The BBL season started a few weeks ago, and new Skyliner Qarraan Calhoun or simply refered to as Q by his teammates after playing 12 test games and suffering an injury in the last pre season game is still slowly finding his rhythm after showing a ot of ability in the preseason. At times, the 203cm forward looks totally kittenish and in experienced like a eight year boy all excited about getting his first hot fudge Sunday as was the case in a test game against Galatasaray Istanbul, but then again at other times like at the Phoenix Cup looked like a seasoned veteran on the court doing a little bit of everything like hitting an open three pointer similar to how Luther Head was dropping them at 49% in his second season in the NBA, making raw behind the back passes like a Larry Bird in the day or leaping out of nowhere like an agile Alan Anderson or making a spectacular block like Dennis Rodman in his best days as a Detroit Piston.
“I think he can be a very good shot blocker on the European level, he just got too stay focused with defensive things and he will be fine”, warned teammate Derrick Allen. But playing like the wurm, who won three NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls is not on the mind of the 22 year old. “Coach tells me to be wild on the court. I don’t want to play like Dennis Rodmann, but play my own game”, warned Qarraan Calhoun. “Coach means by being wild, that Q has too be more active on the court, because we know Q can do so much for us on the basketball court”, stressed Derrick Allen
The inexperience of Calhoun is normal when you are a BBL rookie, but he is not your typical first year professional player. He is actually a premature BBL player, who only had three years of college basketball knowledge, but couldn’t finish school.
”I would have liked to have stayed at Houston, but I became a dad and had to support him. Staying in school would have been difficult so I decided to become a professional. I want to give my son support in life something I didn’t get from my dad growing up”, stressed Calhoun.
He is one of the rare players playing in Europe that is still eligible for the 2010 NBA draft.
Calhoun who grew up in Long Branch, New Jersey and has four sisters. Being the only son in the family wasn’t a problem as long as he had a basketball.
“At times it was crazy, because they argued a lot. But I didn’t involve myself as much with them, because I was always playing basketball. Guys always thought that I would be more feminine hanging around them, but that wasn´t the case at all. I also wasn’t spoiled, because everyone was treated the same”, expressed Calhoun.
He finished his high school career as a post graduate in the State of Maine at Bridgton Academy becoming the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) champion in 2006. Here he was able to get a first taste of having success at the high school level as well as further developing his game that would get him to the NCAA.
“I had a lot of fun at Bridgton. People often thought that one could not have fun in a place like Maine, but everybody was nice there and I really liked the scenery in Maine”, added Calhoun.
After finishing from Bridgton Academy averaging 19.0ppg, 4.0bpg, 3.0apg, it was only logical that Calhoun would go his way and make a name at a well known NCAA school, but instead he visited three schools in three years starting with the prestigious St Johns where he was adored by coach Norm Roberts.
“Qarraan is a guy that is really going to allow us to spread the floor more. He is a perimeter four-man that can step out away from the basket and shoot the ball for three and also put it on the floor to create for himself as well as others. He is a terrific offensive rebounder who may be one of the best athletes on our team, and he does a great job of running in transition. I think he will add a lot to our team.”, stressed Roberts but St Johns was only a short stint. “I thought St Johns would be a good situation, but it didn’t work out. I then decided to go to Barton County junior college(16.8ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 62.8%) so I wouldn´t have to sit out a year. Houston turned out to be a great experience, but too bad I couldn´t finisih”, said Calhoun.
At the University of Houston, Calhoun had a surprisingly solid season after coming from Junior college where making the jump back to the NCAA after a lost year is not always self-evident. At Houston, he was an important part of the team averaging 10.2ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.1apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 46.6%, 3Pts: 35.0%, FT: 59.0%. Even one unknown scout described Calhoun as a dynamic forward who has triple-double capabilities. If he can achieve such difficult stats sometime in his career is unidentified. Calhoun just gave out a big laugh when hearing about this daring judgement.
“Who said that? I am no Steve Nash, but I think if I work hard then it could be possible”, added Calhoun.
He surely would not have made the jump to the BBL with The Deutsche Bank Skyliners this season, if he hadn´t made strides in many areas of his game.
“At Houston, I believe I developed most my outside shooting. Coach always told me to shoot with confidence. I also got more comfortable shooting off the dribble”, added Calhoun.
Besides showcasing his talent on the court, he was unable to avoid hearing some of the stories about the Houston Cougar legends like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. What better way then to hear these stories from another Cougar legend Michael Young who played with these NBA legends, but never making a solid NBA career despite being drafted by The Boston Celtics. Young was the conditioning coach at Houston while Calhoun was there.
“Young told me that the reason the Cougars were so successful in the 80s was because Olajuwon and Drexler were always practicing hard and pushed their teammates in the same way”, said Calhoun.
Even if he only played one year in Texas, he had fond memories being a Cougar.
“My nicest memory was playing Memphis State with Tyreke Evans(Sacremneto Kings) who were second in the conference at that time. In a game, I tied the score near the end, but they beat us by nine points”, added Calhoun.
Now Calhoun is in Europe in Germany with The Deutsche Bank Skyliners and ready to test the BBL waters. It is never easy for a rookie, but Calhoun seemed to have developed nicely in training camp.
“I think Q has gotten better during the preseason, and you saw him making his bigger strides when we were playing games in Antalya. He’s more active on the offensive end, and being tougher on the defensive side of the ball as well”, warned Skyliner forward Derrick Allen.
Calhoun might have had his breakthrough at the Hagen Cup where he scored 27 points and added 12 assists in two games. Coach Murat Didin didn´t want to get too excited too soon or getting Calhoun a surprise Belly dancer in his apartment as a post practice present, but that can still happen. Didin though might not be shying from giving a very little smile knowing that the pick up of Calhoun might reap benefits for the success of the club down the line.
“We know what Q can do and that is why we got him. He has skills and is starting to get used to the European style of basketball”, warned Murat Didin.
It seems like in just a short time, Calhoun is getting used to the coaching perks that have damaged other players in the past.
“I like listening to the stories of coach about what we should do better on the court. For example, if there is a hole in a bag of sugar, then we have to learn how to patch it up which he then describes how we should patch up the holes on defense. I think about his stories during games in hopes of not making mistakes”, expressed Calhoun.
When closely inspecting Calhoun on the court, the American 203cm forward not only looks like a player that could be multifaceted, but also showed it during the final of the Phoenix Cup demonstrating his skills on offense inside and out and being a work horse on the defensive end.
“I have the size of a three, but like the four position. I can create and take my man off the dribble. I haven´t played the three position since high school”, said Calhoun.
In the final against Phoenix Hagen, he seemed to take another step forward in his pre season development and what also really catches the eye of the beholder is his sense of calmness and how his work sometimes just looks like he was given the gift of playing sound strong fundamental basketball over night. His teammates have noticed early on that the ex Houston Cougar is a guy that will help the team in many phases of the game this season.
“ Q, can do a lot on the court. Too me, his biggest quality is that he is versatile and that he can play multiple positions.. I think he runs the floor well, he has a good basketball IQ level for the game”, stressed Derrick Allen.
Deutsche Bank Skyliner coach Murat Didin has made it common knowledge that he doesn´t really see players needing a specific role, but moreover a basketball player in 2009 needs to play physical, hard, good defense and just play total basketball. Calhoun may not have gotten a role form Didin, but sees himself as doing one thing really well and improving on another.
“I do see myself as having a role on this team and just rebounding and helping the team as much as possible. I think that I still have to improve my offensive rebounding, because I need to go harder to the boards and my defense. I have to stop my guy going to the middle and get better at boxing out”. Stressed Calhoun.
The season may only be a few weeks old, but Derrick Allen has dared to give his teammate a friendly comparison to atop player in the NBA that makes his bread being a brute inside.
“I don’t really know, who Q plays like, but maybe a Lamar Odom type, a guy 6’8 or 6’9 playing on the wing who has a lot of abilities”, commented Derrick Allen.
When describing 203cm forward Joe Johnson of The Atlanta Hawks you come upon a player that has so many skills. He can play all the spots. He can play the point or post up on the block. He has a complete, all-around game. He can score, rebound and distribute the ball, and can play anywhere from point guard to forward and can play either wing spot, as well as get inside and score. If he were to look into the mirror, he may see a trace of Calhoun who has shown he can do these things in pre season except for maybe playing the point guard postion.
“I like the style of Joe Johnson. He is a tough player and very underrated and see my game reflecting his”, stated Calhoun.
The preseason has been kind of a whirlwind experience with numerous test games and field trips to Belgium and Turkey and games against Top clubs like Galatasaray Istanbul and Maccabi tel Aviv. Coming from the States and being introduced to so many different cultures is something that might not be easy to handle for the average American, but Calhoun has done a good job with getting acquainted to the many diverse ways of life and was even surprised that Turkey had good living conditions.
“The Turkey trip was good. It was a good experience. I thought it would be more poor, but it was pretty decent there. The streets were not what I thought they would be like on TV”, stated Calhoun. It took Calhoun a while to think of his most funniest moment in Turkey, but then remembered a bus that almost never came. “We were waiting for the bus and it came 45 minutes too late. These guys were arguing in Turkish and it was funny, because I couldn’t understand anything”, joked Calhoun.
Teammate Derrick Allen is all business on the basketball court, but knows when to have fun off the court and noticed quickly that Calhoun is a guy that also knows how to split work and fun at already an early age.
“Q, is a funny guy, and a good person at heart also. I think he is just getting used to the European lifestyle, which is normal for a rookie. I think the thing about Q, that I can remember about him so far is, how much he was overwhelmed by the Rixos hotel in Antalya and how much of the kid came out of him at the resort, which he still is”, added Allen.
Calhoun is a kid at heart where anything can be expected from him at any moment like a strike of lightning occurring when you didn’t think it could happen or a Michael Schumacher returning to the Formula One racing in 2010 and winning the drivers championship. One minute, Calhoun throws up a straight up rainbow shot that looked more like it was going to the BCM ceiling that banks off the back board and goes in to the next minute where he gets chewed out by a Skyliner coach. These are all early experiences in a young man´s BBL rookie season, but he seems to have the right role model to set him on his path to success.
“Pascal Roller has been doing it for ten years. He is so much older than me, but is always working hard on the court. That is a lot of motivation for me. If he can do it, then I can do it”, warned Calhoun.
He has the incentive to not only succeed for himself, but also for his son and that is something that will always stick in the back of his mind as this untypical BBL rookie starts his BBL career in Frankfurt.