Jermaine Kirkland is a 22 year old American who is one of 1000´s that wants to live that basketball dream of playing overseas and with much hard work and some luck has signed a contract with German Oberliga team SC Lerchenberg and is that club´s first import player in 15 years. The American never went to college and only has high school basketball experience. Recently he took part with the Howard Hoops touring team and as a result signed a professional contract and now is ready to play his rookie season in Germany. He spoke to German Hoops about his experience in Germany and about basketball in general.
Jermaine thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. It was10:30 at night recently and after a 102-90 loss to TV Langen you had to walk 20 minutes to the train station to catch a short train back to Frankfurt and then take a bus to Offenbach. I guess it all comes with the territory when your trying to get a professional contract?
It definitely all comes with the territory. I was just thankful for the opportunity to play TV Langen I was upset about the loss although I knew we had to overcome some things none of my teammates were happy with the loss that’s when I knew I was on the right team seeing as in I hate losing also.
You were in Germany last week on a touring team called Howard Hoops that played every night in Langen, Kronberg, Gelnhausen, Schwelm and Olpe. On a team the goal is too win, but was your goal not more to put up the best numbers to help you get a contract?
My goal was to obviously showcase my talents but more to showcase the fact that I could also play fundamental basketball. All of us had the athletic ability but we had to adjust to the different game play it was a little tough but we came together to start winning and that was more important than self accolades
Howard Hoops lost to German Regionaliga team TV Langen 102-90 playing more street ball while TV Langen played more structured basketball. How tough was it playing on a team of strangers after having the first practice 5 hours earlier?
It was s little different but we all knew how to get the win and we played with passion and heart and nobody seemed to be bothered that we practiced because the best practice a lot so we accepted the challenge.
What was your first impression of German basketball? After being in Germany one week, is Germany a place where you could get used to playing this style of basketball?
The style of German basketball is different but I love it and I can see myself being a part of it and making my team better while using the same style but with a little flare a dn I also love Germany which is a great place where I can get used to and a great place to live.
How happy were you with your first game in Germany? Do you feel that you were able to heighten your game as the week progressed?
I was not to happy about my first game performance but I was very excited to get into the German game atmosphere and it felt like I was somewhere I belonged , I did heighten my game as the week progressed actually the next night I had a team high 30 and a put back dunk that really got me and my teammates going.
You never played college basketball. How tough has the road been for you pursuing your dream as a professional basketball player?
Without playing college basketball everybody told me it was impossible to make it and I knew my situation was different and I never listened to anybody that doubted me as they fueled me and put a passion in me that I Would never give up. I’m blessed to become a professional athlete and I hope my struggles motivate others to stay on the right track and never settle if you feel like you can´t do something you have to believe in yourself 100% and forget what the haters say.
How thankful are you that tour maker Ronald Howard chose you for his team?
I’m truely grateful for Ron on accepting me onto the tour and believing in me when nobody else did. This wouldn’t be possible without him and he motivated me and told me things that I believed but nobody ever saw with me.
Were you able to take some of his barking from the sidelines to heart when you were on the court?
I was able to take his barking quick because I never had a coach that said the right things to do and let his players play their game and the same time grade A coach I knew he was here before so I didn’t question anything.
Your dream has come true as you were signed by German Oberliga team SC Lerchenberg. How excited are you and how blessed do you feel?
I’m very blessed and truely honored to be the first American to play for them in the last 15 years and I’m ready to lead them to as many wins as possible and I’m grateful that they saw the potential in me to select me to be a part of their team!!
Besides winning games what is your biggest goal now as a professional rookie as you start your professional career in Germany?
I would love to lead the league in assists my first year but as far as personal accolades I’d like to average a double double points and assists as a Rookie
You were together with a bunch of guys the last week in Germany playing the game you love. Were you able to make some new friendships that will stay for the future?
I definitely was able to make some new friends for life and some I will be chilling with throughout the season getting workouts and what not we can help each other.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Do you think that he will ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
I’m not a Lebron fan so this question probably isn’t for me personally nobody will ever be better than Jordan but I don’t feel Lebron is the closest to being mentioned. Kobe is more likely in my eyes although nobody is Jordan.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Straight Outta Compton and I’ve been waiting to see that for a while glad I finally got to.
Thanks Jermaine for the chat.