Ray Mitchell is a 26 year old 201cm forward from California playing in Germany this season for the Westfalen Mustangs (Germany-Oberliga). He played college ball at Chadron St. (NCAA2) and CS Stanislaus (NCAA2). He started his professional basketball career in 2013 and played for teams like Inland Empire Invaders (ABA), Issa Town (Bahrain-Premier League), and Soles de Ojinaga (Mexico-Chihuahua Vive).He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Ray thanks for talking to German Hoops. It´s Rosen Montag a big carnival thing in the west part of Germany. Did you catch any of this atmosphere the last days or is it more quiet in Rheda Wiedenbruck?
It is a very quiet and peaceful town, more older people than younger. Though I do enjoy the small town, helps me focus on improving my game.
You have been a professional since 2013 that has taken you to the semi pro leagues in the states, Bahrain, Mexico and now Germany. Would you classify yourself as a basketball globetrotter?
Haha not exactly, I have a lot more work to do at this stage of my career, just enjoying the experience of playing and traveling.
How difficult has the last 2 years been for you in general just finding a new team and finding a way to survive?
It’s very difficult, some years you have more offers than needed and other years you have to take what you can get. The toughest part is seasons in different countries collage within each other so you have to pick one or the other. The percentage of you playing pro at any level is under 1% so I feel blessed to be a part of any team/club or organization.
What has kept you going since 2013? Is it your absolute passion for the game that won´t allow you to ever give up your dream?
At this point basketball is all I know, even if I was done playing, I would find a way to coach or find some way to be a part of the game. Though passion has a big part of it.
Currently you are playing for the Westfalen Mustangs (Germany-Oberliga) which is the 6th league in Germany. What kind of experience has Germany been coming from Bahrain and Mexico?
It’s been cold! That’s the biggest change because in Bahrain or Mexico, the winters are still summer weathers. But I am enjoying it no different, just adjusting to different cultures.
How would you classify the level of the Oberliga compared to what you saw in the States, Bahrain and Mexico?
Everywhere I play seems to have their own set of style. As Germany and Bahrain seem to have more of a set offense of trying to get the ball where it belongs in the offense. While Mexico and the states are more up and down, run and gun style but more physical, as the referee let the players play.
Currently Westfalen in 16-0. What do you believe has been the secret of the success of the team so far?
Being aggressive, sharing the ball, playing both ends of the court. Playing every team as if they was the best team in the league. Never taking any team lightly.
Currently you are averaging 26.8 pts. 9.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists for Westfalen. Do you feel like a man playing with boys?
Like the great Shaquille O’Neal once said, “with great team work, comes great individual play”. I also feel no Matter what level I play, my numbers will be similar from my previous club because how hard I work and play.
You are a versatile 201cm forward, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed?
My ball handling ability and passing skills. People see my athletic ability, shooting, scoring and defense but fail to realize how much effort I put on other aspects.
You play with a mix of older and younger Germans. How special would you classify your leadership role that you have on the team?
A big role but not too big, the team does a decent job of taking responsibility of their mistakes and as do I. No one is perfect so we try to pay close attention to details
I am sure that you have seen other levels in Germany like the Regionaliga or Pro B. Are these levels that you believe you could play at?
No doubt about it, just need the opportunity and I am sure I will make any organization very pleased.
Last season you played with Issa Town (Bahrain-Premier League). What kind of experience was that? Were there any invitations to giant palaces or was the whole affair more laid back?
Well it’s something like the Disney movie Aladdin though I had a chance to have training camp in Dubai which made the experience a lot better. The toughest part about playing in Bahrain is each team can only have one import, which makes my job a lot tougher on both ends of the floor. Not only that but I was the smallest and youngest import that season.
Recently you played for Soles de Ojinaga (Mexico-Chihuahua Vive). You scored 51 points against the Tigers. Were you feeling it from the first minute?
No it was a slow game, and the other American was in foul trouble early. I had to pick up the slack, and ended up shooting 19/21 from the Free throw line. It also help me being 14-22 from the field. It felt really good because we won that game by 4 points. I wouldn’t call it my best performance ever but highest point game.
You played at Chadron St. (NCAA2) and CS Stanislaus (NCAA2). How was the whole college basketball experience for you? Did you know coming out that being a professional would be such a challenge?
College was fun, wouldn’t change that experience for nothing. I did think pro teams would be knocking at my door but it didn’t happen like I thought. It was more of a process that I am still learning more about today.
As a rookie in 2013 you got your first professional experience with Inland Empire Invaders (ABA) and the Los Angeles Revolution (NEBA). Was there ever a point where you wanted to just pack it in and quit? How tough was this period for you?
No because I was proud to be a part of the invaders, they helped me in my development in furthering my career. My coach, Dwayne Richardson had over 10 years of pro experience and he became the coach right after his last season pro in 2013. He helped out a lot and so did management. The competitions was way better than I anticipated, and we made it all the way to the sweet 16 as a team with over 90 teams fighting for spots. Very good experience for me as a rookie. Lastly the NEBA I never participated in, I really don’t know how that came about on my profile.
You are only 26 years old. Have you reached your prime yet and what is your biggest basketball goal now?
No of course not, I got at least another 10 years in me, I believe once I hit 30 years of age is where my true prime will be. Now a days I believe players understand the longevity of playing. I still feel, run and jump like I am still 22 years old.
Who was the best player that you ever battled in college or in summer leagues that is in the NBA now?
Paul George, we been playing against each other since high school, and ran into each other in the Nike say no classic, drew league in Los Angeles California, and more pick up runs. I knew he would be good but never knew a super star! Glad to see he is still playing well and healthy.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The water boy! I enjoy the classic movies.
Thanks Ray for the chat.