Lakeem Jackson is a 24 year old 196cm forward from Charlotte, North Carolina that will play his third professional season and first in Germany with German Pro A team RheinStars. He played his first two professional seasons with BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL). He started his basketball career in 2009 with South Carolina(NCAA) where he played a total of 120 NCAA games and as a senior played 32 games averaging 7.5ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 33.9%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Lakeem thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been going for you?
At the moment I am in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina headed to Florida to visit my girlfriend. Summer has been great! Full of fun, relaxation and also hard work
After two very solid professional seasons with BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL), you have decided to make a move and come to Germany and play for German pro A team RheinStars Cologne. Why did you decide to make this decision?
It’s always been a goal of mine to play in the country of Germany. It is one of the top countries for competitive basketball in Europe, so why not join a club like RheinStars Cologne, who has a great history of basketball.
Did you get some tips from ex South Carolina teammate Sam Muldrow who played in Germany last season with Baunach?
I actually have not spoken with Sam about the league and country. I asked my friend Andre Marhold who played for the Giessen 46ers. He told me it is a great league and I should do well!
What do you know about the country of Germany and its Basketball? Do you have friends that are playing professionally in Germany?
Football (soccer) is very popular in Germany, and the language is Deutschland. As far as basketball, I know that Dirk Nowitzki is a German basketball great who plays in the NBA. My friend Brandyn Curry will be playing for Bremerhaven in northern Germany.
What was your first impression of manager Stephan Baeck? Where you informed about his rich basketball history?
Actually I have not spoken to Stephan Baeck just yet. But when I asked my new teammate David Downs about the club, he had some great things to say about him.
If not he was a German national player and won the 1993 European championship as Germany then the total underdog upset Russia. How important is it for you to be involved with people that are used to winning?
Its very important! It means that the vibe and the mentality of the locker room will always be business first. He knows what it takes to win and I’m sure he’ll give us some great advice.
Baaeck also was manager of now defunct team Rhein Energie Cologne that won three cups and a BBL title in the last 15 years. Have you felt how big the urge is for this team to reach the BBL as quickly as possible as that is their goal?
Yes I have. My agent informed me on the success of the club and that they want to get back to that feeling. I’m excited and anxious to get to work!
You weren´t much of a scorer in the NCAA with South Carolina, but broke out in Slovakia showing your talent to score. How confident were you becoming a professional that you could help teams with your scoring ability?
In college I was more of a defensive stopper. But once I got to Slovakia, I had a great group of players around me and my role changed to rebounding and scoring.
The RhineStars really wanted you. You are a very athletic player that can defend many positions. You have talented American David Downs as the other import. Do you see yourself having a similar role like in Slovakia where the team will depend you not only to score, but do everything else as well?
That’s been my role for some time now. Guarding multiple positions, rebounding and scoring. If that’s the role coach wants me to play, then I’ll get it done. I just love the game and having fun with it.
You can really fill up the stats sheet, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed on the court?
My passing ability. I love to distribute the ball to my teammates.
How vivid are last years playoffs still? You were swept by Handlova 3-0. Had you won game 2, do you think that could have changed the momentum in your favor?
Last year was a tough season for us (Svit) as a team. But we stayed positive and kept fighting. I do believe if we would have won game 2 then it could’ve gave us a boost.
You scored in double figures in 33 of 34 games last season. Has consistency always been on your menu or has it come from experience?
Yes! That was taught to me at an early age. Always take smart and confident shots. Never try to be someone you’re not, because not only will it hurt you, but it will hurt your team.
You had many monster games last season, but where do you rank your 23 point 18 rebound explosion against Karlovka?
That was definitely a game to remember for me. It ranks 2nd in my book though. Back in high school I had a 26point, 18 assist and 6 rebound game. I love flying around the court and making plays
How important was American Wesley Channels for you in your rookie season on and off the court. He found you time and time out on the court game by game.
I miss playing with Wesley Channels. He was a very intelligent person and basketball player. His IQ on the floor and ability to distribute and score was fun to be a part of. I think we should have won the championship that season.
What was your wake up call to be a rookie in Slovakia where you knew that you were very far away from home in North Carolina?
Actually there were two! The first was when I wanted to eat at one of my favorite food places and the second was when the snow started to fall. It was so much snow and extremely cold. I didn’t pack the correct clothes.
You played at South Carolina(NCAA) from 2009-2013 and three seasons for Darrin Horn who had you early in your development. How did he prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Horn was a very knowledgeable coach. He taught me to do the small things, the things that most people don’t acknowledge on the floor. Like boxing out so that a teammate can get the rebound, diving on the floor for loose basketballs and he also taught me to enjoy the game.
As a senior at South Carolina(NCAA) you played 32 games: 7.5ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 33.9%. You didn´t win any titles or reach the NCAA tournament, but what was your most special moment on the court in your 4 years there?
My most memorable time on the floor was my freshman year. We defeated the University of Kentucky on our home floor while they were #1 in the country. They had John Wall, Patrick Patterson, Demarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. Each of those guys are successful NBA players now.
You played your first two seasons of college ball with Florida native Ramon Galloway that was a rookie in Germany with the Fraport Skyliners. What will you remember most of him? His toughness on the court or his friendly nature off the court?
Both of those descriptions describe him perfectly! We formed a great bond while we played together. He pushed me to play my heart out on the floor and I still keep in contact with him
If you were to meet point guard Brandyn Curry on the court tomorrow who would win the most one on one games if you played 10?
That’s a great question. Brandyn and I played summer basketball together when we were younger. I think I would win the most games though, but don’t tell him I said that.
Who would win a one on one game in practice you or Michael Carrera?
Michael is one of the most passionate players I’ve ever met and he is also the first person I’ve come across that matches my intensity and hunger on the court. It would be a tough matchup but I think I would win that one as well.
How does a work out day look like for you in 2015 on and off the court?
I wake up at 7:45-8:00am and eat breakfast. Head to the gym for a 9:00am workout for about 2hrs this consists of form shooting, ball handling and conditioning. I then rest for a few hours, return to the gym to lift weights and after I lift I play 5 on 5. I try to lift every other day alternating upper and lower body.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
I haven’t used a DVD in a while. But the last movie I saw was Jurassic Worlds.
Thanks Lakeem for the chat.