Jeff Xavier is a 29 year old 189cm point guard from Pawtucket, Rhode Island that will be playing his seventh professional season and first in Germany after playing his first six years as a professional in Spain. He started his basketball career at Manhattan (NCAA) in 2004 where he played until 2006 playing a total of 60 NCAA games. He then moved to Providence (NCAA) in 2007 where he played his last two seasons of college ball playing a total of 64NCAA games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 9.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 35.6%, 3Pts: 29.1%, FT: 80.0%. In 2009 he started his professional basketball career with Leche Rio Breogan Lugo (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 38 games and averaging 12.9ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 41.5%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 76.8%. In the 2010-2011 season he played for Caceres 2016 C.B. (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 38 games averaging 9.7ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.4apg, Steals-5(1.6spg), FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 69.6%. In the 2011-2012 season he played for Faymasa Palencia Baloncesto (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 32 games averaging 13.8ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.3apg, Steals-3(2.0spg), FGP: 44.3%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 76.7%. He played the last three seasons for Autocid Ford Burgos where he was twice LEB Gold champion. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Jeff thanks for talking to German Hoops.Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Hello, it is a pleasure doing this interview with you. I am currently in Rhode Island where I was born and raised. The summer has been good, just enjoying my time as best as I can with my family and just trying to a better person and basketball every single day to get ready for the upcoming season in Bayreuth!
After six years of professional ball in Spain you have left there and will play your first season away from there and in Germany for medi Bayreuth. Did you get sick of eating Paella? Lol
Six years in Spain feels like a long time but the time went by really fast and the time there has been amazing! Burgos,Spain is the birthplace of my first born daughter and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Lol I never really ate a lot of paella while in Spain but when I did, it was always amazing! There are some great restaurants and a lot of options for food so I tried to switch it up a lot.
You played the last three seasons with Autocid Ford Burgos winning two LEB Gold league titles. Did you just feel it was time to leave when it was sweetest?
Yes! As far as my professional career, it was the best three years I ever had playing basketball! I loved every year I was there! But I did as much as I could with Burgos and that league and it was definitely time to move on and succeed somewhere else in a bigger stage and move on.
In my eurobasket article about you on your signing with medi Bayreuth I titled you traded in the paella for Brodwerschd. This is a type of German hot dog. Are you excited about getting to know the tasty German food as well as its basketball?
Haha! Yes when I read that I didn’t know what Brodwerschd until you told me now! But, yes I am excited to try all the German foods because I love food! Haha so we will see if the food is great, which I hope!
What do you know in general about the country Germany and its basketball? Do you have any friends playing in Germany?
I know that the BBL is a great league with great atmosphere through out the league and the fan base of every team is amazing and that excites me a lot to play at home and hectic arenas through out Germany! I do not know much about the country because that’s one country I’ve never been to but I am excited to get to know everything about the country! I do not know anyone playing I Germany currently.
What was the deciding moment where you knew that medi Bayreuth was the right team for you? Did you have talks with head coach Michael Koch?
I am the type of person/player that I go where I am wanted and I will have a role as a leader and where I can play comfortable and play my game. That’s why I chose Medi Bayreuth pretty fast. They wanted me right away and I talked to Coach Michael and he told me wat he wanted from me and we went from there. I can’t wait to arrive and work as hard as I can and continue great success there in Bayreuth!
You are turning 30 in September and are in your best basketball age. I am sure the decision to move to medi Bayreuth your first stop outside Spain a place where you were successful and comfortable must have been planned out carefully?
Yes! As I was saying from the last question, I am at a point in my basketball career where I must take it to the next level and now I have that perfect opportunity in Bayreuth! I am turning 30 but I feel like I am in the best shape of my life!
You are a combo guard and will share the shooting guard position with Canadian Daniel Mullings who is a rookie. The young buck and the experienced buck. Do you see yourself as being a type of mentor to him?
Yes, I feel I can be just because I’ve playing overseas for 6 years and if he is going through any hard times adjusting to European basketball I can definitely step in and tell him a few things that I did to adjust, but I am sure he will be fine and have a great year!
When looking at your stats, you have been a consistent scorer in Spain in the LEB Gold averaging double figures stats in five of six seasons, but shot over 40% from downtown only once. Is three point shooting something that is a constant thing that you are working on?
Yes it is! Last year was the first year I was really consistent and I never changed my shot! I felt confident all year and continue to feel confident and there should be no reason why I wouldn’t shoot over 40 percent again this coming year! This summer that’s really all I have been working on. My shot feels at its highest level in my career so we will see if I can continue that!
Scoring and defense are definite strengths in your game, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
Yes I love to score and more importantly I love defense and love to get steals and do whatever it takes to get 1 win! But I think sometimes what doesn’t get noticed is how hard I play every single game. I sacrifice my body every single play to get my team a basket on offensive or a stop on defense
You played the last two seasons with 205cm American Taylor Coppenrath who averaged 23ppg in his last three seasons at Vermont(NCAA) and like you has had a very solid professional basketball career in Spain. Where do you rank him in your alltime best teammates you have had since turning professional?
Taylor to me is one of my best teammates I’ve ever played with! On and off the court he is a guy you always want to be around, he is a great team player, unselfish, and a force down low and can do it all! He is always positive and just an all around great person and basketball player!
He played many years in the LEB Gold, but started in the first division then called ACB. Did it bother you that you never reached the first Spanish league after being in Spain six years? How difficult is it making that jump from the LEB Gold to the first something I am sure you tried?
I am not going to lie, it bothered me that I never got to the first league mainly because I feel like there’s not much else I could of done in the LEB to get to the first league. Like I said earlier if a team doesn’t want me as one of their top guys then I don’t want any part of the team because I don’t want to be a player where I just don’t feel comfortable and can’t play my game. Everything happens for a reason so I am very happy with career and where I am headed next year! I couldn’t any happier going to Medi Bayreuth this year!
In your second season in Spain you played with Caceres and was teammates with ex Orlando Magic first round pick Ryan Humphrey and NBA journeyman Jelani Mccoy. What memories do you remember having with these older gentlemen then as you were a young buck?
The memories I had playing with those two was all good memories. They taught me a lot about the game and how to take of your body and all the mental part of the game. It was a great experience playing with two guys that played in the highest league in the world.
As a rookie you played for Leche Rio Breogan Lugo. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Spain where you knew that you were very far away from Rhode Island?
As soon as I landed in Spain! Haha it was a completely different atmosphere all across the board, meaning the food, apartment, city and obviously country! I was pretty lost at first with the language but eventfully I became to absolutely love everything Spain!
At Leche Rio Breogan Lugo you were teammates with then rookie Jeff Adrien who had had a stellar career at UCONN and then made it to the NBA, but had to prove himself in the Spanish second league first. Is he a good example where a good attitude and hard work will get you to where you want to be?
Of course he is a good example! He worked really hard to be where he is today and I saw that with my own eyes. On top of his great talent and work ethic, he actually is a great person and friend!
You played your first two seasons at Manhattan (NCAA) and in your second season had stellar stats playing 31 games: 16.6ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.9apg, 2.3spg, FG: 43.4%, 3PT: 35%, FT: 79.8%. You then moved to Providence. In hindsight was this the right career choice then and why did you do it?
I mainly transferred to Providence because my coach at Manhattan which was Bobby Gonzalez went to Seton Hall so that made me go from Manhattan to Providence(which was always the school I wanted to go to). I wanted to play in the best basketball conference in America and it happened so I am happy I made that decision!
You had two coaches at Providence with Tim Welsh and Keno Davis. How did they respectively prepare and groom you best for a professional basketball career?
One of my favorite coaches of all time was Tim Welsh, he was a players coach and always looked out for his players and wanted to win as badly as anyone I know! He taught hard work and defense and that got me ready for my professional career. As far as Keno Davis, he was a different coach as Tim Welsh and didn’t really understand his style of play too much so it didn’t really help me.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Sharaud Curry who later played in Germany as well?
Haha good question! We used to play one on one a lot in the summer but I would say I won more games than him!
Who was the toughest player that you battled against in college that is in the NBA now?
This is a great question! I have played against many NBA players in college but I think my toughest would be Johnny Flynn from Syracuse.
You had a very troubled childhood as your father was in jail, but you were able to put that all behind you go to college at at almost 30 years of age blessed to have had a very good professional basketball career. Do you think every day how blessed you are that everything turned out good for you?
I think about t every single day of my life. I was raised only by my mother with almost no money and had 4 other siblings living in poverty. I was raised in the projects with a lot of people around that was a bad influence for me that involves drugs, guns, and many more illegal activities that I never took part of. I chose not to do anything that would jeopardize playing professional basketball! I am blessed every day to be in the position I am today. My mom always did a lot for me growing up and she did the best she can! And also my wife did a lot to help me get where I am today. I met her when I was 17 years old and fell in love with her immediately and she did everything possible for me to be where I am today so I am blessed and happy that I got out of the rough childhood and made it professionally. I love my family and wife and her family for everything they have done to help me get where I am today!
How difficult was it living in Rhode Island and having to choose a sports team? Did you root more for Boston or New York teams?
For me it is not difficult at all. I actually don’t like any New York sports teams! Haha I am New England everything! I don’t really watch professional basketball all that much, only in the playoffs. I love to watch American football. New England Patriots all the way! #freeTomBrady haha!
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
He is the best player in the world and my favorite player because he is unselfish, he wins, he plays hard and he’s a great person off the court. As far as stats, Lebron will probably pass all of the stats that MJ had but only if he wins as many championships will he be mentioned in the same breathe. We will see! But MJ is my favorite player of all time!
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I watched was a movie called run all night with Liam Neeson and I was a decent movie.
Thank you for the chat Jeff.