Marcus Smallwood is a 31 year 198cm forward that played with VfL Kirchheim Knights (Germany-ProA,) playing 29 games: 11.1ppg, 7.9rpg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP: 57.4%, FT: 67.7%He is from Elgin, Illinois and played at Northern Illinois from 2000-2004. He came to Europe for his rookie season and played for Ostromecko Astoria Bydgoszcz (Poland-EBL): 4 games: 9.5ppg, 9.0rpg: was released in and later that month signed at Pyrbasket Tampere (Finland-Sparliiga): 6 games: 13.5ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 59%, and also played shortly at Solna Vikings (Sweden-Basketligan): 3 games: 8.3ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.0bpg. The next season, he played in Finland for Forssan Koripojat (Finland-1st Division, starting five): 26 games: 19.7ppg, Reb-2(11.1rpg), 1.3apg, 1.0spg, Blocks-1(1.4bpg), 2FGP-3(64.1%), 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 56.2%. 2006: Elgin Racers (IBL). He had a very strong season in Finland, but surprisingly in the next few years played only briefly in the IBL for the Elgin Racers. He played for Kaiserslautern from 2008-2010. In the 2010-2011 season he played for Cuxhaven BasCats (Germany-ProA, starting five): 9 games: 12.6ppg, 10.9rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 51.6%, FT: 52.8%; in Dec.’10 moved to VfL Kirchheim Knights (Germany-ProA, starting five): 20 games: 15.7ppg, Reb-1(10.8rpg), Blocks-2(2.1bpg), FGP: 60.3%, FT: 47.8%. In 2011-2012 he played for Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (Germany-ProA, starting five): 10 games: 6.5ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 60.4%, FT: 31.8%; left in Nov.’11, in Dec.’11 moved to Sigal Prishtina (Kosova-SuperLeague, starting five), later that month signed at SC Rasta Vechta (Germany-ProB, starting five): 19 games: 12.1ppg, Reb-4(10.5rpg), FGP: 53.7%, FT: 51.4%. At the moment he is practicing with Beko BBL s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. He took some time to talk to German Hoops.
Marcus, the summer has come to an end. How was your summer despite not being able to relax having found a basketball job early. What were your summer highlights?
Yeah not having a job lined up wasn’t the most fun thing but I had a chance to spend the summer in Germany and really enjoyed it. I was able to see some cities I haven’t been to before and also won the GRC streetball tournament in Koln so that was kind of cool.
Basketball is the ultimate job that basketball players live for. However each summer it is the same old story, of having to find a new team and not knowing if the basketball ride will continue or not. How frustrating was it this summer not getting a job? With your experience as a player, how are you able to cope with the uncertainty?
It was frustrating but understandable because we didn’t have a successful season and also since I worked with Kirchheim directly and gained that job myself and without an agent it meant that I had to network on my own last summer to find a job and it proved to not be the easiest task and not one I hope to not have to do again. But this is what I love to do so I deal with the uncertainty by continuing to work as hard as I can day in and day out.
After playing in Europe early in your career in countries like Poland, Sweden and Finland, you decided to go back home to Chicago to work in a business and played semi pro ball. In 2008 you decided to give European basketball another shot and have been playing in Germany ever since. At the age of 31 are you slowly thinking about life after basketball or is there still a lot of basketball in your tank?
Well the two years I took off from age 25 to 27 probably gives me a body healthy enough to go for another 4 years if I’m lucky. Fitness is central in my life so that is why I think I’ll still be able to play but life after will probably involve that in some way so it will be a natural transition into fitness training or something like that.
Last season you played for the Kirchheim Knights averaging 11.1ppg, 7.9rpg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg). How happy were you with your individual season? A few years back you achieved double double stats at Cuxhaven and Kirchheim?
If given the minutes I had the first time I played in Kirchhiem I think I probably achieve the same stat line. To be honest I would have been happy with those stats if it led to a successful team, but it didn’t so I wish I would have been able to contribute more.
You played last season with point guard Chris Alexander. He is returning back to Essen this season. He has been a very solid pro A player in Germany. Is he a guy that could still play Beko BBL at the age of 30?
Well I think Chris is a guy more comfortable at the type of place where he is currently at, but he has amazing quickness so if he really wanted to make a go of it I think he could find success in the right situation on the BBL level
There are so many talented players in the Pro A that could play Beko BBL and never will. What experiences have you made in your basketball career with having and not having the important contacts at certain situations?
Well I was lucky to have someone give me a type of opportunity that could of led to the BBL (playing at MBC while they were in the Pro A) but what I experienced there were people consistently trying to find faults in me and not giving me a true chance to succeed. So if you’re good enough I think you’ll get the opportunity but it’s more important to be in a place where they truly believe in you as a player, because you might only get one chance
You are one of these candidates that has had strong stats in the German Pro A and Pro B, but never have had the chance at the Beko BBL level. At age 31 your time is running out. You have seen the Beko BBL league. Do you still feel that you have what it takes to play at that level?
I’m a high energy player that feeds off of the atmosphere of a big game or high pressure environment. It’s why I’ve chased the BBL for so long to test myself in that environment. I think there would be a learning curve because I have been at places where I could solely depend on my athleticism, but with a team that really believed in me yes I think I could find success at that level still
You obviously knew some contact at the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg because you have been practicing with them. What kind of experience has this been for you?
Its been amazing to play with a team of full professionals but also to practice against veterans who have had a lot of success in the BBL such as Boone McNaughton Betz Little and McKinney. But they have a really good group of guys and they should have a successful year. You really can’t compare to being on a team full of people who do basketball as their only job being around that makes you better.
The Wurzburg power forwards Lamont Mack and Jamal Boykins obviously have some inches on you. What kind of experience has it been practicing with them and how have you preformed?
I’ve actually been more at the 5 in drills, but both guys are very solid and Lamont Mack is going to do really great things in this league this year and Ruben Spoden is a young guy who I think will have a great year as well
All you want is a try-out at a Beko BBL team. How would you sell yourself best for teams to gain interest in you?
I would say there are people that are a lot more of a risk to bring in then a guy who is currently practicing with a BBL club and has experience playing in Germany. I work hard am willing to learn and in the right system I think I could contribute to a teams goals
You are an intense and hungry rebounder at 198cm. What things do you need to do differently now under the boards with an increase in age. How does rebounding become differently and do you have to change your game a bit to keep the rebounds plentiful in your arms?
Rebounding is mainly a desire to outwork your opponent for a ball every possession and also maintain your conditioning to be able to have a body that can be an active rebounder. So at a higher level it really comes down to maintaining a high fitness level because your going against GREAT athletes every night.
Two seasons ago you played at SC Rasta Vechta helping them move up to the Pro A. .It seems like luck also has a big role in the basketball lives of players. That could have been a situation where you could of stayed and helped the team move to the Beko BBL. Does the rapid rise of Vechta surprise you?
It really doesn’t because when you have a coach who’s been in the BBL before and build a gym that is able to expand to 3,000 you had the possibly of the BBL in mind even if it wasn’t the goal at the start of the season. But they have a enthusiastic fan base that has become accustomed to winning so it will be interesting to see how their year first year goes.
What memories do you have of Whit Holcomb Faye who has made the jump from the German second Bundesliga to being a top guard in the Dutch league. Is he the best point guard that you played with as a professional?
He made me look a lot better than I was by throwing lobs at the rim anywhere on the court maybe it’s my personal bias but he should have had some type of opportunity in the BBL if he really wanted it, but he’s in a place that really values him and he deserves all of the success he is having now
Where will the journey of the Chicago Bears and Bulls end this season?
I’m not a huge Bears fan but hopefully they will make a run at the playoffs and with a Healthy D Rose the bulls should make some noise in the East, but it’s going to be tough because the East is really great this year
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The Dark Knight Rises
Thanks Marcus for the chat.