Brian Sullivan is a 23 year old 180cm guard from Upper Arlington, Ohio that will be starting his professional career in Germany with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau. He started his college basketball career in 2011 with Miami, OH (NCAA) playing 30 games averaging 10.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 35.7%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 70.0%. He then played at Davidson (NCAA) from 2013-2016 and as a senior played 30 games averaging 14.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 32.7%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 83.1%. He spoke to German Hoops during the summer before signing with the Hebeisen White Wings.
Brian thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
My pleasure. I am currently in Hanau, Germany preparing for the season with my teammates and coaching staff. My summer was excellent, it was the most productive and efficient summer I have had as a basketball player.
After a stellar college basketball career where you played the last three seasons with Davidson, with what expectations were you going into this summer´s transfer market? You signed very late with German team Hebeisen White Wings. Did you not have as many offers as one may have thought or was the right opportunity not there earlier in the summer?
The biggest thing I wanted was a good fit. I felt that Hanau was a great situation for me because of the coaching staff and player development they offer. I wanted to go to a good opportunity where I would be able to improve the most and I felt Hanau was the best place for me to do that.
Congrats on signing with German Pro A team Hebeisen White Wings. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball?
I studied German for about 8 years growing up so I know a bit of German (not as much as I thought I did) and I know a little about the culture. As far as basketball, I know that it has a very good reputation and the coaches do a great job here.
Did you get some timely advice from Luke Loucks who played with the Hebeisen White Wings last season. How vital was his input on helping making your decision easier?
I did not speak with Luke.
What were the main reasons for picking the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau as your first destination as a professional?
I wanted the best opportunity for me to grow and improve while still being able to compete for a winning team. I felt like the White Wings coaching staff would give me the best growth in player development while competing at a high level.
Did you have talks with head coach Simon Cote? What was your first impression of him and did you notice quickly that you speak the same basketball language in talks?
Yes, I was really impressed after talking to Coach Cote, he is passionate about the game and ask for his players to compete and improve which I really appreciated. He was a big factor in my decision.
You will be entering the very competitive German Pro A and could advance to one of the top point guards in the league. How confident are you that you can make an impact as a rookie?
I am confident that I am able to make an impact for my team. I feel like the A10 and coach McKillop prepared me very well to be a professional and I am excited to continue to learn and improve.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You seem not to be a pass first guard, but more of a scoring point guard. What other strength do you have in your game?
I have the reputation of being more of a scorer, which is certainly a big part of my game. I feel like much of that is from playing more as a combo guard at Davidson so I was asked to score the ball more. I think a strength of my game is being able to handle the basketball and find teammates for open shots.
If you had to compare your game to an NBA player to what player would your game resemble the most?
I would compare my style of play to Damian Lillard
You can fill up the stat sheet, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I think one thing that doesn’t always get noticed is that I like to play the right way. I always try to help my teammates on either end of the floor and just try to bring energy to the game.
You started your college career in 2011 with Miami, OH (NCAA) playing 30 games averaging 10.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 35.7%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 70.0%. You were the first freshman since 1996 to score in double figures as well as other fine achievements. How much of an impact did Charlie Coles have on you which prompted you to transfer to Davidson?
Charlie Coles was great for me during my freshman year. He trusted me and I gained valuable experience as a freshman. He ultimately retired after my freshman year when I did decide to transfer. So I did not transfer because of Coach Coles, it was just a better situation for me on and off the court at Davidson.
Do ever think about how your school career might have gone had you played all four years at Miami, Ohio? Do you feel like you could have been better with your development then how it went with Davidson?
No, I don’t like to look back in the rear view mirror like that. I confidently made my decision to transfer to Davidson and loved my experience there.
You once said in an article “I’ve really stopped trying to please others,” “Basketball is not who I am, it’s what I do. When did you realize that you had to change this outlook?
I realized this when I felt the expectation of others driving me more than my own expectations were. I wanted to make others happy to the point where I became miserable and tired, and so I just started to be myself and play the way I knew how to. That was a big moment in my career and has allowed me to find a lot more joy and peace in playing the game.
How do you feel did you prosper from having very talented guard Jack Gibbs in the back court with you on a daily basis?
Jack is a great player and we would go against each other so it was good for both of us to be competing like that. He draws so much attention from defenses that it opened up things for other players. Moving forward I am excited about being able to have the ball in my hands more and be a decision maker on the court.
You had many amazing games, but also games to forget like the 98-65 loss to North Carolina. When you remember games like this and the talent you faced, do you see a big difference in the level of play of these future NBA players or do you sense that these guys aren´t really better than me?
We played against a lot of good players over my four years at Davidson, so what I saw was obviously great talent, but I noticed most all of them had great confidence. Personally, I don’t back down and so I feel that I can play with anyone.
How did head coach Bob Mckillop groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He has taught me so much that has prepared me, whether its on or off the court he has prepared us. He taught me to respect my teammates, to have fun and attack while I am playing and those are all things I will take with me.
You hung out a lot with head coach Bob McKillop. What was your favorite Steph Curry story where you learned something that you didn´t know about the NBA superstar?
A story coach loves to tell about Steph is that during one of his first games as a freshman he had about 6 or 7 turnovers in the first half and that would typically rattle a freshman but coach McKillop stuck with him and he ended up having a great second half. It speaks to his ability to stay in the moment.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jack Gibbs?
Jack is my little brother, I wouldn’t let him beat me.
Who was the toughest player that you battled on the court face to face that is in the NBA now?
We played Jabari Parker his freshman year, his size and skill set were very impressive for a freshman.
If you had to construct your NBA Rushmore with the 4 best heads ever who would you choose?
I can only speak on players that I have actually seen video of, so I will say MJ, LeBron, Kobe, Shaq
Lebron finally won an NBA title with the Cavs. Where does he stand now with the all-time greatest that ever played?
I haven’t seen enough film of the older plays to compare them against each other but he is very high up there on my list.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I watched Zoolander 2 on my flight over here.
Thanks Brian for the chat.