Japhet Mcneil is a 29 year old 183cm point guard that has been playing professionally since 2008. He started his basketball career in 2003 with East Carolina(NCAA) where he played until 2006 playing a total of 81NCAA games. He then moved to Bridgeport (NCAA2) where he played 31 games averaging 16.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.9apg, StealsNCAA2-1(4.0spg), FGP: 38.3%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 67.3%. In 2008-2009 he started his professional basketball career with USC Heidelberg (Germany-ProA,) playing 30 games: 14.8ppg, 3.1rpg, Assists-1(7.9apg), Steals-1(3.5spg), FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 24.1%, FT: 63.3%- In the 2009-2010 season he played for Kori-Konkarit Loimaa (Finland-1st Division) playing 5 games: 9.8ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.8apg, 3.4spg, FGP: 35.0%, 3PT: 19.0%, FT: 50.0%. In the 2010-2011 season he played for BG Karlsruhe (Germany-ProA): 3 games: 4.0ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.7apg. In the 2011-2012 season he returned to the States and played for the Connecticut TopBallerz (ABA). IN the 2012-2013 season he played for the BSW Sixers (Germany-ProB): 14 games: 4.5ppg, 1.6rpg, 4.1apg, 1.5spg. Last season he played for the Black Frogs in Luxemburg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball and Danilo Barthel.
Japhet thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your summer?
Hey miles, thanks for having it’s always a pleasure. Currently I’m in the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas. Vacationing with loves ones. I will return to New York city shortly and pick up where I left off by putting that pain in at the gym, Summer has been awesome this is one of my better summers!
You played in Luxemburg last season and had a very strong season. After playing in countries like Germany and Finland, what kind of an experience was it balling in Luxemburg?
Hooping in Luxemburg was honestly a gracious period for me, I didn’t know what to expect. It was a unique situation that I made the best out of. I had some of the best teammates there they embraced me like I was family from day one, It’s something that I will always cherish.
You really had a solid season especially scoring the ball. How important was it for you getting minutes again something you hadn´t really had since your season in Finland and before that with Heidelberg?
This year was unique because all my career I was ask to be a leader, I’ve always been a true point, pass 1st shoot 2nd. But this year my role was to be all of the above and because of injuries and lack of scoring on offense I needed to score the ball a bit more than usual while taking on the leadership role. I believe I needed that. I needed to be able to prove that I can score the ball while being able to distribute and get my teammates in the game. Playing at Bsw Sixers ( German bundisliga 2) kind of hurt me because I wasn’t able to get a comfortable role to max out my potential. When your playing 13-14 minutes per game because of a set rotation, when you get in the game your focus is not to make mistakes and to stay in the game as long as possible. When you don’t have to look over your shoulder any good player performance will rise!
How is your strategy now during the summer and your search for a team? Would you like to come back to Germany? How is the search coming along at the moment?
I always hate the business aspect for the off season. You here about openings for jobs and you think your qualified but they fall through for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s frustrating but that’s the name of the game! I would return to Germany most definitely without a doubt. Playing for Heidelberg was fun. The league is competitive, good talent and they have playoffs! Currently I’m still a free agent available taking inquiries. Hopefully not for too too long
After your successful season in Luxemburg, your confidence level must be very high this season. You are 29 and at the best basketball age. Do you see yourself still being able to develop as a professional basketball player?
Yea miles after a successful statistic season my arrows are up! I know it wasn’t the most competitive league but it wasn’t the worse on the flip side. At the end of the day the ball has to go in the hoop. I was asked to help a team that was down due to unfortunate injuries etc. To come in and help the team remain in the league. The odds was against as usual but I took on the challenge and it all worked out. I’m the guy that can get the job done. Every day I learn. Everyday. I am always going to be a student of the game. Learning and getting better will never get old to me. That’s the beauty of this game. Your always able to grow. Mentally, physically, emotionally etc.
Now lets go back to your rookie season Japhet. You played for USC Heidelberg where you led the German Pro A with 7,9 assists. You played together with American Jibril Hodges where you guys made everything look so easy. The team had talented players and also a 17 year old kid named Danilo Barthel that now just finished 2 weeks of NBA Summer League in Orlando and Las Vegas. How crazy is that when you remember his start in Heidelberg?
I’m so proud of Danillo. But honestly I’m not surprised at all. Sometimes when you see a kid and he has the goods you know he got that “IT” Danillo Barthel had it. He worked extremely hard, he was always humble, had good foot work with good outside touch while being able to display athleticism. What surprised me was his growth spurt! He was 6 ‘6- 6’7 when we were teammates, I’m not sure, but I’m guessing now he is 6’9-6’10 easy. When you combine all of that, along with youth and a high basketball IQ, I think we have yet to see the best from Danilo. He will only get better.
When you look back at your season with Danilo Barthel in Heidelberg and see where he is now, would you ever have predicted that he would make it to the NBA Summer League?
I didn’t know exactly where he would end up but I knew he was going to be successful if he stayed with it and continued to take his approach that he took as a basketball player. It just goes to show that the sky is the limit when you continue to believe in yourself while putting the pain in!
You met up with him a few months ago. What do you think has been his biggest attribute that has brought him this far. Has his hard work outweighed his talent?
1st and foremost his size ( pause ) and he’s agile. He was never your typical power foward. Danillo had great hands, one thing he did well was pick up on the speed of the game. He was able to make adjustments at a young age. When we played back in 2008-2009 he wasn’t the Danillo he is now but you’d see characteristics and potential on how good he can be. Now look !!
Back as a rookie in Heidelberg, you were a leader at age 23 while he was 17. What 1-1 memories do you remember having with him on and off the court?
Hmmm what memories do I remember that we shared?!? Throughout the season we had plenty of good memories but I guess it was the time when I knew he was “ready” ready. Coach Torsten Daume put Danillo in a clutch game, I think it was against MBC when they had that amazing run with Wayne Bernard, Chavis, Gilbert etc. Danillo wasn’t scared at all he played extremely well to be 17-18 years old. Had a two hand dunk off of my assist and all, we ended up crushing them by 20 points. That day our fans of Heidelberg came out. Gym was rocking! That year MBC lost 1 game and it was to the hands of us. That was one of our best on court experiences I’d have to say!!!
He had a very impressive NBA Summer League totally being able to compete with the young and talented future NBA players. Where do you see his career still going? Could he make to the top level in Europe or even possibly the NBA some day?
Sky’s the limit for DB. I really wish the best for him and his family. His mom is amazing, he has a good support system I’m sure, I think the only person that can get in the way of Danillo is Danillo. Proud to say he is an ex teammate as well as a friend.
How does a normal Japhet Mcneil work out day look like in the summer of 2014 on and off the court?
My workout consist of different elements that helps my game. I have a trainer and he is a genius. A basketball guru. He actually just finished his career playing in pro (a) France, Ettiene brower. The beauty of basketball is when you compete against these players growing up and throughout your career you gain good relations and that’s one thing that I love about my job. My job as a player is to work hard with a clear mind and intentions to get better. He does the rest.
Where will the journey of the Cavs end this season with Lebron, Irving, Bennett, Wiggans and co?
I’m hoping they do well. My extended family is really good friends with Kyrie. I was fortunate to hang out and share some laughs with the big homie d. Irv that’s Kyrie’s dad. He’s an awesome dude, so without a doubt I’m pulling for the Irving family.
When you look back at all the great short stops in the history of MLB where would you put Derek Jeter?
I’m not the biggest baseball fan but I know enough. Derek Jeter is a class act. 1st ballot hall of famer. I’m so happy I can say I come from a city that a player like Derek Jeter played in and became the player that he is. Greatness, leader, champion, skills etc are words that come to mind when you mention a player of his stature. I’d put him top 3 if not the best ever!
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
My last DVD/movie I saw was the Lenny Cooke documentary. Great inspirational story of a basketball from Brooklyn, New York. Also a good friend of mine. I like to support my peers, keep it all in the family!!!
Thanks Japhet for the chat.
Miles thanks for having me wish you all the best! And as always it’s a pleasure buddy