Marcellus Barksdale is a 23 year old 196cm guard from Lexington, Kentucky that is playing his first professional season in Germany with TG s.Oliver Wuerzburg (Germany-ProB) and will start his professional career against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. He played at IUPUI (NCAA) form 2011-2016 playing a total of 131 NCAA games. As a senior he played 31 games averaging 8.7ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.6apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 73.1%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Frankfurt contest.
Marcellus thanks for talking to German Hoops You are playing your first season with TG s.Oliver Wuerzburg (Germany-ProB). You signed very late in the summer. How was your first experience with looking for clubs and finding that right situation?
It was a nerve wrecking process to say the least! It really tested my patience. It was a situation that was out of my control. All I could do was continually improve and work on my game so that when my moment came, I would be ready.
You finally found a team with the TG s.Oliver Wuerzburg (Germany-ProB). What were then main reasons for joining the club and what was really sold you on making your professional start in Germany?
Honestly, I believed Germany would be a great place for me to start my career. All of the pros I talked to, both former and current, listed Germany as one of their top places to live and play basketball. My agent, Gerrit Kersten-Thiele, is also from Germany so it was an easy decision for me when he told me they were interested in signing me.
Just like last season the club has relied on one American. What has been your experience playing with only German players?
It has been a very easy transition. Although my teammates are all German, they each speak English very well and have done a great job of including me in the team’s chemistry. Practicing the last couple of weeks and watching the season opener have allowed me to understand each of my teammates strengths and capabilities. I’m excited to finally get on the court with them.
Have you noticed early on that the team looks up to you or do sense it is trust in the making?
I feel the team really looks up to me and is looking for me to help lead. We have a lot of talent but we are a young team. As one of the older guys, it is my responsibility to lead by example and bring energy and intensity to every practice and game.
How excited are you to be making your professional debut in Frankfurt. Can you remember your NCAA debut in 2011 against Anderson?
I’m pumped up for my professional debut! It’s finally starting to feel real. All of the countless hours in the gym have begun to pay off and I have a great opportunity in front of me. And yes, I still remember my first college game as well. I had so much energy and adrenaline that it was hard to be nervous!
The name might not say anything now, but you will be making your debut against 16 year 203cm point guard Isaac Bonga who is the biggest German prospect since NBA player Dennis Schroeder. Is this something that will add to your adrenaline for your first professional game?
I’ve watched a little bit of film on him. I think he has a very bright future ahead but for now, he’s my opponent and I’m treating him no differently than any other player on the Frankfurt roster. He has no effect on my adrenaline or excitement for my first game as a pro. I did not even know who he was until this week.
Besides winning what are your main goals as a rookie on the court?
From my effort and defensive intensity, to my communication and aggressiveness, my main goal on the court is to be the hardest worker on the floor and to set an example for my teammates at all times. All of these goals are completely intangible and things I have control over every game. I feel if I’m able to do these to the best of my ability every night, wins will follow.
Do you see yourself as having to carry the team and being the main scoring option?
I see myself as having to do whatever is necessary for my team to win each game. One game it may be scoring, one game it may be defending, another game it may be both. Either way, I’m going to do what is needed to get a win for my team.
If you had to describe your game to an NBA player who would you describe your game too?
Tough question! But if there was one NBA player who I feel my game mimics most I would have to say Andre Miller in his younger years. Miller was a very versatile and strong combo guard who was a heck of a leader. He could play on the wing or PG and was very effective at both. I also liked how he had the strength to take smaller guards to the block and go to work. He was also a pest on the defensive end and had a great basketball IQ.
How proud were you to be part of the success and breakout season of Darell Combs?
Watching Darell grow for the past two-and-a-half years was great. He’s one of the best guards I’ve ever played with and really began to mature on and off the court last season. He’s been working hard all summer and I really feel he will have a breakout season this year.
How far can he still go and develop in his last two years of school?
Darell has always been a talented scorer but his ball handling and passing ability have allowed him to take his game to the next level. Add that with his new leadership role at IUPUI and he has a chance to lead this team to a conference championship and NCAA tournament.
You are a very energetic and active forward with your biggest strength at rebounding. What other assets would you add to your player profile?
I’m very versatile. I feel there is nothing on the court that I can’t particularly do. I feel passing is one of my best assets. I have very good court vision and an understanding of when and where to get my teammates the ball.
You are a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what would you say is a hidden strength in your game?
A hidden strength in my game is my scoring ability. My last season of college, the dynamics of the team changed and my scoring was not needed as much. I’ve worked hard all summer to improve my outside shooting and midrange game. This season I plan to utilize these strengths much more.
You had many good games at IUPUI, but would you say that your back to back games of 21 points against South Dakota and 25 points against Western Illinois were your two best games?
I played a lot of games at IUPUI. It’s hard to single out any one performance as my best. Those were great games for me scoring the ball but I do not think I would count that as my best game.
How did Jason Gardner groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career in your senior year?
Coach Gardner challenged me. He challenged my leadership and also gave me a clearer reality of what to expect playing professional basketball in Europe. He also continually helps me in whatever way he can, and it’s always good knowing somebody like that is in your corner.
Gardner had his successful years in Germany with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Do you remember him telling any stories about his time in Germany?
When I found out that Coach Gardner was going to be my head coach I immediately began watching all of his pro highlights on YouTube. He’s told me a few stories but I know he had a great career in Germany and was loved and hated by many fans!
Who was the toughest player you battled in the NBA that is in the NBA now?
The toughest player that I’ve played in college that is in the NBA now is Nate Wolters. I’ve played against many NBA talents but Wolters was always tough at South Dakota St. His game was always solid and he played at his own pace. I’ve always respected his game.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Mason Archie?
Me and Mase had many battles. We would go back and forth many practices and open gyms. We always had an unspoken battle. We never talked about it much but we both were trying to beat each other at everything–sprints, weights, one-on-one drills, defending Darell, grades. It really pushed us to become better both on and off the court.
If you had to construct your NBA Rushmore with the 4 best heads ever who would you choose?
I would go with MJ, Kareem, Kobe, and LeBron (I have to give him his proper respect.)
Lebron finally won an NBA title with the Cavs. Where does he stand now with the all-time greatest that ever played?
After his most recent championship, I believe LeBron solidified himself as a top-5 all-time great NBA player.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was God’s Not Dead 2.
Thanks Marcellus for the chat.