Lakeem Jackson is a 24 year old 196cm forward from Charlotte, North Carolina that completed his third professional season and first in Germany with German Pro A team RheinStars. He played his first two professional seasons with BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL). He started his basketball career in 2009 with South Carolina(NCAA) where he played a total of 120 NCAA games and as a senior played 32 games averaging 7.5ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 33.9%. He spoke to German Hoops after the end of the season.
Thanks Lakeem for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your early summer vacation?
I’m currently in Orlando, Florida. My time back home in America has been great so far.
The German Pro A season has been over for you since 6 weeks. Has this time seemed like an eternity or has it passed by quicker than say 6 weeks during your first season in Germany?
It’s actually passed by faster than I would like mainly because I’ve been keeping busy since I got off the plane from Germany.
The RheinStars finished in no mans land in 12th place, but had as many wins as the last playoff club Nurnberg. How was it for you experiencing this very tight standings scenario down the stretch? Was it at times mentally challenging?
Honestly I’ve never seen anything like it before, being tied with 3+ teams including the last playoff position team. It was definitely a challenge for us at the time but we stuck to our game plan and continued to work hard every day.
Even though that the RheinStars didn´t finish the season as a playoff team was the fact that the club finished strong winning three of the last four games a type of consolation?
I believe it was bittersweet for everyone at the time. We lost about 6 or 7 games in a row, where we only needed one of those to lock in a playoff spot and then we finished the season winning a few games. I think everyone’s mindset at that time was “I wish we could’ve won these games earlier”.
The goal of the club was never to reach the playoffs, but too stay in the league. How much did the team eclipse it´s expectations?
The Rheinstars organization definitely exceeded its preseason goals by a mile and if things would’ve gone the way we wanted, they would’ve achieved a lot more.
Was it just the youth that limited the team of winning a few more games or were there other factors that contributed to the 13-17 record?
Our younger players helped out tremendously. I don’t believe they hurt us in any way. Each individual progressed through the season and I’m excited to see where each player goes from here in their careers.
You had a very solid season playing 29 games and averaging 12,4ppg, 7,3rpg and 2,3apg. How content were you with your effort in your first season in Germany?
My first season in Germany was not as good as I wanted it to be. I definitely could’ve performed a lot better. I had some great performances and I also had some games where I wish I could rewind and go back. But I’ll just learn from this season and apply it to my next season. Pro A was definitely a learning experience for me and I’m glad I got to play in the league.
You had the most experience on the team. How important was having to be a leader for your development in your third season as a professional?
The role of a leader for the Rheinstars was a huge one. With so many young players in a new league with a new coach for the organization everyone including our coach needed someone from the team to help lead on the court. It definitely helped me become more of a vocal leader. In the past I was more of a lead by example type of player
On what areas will you be concentrating on this summer to help keep improve your game?
My main focus this summer is expanding my range.
What is the next step for Lakeem Jackson? Is there a chance that the RheinStars will try to keep the imports intact? Do you see yourself continuing your career in Germany?
As of right now I’m not really sure which country I’ll be playing in for next season I’m just focusing on staying in shape and being ready to play. I had a great time playing in Germany so I could see myself playing there again. I’m not sure what their plan is for the upcoming season so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
What was your season highlight on the floor with the RheinStars?
My season highlight of the season would have to be against Leverkusen. I was 100% from the field, 100% from 3pt and I had a huge dunk over their team. It was a great night for me and we won the game.
Which young German improved the most this season for the RheinStars?
I think two players improved rapidly during the season. Those players were: Leon Baeck and Leon Okpara.
If you had to choose one player that was toughest to battle on the floor in Germany who would you chose?
I think the toughest player I played against in the league was Ricky Kreklow.
If you were to construct a NBA Rushmore, which 4 NBA heads would you make?
Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Shaquille Oneal and Dwayne Wade
What was the first American eatery that you sought out when you arrived back to the States?
The first well-known place was a place by the name of Long Horns
What is going to be a place that you will try to visit this summer where you necessarily haven´t ever been to in your life?
I actually just achieved that goal a few days ago. I took a visit to Mexico City, Mexico and it was a fun experience.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Ride Along 2.
Thanks Lakeem for the chat.