Eugene Lawrence is a 30 year old 184cm point guard from Brooklyn, New York that is playing his ninth professional season and second with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL). He started his basketball career in 2004 with St.John’s (NCAA) until 2008 playing a total of 114 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 7.7ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.7apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 34.4%, 3PT: 25.8%, FT: 70.2%: Finished career at St. John’s ranked fourth all-time in assists (520), fourth in three pointers made (122) and fifth in steals (196). He started his professional basketball career in 2008 with BK Casta SPU Nitra (Slovakia-Extraliga) playing 32 games averaging 17.9ppg, 5.3rpg, Assists-1(6.4apg), Steals-1(2.3spg), 2FGP: 59.2%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 71.7%. He then played two seasons with BK Prostejov (Czech Republic-NBL) and then moved to CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL). He then played with Hoverla Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine-Superleague) for one and a half seasons and then played two and a half seasons with the Telekom Baskets Bonn and last season played 33 games: averaging 8.1ppg, 2.7rpg, Assists-2(7.0apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 39.7%, 3PT: 27.4%, FT: 78.7%; Eurocup: 10 games: 10.5ppg, 2.3rpg, Assists-3(7.4apg), FGP: 44.2%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 80.6%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Champions League game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Eugene welcome back to Germany. You had a tough departure from Bonn. If you retired tomorrow could you say out of all the teams I played for as a professional, Bonn was my second home?
It’s great to be back. Last season was rough but I also have so many great memories from Bonn. If I had to retire tomorrow it would be really close but Bonn would be in my top 2 places I’ve played for sure.
You are back in Frankfurt playing Champions League with your new team CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL) You are 1-4 in your career against Frankfurt and lost both games here including the last one 78-48. Will you enter the arena with some skepticism tomorrow?
I will go into the game with a normal mindset and that’s to win of course. I’m in a new situation and so is Frankfurt. The last doesn’t really have much to do with the present in that aspect.
You have returned to an old stomping ground where you won the double in 2012. Has anything changed with the organization since you left in 2012 or has that winning mentality increased even more with more titles.
Nymburk has always been a first class organization who is focused on winning in every league they play in which made my decision easier to come back here. Nothing has changed.
The club has won 13 titles in a row. That is something that is difficult to believe. How proud are you to be playing for such an elite team like CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL)
It’s an honor to play for a team with this much history and to know I’m a part of it in some form or fashion.
The team has started 10-0 in the home league and 2-1 in the Champions League. How does one go about accepting a start like this when it isn´t really out of the ordinary?
We have been preparing ourselves from preseason to have a start like this. We push each other everyday in practice so the games wouldn’t be as hard and we could adapt to them and adjust if need be.
When a team starts so well, how does one in general grow as a team as the season progresses?
Well I think we have to first have some heartache or some adversity to go through to show character and then we can grow and progress. Although you never want to lose a game it’s always how you react after a loss or when something bad happens.
You played together only with Petr Benda in your first tour of duty. You could call him the Czech Bill Russell as he is going for his 10th league title. How valuable is it having him in the locker room?
Petr Benda is a very good friend of mine and he is a great person on and off the court. We often crack jokes about how old he is now but he’s a great leader and role model for the young players on and off the court.
Your teammate Howard Sant-Roos might only be 25, but he has been around for some years and is kind of living that basketball cinderella story as he came from the Italian third league and played two seasons in the German Pro B with NBA player Dennis Schroder and has continued to move up the level ladder and developing. How special is this guy and what amazes you about his play?
Howie is a special kind of player. He’s young but he’s very mature on the court. He can guard positions 1,2, and 3 and he also rebounds like a big man. He’s super fast and very athletic and it’s just fun to watch him play and watch him grow as a player.
Ex NBA player Jiri Welsch is riding his professional career out, but can still bring it at 36. You were in high school and at St Johns when he played in the NBA from 2002-2006. Did you remember him and then and is there ever any NBA chatter off the court?
Jiri “Legend” Welsch I definitely remember from the NBA and I remember him from playing on big clubs in Europe as well. I’m always asking him questions about all of his career just to hear some stores because I’m such a fan of the sport and it’s cool to have a teammate with so much experience to where you can learn many things from.
Let´s talk about your play. The club has a deep roster where everyone plays and gets minutes. Has it been an adjustment for you averaging 16 and 17 minutes in both competitions?
It’s been an adjustment for me but it isn’t a problem. I think I can be very affective in those minutes and when time gets crucial I will be on the court because of my experience I believe .
You are 30 now and are you in your prime now?
I’m 30 years old and I think I’m better than I was when I was 27 of course. I would say I’m in my prime.
You have won 3 professional titles. Does the hunger to win that next one which has eluded you for 4 years get more and more as you grow older?
I’m always trying to win some type of championship wherever I play. So I’ll say yes I’m eager to win another championship
I loved the point guard duo of you Richard Mcconnell in Bonn two seasons ago. Where does he rank in your best point guard partner over the years?
Richard McConnell was a smart point guard and it was fun playing with him as well. I wish we could of played more on the floor together while we were in Bonn but it is what it is. He’s definitely in the top ranks as point guard partners I’ve played with.
You are a guy that can rack up the assists at ease. Who has always been your favorite type of playmaker in the NBA growing up and now?
My favorite playing growing up as kid at the point guard position was Chauncey Billups. He controlled the game and could score if need be. Now in this day and age if I had to choose a point guard it would be for different reasons. But Kyrie/Cp3/ and Rondo are a few.
You played one and a half seasons with Hoverla Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine-Superleague) from 2012-2014 and then moved to Bonn. What experience did you have with the political problems and war there?
I actually left Hoverla and the Ukraine right before things escalated. The league was shut down and we couldn’t play games so I got out of Ukraine at the right time. I’ve only witnessed some of the things in Kiev on the new while I was there and although it was hours away from my city it was still frightening .
You played two seasons with BK Prostejov (Czech Republic-NBL) losing in the final to your future team Nymburk. Were you dreaming then to someday move to that team?
I really wasn’t thinking about joining the club at the time and I was in fact going to sign back with Prostejov for another season.
You were reunited with lovable Benas Veikalis in Bonn after playing with him at BK Prostejov (Czech Republic-NBL). What is something about him that not many people know?
Playing with Benas Veikalis was great for me, because he knew how to cut when I needed him and he knew how to read me which gave me assists and him buckets. One thing about him that people probably don’t know is that he used to dunk lol.
As a rookie you played for BK Casta SPU Nitra (Slovakia-Extraliga). What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Brooklyn?
Hahaha my first season was filled with ups and downs for me. The wake up call was adjusting to the style of play. In my first game I was called for maybe 7 traveling violations.
You played at St Johns from 2004-2008. How did head coach Norman Roberts groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Norm Roberts helped groom me into a man on and off the court. He taught us discipline and how to conduct ourselves as men should. He helped us deal with adversity and how to bounce back from difficult situations which prepared me for a professional basketball career.
ST Johns had some tough years when you were there. Despite not winning any titles, what one moment will you never forget on the court?
One moment I won’t forget from St. John’s of being 3rd all time in assists.
Your ex teammate DJ Kennedy almost made the Denver Nuggets. Why in your mind does a guy like DJ Kennedy deserve to be in the NBA?
DJ Kennedy is a player who never gives up and always works hard. When you think your down in out there is DJ to give you some kind of motivation with a big play on the court to get his team rolling. It was fun to watch him from from a skinny 17 year old kid to the pro he is today and he definitely deserves to be in the NBA.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that made it to the NBA?
The toughest player I’ve played against would have to be Kevin Durant I believe.
You were gifted as a kid in music. Do you see yourself exploring this route once your retired?
Hahaha I’m not sure about the music. I haven’t played any instruments in a very long time.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
My own NBA Rushmore would have to consist of Jordan, Magic, Dr. J and Lebron.
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand right now in the debate with being the best ever?
I think he will never be the best ever and that’s just my opinion but he could definitely end up second. Jordan is the G.O.A.T
Where does Kevin Garnett stand in the all-time ranking with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
Kevin Garnett is definitely top 3 power forwards to ever play the game.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Barbershop 3.
Thanks Geno for the chat.