Ian Sheldon is a 196cm forward from Traverse City, Michigan that is starting his professional basketball career in Germany with Regionaliga team TV Langen. He played basketball and football at Hillsdale (NCAA2). He spoke to German Hoops recently before he made the trip to Germany to join his new team TV Langen.
Ian thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment an dhow is your summer going?
Currently I’m on my way home from Philadelphia. I was out there playing in The Basketball Tournament – a $1 million nationwide professional tournament. My summer is going great! Spending all of my time in the gym training and with family and friends.
Welcome to your future new second home Germany. You have signed a contract to play for TV Langen. How blessed do you feel at the moment for getting a chance like this?
I feel incredibly blessed to have received this opportunity. It was always my dream to play professional basketball. It’s hard to fully convey how grateful I am to be playing professionally for TV Langen.
It is never easy to find a basketball job especially as a rookie. How did this contact come about? Did TV Langen manager Jogi Barth approach you or was there an agent or middle men that helped get this cooperation to work?
you’re right – it wasn’t easy at all to get signed. Fortunately my dad found a great camp agency for me to attend (Slammers Basketball Pro Exposure Combine) put on by a great agency (Slammers). My dad is the one who found my agent, Iska Waterloh, and she really helped me find a good team along with the rest of her agency. There was actually someone who’s great friends with the new coach Frank Mueller that told him about me. After that he watched the game film and then offered me a contract.
What kind of experience was it being the MVP of the Slammers Basketball Pro Exposure Combine in Bonn, Germany, June 5-7. I suppose that was about as good as a stage for you to display your basketball talent?
It was a great experience to play in the Slammer’s combine and being named the MVP was the icing on the cake. It was unexpected, but it just proved to me that hard work really does pay off. It’s driven me to work even harder this summer. For me that camp was very very important for me to showcase exactly what I’m able to do as a basketball player.
Does an experience like that and the fact that you dominated the try out in Bonn put your senior stats of 2,1ppg and 1,3rpg in the backround?
I don’t ever let my stats from my senior define who I am as a player. The role I played on my college team is very different one than the one I will play overseas. I was named the Defensive MVP by my coaches and teammates. I knew I could score more and how I played at the Slammer’s combine proved that to everyone else.
What was your first impression of Germany? What was your overall impression of the basketball, people and country in general?
I’d actually been to Germany previously so I was very excited to come back. We mostly played against just Americans so I haven’t experienced German ball for myself yet, but from what I’ve seen on YouTube and from talking with people who have played there the basketball is very competitive. I’m excited to see for myself. My impressions of the people were all very positive – everyone was very polite and helpful to someone not familiar with the country. I’m looking forward to learning a lot about the country and culture first hand.
What was most lasting with your talk with Kalyn McPherson who played in Germany that got you more interested about coming to Germany?
From my talk with Kalyn I really took to heart one thing – enjoy everything about the experience, especially the basketball.
You played basketball as a kid and then switched to football and then back to basketball for your last two years at Hillsdale. What did you miss most about basketball that made the decision easier to come back?
I missed everything about basketball. I consider myself a student of the game. I truly love the entire process – nutrition, weight training, cardiovascular training, individual workouts, film study, and of course the games. After watching 2 of my younger brother’s college games live I felt it in my heart that I needed to be playing basketball again.
How difficult was it getting into basketball shape? You lost around 90 pounds. How important was discipline the last two years as your football frame was no longer there, but a more trim basketball frame?
Losing all of that weight was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had to learn a lot about nutrition so that I could diet properly and still get all of the nutrients my body needs. Discipline played and still plays a huge role in my success to be in top physical shape. Your body is a machine and what you put in it determines how well you will perform.
You played as a defensive end in high school and Hillsdale. Now when you look back on your football days what do you miss most?
I think what I miss most about football is the physicality of it – yes basketball is physical, but there’s nothing quite like football in that aspect.
Is there a football aspect that has helped you on the basketball court or do you just have the football memories that you can´t in some way use on the basketball court?
The thing that football taught me that translates over to basketball is that I needed to fall in love with the weight room. It’s incredibly important to be physically strong in order to compete at a high level for basketball.
You didn´t play much as a senior and only averaged 2,1ppg and 1,3rpg. Was a professional basketball career always on your mind?
I actually played a lot more than the averages show. At the start of the season I wasn’t playing at all, but by the end of the season I was starting and playing over 20 minutes a game because I refused to give up and kept working as hard as I could. My role in college wasn’t to score – it was to defend and I excelled at that. It wasn’t until after the season that I started to focus fully on preparing for a potential professional career.
With TV Langen you most likely will play shooting guard or small forward. Describe your game a bit?
From what my coach has told me I’ll be playing a 2/3 combo guard. First and foremost I’m an explosive slasher with the ability to finish both left and right above the rim. I also have a very strong midrange jump shot. I’m also a lockdown defender. This summer I have been working on improving my ball handling skills and 3 point shooting – which I will need for overseas.
What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
A hidden strength of mine is my jumping ability. Looking at me you would never guess that I have a 40″ max vertical jump.
How did John Tharp help get you prepared for a professional basketball career on and off the court?
Coach Tharp was and still is a fantastic mentor. You could always go to him with problems or for advice and he always had very thought out and insightful advice. He demanded respect, discipline, and hard work both on and off the court. Our practices and what he expected from you as a man prepared me for professional basketball.
Tim Dezelski was a star at Hillsdale and tore up the league in Luxemburg as a rookie posting 17 and 15 stats. What memories do you have of his game when you played your first basketball season with Hillsdale and what could you learn from his game?
My memories of Tim from Hillsdale are of me doing whatever it took to stay with him on defense and harass and bother his offensive game. Coach Tharp tasked me guarding him all year and that taught me how to be a great defender by having to guard such a good player every day. He has a great low post game and I was able to pick up on some of his moves. I think those will be beneficial overseas because I’ll be able to use my size and strength on smaller defenders.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Lucas Grose?
Haha I’ve actually never played Lucas in 1v1. If we played now I’m confident I would win.
You have an Irish name, but also German blood. What was your early impression of the German food. Do you think you will tend to enjoying the German food more or be prone to getting the abundance of American fast food that is everywhere?
I enjoyed all of the German food that I tried while I was there in June. I’m looking forward to continuing to try new things when I come back. I don’t eat fast food at all actually. I prepare and cook all of my own meals. I eat incredibly healthy while I’m at home in the U.S. and I’ll continue to do that in Germany.
Where is the Lebron legacy in 2015? Will he ever be able to be named in the same breath as Michael Jordan?
I’ll never compare LeBron to MJ. However, he’s the best player in the world right now so I have to respect his game. MJ will forever be the GOAT though.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The last movie I watched on DVD would have been The Avengers and then I just went and saw Antman in IMAX which was awesome.
Thanks Ian for the chat.