive light. “I do believe that things could have been different, I noticed our game play and style forming together in the short time we were there. Even with small changes to teams with new players, it adds a whole new dynamic to a team and can be just the thing that filled in a small gap. I think we could have won games together. My teammates and coaches were very talented, I enjoyed playing with and for them”, warned Tucker Haymond. Despite having some hard times not winning as much, he did form nice new relationships on and off the court. He gelled especially well with the powerful guard duo of Belger and Newkirk and enjoyed playing with big man Adam Touray. “I loved playing with CB and Var, they made the game easier for everyone else. I think it was very difficult for teams to guard us with those two drawing a lot of attention. It made decision making for everyone else on the court easier because the teams really focused in on them a lot because they were very crafty with the ball, and amazing scorers! Adam was someone that every person wants on their team. He played hard every possession, and did his job every time. You could count on Adam to have your back and to do what you knew he was capable of. He was the ultimate professional, and was a great teammate. Its no surprise to me that he signed in the BBL. I think he has a bright future ahead of him for sure”, added Tucker Haymond.
The 26 year old 198cm shooting guard who on some nights can shoot out the lights in any gym in the world had the most contact to his friend NFL player defensive end Daeshon Hall of the Philadelphia Eagles during COVID-19 looks back fondly on his short stay in Gelsenkirchen. Despite all the turmoil he went through prior to coming to Gelsenkirchen, it all came together there for him as he was mentally prepared. In 5 games he averaged 16,2ppg, 3,2rpg, 2,6apg and shot 41% from outside. “I think that everything that I went through prepared me for last season, as well as future seasons. Going through what I went through really just made me hungry and ready for an opportunity. I had days where I thought I was not going to be signed, I started to look at flights back to America. But I never stopped working hard. The day I got the call, I had literally 1 day left on my stay in my AirBnb. I kept my bags at my friends house and my wife and I travelled across Europe to tryout for Heidelberg, I had nowhere to stay after that. I stayed in a hotel then traveled to Schalke to tryout, living in the hotel there and played my heart out because I knew those were my only chances to continue my career or I had to go home because there was nowhere for me to live. I´m blessed I was able to earn an opportunity and it was inspired me to take full advantage of every opportunity in life. And to never give up, because on the final day, your opportunity can show up”, stressed Tucker Haymond. The year before he led the German Pro B in scoring with the RheinStars Cologne averaging (22.5ppg), 6.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 44.4%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 80.7% and had no problems adjusting to the Pro A, but saw a difference in both leagues. “ I think the biggest difference was just depth of teams. Teams are very talented with a lot more imports and the talent of the Germans is very good, to be honest the level of talent between imports and locals was back and forth through the different teams and very even. I have a big amount of respect for Pro A basketball and the teams”, answered Tucker Haymond. He has always been known as being a sniper and when you have those goods, you can be successful everywhere, but you have to still put in the work. “I think just having teammates around me that made me better in all aspects of basketball really helped me. My coaches put me in great positions to be successful. Also when working out in Cologne I would shot on the shooting machine and shoot sometimes over 1000 shots a day, going to the gym twice a day”, expressed Tucker Haymond. It wasn´t only his scoring and shooting that stuck out in the Pro A, but his total game profited in the higher league. “I think that in Pro A my versatility improved. I was able to play many different roles and positions. During my time in Schalke I was able to play positions 1-4 and facilitate, make my teammates better, as well as execute when it was in the offense for me to be aggressive. The play style and my teammates/coaches fit me perfectly”, commented Tucker Haymond. He listed Rhondell Goodwin from Bremerhaven as his toughest opponent in the Pro A and will always remember wearing the FC Schalke jersey. “-I actually really enjoyed Gelsenkirchen. It was different than Cologne, and very different then Seattle. But I really enjoyed my time there. Everything was very close, and I really enjoyed being able to use Medicos facilities every day. It was an amazing time to be able to play for Schalke, as well as use such an amazing facility”, remembered Tucker Haymond.
The American who won the MAC tournament in 2014 with Western Michigan returned home to Seattle in March 2020 and had to get used to a totally new way of life knowing that he had to keep staying in shape and finding a way to keep working on his basketball skills. “Life has been very different in America. You don’t go anywhere without seeing someone wearing a mask, which never ever happened here. There are still a lot of places that are shut down because of the virus, the whole summer we couldn’t eat at restaurants and fitness centers were closed. It was definitely difficult for athletes to remain fit and continue to prepare for this upcoming season. I know professional basketball players that haven’t been able to play on an indoor court since last season”, said Tucker Haymond. Being able to train the way he wanted to was a real challenge, but there is always a way to overcome the odds if you go out and just want to train, it will work. “My off season training consisted of a lot of dribbling at home and outside. I went weeks where I had no access to a hoop and all I had was a ball. Now that things have started to open back up, I practice basketball 6 days a week, and do strength and conditioning 3/4 days a week. I am in the best physical fitness of my life because I have had so much time to really focus and invest in my body. I´m more ready than ever to get back to playing because I know this is the hardest I’ve ever worked”, stressed Tucker Haymond. The American had enough area´s of his game to work on this summer and believes that he was able to progress with his game. “This Summer I really focused on my physical fitness and my body, ball handling, and shooting. I feel like I´m really a new version of myself that even I have never seen before. Every day after workouts I continue to get more excited to play games because I feel like it will be a lot more fun with all the new things I have learned. For me this is the biggest summer I’ve ever had In terms of overall growth. Physical and mental. I have never made this much progress with my body before, I have taken my diet and how I take care of my body very seriously, and I notice a HUGE difference. My plans are to make this my new lifestyle so that I can remain fit and healthy for the rest of my career. I have lost almost 10 KG and am stronger than I have ever been! I´m ready”, stated Tucker Haymond.
Besides worrying about staying in shape and getting in enough time for basketball skills, he also has had to stay on the ball with finding a new club for this season. His German agency Athleadz have been hard at work trying to find the best fit for him, but like for so many other players around the globe, COVID-19 hasn´t made the search easy. “The transfer period has been very different, it has definitely been challenging because of all the unknowns of what will happen. I knew it was going to be a very special off season due to Covid and me only being able to play 5 games. The only thing I have stayed focused on is making sure I am physically and mentally ready for whenever I get the call. I know I can’t focus or worry on things I can’t control, I´m just very excited for when I´m able to play again. I miss Germany”, warned Tucker Haymond. He who lists Luka Doncic as the best point guard in the NBA enjoyed the Pro A, but doesn´t see himself still being without a team on account of not playing many Pro A games as the reason. “I think that teams are making decisions that they think are best for their teams, I respect the people who make decisions because their job is not easy. This is a very difficult season for them to choose players for many reasons, and I understand their pain. I know there is someone out there with their eye on me, and I have to focus on staying ready for when opportunity is the right one for me. I loved Pro A and the competitiveness. Can’t wait to see where I will end up and be able to compete for wins!”, warned Tucker Haymond. One realizes quickly that Tucker Haymond really misses having that week to week competitive edge and just wants to play basketball again. Playing anywhere and winning titles is at the top of the menu for him now. “I love Germany and everything about it. If I was able to play there for the rest of my career I would be very happy!!! To be honest, I am willing to do whatever it takes to win. Doesn’t matter what level that is at, I want to be a part of a championship. If that means I play 30 seconds or 30 minutes, I’m Okay with that. If I score 0 points, or 30 points, I´ll be just as happy either way with a win. I have been a part of championship teams before with the Spurs and WMU, and I have been able to adapt to many different roles to achieve a championship. I just want to win, and will do whatever it takes, no matter the cost”, warned Tucker Haymond. All the American needs now is a new team and then he could delay his best seller a bit and add a possible title to 2021 to help spice up his book
Corey Raley-Ross is a 28 year old 193cm guard from Charlotte, North Carolina that has three professional seasons under his belt and this season played with KB Bashkimi Prizren (Kosovo-Superliga) averaging 18,7ppg, 6,4rpg, 3,9apg and 2,0spg. Last season he played with C.B. Aridane (Spain-EBA) playing 30 games averaging 15.9ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 71.1% In the 2017-2018 season he played with CB Virgen de la Concha Innova Chef (Spain-EBA) playing 28 games averaging 18.3ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 57.0%, 3PT: 41.4%,FT: 64.8%. As a rookie he played for TTU Korvpalliklubi Tallinn (Estonia-Alexela KML) playing 28 games averaging 6.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 30.4%,FT: 63.6%; and played 9 Baltic League games averaging 8.7ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 11.1%, FT: 76.0%. He played at Buffalo (NCAA) from 2010-2014 playing 59 games. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Corey thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
Thanks for the opportunity! I’m currently in Charlotte, NC gearing up for the 2020-21 season. The summer was unconventional as we know but great. I’m thankful that I was able to prepare the way I wanted considering the rules and regulations.
You played your fourth professional season with KB Bashkimi Prizren (Kosovo-Superliga) playing 22 games averaging 18.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.9apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 57.4%, 3PT: 28.4%, FT: 81.4%. You’re currently unsigned. How different has this summer’s transfer been and what has been the biggest challenge about finding the right fit this year?
This year’s transfer market is intriguing. I’m aware that there are many great players like myself without jobs at the moment. As for me it’s humbling. However, it gives me more time to prepare mentally and physically so my outlook is positive.The right fit will present itself at the right time, hopefully sooner than later.
How tough was it for you for the season to abruptly end in March 2020? You had won 5 of your last 6 games. How much of that ‘what if’ feeling was on your mind this summer?
I let it go as the season ended. What if’s are only hypotheticals. Though, we were surging as a team picking up steam for the playoffs. I thought we all believed that we could win the championship. That was the end goal from Day one.
How did you experience the whole COVID-19 crisis back home in the States. What was most challenging about life and basketball?
I was fortunate with the whole Covid-19 experience. My brother was playing in China so he was always a month or two ahead of what was happening on our side of the world. This allowed me to move accordingly. Also, I was able to work through my family business that gave me unlimited access to sports facilities. On the flip side the biggest uncertainty was how this season would unfold.
How challenging was it for you to stay in shape and work on your basketball skills in the last 6 months? Did you come up with some new unique exercises to compensate the loss of gym time?
It wasn’t hard at all! I’m blessed to train with a group of professionals throughout the summer. Essentially, I’ve been in optimal shape for some time now. I’m always innovative in my approach to training. This summer I focused more on injury prevention, stability and balance as unique exercises.
How did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man? It has challenged me immensely. Mainly to stay the course, capture my goals and create new ones.
Let’s talk about your last season. You played in the Kosovo Superliga. How would you compare that league in skill to the leagues you played in in Estonia, Germany and Spain?
There are very talented players in all leagues. Being a middle tier European league, Kosovo is most similar to Estonia. It was very competitive. Competing against Fiba Cup teams, Balkan League, and VTB teams is more my flavor.
You averaged 18.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.9apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 57.4%, 3PT: 28.4%, FT: 81.4%. and was top 10 in scoring. Were you content with your personal season?
I’m never content. Hindsight we could have won more games with better preparation, and I don’t feel that my 3pt percentage reflected well on how good of a shooter I’ve become. I believe that I can perform at a higher level, without a doubt.
Your stats were similar to what you put up in Spain a few years ago. Which season do you feel was your better one?
I’d take my season in Kosovo (Superliga) any day of the year. I performed in a much stronger league and we won more games!
How tough was the 93-91 loss to Feronikeli where you put up 32 points? Was this a game that you remembered into the summer?
This game was hard to swallow! I had a chance to win it and couldn’t deliver for my team. No worries, we returned the favor when we matched up with them again.
A year ago you really worked on your three point shooting, but wasn’t rewarded in Kosovo shooting only 28%. How much does a stat like that annoys you?
It’s encouraging. It’s a goal to shoot in the high 30s and 40s as a basketballer. For me it’s routine. As long as I’m confident and shooting quality shots for the team I have no doubt that they will eventually fall.
How do you believe you grew as a player in Kosovo? Do you feel like you improved in a certain aspect of your game?
I grew mentally a lot. First I had to make my imprint on the team. Gain my team’s trust, and then lead by example. That’s in practice, the weight room and off the court. I like to think that improving mentally allowed me to become a better leader and grow in every other area as well.
On what things did you focus on most this summer in helping you continue to improve your game?
My focus was primarily improving my skill and durability. Specifically IQ, decision making, efficiency and training regiment. My work habits changed and as a result I’ve taken my game to a new level.
You’re a basketball junkie who constantly is watching basketball. Did you follow a bit more the NBA in Orlando? What do you watch more there than when you were watching the 2019 World Cup?
The ‘Bubble’ so they call it has been great to watch. It’s RAW and uncut. There aren’t any distractions, just players playing for themselves and their teams.I appreciate more how they’ve used their platform for social reform. This is the underlying issue after all.
In our interview a year ago you stated this in terms of how you could help any team now. ‘I believe I can help any team with my knowledge of the game, positive energy, athletic ability, defensive prowess; guarding 94 feet, defending multiple positions, play-making ability, shot-making ability, being accountable and by leading by example’. Is there anything new that you can add to that?
At this very moment, more experience. I’m excited for the next challenge
Who was the toughest American player that you battled in Kosovo?
There were two! My teammates Terick Bridgeman and Stevie Clark. Both of these guys like myself received accolades throughout the league. They challenged me every day to improve hence is why I felt so strongly about winning the championship. They are two guys who can take their careers where they believe!!!
You have been in Europe 4 years and saw the rise of Luka Doncic. Is it just ignorance or why can’t certain well known NBA figures accept how great this guy is?
It’s ignorance not to accept how good he is. And I’m not so sure if there’s anyone who doesn’t. His flare and court savvy is unmatched. Not to mention his age. All I can say is that the future of basketball is in good hands with him and a crop of other young players performing at an extremely high level. All in all, he’s a joy to watch.
Which 2 teams will reach the 2020 NBA final and who will win?
Lakers and Heat. The Lakers will take the championship!!!
What was the last movie that you saw?
Tenet!!! It’s a must watch.!!!!Thanks for the interview.
Kyle Hines is a 34 year old 198cm power forward from Sicklerville, New Jersey that completed his seventh season with CSKA Moscow averaging 8,8ppg, 4,9rpg and 1,4apg in the Euroleague and 5,9ppg, 4,6rpg and 1,6apg in the VTB league. He recently signed with AX Armani Exchnage Milan after winning 2 Euroleague titles and 6 VTB titles with CSKA Moscow. He also won his first title with his new Italian squad beating Virtus Bologna 75-68 to clinch the Supercoppa title. He played at NC-Greensboro (NCAA) from 2004-2008. In his senior year, he played 31 games averaging 19.2ppg, 9.1rpg, 1.4apg, 1.8spg, 3.1bpg, FGP: 55.6%, 3Pts: 12.5%, FT: 62.8%. He was invited to play at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 17.3ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.3apg, 2.3spg, 3.3bpg, FGP: 78.6%, FT: 72.7%. He then had pre draft workouts with Sacramento Kings and the Charlotte Bobcats (NBA). In 2009, he took part in the Orlando Pro Summer League (Oklahoma City Thunder). In 2009-2010, he stayed in Italy with Prima Veroli (Italy-Lega2) playing 40 games averaging 18.5ppg, 8.1rpg, Steals-2 (3.5spg), Blocks-4 (1.6bpg), FGP-3 (64.0%), 3PT: 18.8%, FT: 57.8%. He played NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (New Orleans Hornets) in the summer of 2010.In 2010-2011 he played for the Brose Baskets Bamberg (Germany-1.Bundesliga) playing 10 Euroleague games averaging 12.9ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 64.3%, FT: 46.7%; and in the German League played 46 games averaging 10.4ppg, 4.6rpg, Blocks-3 (1.2bpg), FGP-3 (61.1%), 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 52.4%. He won the double with Bamberg. He played for Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1) from 2011-2013 winning two Euroleague titles. germanhoops.com conducted it’s 20th interview with him earlier in the summer during the COVID-19 period.
Thanks Kyle for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is your current mood with all the drama going on in the States?
I’m home right now in New Jersey. There is really a lot going on at the moment. Every one is dealing with the COVID-19 and social distancing as well as with the economy and how that will keep going. In the last week we have been seeing a lot of the racial protests. 2020 has been a very trying time that has impacted so many lives. All we can do is stay positive and worry about what we can control.
While most basketball seasons were cancelled in Europe, you remained longer in Russia waiting to hear if the Euroleague would start up again. When did you leave Russia and did it surprise you that the whole Covid-19 got worse after it didn’t have much of an effect at the start?
I have been home a while now. It has been about 2 months. My family and I left before they closed the boarders. We felt it would be better to be home just in case a loved one got sick. I have a yard here and my kids have a lot more space. I think the reason it didn’t spread right away at the start in Russia was because people thought that it was under control, but it really wasn’t. The Russians have been affected greatly by the COVID-19. CSKA lost it’s doctor. It is really sad. I feel for my Russian teammates who are going through COVID-19 now.
How disappointed are you that the Euroleague season was cancelled. Why was the overall fear of the players to play this tournament so great? In Germany the players had nothing to say as the league and teams decided on playing the season. Do you feel like if the players wouldn’t have had a say that you might be playing Euroleague now?
I feel that the Euroleague did a great job in including the players in their decision. The Euroleague showed that it was a leader unlike many of the other leagues who are old fashioned and dictate the players and doesn’t allow them to speak. The players have their mind and the right to voice their opinion, because they are the ones effected. The Euroleague listened to the players which was a good thing. The players respected the competition and felt that if they had played that they wouldn’t have presented a good competition. We didn’t want to have that situation where the winner would be decided over which teams had access to a gym and not. There were a lot of teams like us that couldn’t practice. We thought not playing out the season was the best route. We also thought that we didn’t know how COVID-19 would play out if we didn’t have all the information. There were too many players that had been stuck in their apartments for 8 weeks and didn’t want to risk injury.
How great is your ‘what would of happened’ feeling knowing that you will never know how CSKA would have finished in the Euroleague. How much does this put a damper on your season?
I think that every player has this question on their mind. For me having to end the season this way really sucks. Especially now that I’m leaving the club for Milan. I will never have that opportunity to have been able to defend our title. I would have had a chance to close out my CSKA career the right way. I think that every player will be asking that question ‘what if’ for a long time.
What is your summary of the CSKA season? You were a surprising second in the VTB and 4th in the Euroleague. Did the club underachieve?
I mean it’s hard to rate our season when we had no conclusion to it. I feel that right when COVID-19 hit we were starting to play our best basketball of the season. We had celebrated big wins on the road against Panathinaikos and Lok Kuban. We were struggling early on in the season as we were still feeling each other out. It was that time of year during March-June where teams want to reach their peak. Having to end the season like this is a very hard pill to swallow.
How have you lived day to day at home with COVID-19. Are you shocked how Americans have been treating the Coronavirus or have the Americans become more disciplined with time?
It’s difficult to say, because each state has different rules and different laws concerning COVID-19. I live in the New York/New Jersey area which was one of the worst area’s that were hit. We followed the rules as best we could and have stayed home. The best way to fight it is to limit your contact with others.
You spent time in Russia and also in the states during COVID-19. How do you feel have you gotten stronger as a man in these difficult times?
COVID-19 has changed my perspective on life in general. When COVID-19 came nobody knew how it would play out. In a period of 1-2 weeks, life changed for everyone. People lost family, lost their jobs or were infected. So many people were going through so many issues. I learned that you have to enjoy the moment. I think that people in general look at the past or future, but forget the moment. My wife and I like to say ‘We win today’. I think that it’s important to do as much as possible each day with your loved ones.
How difficult is it being an American at the moment? The senseless murder of George Floyd has put American upside down. How have you experienced the last week and what has been the most difficult thing for you in this time to see happening?
Being a black man in America today isn’t easy. I think that the rest of the world have taken notice of this senseless murder and see what we are dealing with now and have been for many years. This has put a spotlight on our culture. I am fortunate that I live in an area where this isn’t as prominent, but there are other places where this type of thing happens every day. It is a difficult video to watch, but the rest of the world have gotten a glimpse of what blacks deal with. I’m very happy that people have come together around the world to unite and try to help stop this. I hope that more people will fight against racism all over the world.
If it was easy then Racism would have been solved many years ago. Why do you feel can’t we live in a world where every skin color is 100% accepted?
That is the million dollar question. This is the question that all human beings that try to figure out for the test of time. I really wish that I knew that answer. All I can do is spread awareness and educate my kids and community. This is a huge goal of mine. The only way to fight the injustice of racism is to educate people.
The German BBL will finish their season with a 10 team tournament in Munich. Ratiopharm Ulm German legend Per Guenther who you have played against has stated he will pay the first 10,000 euro in player fines should players get involved with making some kind of protest during the tournament. Do you think that these could happen with the influx of Americans that are taking part in the tournament?
Not only Americans, but we have seen protests all over the world. I tip my hat off to Per Guenther for taking a leadership role. The BBL still have an old fashioned mentality not allowing players to have a voice. This is an important issue. Why can’t they allow players to express their feelings in this matter?
Congrats on signing with AX Armani Exchange Milan. Do you feel like if COVID-19 hadn’t happened that you would have remained in with CSKA Moscow?
I honestly don’t know. For me leaving and going to Milan had nothing to do with CSKA Moscow. It was a decision solely made by me. I wanted a new challenge. I’m coming near to the end of my career and before I walk away, I wanted to have one more new experience. Milan allowed me to have that experience. I will be reunited with my old coach and former teammates. I think this new opportunity is great for me.
Is COVID-19 part of the reason for the move to Milan? CSKA Moscow lost millions and most likely couldn’t pay you anymore
That wasn’t the case. Making the decision to join Milano had nothing to do with money. I wanted to have a new experience and do something different.
How tough was it making the decision to leave CSKA Moscow. Did it give you some sleepless nights?
It was definitely a very tough decision to make. If you would have asked me 7-10 days ago about what I would do, I would have said I would be preparing for another season with CSKA Moscow. I wasn’t seriously thinking of leaving. But once I sat down and took deep thoughts and weighed what was best for my family, I knew that it was a decision that I had to make. It is tough to leave after 7 years and being captain. We had a life there and had friends. It wasn’t easy to walk away.
You played 7 seasons for CSKA Moscow. The memories must be endless as you won 2 Euroleague titles and 6 VTB titles. How did the 7 seasons with CSKA Moscow shape you as a player and person?
My 7 years with CSKA Moscow changed me completely as a player and person. I arrived at CSKA Moscow at age 26 and was a single man. I left married with 2 kids. CSKA Moscow made me more mature as a player and man. I was able to be able to work with a great coach with Dimitris Itoudis. He helped me see and understand the game. The organization wanted me to step out of my comfort zone when I got there. When I got there, I was quiet and laid back. They wanted me to be a leader and more vocal in the locker room. The club helped me become a better player and person.
How did Mike James grow as a player with CSKA Moscow? What was it that halted his way back to the NBA and to sign a 3 year deal?
He had his best season as a professional. He was asked to take more of a leadership role this season. CSKA Moscow has this special way to help make players become leaders. He was able to adapt to the system and felt comfortable. Coach Itoudis and him grew together. Key was that coach allowed Mike to be Mike and play his game. This paid huge dividends for the whole club. He also enjoyed being in Moscow and decided to remain. CSKA is like a family that treats all well. He was looking to find a place where he could stay his whole career and found it. CSKA has been a place where guys like De Colo, Langdon, Holden and I have stayed for a long time.
Could Mike James take your role now as the new identity y figure in the making?
I don’t think that I was the identity figure of the team. We always had great players. He will put down his foot print and make his mark with CSKA.
Congrats on with AX Armani Exchange Milan. How key was it for you to sign here knowing you would be reunited with your old coach Ettore Messina?
That was real key and one of the main reasons to come to play for Messina. I knew that Milan would also be an ideal situation, because I had played in Italy before and knew the league. Messina brought me to CSKA and even after he left, we still had a good relationship and remained in contact.
You and your family are very excited to move to Milan. It will be your second time playing for an Italian team. What are you most looking forward to being able to play in the Serie A again?
When I first came to Italy, I played in the second division. It was always my dream to play in Serie A. I remember the great teams then with Milan, Siena, Rome and Treviso. It is almost a full circle in that now I have the chance to finish my career in Serie A.
Milan has 24 team titles. Will the fact that they aren’t a dominant Euroleague team give you an extra motivation to play an incredible season at age 34?
Another reason about going to Milan is the whole aspect of having a new challenge. They haven’t won a league title in a few years and haven’t been to the Euroleague playoffs since 2014 or 2015. I want to help bring a title to Milan and try to bring back the glory years that they once had. It would be a big moment for the club to do that again.
How excited are you to be playing together with ex NBA player Malcolm Delaney and one of the better young players in Europe Shavon Shields. Talk a little about them and your feelings being able to be their teammate?
Messina and management have shown early that they want to build a great balance within the team. They have older guys like Sergio Rodriguez and I that have experience and won titles while also adding younger guys like a Shavon Shields who has had success with Baskonia. I am really excited to get the opportunity to be able to play with them. I will try to help the younger guys grow and help the team come together. Delaney is a proven winner and has won everywhere he has played. He won in Germany with Munich and helped Lok Kuban reach the Euroleague final 4. He has proven that he can play at the Euroleague level. I have been very fortunate to have played with great guards in my career like Brian Roberts, John Goldsberry, Vassilis Spanoulis and Nando de Colo. Now I can add Malcolm Delaney to that list.
Do you feel like you will have that type of role you had with CSKA or do you think Messina might give you a bigger role?
The club is building a balanced team. I will try to help my team win and put them in the best position to win. Whatever they need me to do, I will full fill it. My role has been different each season. I will be prepared to answer the call whenever needed.
What is your plan this summer? The tournament has been cancelled. Will this be a summer with more focus on you’re your work outs and preparation for Milan
At the moment I go day to day. We don’t know when things will open up. I want to get consistently into the gym again. Now I try to stay in shape as much as possible. I am looking forward to getting back on the court. When that happens, then I will be able to make a plan how my training will be.
The NBA will finish their season. Will there be any surprises by teams and what can be expect by the shorter season?
It will be interesting to see how the teams and players come back. They haven’t played in a long time. The NBA will give them enough time to get ready. It will definitely be a different kind of basketball. But at the end of the day it will be basketball. The guys are excited to play again. It will be different, but the fans are excited to have basketball back again.
Almost a year ago John Murry´s annoying calamity began as instead of wearing a smug jersey of the NEW Elephants Grevenbroich (Germany-Regionalliga) during games, instead he was slouching into gym´s in Germany with an expression on his face that could of even scared away the nastiest figures who lurk in the night. After playing only 8 games in his first 2 years of his professional basketball career in Canada and the CBA, the American from Indianapolis came into the 2019-2020 season excited and motivated to finally play his first full season. But instead he suffered a bitter metatarsal fracture that ended his season in preseason and then soon after during his rehab was hit with a second whammy with COVID-19 or was it really a whammy? Obviously getting injured was a massive tough set back for the athletic guard, but he didn´t mope around or hang his head in the sand like an ostrich, but got into a serious rehab mode and worked like mad to come back 100% again. But along the way, the world was hit by COVID-19 which also changed the basketball world as this summer´s transfer period was a lot different than ever before with falling prices. Even if COVID-19 effected the whole world in so many different aspects, the whole crisis actually was a blessing in disguise for him. Plus having the trust from NEW Elephants Grevenbroich (Germany-Regionalliga) manager Hartmut Oehmen didn´t hurt either. “As the world was affected by COVID-19 I was blessed by not being affected with the pandemic, also with the world being in a pandemic, it kind of slowed everything down for me and gave me more time to heal and get back to my old self again. The injury helped me slow my thinking down and study the game, I got smarter in areas where I was weak and got dominant in areas where I was strong. Things WERE NOT difficult for me AT ALL, I prayed and stayed focused on being better every day and before you know it, I was better after my injury than I was before! I am extremely thankful that Hartmut stuck behind me because a lot of people would not have done that. Me and Hartmut have developed a relationship during the time I was hurt and kept in touch while I was in the states. He knew how bad I wanted this opportunity to further my career. I feel like Hartmut appreciates my hard work and dedication to the game, he sees that I work my butt off, from the time I got hurt, until the time I was cleared to get back on the court. I don’t make excuses, nor do I take days for granted, I take full advantage of elevating and getting better at all cost”, warned John Murry.
The 25 year old 192cm guard that began his basketball career at North Central High Schooland then played 2 years at Owens Community College (JUCO) returned back home before COVID-19 struck the world. He didn´t waste anytime and began his comeback. I spoke to so many players during COVID-19 and not surprisingly most were able to find ways to stay in shape and work on their game even if it meant finding courts outside and battling the weather conditions, but it wasn´t always easy for guys as the conditions weren´t always great. But COVID-19 was never a road block for Murry to keep continuing his comeback. He did everything possible to be able to come back stronger even traveling hundreds of miles just to be able to work in a lab. “The phrase “The grind NEVER STOPS”!!! is not just a saying, it is a lifestyle that I live and maintain daily, so no matter what I had to do, where I had to go, or who I had to call. I was determined to put this work in. It got to the point where I had to fly to South Carolina and stay there almost 2 weeks just so I could work out every day. I didn’t care what I had to, I refused to settle for being average, I wanted to be GREAT and the only way that was possible was by putting in work mentally and physically every single day”, stressed John Murry. COVID-19 has so many restrictions that has limited the interaction of people in society. So staying in contact with friends wasn´t always easy, but for John Murry the only contact he needed was with the equipment in a gym and a basketball. His focus was so strong that he sacrificed his relationships with people which didn´t help for the future and some friendships, but in the end his comeback was rewarded by his hard work. “During COVID-19 I stayed focused on my mission plan and took advantage of the world being shut down and elevated during that time to a level I had never been at before. There was nothing that I was willing to not do to make myself better. In all reality my time with family and friends decreased because I was so determined to be great and come back stronger that I used every minute of every day to be better. My schedule was so tight during that time that I kept anything that did not have to do with GOD or basketball away from my mental”, added John Murry.
The guard who played at Austin Peay State University (NCAA) and averaged: 16.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 81.1% as a senior and has an unending chip on his shoulder because of playing in the fourth German league whereas there are other guys on this planet that had a lot weaker stats in the NCAA, but have made it to higher leagues is 100% healthy now. But the price he had to pay in terms of losing friendships was high, but he didn´t want to come back at 80% or 90%, or not even at 99%. He didn´t go the whole nine yards, but far beyond in his quest to be the old John Murry again. “Things were very difficult and I’m putting emphasis on the difficulty. I reached new levels, my whole body felt better after the injury, things that hurt before didn’t hurt anymore and my flexibility increased tremendously, which allowed me to be more active and athletic. I had to tap into a different place and lock in mentally for 6 months straight. It was like doing a plank core workout and holding that position for 6 months straight. The rehab period was very difficult because people didn’t understand what I was going through and the odds that I was up against. People only understand what they wanted to understand and nothing more. I lost relationships with people just because I had made up in my mind every single day I’m going to work, I did not believe in cheat days or off days, during my rehab process. Some people were not very supportive with that idea. As of today, I am glad I went through it because it changed me, it made me mentally tougher and gave me the mindset of being even more unstoppable then before. It’s like I could feel myself turning into an assassin. People telling me “no I can’t help you out” or ignoring me was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I NEVER doubted myself in any way at any time, I had unbreakable confidence during the whole process because I took time and stayed focused on the end result. I believe in God and I know with him NOBODY can beat me. He gave me the strength possible to get through and once I seen myself touch new heights; I knew the sky was the limit for me”, warned John Murry. With basketball on hold all over the world, John Murry had a lot of extra time in 2020 to work on his game while being 100%. He didn´t lack working on many parts of his game as well as the metal aspect and the scouting part. “This summer I studied the game over and beyond the point of focus. I made sure I locked in on my decision making and put myself in a better position on the floor to have more options as I make my moves. Also, I made sure I got my body right in areas to where I can set down on defense and shrink the floor with my length and quickness, aside from those things I just kept doing reps on reps on reps to perfect and polish areas that I already had success in. This summer was dedicated to being better than last year, that goes from performance on the court to be a better person off the court. I put just as much work in on my personality as I did my game, that is what made all the difference. Like I said before it was complete ELEVATION. The American got back to 100% physically as well as continued to work on his game to get better, but COVID-19 also had another big impact on him something he may not have witnessed had COVID-19 not become reality. “During the pandemic I was able to slow down which I probably needed to do years ago lol. I played chess with my life, I processed my thoughts, and made my next move my best move every time I made a move. Every move made was with a purpose to be better. My theme all pandemic was ELEVATION. I watched film on myself and others EVERY single day. I searched for weaknesses in my game and my personality and attacked them full on. I narrowed my thinking down to God and basketball all pandemic/summer and never let a day go by without putting work in on the court and in the weight room. Things I joked about before I took seriously, I isolated myself and challenged my mind. When I thought I was good I did things over again to be GREAT! Long story short, with God as my leader, I made the impossible, POSSIBLE”, warned John Murry.
Murry is back in Grevenbroich now and preparing for the new season. Not to much has changed in the city except for the obvious with everyone wearing masks around which he calls the new normal. He is really excited to test the German Regionalliga west for the first time as is optimistic about the chances that the club has for being successful this season. “I feel like we have some really good pieces on the team in order to be really successful. I like our energy every day in practice and we have done a great job in preseason. I don’t see any reason why we can’t keep this up heading into the regular season and into the playoffs. As far as myself, I’ll let my game do the talking. I will say I pushed myself to exhaustion this whole summer, I spend countless hours in the weight room and on the floor being uncomfortable. I will carry that mentality onto the floor this season and throughout the playoffs”, stressed John Murry. The club has a nice mix of experienced guys as well as young Germans and he is sharing the back court with Jonathan Coles who played at Emory University (NCAA3) and in Mexico and with ex BBL player German Moritz Krume(41 BBL games). He has formed a nice bond with them already on the court. “Myself and Johnathan complement each other well. We are both pests on defense which makes a good backcourt, especially with our style of play from our tremendous coaching this preseason, we are looking pretty strong heading into this season. Mo is my guy. He performs well in practice and comes up big late in games with strong finishes around the rim and tough rebounds down the stretch. I have nothing but positive remarks about my new teammates. I really like his game and basketball mind”, expressed John Murry.
It will be interesting to see how John Murry will present himself on the court in Regionalliga gyms this season. He put in the work and has the massive self-confidence that he will put many smiles on basketball fans in Grevenbroch this season. “I was anxious to come back and show exactly what it is the city of Grevenbroich and all of Germany had missed with me being hurt. I’m fearless when it comes to this game and had no fear when returning to Germany because I knew that I had put the work in. I gave it my all to be better, I did the little things and won the small victories day in and day out, ESPECIALLY during the pandemic and during rehab. That is what left no doubt or no fear in my return to basketball this season. I’m ready to give the city of Grevenbroich what they should have had from me a year ago”, warned John Murry. The American who believes that the 2020 NBA final will consist of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers and hope to recreate the old gold and green tradition from back in the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson days has the game to be very successful in the German Regionalliga, but it hasn´t only been his abilities on the court, but having that incredible mindset of being unstoppable which has been there forever. It hasn´t always been easy being mentally consistent of being unstoppable with the seemingly unending adversary that he has had in his career, but in the end, this nonstop mindset of no one being able to stop him has made him stronger. “Keeping the mindset was definitely tough, but in the end, it was also what made me better. I wasn’t even cleared to play basketball and I was walking around my city saying nobody can stop me and although at that time it may or may not have been true, it was the principle of getting my mind and body on the same accord. Yes, I was probably at 65/75% but it’s the constant conversations you have to have with yourself to keep pushing yourself to absolute greatness. I remember an open gym in my city with all the pros being back who played in top leagues all over Europe and even in the NBA, I just kept telling them and myself, NOBODY can stop me I don’t care who you are, that was what I call “Mental Gymnastics”. I just knew once I could think mentally that I could perform the moves and actions physically after the injury. That was probably the sweetest part, just watching myself excel to new levels of the game”, warned John Murry. The last movie he saw was the incredible Netflix series about Michael Jordan called “The Last Dance”. No matter if it´s flying around the country to get better, working in the gym to exhaustion or finding another way to be able to study the game and get better with “The Last dance”, John Murry is the real deal who won´t stop to being the best he can possibly be.
Cameron Hunt is a 23 year old 193cm guard from Duncanville, Texas that completed his rookie season in Germany withTG s.Oliver Wuerzburg (Germany-ProB) playing 19 games: Score-1 (21.7ppg), 4.9rpg, 4.4apg, 1.7spg, Blocks-3 (1.2bpg), FGP: 60.4%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT: 88.2%. He picked up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Player of the Year -20, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Guard of the Year -20, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Defensive Player of the Year -20, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 1st Team -20, and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Imports Team -20. He began his career at Duncanville High School and then played 137 NAIA games for Southwestern College, KS (NAIA) from 2015-2019. As a freshman he played 34 games averaging 6.9ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 37.9%, 3PT: 32.8%, FT: 63.2%. In his second season he played 36 games averaging 24 .5ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 81.8%. In his junior year he played 35 games averaging 23.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 82.4%. In his senior year he played 32 games averaging 31.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 6.8apg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 41.8%, FT: 88.6%. He will remain in Wurzburg until 2023 and spoke to eurobasket during COVID-19.
Hi Cameron where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
Hey how’s it going? Well right now I’m currently in Dallas Texas and I would say this outbreak is a bit frustrating. Knowing lives are at stake every day. I know better days are coming and I’m just praying that it is sooner than later.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
At first when I heard about Corona I thought it was a very minor problem that would’ve been taken care of immediately. I never thought it would become this bad.
How did you experience the day to day life in Wurzburg when you were still in Germany? What things did you notice in the surroundings there that showed that life wasn’t normal?
In Wurzburg a lot of people like to walk around the city. When the corona virus came you saw less and less people in the city which was very weird to see.
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing?
A: Yes I’ve been more aware of my surroundings. Making sure washing my hands more often is always on my mind. I can’t remember the last time I’ve given someone a normal handshake.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe including the Pro B. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
I was pretty disappointed as I felt we had a championship team. I also knew this might be my last time playing with those guys so it was hard to end a season like that.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?
I personally play basketball because I love the game. I would still play with no fans, but at the end of the day basketball is a spectators sport. The fans brings out the best in players.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
I have learned that some of the things that I complain about are not worth it. People right now are fighting for their lives while I’m complaining about missing a jump shot.
Wil it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
I feel it is a huge advantage for me as I get to focus on my health more this offseason. The disadvantage is not knowing when your next basketball game is going to be.
How have you been staying in shape at home? Are there any special home work plan or exercises that you are doing to stay in shape and on the ball? I have been sticking to a home workout plan to improve my strength. It has been kind of tough to get into basketball gyms so I’m just doing what I can right now.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including German basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
My mindset is to be ready for whatever and whenever. I am still preparing as if we will be starting up in the fall.
If you had to name another player besides guys from Wurzburg that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
I wouldn’t just say it is one guy as Ive been trying to talk to a lot of my former teammates and upcoming teammates.
How has your approach to family changed since the outbreak of Corona? What things have you seen yourself do that you may not have done before?
I have realized to not take family time for granted. This pandemic has just put things in perspective that not every day is promised.
Congrats on a great rookie season in Germany in the pro B with Wurzburg. You had the second best record in the Pro B south and second best record overall. How would you summarize the team season best?
The word I would use is unity. I feel for the most part we played for each other and stuck together through tough times which made us a better team.
How much does it hurt that you weren’t able to really know how the season would have panned out in the playoffs? The club had lost 2 of the last 3 games to begin the playoffs. You stated to me in January that ‘I think we play very hard on defense which is always good but we can improve on our pick and roll defense. Once that is solved I feel the sky is the limit for this team’. How did the defense improve in the last months and was it tweaked for a strong playoffs?
Once the season started to wind down it was obvious we were already looking forward to the playoffs. I feel we would’ve been the most ready in the playoffs.
What was the secret to the success of the team. Obviously you and Rytis Pipiris were a huge part of the offense, but what was key for the German role players buying into the system?
Everyone understood their role on the team and it showed every game.
The team had many highs, but describe a bit how it was playing top ScanPlus Baskets twice within a week in December. You lost both games, but one 90-89. What memories do you have of that series
During that series we weren’t completely healthy. So I think that played a huge part, but that was a solid basketball team.
Let’s talk about your teammates. You said this to me about Jonas Weitzel in January 2020. ‘Jonas has been great for us. You never have to worry about how hard he will play because he will always give 100%. He is also improving every day and I feel he has a very bright future’. How did he improve the most during the season?
A: I feel he improved the most on the defensive end. He is very talented on the offensive side but I saw him become better and better on the defensive side.
How much of a pleasure was it being teammates with Rytis Pipiris. You stated to me in January 2020 that you would love to have his athleticism. What one thing do you feel helped your game most having been able to run an offense with him?
Rytis was very unselfish. This made it easy to play with him as he was always looking to make the best play possible.
What was your impression of German point guard Nils Hassfurter? I really love his high energy game. You practiced with the BBL team Wurzburg. Does he have the game to become an impact player in the BBL?
Nils is a great guy who always brings 110% to practice everyday. Which I feel makes the team a lot better.
Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 21.7ppg), 4.9rpg, 4.4apg, 1.7spg, Blocks-3 (1.2bpg), FGP: 60.4%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT: 88.2%. How content were you with your rookie season in Germany?
Personally I felt I could’ve did more. I am very happy with our team success though.
You had some very explosive games at the start, in the middle and at the end finishing strong. How would you describe your development throughout the season. How was Cameron Hunt a different player at the end than in September 2019?
I felt during the end of the season the game was slowing down for me as I was able to make better reads in the offense.
A hidden strength in your game is getting unusual blocks. You averaged 1,2bpg as a rookie. Please explain how you have continued to keep making the next step as being a very good shot blocker for your height?
A: I think shot blocking is more about timing than height. I feel I have very long arms for my height and use them to my advantage.
You had the opportunity to practice a lot with the BBL team s.Oliver Wurzburg. On what things do you still need to work on to be able to get a legitimate chance of playing at that level?
A: I feel I can be very successful if I just lock in defensively for a longer period of time. I feel I will make the adjustment smoothly.
s.Oliver Wurzburg had some good guards. What do you feel could you soak up most from ex Citadel (NCAA) great Cameron Wells the most? Back in the day he belonged to the best guards in his conference with Golden State Warrior Steph Curry.
My time spent with Cameron Wells I tried to ask as many questions as possible. He probably got sick of me at one point, but I just wanted to pick his brain about his career.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro B this season?
I wouldn’t say it was one player but the team of ScanPlus Baskets was a well put together ball club.
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?
I don’t think Luka is Top 3 yet. My top 3 is LeBron James, Kawhi Lenoard, and Kevin Durant.
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence?
I was in my living room in Germany and it hit pretty hard as he was my favorite player growing up.
How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now?
I would tell these kids that everything happens for a reason. There will always be more joys in life.
Keith Hornsby is a 28 year old 193cm shooting guard from Mouth Of Wilson, Virginia that is playing his fifth professional season and first in Germany with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Last season the American played with Polski Cukier Torun (Poland-EBL) playing 19 games averaging 15.1ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 75.7%. He played his first 3 professional seasons with the Texas Legends (D-League) playing 116 games and averaging 4.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.0apg in his first season, 10.1ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 78.3% in his second season and 12.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT-2 (49.1%), FT: 84.1% in his final season. He began his basketball career with Oak Hill Academy. He then split time with 2 schools with the University of North Carolina – Asheville (NCAA) and : Louisiana State University (NCAA) playing a total of 116 NCAA games. His best season with the: University of North Carolina – Asheville (NCAA) was his last season where he averaged: 15.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 37.9%, FT: 92.5%. He put up very consistent stats with Louisiana State University (NCAA) in both years averaging 13.4ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 78.4% and in his senior year averaging 13.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.6apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 56.8%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 81.8%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Keith thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been despite the whole COVID-19 effecting the world?
I’m currently in Oldenburg, but I spent most of the last six months in the United States split between Virginia and Dallas, Texas. The summer was unpredictable, especially in the states. It was a struggle sometimes taking Covid precautions seriously in a place where many people weren’t following proper protocols, but my wife and I did a good job existing and being safe in that world before leaving for Germany.
How have you experienced the whole COVID-19 crisis in the States? How much did the last 6 months change your life and how much of a challenge was it finding the time and places to be bale to stay in shape and be able to work on your game?
When I started training again in early May, it was extremely difficult finding gyms that were open. I found myself working out outside much more than I ever have. At first it was frustrating, but eventually I found ways to be productive despite the limitations on open facilities. I can find a way to stay in shape, but it was tougher finding consistent basketball workouts. As the summer went on, I found a good group to workout with to keep things relatively fresh. The one thing I wasn’t able to do was play 5 on 5. No games were being played around me due to Covid, so I haven’t played 5v5 basketball since my last game in Poland. Luckily, I have a long preseason ahead to get my rhythm back.
How do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man?
Living through these past few months with Covid definitely made me appreciate certain freedoms from life before the virus. Little things like going out to dinner or venturing out to places without a mask. It made me appreciate those who made efforts to be responsible during the crisis. It made me frustrated with many people who failed to take the virus seriously, and you see how we’re still dealing with it in a way most countries aren’t.
Do all the questions about your famous father sometimes get on your nerves and how important was the fact that he was a very talented basketball player help you with your path as a basketball player from your youth until today?
I used to get semi frustrated in college, because the questions about him came in more frequently. I don’t get frustrated with questions about my dad at this point. I realize that it’s a unique thing to have a famous musician father as a basketball player, so it’s always an interesting topic to broach for the media. My dad loves basketball, and he’s more knowledgeable about the game than anyone would predict. A career in basketball on the sidelines is probably his road not taken, and I’m sure he would admit that. He’s done so much for me in the game. I won’t discredit myself, because I’ve put endless work in to give me new opportunities, but he instilled in me that mindset of work at an early age. Sometimes I like his fresh perspective on different issues I may be facing within the game.
Congrats on signing with the very ambitious EWE Baskets? What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you had any friends play here in the past?
I’m excited to play with Oldenburg this season. I’ve been aware of the BBL ever since I left college, but it took me a little while to get here haha. Germany has such a great reputation as a country. I’m very happy that my wife and I can call the country home during these times of Covid. I feel like there’s almost no better place to be. I’ve had tons of friends play in Germany from the BBL level to Pro B. German basketball rarely gets a bad rap. I will see this for myself very soon.
They are very high on your abilities. What was the deciding factor where you knew that you wanted to play your second season in Europe in Germany?
They were one of the first clubs to recruit me nice Covid hit and my season was canceled. A lot of the basketball benefits of Oldenburg speaks for itself, but in these times of uncertainty, I felt like you could hardly get a more stable place than One of the top clubs in Germany. I was also surprised excited to play in Eurocup, but the club decided against participating. I was disappointed at first, but when I woke up and put things in perspective, I realized in these times that’s a small thing to lose. There will still be a lot of great and challenging basketball to be played in the BBL.
You had a very strong season stat wise in Poland last season. What are your goals this season as a player concerning your game? It won’t be easy to top those stats as your playing with more talented teammates and in a higher league?
I’m sure the experience as a whole will be very different than my experience in Toru. I aim to be as unselfish as possible regarding stats, because I realize I have a lot of talent surrounding me. If I had to choose one thing I will want to improve at, its decisions in the pick and roll. With such a great front court in Oldenburg, I think it’s a must I’m able to make good reads in PnR actions and feed the big guys when they’re open. I know it’s a cliche, but I’m really aiming to come in to Oldenburg and focus entirely on winning. With the roster we have, I feel if things work out we should be competing for a BBL championship. I will do my best to be as productive as possible and control what I can control, but if my stats aren’t what they were last year and we’re winning, I will be extremely happy.
Let’s talk about your game. EWE Baskets Oldenburg CEO Herman Schuller compares your game to the ex Wright State great Vaughn Duggins. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
Vaughn Duggins. I’ve heard that before from them. I’m guessing that comparison is a good thing, so I’m happy with it. It’s hard for me to compare myself to anybody. I try to move without the ball like JJ Redick, but I feel my speed and athleticism makes that comparison a little fuzzy. I’m a scorer, so you can compare me to other scorers, but I can’t give you a specific comparison.
What stands out right away in your game is that you’re a fantastic shooter. Despite that, your good athleticism and good penetration skills on the court, what do you honestly feel like is your biggest asset on the court?
People always underestimate my speed and jumping ability. It’s always benefitted me to have that asset due to my shooting ability. If defenders close out too closely on my shot, I can get around them with my first step and create plays off the dribble. I’d say my pull up is my strongest offensive weapon. I try to get good elevation on the shot so it’s hard to block.
How much pride do you take on the defensive end? What is your biggest strength as a defensive player?
I’ve always been an offensive threat, but I truly try to dig in on the defensive end. I’ve always been a believer in the defense creates offense. Last season in Toru, we traded baskets too many times with people and it made it harder to defeat the intelligent teams (especially in BCL). I think my best attribute defensively is my strength. Bigger guys have a hard time posting me up directly. Sometimes I feel I’m too energetic. Almost to a fault.
On what area’s of your game are you working on most now as you prepare for your first season in Germany?
I mentioned above my decision making and productivity in the pick and roll action. I think I can improve my ball handling in the half court as well. I also want to improve my passing to the point where I consider it a true strength. Defensively, I want to work on positioning and fighting through screens. I got stuck on too many screens last year guarding the ball, so hopefully this year I can do a better job.
Last season your first overseas you played with Polski Cukier Torun (Poland-EBL) playing 19 games averaging 15.1ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 75.7%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being overseas for the first time last season in Poland?
For the most part, I did pretty well for being my first year overseas, although I was more mature than the average euro rookie, which always helps. Due to my good play, I think the biggest wake up call was the extreme scouting and defensive efforts from some of the Polish players/teams last season against me. Their aggression, commitment, strength, and intensity would not be found in the G-League. I’d say that was somewhat of a wake up call.
You played your first 3 seasons in the G League with the Texas Legends improving your scoring stats each season. Some guys leave after 1-2 seasons to go overseas. How confident were you that you could make the NBA in your third season and do you sometimes wonder what might have happened had you returned for a 4th season?
I felt kind of trapped in the G League. I did not want to return for my third season, but due to almost zero European interest, I didn’t have much of a choice and appreciated the Texas Legends faith in me. The talent in the G League is top notch, so every year you compete with new, great players for playing time. During my third season while leading the G League in 3pt%, I figured I had a shot. After I never received that call during that stretch, I was over it. It was time to move on to a different basketball situation.
In your rookie season you were with the Dallas Mavericks and played 5 pre season games. What kind of experience was it being teammates with Dirk Nowitzki? Do you have a special Nowitzki story that you won’t forget?
That was an unbelievable couple of months with the Mavs. It was a dream come true to put on an NBA uniform with your name on the back of it. The only downside is that it was my first pro experience, so it gave me an unrealistic idea of how difficult the G League could be in the oncoming months. Sharing a locker room with Dirk Nowitzki was surreal. What a legend! He’d always made fun of me for being too muscular up top. He’d call me ‘upper body’ and tell me to do some leg work and stop doing bicep curls. Good guy!
That first season you were teammates with some real veterans in Texas with Dejuan Blair, Ben Gordon, and Courtney Fells. What was it like being with guys like this on a regular basis and did you take the time to pick their brains about the business?
I learned a ton that first year. It was the first time in my career I was competing against legit grown men and guys of all ages. I realized they had a different comfort within the game. Something I wasn’t close to obtaining at that point. Playing with Ben Gordon was amazing other than the fact he came in and took most of my minutes haha. That first year was incredibly eye opening. The gave me stories about overseas. A lot of them were horror stories haha because those are more interesting. I didn’t know what to think.
What is the best example that you can remember in your 3 years in the G-League where you can honestly say the NBA is a business first before a players feelings?
My first year Pierre Jackson was my PG. during November and December he was absolutely killing on the court. I’d never seen someone play so amazing. At times it was truly mind boggling. He thankfully got a call up to the Mavs in January and was playing well for a few games. In his first start, he had nine points in the first quarter before hurting his hamstring. They waived him later that night and he was back with us almost immediately. I couldn’t believe it. Then the Mavs signed Yogi Ferrell, and he took off on that whole Yogimania stretch. Pierre was with us for the rest of the season after that, and I could tell it took a slight mental toll on him. The guy could not have played better in many regards.
You played at the very well known Oak Hill Academy that has graduated countless NBA players like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. How do you feel did this experience help your game most in young years?
It made me a man to some degree. I was a late bloomer in so many ways. Playing with the type of competition you see at Oak Hill every day helped my confidence incredibly.
You then began your NCAA career at University of North Carolina – Asheville and made a huge jump from your freshman season averaging 4.0ppg, 1.9rpg to 15.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 37.9%, FT: 92.5% as a sophomore. You averaged 21 more minutes in your second season. Do you sometimes wonder how your career may have gone had you remained there?
Some people are surprised when I say this, but that first year at Asheville was one of the most important years of my career. I learned so much that season thanks to the seasoned seniors who were ahead of me in the rotation. My sophomore year, I came in a different player, and I was ready to contribute at a major level. If I had stayed at Asheville, I would’ve had a great career. A lot of people initially thought it was stupid of me to transfer from there to a major program, because I was giving up a great situation for myself for the unpredictability of the high majors. The one thing that was alarming for me at Asheville was how little respect their star players got on a professional level. My freshman year I was behind two all conference senior guards who I thought were amazing players, but they never got much of a shot at the next level. I figured if I wanted to play professionally, I would have to try my luck at success at a bigger program , and that’s exactly what I did.
How do you feel did your basketball experience at North Carolina-Ashviille help your game most as you then went on to Louisiana State?
Asheville gave me the opportunity to play a lot my sophomore season and naturally improve. Asheville also plays at least five high major schools every season, which was always exciting along with being somewhat of a trial against the big boys. I had some big time games, especially against Ohio State and NC State. It mainly came down to getting the opportunity to play. It was a huge confidence booster realizing I could have success at the division one level my sophomore year, and Asheville gave me that opportunity.
You had many great games at LSU, but do you still have memories form the tough 71-69 loss to powerhouse Kentucky where you steered home 17 points? That team had so many future great NBA players like Devin Booker, Willie Cauley-Stein, the Harrison brothers, Tyler Ulis, etc. What player from Kentucky stood out the most?
Oh wow…. that game! That was arguably the most exciting game of my life. What a team that Kentucky group had. Most LSU people give me fun loving crap about missing the game winner at the end, but I’ll never forget the positives from that game including the unrelentingly rowdy crowd of purple and gold. The player who stood out most to me was Devin Booker. He played beyond his years. He was so calm, collected, and efficient with everything he did. He killed us that game. He hit several shots in my face where I figured I defended him extremely well. I was bummed I missed the tough game winning attempt, but I walked away from that game proud of myself and with a little disbelief at how far I’d come.
How easy was it playing with top NBA player Ben Simmons? Is there a play that has been cemented in your mind with him over the years?
Playing with Ben Simmons was quite the experience. He is the most naturally gifted athlete I’ve ever encountered. He had such raw basketball ability, but it was clear from the start of his only season that his game would be better fitted for the NBA. His passing is the most impressive to me, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. One game against Mississippi State he threw me a full court chest pass like nothing I’ve ever seen. It was like a bullet. It was so crisp. I caught it in motion with awe as I realized what had just happened. No normal player can do stuff like that.
How did head coach Will Wade groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
I never played for Coach Wade. I played for Johnny Jones, who is now coaching at Texas Southern University. I think Wade is a damn good coach, even if he’s a bit potentially controversial during this time period.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Antonio Blakeney back at LSU?
Great question. Antonio Blakeney is a skilled offensive player. That was a good match up. Tone is known for hitting tough shots, but how can I say I wouldn’t win. I was the senior after all.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that went to the NBA?
I may have to give Alex Caruso this award. His teams at Texas A&M were always hard to beat! He’s just a tough player, and he was always an annoying defender and pesky presence each time we matched up. He talked a fair amount of trash too. I’m not surprised he’s carved out a role for himself in the league with his size and PG abilities.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
I’ll list these as best teammates and not necessarily most skillful. Josh Gray (LSU) Chris Wright (Toru) Jameel Warney (Legends) JJ Avila (Legends) Aaron Cel (Toru)
Please construct your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players?
Nice! LeBron James – George Washington Michael Jordan – Thomas Jefferson JJ Redick – Teddy Roosevelt Steph Curry – Abe Lincoln
What is your personal opinion between the never ending debate between Michael Jordan and Lebron James concerning who is the greatest of all-time?
Although everybody’s opinion seemed to shift towards MJ during the airing of the Last Dance, I’m still going to go with Lebron James. It’ll forever be a difficult debate, but I just think what LeBron has done on and off the court is unrivaled.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Toy Story 1 with my wife. We’re going to watch the whole series of movies, because none of us have seen 3 or 4! We’ve been in a Pixar craze lately. These movies have been giving us positive vibes in times of unrest in the USA.