Having a big dream and living it are two completely different things with the latter mostly being practiced with a proud smile while sleeping. American ice hockey goalie Jim Craig had a dream to play for the 1980 mens Olympic hockey team, win the gold medal and later play for his home town team Boston Bruins and they all came true, but when it comes to young Germans Thomas Schoeps and Nicholas May, taking it one step at a time is essential, because they aren´t dreaming too big, but moreover just want to play what they love most, which is basketball and that in the United States.
Schoeps and May are two daring and hungry Germans who will not try to develop further in Germany with the possibility of getting forgotten, but make the giant dream of crossing the big pond and playing basketball in the land that gave the world Michael Jackson, McDonalds and Barack Obama and make it a reality.
Thomas Schoeps is a 20 year old that comes form the Alba Berlin youth factory. He is a 6´2 cm combo guard that got valuable instruction and encouragement from Alba Berlin legend Hendrik Roedl. He started with the SSC Suedwest Berlin junior team in 2004 and has played with TuS Lichterfelde II since 2005. Ratiopharm Ulm newcomer Jerome Bridgewater remembers Schoeps well from past meetings on the court:
“I remember playing against him with Baden Wurtenberg back in 2005 and we lost by 5 points. He is a very athletic guard with quickness. He can score, defend, works hard and just plays his heart out”, stressed German Jerome Bridgewater.
In the 2007-2008 season, he played PRO B averaging 6.6ppg, 1.3rpg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 69.0% in 27 games. Last season, he played for ALBA Berlin II in the Regionaliga playing 21 games and averaging 16.1ppg.
Schoeps also has played for the German U16, U18 and U20 national teams. Recently, he took part in the European Championships U20 in Rhodos, Greece playing 6 games and averaging 8.7ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 27.3%, 3PT-3(60.0%), FT: 86.7%. He got some offers from NCAA teams to play college ball, but because he played a year of PRO B in Germany is ineligible to play this year in the NCAA and instead will play junior college basketball at Odessa in Texas with his friend Kevin Schaffartzik (brother of German national player Heiko Schaffartzik) and be taught the game of basketball from coach Dennis Helms that also instructed the legendary and three time NBA champion Larry Bird.
His new teammate German Kevin Schaffartzik is looking forward to playing with him at Odessa and only lauded him with the utmost respect:
“Thomas has always been very strong for his size. It is going to be a lot of fun playing with him. He has really improved his shot and now defenders have to defend him a lot more closely and his penetration is a strength of his. He is always thinking about the team before himself”, stated Kevin Schaffartztik.
His goal at Odessa is to get noticed, produce strong stats and move on to an NCAA team next season.
Nicholas May on the other hand is like a new born baby in terms of playing experience and is just at the beginning of his basketball journey the same way a little chic is who still has to learn to fly and get released from mommy into the cruel hard world.
His basketball life may still be at mile 1 of a 26 mile marathon, but his personal life at 20 could already warrant a few chapters of an autobiography. As a small boy , he grew up in poverty and lost his father before he even knew what the square root of 16 was. But already as a kid, he knew what his purpose in life would be and he made it clear as he wrote a letter to his dead father and layed it on his grave proclaiming that he would play basketball for a living, because basketball was his life.
The 6,8 225 pound forward was discovered on a play ground showing his athletic prowness while running around in torn shoes. In the last years, he dabbled a bit with the TUS Lichterfelde junior teams, but never playing organized ball or made any kind of a lasting impression, because he was so small. Then as if he had inherited some kind of growth/physical hormone from Dwight Howard, May grew and grew and grew and was not so small anymore. Now he could dunk from all over the court in various ways including the classic take the ball through the legs and then dunk and with ease, but still keeping his shooting and ball handling skills that he had acquired in the time period where he was small.
May made a video with his slick basketball game on a Berlin practice court and Hendrik Roedl saw it and could not believe that that one time hardly noticeable small May was now a monster on the court. The video leaked online and within 72 hours the telephones were ringing non stop about information about May.
In order to get a second and very qualified opinion, NBA mini legend Eddie Johnson, who played from 1981-1999 spanning 1199 NBA games, scoring 19, 202 points playing with teams like the Kansas City Kings, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets was flown into Berlin to rate if May could possibly be a new German basketball wunderkind. Johnson was not disappointed, but amazed.
“If he keeps working, he could be the next Amare Stoudemire. Whenever Nicholas was touching the ball in the paint, someone was going to be dunked on. May has long arms and big hands and brings alot of power on the court. He will be big-time for sure”, warned Eddie Johnson.
That was pretty amazing feedback and something that should not be overlooked coming from such a well travelled NBA veteran like Johnson. The only thing that May is lacking is basketball court experience in organized games. He is a street baller that needs to work and shape his basketball know how.
He will play for Arizona Western junior college this coming fall and will be living his basketball dream and giving his dad in heaven something to smile about while looking down. May is a long term basketball project, but with his huge desire, a talent that one can just hope will make an impact on the basketball world some day.
Schoeps and May are two Germans that are big talents and will go the untypical German basketball route via the United States, but perhaps the correct route that will allow them to make their basketball dream a long lasting affair even after their college days.