Ricky Kreklow is a 23 year old 201cm forward from Columbia, Missouri that will be starting his professional basketball career in Germany with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He comes from a sports family as his Father is head coach of the Missouri women’s volleyball team and also played 25 games for the 1980-81 NBA World Champion Boston Celtics, while mother is former head women’s volleyball coach at Missouri and current Director of Volleyball Operations. He played at three colleges in four years with Missouri as a freshman, California in his second and third seasons and with Creighton as a senior. He played a total og 98 NCAA games at the three schools and despite much movement was able to improve his scoring and rebounding average each season in the NCAA. As a senior at Creighton he played 31 games averaging 7.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 50.8%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 72.9%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Ricky thanks very much for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been going?
Currently I am in my hometown of Columbia, Missouri training at the University of Missouri. My parents coach volleyball here and I played my freshman year here before transferring to the University of California-Berkeley following the departure of my head coach.
You have signed your first professional contract with German team Bayer Giants Leverkusen. How thrilled are you to be starting your professional career in Germany?
I am very excited for this opportunity to play for a club with such rich history. In a country that a large part of my ancestry originated from.
How was your first experience testing the summer transfer market? You certainly had experience in college doing it.
Unfortunately, in my college career I saw multiple coaches leave the program I was playing for leading to my choice to transfer. Transferring is always a tricky process but with the right support system and attitude it can make the process much easier. My transfer from Mizzou my freshman year it came down to choosing between California and Gonzaga. The transfer from Cal to Creighton my choices were between Creighton, Virginia, Nebraska, Butler, Arkansas and Baylor.
You couldn´t have asked for a better agency to sign with then Scorers First? Did you get that needed trust in agent Gerrit quickly when you got to know him?
And I am incredibly pleased with the work Gerrit has done for my career this early in the process. I heard nothing but great things about him and the agency as a whole from everyone I would talk to when deciding on what agency to hire. He has been very honest with me throughout the process of finding a team and this is what has lead me to trust his opinion so much.
What were the main reasons for joining the Bayer Giants Leverkusen? Was the fact that this team has won the most BBL titles and is rich in tradition like the Boston Celtics is where your dad played 25 games a big factor in making your decision?
I chose to join this club because of the high praise that Gerrit had for the program and the head coach. It has rich tradition of being an elite club and this is why it is so similar to the Boston Celtics of the NBA which my Dad played for years ago.
What do you know about the country Germany and its basketball? Does anything else come to mind besides Castles, Boris Becker and Dirk Nowitzki?
I know that Germany has by far the most dominant national soccer program in the world. love playing with Bayern Munich Xbox too haha. My family on my Dad’s side has roots in the Dresden area. But I do love Dirk and would love to see some castles for the first time in my life. I am also eager to adjust to the style of play of the German league.
How excited are you to be playing together with new Leverkusen point guard Diante Watkins? Like you he is looking to make the next step in his career as he moves form the German Pro B to Pro A
I don’t really know too much about this new player but I am eager to get to know him and look forward to playing alongside him this upcoming season.
You are coming in as a rookie from the more up and down style of the NCAA and one on one play to the more structured European style. On what things are you working on now on your game so that you will be ready when you arrive in training camp in Leverkusen soon?
I have been working on all aspects of my game this summer while at home. I want to continue to excel as a shooter but would also like to develop more of a post game as well given my size as a guard. I believe that I have a good feel for the game. I have always been a good passer and creator of the dribble or ball screen. Additionally I feel I have always grown into a position of leadership with the teams I have been on.
It isn´t untypical anymore now a days to transfer, but still there are always reasons. You played freshman basketball at Missouri, then played two seasons at California and then as a senior were at Creighton. What were the main reasons for all this movement as a college player?
In college I never decided to transfer based on selfish or shortsighted reasons. Each time I transferred, it revolved around the departure of my current head coach from the program. After each time I felt like the best decision for me was to have the ability to find a coach and program that offered a good fit for my abilities and goals as a player.
You improved your scoring and rebounding each season in the NCAA. What was the most difficult thing in this time with all the movement when having to adapt to new locations and styles of basketball? Creighton head coach Greg Mcdermott has stated you were such a positive spirit in the locker room last year. Where has this positive outlook on things come from?
My positive outlook has come from my parents coaching background. They have always preached to me to only worry about what is within your control and to always seek to make a positive influence on the lives and situations around you. I enjoy making others happy and there is nothing better than a team that enjoys playing and spending time with each other. That is why I try so hard to have a positive impact on the teams I play on. Additionally, I have had to deal with a lot of bad luck in college so I could have either sulked about it all or decided to move on and continue to get better and focus on the day at hand and not about what happened in the past.
You played two seasons with Justin Cobbs and reached the 2014 NIT Elite 8. What was your fondest memory of him on an off the court? Did you enjoy his buzzer beater against Arizona or Oregon more on the court?
There are too many funny memories with Justin since we lived together for two years while at Cal but I always enjoyed how goofy and funny he could be. I also loved his ability to make big shots on the court. I enjoyed his shot against Arizona more since they had not been beaten yet that year.
In 2014 he was the last cut of the Charlotte Hornets and this summer played no role on the NBA summer league team of Charlotte. Was this a good lesson for you that reaching the NBA isn´t only tough, but a business, luck, being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people?
Justin’s situation is a perfect example of someone who is good enough to compete in the NBA but just hasn’t had the right opportunity yet to show he belongs. Luck plays a large role in making the NBA.
What was your season highlight last season? Your 19 points in the win against Marquette or your 18 points in the victory against Central Arkansas?
I would say my season highlight would be Marquette. I would have had the single game record for 3’s there had I not shot a shot from out of bounds. My heels tapped the sideline. So I only tied the record. But It was a great home game in front of 18,000 fans and what was the best part is we won the game.
It seemed like the hustle play against Marquette seems to be also remembered. Is there a little of Larry Bird that has rubbed off on you?
But I love Larry Bird and how he played the game so any comparison to him is much appreciated. I always try to play hard and play unselfishly.
How did Creighton head coach Greg Mcdermott prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach always pushed me to become the best player I could be. It was never easy but in the end it was worth it.
Who won one on one in practice last season you or James Milliken?
And I would say James and I would tie a lot in one on one haha
When you were a freshman at Missouri you were teammates with Phil Pressey who played with the Boston Celtics last season. What memories do you have of him and was it evident then that he might reach the NBA from your stand point?
Phil was my freshman year roommate so we have plenty of memories so it is hard to pick just one. But I knew Phil was a special player. He has a great feel for the game and is one of the best passers I have ever played with.
How does a typical summer work out day look like for you in the summer of 2015?
I will go and workout at Mizzou for an hour to an hour and a half and day for my basketball part of the workout. Then I do jumping exercises and either run or ride my bike for endurance exercise. I also enjoy doing hot yoga.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? What does he still need to do to be mentioned in the same breath with Michael Jordan?
Lebron James is going to be one of the greatest to ever play the game but he will always be fighting the thoughts about how Michael is better. In my opinion MJ is better. He had a killer instinct that LBJ does not have. LBJ is sometimes to unselfish at times. Also I feel like he is always trying to prove to people he can shoot. If I were him I would only shoot open 3’s and try and drive the basket every time. He is too strong and powerful to be stopped on a consistent basis if he is aggressive. He needs to continue to win championships not just individual awards
What was the last movie that you saw?
Last movie I saw was Gladiator.
Thanks Ricky for the chat.