Deandre Liggins is a 26 year old 198cm forward that is playing his fourth professional season and has joined the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. He started the season with the Los Angeles Clippers (NBA), in Oct.’14 signed at Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB): Eurocup: 12 games: 6.5ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.4apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 47.4%, 3FGP: 36.7%, FT: 60.0%; VTB United League: 10 games: 7.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 4.7apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 45.0%, 3FGP: 28.6%, FT: 58.3%. He started his basketball career at Kentucky(NCAA) in 2008 and played a total of 99 NCAA games and as a senior played 37 games averaging 8.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 65.0%. In the 2011-2012 season he played for the Orlando Magic (NBA): 17 games: 1.9ppg. In the 2012-2013 season he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA), in Nov.’12 assigned to Tulsa 66ers (D-League, starting five), then called back to Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA): 46 games: 1.4ppg, 1.5rpg, in Dec.’12 assigned to Tulsa 66ers (D-League): 23 games: 12.1ppg, 6.8rpg, 4.3apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 71.0%. Last season he played for the Miami Heat (NBA): 1 game: 2pts, 1reb, in Mar.’14 signed at Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League) playing 47 games: 14.2ppg, 7.1rpg, 4.7apg, Steals-1(2.6spg), FGP: 44.0%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 78.8%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Welcome to Germany Deandre. It has been a whirlwind season for you starting IN Los Angeles, going to Russia and now your in Germany. After being in the United States for the first three years of your career, how would you describe your first time abroad in Europe?
It has been a different experience for me. The food tastes different and it is a totally different plan style. It reminds me a lot of college practicing twice a day and having one game a week. The whole Europe experience has been a motivation to keep playing. I have been in Bremerhaven now three days and today was my first day of practice. I really like the communication in Bremerhaven something I didn´t have in Russia. I have been enjoying every moment in Bremerhaven and just happy I can play here.
What prompted you to come to Germany and too a team near the bottom with a very tough head coach?
It was a matter of me getting repetition. I knew about the situation when I came in. I want to help this team and give it a push and take some momentum into next season. I respect this team a lot for bringing me in and I just want to help the team turn it around. I honestly don´t feel any pressure.
How sad are you that you won´t be playing against ex teammate Darius Miller? He also landed in Germany with team Bamberg.
I know. I am totally upset that I won´t be able to play against him.
The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven stated that they were looking for a 4-5 man, but couldn´t get one and then opted for the best possible player on the market. I guess there isn´t a more better feeling to be wanted than that?
I totally appreciate the Bremerhaven organization and having faith in me. I feel like I owe them.
The club has many scorers, but you have been planned in as being that defensive stopper. Is defense your biggest strength on the floor?
Yes of course. Defense is the reason I got drafted by the NBA. I have always stuck to doing what I do best. But I can do a little bit of everything, but teams have always wanted me for my defense. It has been my calling card my whole career.
You started the season with Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB). What kind of experience was this and what were the main reasons for departing early?
It was an awkward situation for me. When I got in they had just got rid of the coach and some players. There was just no communication there between the president and me. I didn´t feel comfortable there.
What kind of experience was it playing for German head coach Dirk Bauermann? He has coached Dirk Nowitzki in international competition for years? How did he get you ready for European competition?
He was cool. I liked him and he liked me. He liked me because I play defense and he is a defensive orientated guy and is great with the x & o´s. When I came in he came and right away his practices got me ready for the European competition because it was like a training camp.
What was your wake up call to playing in Russia where you knew ok the NBA is very far away from where I am now?
Just knowing that somebody is always watching you. It really doesn´t matter where you are overseas if it is on the court or in a back yard, somebody from the NBA is always watching you. You have to do your job and just play your part on the team.
After playing two seasons in the NBA, in your third season you played mostly in the D-League. Why is it so hard to stay in the NBA?
It´s tough because there are so many players. I am no superstar, but I just keep fighting. The NBA is a big business and I was fortunate to have been drafted coming out of Kentucky where there was a high skill level. I still believe that I have a shot for the NBA. I am ready to make a comeback.
In your rookie season you played 17 games for the Orlando Magic for head coach Stan Van Gundy. What was your wake up call to the NBA where you knew ok I am really an NBA player now?
Just not getting minutes. The season was tough. I played 17 games out of a possible 66 in the strike shortened season. I just kept working hard waiting for an opportunity.
In your second season you played 46 games for the Oklahoma Thunder. After seeing Kevin Durant play for so many years before what could you pick up form him on the court that you have been able to implement into your game now?
Just his demeanor and how he carried himself off the court. On the court I picked up on his jump shot, finding his spots and how well he could handle the ball for his size. However that season I looked up to Thabo Sefolosha the most. He is a mirror image of myself.
After being with NBA teams your first two seasons, you played only 1 NBA game last season for the Miami Heat. How much did you really cherish playing in that game? How vivid is that game still in your mind playing that one NBA game with Lebron James?
The one game I played was the game where Lebron scored 62 points. I will never forget that game. Lebron was hot the whole game. I got in some garbage time at the end scoring two points off an offensive rebound after coming in at the 1.24 minute mark.
You are known for your defense, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
I think that I can play point guard. I think I can pass the ball well and was a point guard in high school. I can play a three position but still distribute like a one. I just like to get people involved and knock down the jumper.
You played at Findlay Prep that has graduated 7 NBA players since 2010 including 2013 #1 Overall Pick Anthony Bennett. What memories do you have as a kid playing at this prestigious school and what is the secret of its success and successful player recruitment?
Michael Peck is a big reason for the success. He was the coach then and now coaches the Idaho Stampede of the D-league. He had a great record in high school and was recently elected to the hall of fame. He gave every kid a fair chance and told you that you had to work on and off the court. He is a very genuine guy with a loving family. I respect him a lot.
How did your game develop and mature from your freshman year to junior year under head coach John Calipari?
He called me into his office and just told me what I had to do to just get minutes. His three words were defend, rebound and 50/50 balls. Being able to do these things got me noticed by the NBA. In my junior year we reached the NCAA Final Four and it was then that I felt I was ready to make the jump to the NBA.
When you look back at your three years at Kentucky do you ever think back and realize with what an amazing group of talented guys you played with guys like John Wall, Doron Lamb, Terence Jones, Darius Miller, Brandon Knight, Jodie Meeks or Patrick Patterson?
I look back and think about the times with them sometimes. I see them on TV so often and it is amazing how well they have done.
Who could forget the amazing 56-55 Uconn win over Kentucky in the 2011 Final four? Was this your most bitter loss in your career?
Yes it was a bitter loss. Everybody was hurt after that loss. We felt that we had the game won, but came up short. Kemba Walker was amazing in that game.
Do you see John Wall being the best point guard in the NBA in the future?
Yes I see him becoming the best point guard in the NBA. I always liked his leadership at Kentucky. He played so hard in practice like he wanted to be the #1 NBA pick. It is incredible how he is leading the Washington Wizzards now and he continues to develop so much.
How many times did you and Romeo Travis trade Lebron stories? I am sure he had many more?
Yes he had more stories. I like Romeo a lot. Knowing Romeo I knew that Lebron only surrounds himself with great people.
Who was your toughest cover in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
James Harden. He is an incredible player that can always get to the free throw line. Even if you play great defense, he finds a way to score. That is what makes him so tough to cover.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Thanks Deandre for the chat.