Qarraan Calhoun Is the Forgotten Basketball Soul Experiencing A Rebirth Back In Germany

When looking back at the current short 18 year history and success of the Frankfurt Skyliners, the first three things that come to mind, was their first title in their debut season 1999-2000 where head coach Stefan Koch led the team to the cup, the brilliant 2004 league title under current head coach Gordon Herbert where the Bermuda Triangle of Chris Williams, Tyrone Ellis and Pascal Roller led that team and were as feared on the court as first time sailors are of ever reaching Nassau and last seasons Fiba Europe Cup win where it was all about team that led to that title, but then again without Englewood New Jersey native Jordan Theodore, the team probably wouldn´t have won their third hardware. However that 2009-2010 title drive that ended in the final in a hard fought 5 game slug fest in Bamberg that will forever haunt Skyliner legend Pascal Roller for his missed free throw is a season that stays mostly forgotten and a side note even if it was a very exciting and successful season, but in the end all that counts are who wins that last game. Players like Aubrey Reese, Pascal Roller, Jimmy Mckinney and Seth Doliboa were players that were instrumental in that seasons success, but one guy that will forever remain a very tiny side note in Skyliner basketball folklore is Qarraan Calhoun. The last time, the New Jersey native exhibited a Skyliner jersey, Brose Bamberg still only had two BBL league titles, Dennis Schroeder was somewhere in no mans land between punk and greatness and Johannes Voigtmann was just at the start of his basketball career after discovering the traditional German sport Handball and moving to basketball heeding to the words of wisdom by his grandmother. Calhoun had only survived a little more than 5 months under the guidance of tough head coach Murat Didin before being waived.

Seven years later and after bouncing around from team to team, the American is 30 now and back in Germany very far away from the elite and toiling in the third league Pro B with the Itzehoe Eagles. Calhoun is the forgotten basketball soul experiencing a rebirth back into Europe. Before landing back in Germany on the path of basketball rebirth, the American got experience in the states going the college route and then heading to Europe.

Not only has a lot happened in the basketball career of Calhoun since his abrupt departure from the then Deutsche Bank Skyliners in January 2010, but before he came overseas for the first time in 2009 as a rookie, he had to pay his dues in the college ranks so that he could earn a professional contract. The 203cm forward from New Jersey didn´t have a settled college career after finishing his last year of high school at Bridgton Academy (Maine) averaging 19.0ppg, 4.0bpg, 3.0apg as he balled at three schools in three years. As a freshman, the American played at the renowned St.John’s (NCAA) in New York City. There he played with guys like Eugene Lawrence who would have a stellar career in Europe and play with the Telekom Baskets Bonn as well as future Frankfurt Skyliner Larry Wright, but his position was clogged and he fought hard fighting for minutes playing 31 games averaging 5.9ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 41.4%, 3Pts: 30.6%, FT: 63.1%. All in all that wasn´t the right fit and he took a few steps back and went to Barton County CC (JUCO). There he played 31 games averaging 16.8ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 62.8%. Getting away from home and playing in Kansas did wonders for him as his whole childhood had been anything as easy as he didn´t have a dad and his mother was far from being a role model. “It was hard. I was the man of the house at a very young age. At times, it was a real struggle. We often had no food and my mom was gone at times also, because she was a drug addict. I was home alone often and had to grow up quickly at a young age”, stressed Qarraan Calhoun. After showing at Barton that he was a man playing among boys, he made the final step to another well known school Houston (NCAA) that had been the stomping ground of NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon and he came out of his shell there playing 33 games averaging 10.2ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.1apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 46.6%, 3Pts: 35.0%, FT: 59.0%. There he played for head coach Tom Penders and had a stellar point guard in Zamal Nixon who also would play in Germany one day. Calhoun who´s toughest opponent on the floor as a senior was Central Florida guard Jermaine Taylor  now was ready for the final step to develop his game one more step and put up stats as a senior that could have given him that extra special nudge to attract top leagues, but instead he opted to forgo his last year and turn professional, one that didn´t come easy, but that needed to be done. “It was a very difficult decision and was a big step in my life. I could have stayed and got my degree, but I decided it was more important to support my son. As a pro, I get enough per month to be able to do this. I can still get my degree later. I felt supporting my son this way was the right step”, warned Qarraan Calhoun.

So Calhoun took the long unknown trek to Europe and landed with the then named Deutsche Bank Skyliners in Frankfurt, Germany. A team with a lot of ambition and growing basketball tradition, but a hardnosed head coach in Murat Didin who could have been branded with the nickname my way or the highway something that the American had to experience a few months later. The American came to Frankfurt as a rookie and had some veterans like Derrick Allen and Seth Doliboa who not only had unending experience, but already pretty much had their minutes reserved before Calhoun could even take his first flight to the bucket. Calhoun who prides his game on defense and had NBA player Josh Smith as a role model since he was a sneaky defender when blocking shots had a good training camp and had some good preseason games especially at the Phoenix Cup in Hagen, but he then got injured and that was the beginning of the end for him with the Frankfurt Skyliners even though he would remain a few more months. He wanted to play the way Murat Diidn wanted him to play, but in the end it must not have been the right way, because he played only 10 games averaging : 1.4ppg, 1.3rpg. Calhoun came back to early from his injury and that led to his downfall in Frankfurt. “Coach never really thought I was ready to come back. This reaction slowed me down a bit. We had a good relationship at first but then suddenly it switched, so it was kind of bipolar. We had our last talk in December. After that we had no real conversations anymore. He was talking to my agent and letting him know that I should look for another team”, stressed Qarraan Calhoun. The American knows that basketball is foremost a business and when he looks back at his time in Frankfurt, he has fond memories despite the hardship he went through in his first months as a rookie. “ I think the team we had was good and I think Murat wanted to win games. I had a lot of nice memories. The Tez buzzer beater and the Aubrey Reese 3 pointer were some nice moments”, added Qarraan Calhoun.

Sometimes players have misfortune and don´t find a team right away and then sit out the second half of the season and continue to keep in shape and focus on signing with a new team that summer for the upcoming season. However the American was lucky after the Frankfurt fiasco in that he found a team quickly and signed with  EclipseJet-MyGuide Amsterdam (Holland-Eredivisie). He played 19 games averaging 15.9ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.2apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 59.0%, 3PT-2(42.9%), FT: 71.6%. He switched between playing the three and four and helped lead the team to the 2010 cup final. He scored in double figures in 15 games registering four double doubles and finished the season strong scoring in double figures in his last six games and had some huge games against Leiden with 33 points and 10 boards and 26 points against Den Bosch. He also established himself as a defensive stopper down low something that he would carry with him throughout his career. The next two seasons, Calhoun would continue to get jobs and perform at a high level. In his second professional season, he played with CSU Asesoft Ploiesti (Romania-Div.A) playing EuroChallenge Qualifying Round: 2 games: 2.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0bpg and in the Romanian League played 42 games averaging 12.4ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 60.5%, 3PT: 44.4%, FT: 53.6% This team was a tad more successful than the Dutch club winning the regular season and reaching the league final. Calhoun remembers that final series as well as the key player that got the best of his team. “We had the tools to win but we played a tough team with a great player Kendall Dykes who brought his A game the whole series”, added Qarraan Calhoun. He lost the final series 4-2, but played a solid series scoring in double figures four times and netting 20 points in game five. In his third professional season, he laced up his sneakers with WKS Slask Wroclaw (Poland-PLK) playing 24 games averaging12.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 59.8%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 52.9%. In Poland he also had some massive games which showed his natural talent in a 103-78 drubbing of AZS Koszalin where he netted 32 points and ex Skyliner and Ohio State standout George Reese had to bow his head to the winner who led his team with 21 points. Despite having some fabulous games and reaching the cup semi-finals, his fondest memory that season was showing his own version of NBA Showtime during the 2012 Polish slam dunk contest at the allstar game which he won. “I had a chance to watch everyone else go first it made it more relaxing. My first dunk was a 360 windmill, second dunk was a 180 pump to my legs and last was a 360 off the bounce”, stressed Qarraan Calhoun.

After playing three years in Europe, it had become a habit for the American and usually if a player has brought good numbers and had success with teams should continue to get contracts in Europe. However all of a sudden, the American wasn´t playing in front of thousands somewhere over the pond, but was actually in South America playing in front of hundreds with Hebraica Macabi (Uruguay-LUB) where he played only 3 games averaging 7.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.0apg. He did leave Uruguay with a 3-0 record and had 12 points in 26 minutes in his last game. He just turned 26 wasn´t even in his prime yet, but was as far away from Europe as the Atlanta Falcons are of ever living down their embarrassing choke to the New England Patriots. Usually when you see an American who has had a long career in Europe start getting jobs in South America, you know that his professional career is winding down. The last three years, he has had jobs, but none where he could brag home about, but in the end getting paid and being able to feed his family is what mattered  most and he was able to do that.  In the 2013-2014 season, he was briefly with Kotwica Kolobrzeg (Poland-TBL) in pre-season, but didn´t remain and that was that for that season. In the 2014-2015 season he played with As de Sale (Morocco-D1) winning the Morocco Throne Cup. Last season he played with the New Jersey Thunder (APBL) and in the Dominican Republic. “I didn’t play much with the New Jersey Thunder, it was a team my friend was a part of and I only played to stay in some type of shape for coming back overseas”, stressed Qarraan Calhoun. Not having an agent the last years obviously had a big effect on him finding the right fit in Europe. Getting signed with the Itzehoe Eagles also was done without an agent.

After being away from Europe for four years, Calhoun is back and has been an instrumental part in the success of the Itzehoe Eagles and his game has also flourished in the Pro B. After being away for so long from Europe, it is only obvious that he is as hungry to be back on the court and doing damage like it is for an American in Europe having been deprived for years not having a Mcdonalds in his city. “You have to be hungry no matter what team you play for, I learned that after my first time here in Germany”, warned Qarraan Calhoun. Itzehoe is a lot like Pro B south team Dragons Rhondorf in that they still haven´t totally played to their potential this season. The club currently is in seventh place, but the standings are tight from 5-10 as teams can slip out or slip easily and make the playoffs as only the top 8 do. Since the arrival of the American the team has a 3-5 record, but has played a lot better winning three of their last six. The club could actually be 6-3 had they been able to win in crunch-time against Rostock, FC Schalke and Iserlohn which they lost by three points twice and the latter by one point. “We lost players, some focus and didn’t have confidence. As a team we talked and got the chemistry back. Think were on a good track to be in the playoffs”, added Qarraan Calhoun. Currently the American is averaging 11,3ppg, 5,7rpg and 1,1bpg and is picking his spots from outside shooting 40,7% on 11/27 shooting. He isn´t really doing anything special, but just heeding to the wishes of head coach Pat Elzie. “Coach Pat had nothing but confidence in me. I respect him as a person and my coach. I’m just playing my game, no green light but if I’m open Coach wants me to shoot but I’m just trying to do anything to help my team win”, stressed Qarraan Calhoun. He hasn´t only been a force on the court recently as was averaging 21,0ppg in a three game stretch, but has been kind of a mentor since his arrival for new Pro B American beast Kaimyn Pruitt who was having a solid season before the arrival of Calhoun, but since has turned it up a few more notches and averaging double double stats in points and rebounds. Pruitt came from the German sixth league Oberliga and has had no adjustment needed playing in the third league Pro B. “He is a hard working player, wants to win every game, has a lot of passion for the game. I know what he can do because I see it all the time and the work he puts in off the court. KP will have a good career with the right opportunity. We definitely compliment off each other, I respect that if I can’t get the rebound he’s going to be flying out of nowhere to come get the rebound”, warned Qarraan Calhoun.

At the age of 30, one could say that Calhoun probably won´t be getting any better, but he is still a very good player who can play in higher leagues than the Pro B. It will be interesting to see what happens beyond this season. The EasyCredit BBL may be a long shot, but like any other player, he has dreams. “I would love to but its up to some team willing to take a chance on me and see I’m a good player”, added Qarraan Calhoun. The American knows that he didn´t have an easy time with the Frankfurt Skyliners as a rookie, but is content that his game has taken shape since then. “I just know I need to bring it all the time and believe in myself and my teammates. Just take it one game at a time. Also, Take advantage of your opportunity. My mind is more clear about the game before I think I rushed the game in my mind”, warned Qarraan Calhoun. Right now Calhoun is focusing most about helping the Itzehoe Eagles reach the playoffs and keep producing good numbers that will help his team win games. The size difference between Frankfurt and Itzehoe is like night and day as today he is living in a 32,000 town whereas as a rookie he was living in a 687,000 city Frankfurt where he could choose from a few handful of clubs where to relax in. He has adapted to the small town Itzehoe, but if he ever does get the urge to visit a big city, he is only about 45 minutes away from Hamburg. But then again he could take the time and travel the 4 hours to Frankfurt and visit his ex teammate Quantez Robertson who like him was also a rookie in the 2009-2010 season with him. The only difference is that Robertson never left Frankfurt and has legendary status there and will see his #32 hanging from the rafters one day. If Calhoun were to bump into Quantez Robertson again, they definitely wouldn´t run out of crazy Murat Didin stories if they chose to spend an off night together reminiscing about the good old days.

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