David Downs is a 188cm guard from Kirkland, Washington that recently helped Rhein Stars Koeln (Germany-Regionalliga) move up to the German Pro B where he averaged 16,2ppg, 3,3rpg and 5,3apg. He started his rookie season with MBC Mykolaiv (Ukraine-Superleague): 13 games: 14.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.4apg, 2FGP: 47.8%, 3FGP: 43.1%, FT: 71.1%. He played college ball from 2010-2014 at Seattle Pacific (NCAA2) and as a senior played 32 games averaging 20.4ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.7apg, FGP: 50.1%, 3PT: NCAA2-3(47.4%), FT: 87.8%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball as he arrived in Cologne in January 2015 and in June 2015 after completing his season in Germany.
David thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. What is the first piece of basketball advice that you will ask your new boss RheinStars Cologne CEO Stephen Baeck who won the 1993 European title with Germany?
The first piece of basketball advice I asked was more just asking about his time playing and what were some of the highlights he had during his prestigious career. It is great hearing his stories.
You are a rookie and are coming mid season to Germany. Coming from the west coast Washington what do you know about German basketball?
I know that German basketball has always had a reputation of being one of the top countries in Europe when it comes to talent. I know the culture here is one that I would really like. I haven’t been disappointed!
Did your ex teammate at Seattle Pacific (NCAA2) Patrick Simon give you some tips and advice about coming to play in Germany?
Not too much advice other than he told me to have fun and enjoy the city I am in!
How excited are to be playing in Germany for the RheinStars and being a young guy with much experience having many young players as teammates?
I am really excited to be in the city of Cologne, and try and help the other young guys do something special!
You helped the RheinStars defeat FC Schalke 83-80 in your debut scoring 10 points. What kind of experience was it for you?
The first game was an amazing atmosphere and was really encouraging for the potential of this team! Me, personally, I didn’t play my best game but we got the win which is most important. I hope we can really build something special going towards the end of the season.
You played last as a rookie for MBC Mykolaiv (Ukraine-Superleague) and had very good stats. Why did you leave this team in mid season?
I left my team in Ukraine due to financial reasons. The team was not able to pay my salary so I had to leave. It was a great experience and really helped me learn the European style of play quickly.
There are hardly any Americans playing anymore in the Ukraine due to the turmoil there. Did that have an effect on your decision to go? Micah Downs who comes from your hometown Kirkland played in the Ukraine recently also.
It was really difficult at first but over time I got more comfortable with the guys and made some great friends on that team. In regards to why I went there, Ukrainian basketball has a great reputation and is very competitive so I thought playing in the first league was a great chance for a rookie like me.
What was your highlight on the court in the Ukraine? Possibly your 23 points and seven three pointers off the bench? Were you in the zone?
Yeah, I would say that was my highlight for sure. I think I was 7-8 in that game from three so I was definitely feeling good. Our crowd was amazing as well so that helped my momentum.
Now you are coming to a team in the fourth league in Germany. That is quite a step backwards. Do you feel some pressure to have to perform?
I definitely don’t see this as a step backward but more of a unique situation. I think I always put pressure on myself to perform whether it is basketball, education, or whatever.
You are a scoring guard that can hit at a high rate from downtown, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
I think the most unnoticed part of my game is probably my efficiency. I usually pride myself in being an efficient player which is why the last game I wasn’t to happy about my own performance.
Congrats on helping Cologne move up to the German pro B. After starting in the Ukraine how would you sum up your season in terms of team and individual success?
I could not be more happy about the result we got at the end of the season. As far as my own play, I think I accomplished what Stephan and JJ brought me in to do, which was bring some leadership on the court from the PG position.
The club rewarded you with a two year deal. You seem to feel very comfortable in Cologne and have the trust from management. How much do you sense that this organization wants to do big things and reach the BBL?
I definitely feel comfortable in Cologne. The city felt like home as soon as I got there. With our team moving up to Pro A, I am very excited to see how far we can go. I think the BBL is looking more and more realistic.
You had two older veterans with Bernd Kruel and Maran Petric, but how much did you feel like a leader despite your rookie years?
Although I was a rookie, I have been playing point guard my entire life. Being the son of a long time basketball coach, I have always been around the game so no matter my age or tenure on a team, I feel like I can take a natural role of leadership.
What kind of role do you see taking on next season? The club will surely get another strong American?
I see the same type of role as I had last season and then I definitely will be helping the new Americans transition to the city and team.
The club has many very young and talented Germans. Which guy do you feel made the biggest strides in his development in the time where you came?
I think Tim Van derWelde and Leon Baeck were the two that stick out the most. I really enjoy playing with those guys and hope to see them stay with the club.
You won the GNAC tournament in 2013 and 2014. Which win was sweeter for you?
Both wins were unique but probably the ’13 win because we won on a buzzer beater which was pretty fun!
You had a great career at Seattle Pacific (NCAA2) and had a strong rookie campaign in the Ukraine. Do you think it will get harder down the road when you get more established and people stop underestimating you?
I definitely think it will get harder and harder the higher level I play. I think it is human nature to underestimate a player like myself who doesn’t necessarily look the part of a basketball player so hopefully people keep doing it! I definitely feed off that.
How did Ryan Looney get you prepared best for a professional basketball career?
He is big on having good habits such as boxing out and playing hard every possession so I think consistency is what he taught me most.
You interned last summer for the well known company Deloitte Touch and was the valedictorian at Bellevue Christian. How will you keep your mind sharp best intellectually when you are playing basketball in Europe the next years?
I am actually studying in my free time for some different tests to get certified for my line of work. It is a lot of reading and note taking!
Who won a one on one in practice you or Riley Stockton?
I would say I won the majority of the time but he’s got a few on me. He’s the best defender I have ever played with!
How does a summer work out day look like for you on and off the court?
In the summer I train kids during the day and work some summer kids camps at the athletic club where I train. I train in the mornings and usually at nights. I try to get shots and a weight lift in 5 times per week in the summer.
Many have said if Lebron can pull out the 2015 title, he will move up to being the second greatest player ever after Michael Jordan. Do you agree?
I definitely think Lebron will make history if he pulls out the finals. As to what place he will be in all time, it’s hard to say. I think his potential is unlimited so who knows, maybe he could be the best when it is all said and done!
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Thanks David for the chat