Being Patient With The Process Has Finally Paid Off For Vincent Sanford

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miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Vincent Sanford after scoring 10 points, hauling down four rebounds, dishing out three assists and getting three steals against Pro B team Dragons in Rhondorf.

There is one thing you can´t take away from Vincent Sanford and that is his unending drive like a starved kitten who is shyly and timidly strolling down a city alley looking for any tiny scraps of food preferably tuna fish or it´s abandoned mother to keep chipping away at not only being the best player that he possibly can, but too also never lose that fierce desire to play at the best level even if it has been a slow process. He definitely doesn´t have the same route like a Malcolm Delaney or Brian Roberts who played at high levels like the easyCredit BBL and then made the jump to the NBA, but the American who lists Mr cross over Kemba Walker as his hardest opponent in the NCAA has had to toil in lower leagues in Europe, but now has reached the EasyCredit BBL in Germany. Sanford is a 26 year old 190cm guard from Lexington, Kentucky that has continued to battle the odds and now with possibly the help of a coaching change with s.Oliver Wurzburg and has reached one of the top leagues in Europe in Germany with the EasyCredit BBL by accident even if he has the talent. Four months ago, the basketball life of Vincent Sanford looked a lot different.

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miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Vincent Sanford after scoring 10 points, hauling down four rebounds, dishing out three assists and getting three steals against Pro B team Dragons in Rhondorf.

The basketball route to the EasyCredit BBL has been a long and difficult path for Vincent Sanford as he has had to prove his basketball abilities over and over starting in the NCAA where he played two seasons with the well-known basketball school Georgetown, but was unable there to achieve the needed playing time that he felt was beneficial for his basketball development and then moved to Dayton where he played more of a role, but found out after two successful years that finding a professional basketball job in a high league was a lot more difficult than expected. Georgetown was overstocked with great guard talent like Chris Wright and Markel Starks and Sanford became the odd man out, and felt like he was overlooked a bit.” Those first two years were definitely hard as far as minutes. But Chris and Markel are more traditional point guards which was needed to run the Princeton compared to myself a combo guard that can score in bunches. So it was really more about fitting than anything else. I was overlooked for sure but I was also playing behind great guards, Chris Wright Austin Freeman Jason Clark and splitting time with Markel. That was one of the best backcourts in the Big East at the time. I learned a lot from those guys”, stressed Vincent Sanford. Despite not getting the ample playing time at Georgetown, it was the start of a long learning process of just staying patient, continuing to work hard and developing further and never ever doubting the basketball process as one not always being fair or logical. “ Georgetown was a great experience it really taught me to be patient with the process and appreciate the learning experience”, warned Vincent Sanford.  He then preceded to move to Dayton(NCAA) where he finished his last two years of school and as a junior played 31 games averaging 12.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 82.1%. He scored in double figures in 23 games. As a senior he played 37 game averaging 9.6ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 30.2%, FT: 69.8%. His best game was against Murray State where he scored 23 points, had six boards, gave out three dimes and grabbed three steals. He also helped the team with teammates like Jordan Sibert and Dyshawn Pierre reach the elite 8 in 2014. He might have scored less as a senior and had a different role, but Sanford knew that his head coach Archie Miller had a plan that benefited the team and his player. “Arch taught me how to embrace my roll. I started every game my junior year averaging around 12.13, ppg I believe but my senior year he wanted me to come off the bench and be the 6th man. It knocked me down some points, but was definitely a good move for the team, he helped me understand just buying into the system and to be a pro playing every game hard. And to compete I can say every guy Archie Miller gets his hands on will compete to the fullest”, warned Vincent Sanford.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber conducting a post game interview with childhood friends from Kentucky and teammates Marcellus Barksdale(left) and Vincent Sanford(right) after a Pro B game in Rhondorf

Despite having a solid two year career at Dayton where he proved that he could be a consistent scorer as well as team player and help the club have success in the NCAA tournament, it didn´t guarantee him a place in a top league as a professional, but found himself starting at the bottom and having to work himself up. As a rookie he played for Thor Thorl (Iceland-Dominos League) playing 13 games and averaging 22.1ppg, 7.9rpg, 2.1apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 50.8%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 73.0%. These were superb numbers for a guy playing in a low division, but also showed that he had the capabilities to play at a higher level since there had been countless guys before him who had to start their career in Iceland like a Derrick Allen who had similar stats there as a rookie and soon after became one of the premier power forwards in the BBL for years. However that splendid rookie year didn´t reward him with a contract in his second season up a notch, but moreover got him to a warm place South America where he played for Barrancabermeja Ciudad Futuro (Colombia-Liga DirecTV) playing 20 games averaging 14.8ppg, 5.5rpg, 3.0apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT-2(42.9%), FT: 76.8%. The Columbian league is a lot better than many people realize as there are many athletic players and his solid stats surely was good for his resume, but didn´t help him get a better suited job in his third professional season as he found himself in Germany, but not in the EasyCredit BBL at first, but in the Pro B the third German league.  The German Pro B is known for having many wanna be players trying to put up big time stats to get that promotion to a higher league and big time young German prospects like A Dennis Schroeder who made into the NBA and next NBA hopeful Isaac Bonga. The American came to Germany and joined TG s.Oliver Wuerzburg (Germany-ProB) which is the farm team of EasyCredit BBL team s.Oliver Wurzburg and didn´t need much time to get adjusted as he was reunited with child hood friend from Lexington Marcus Barksdale. ““Marcellus is a guy I’ve known for years and train with back home in Kentucky. I’ve always appreciated his IQ, and his intangibles far as playing and defending multiple positions. He is also a great person off the court as well and does a lot in the community back home”, added Vincent Sanford. In his first three games, Sanford averaged 25ppg and was instrumental in the victories against FC Bayern Munich and PS Karlsruhe. He also was key in a huge win at home against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors where he poured home 19 points in an important win that helped pave the way towards the Pro B playoffs. Even in games his team won and he didn´t score in double figures, he was able to help his team in other areas on the court. A few weeks before his promotion to the EasyCredit BBL, Sanford summed up his Pro B season as follows staying his humble self. “I always feel I can do better, but I want to win more than anything”, warned Vincent Sanford. Then after that huge win against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors came the turning point not only in his third professional season as he suddenly found himself suiting up in the EasyCredit BBL

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Vincent Sanford after a BBL game in Frankfurt

What most didn´t know was that somewhere at the start of 2017 and the tenure of German basketball legend Dirk Bauermann with s.Oliver Wurzburg , Vincent Sanford was given a standard 5 game BBL contract which means that the s.Oliver Wurzburg team can insert Sanford at any time during the remainder of the season in any 5 games. The club had been having annoying injuries and suddenly the American found himself suiting up against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen less than 24 hours after helping the Pro B team dismantle the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. In this game he could witness the superb point guard skills of Jared Jordan who was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007 when Sanford was still in high school. The American didn´t disappoint in his BBL debut as he showed quickly just how efficient he can be and keep it up with the next games. In his first game against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen he scored 9 points in 14 minutes while adding four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Some players that would have been in his situation may have had the urge to rub their eyes shortly before tipoff to be reassured that they weren´t dreaming, but in the case of Sanford, he wasn´t in a fairytale. “It wasn´t that, because of my personal expectations and beliefs. But definitely a great opportunity that I am more than thankful to be in. Timing is everything in this world”, smiled Vincent Sanford. It wasn´t easy for the American as he started his BBL journey as the club was in the midst of a bad losing streak and in his third game lost a nail bitter in Frankfurt 79-76 where he scored only one point in nine minutes, but having been a fighter his whole career, going up against adversity has never been a problem for him. “In tough times you have to show resilience , nobody likes to lose, but as a whole we have to only keep pushing until the tide turns. Unfortunately things didn’t happen the way we wanted, but it’s how basketball is at times. Have to forget and move on to the next opportunity to play”, warned Vincent Sanford. He had an absolute unforgettable game in Frankfurt, but then again he was playing with a broken finger so his one point and one turnover are more than forgivable. “I am highly thankful for this chance, but it’s hard to really do what I want with a broken finger. And I know this level is where I belong. No excuse though so far I’ve been holding my own playing solid and doing what the team needs which is energy and effort. I just have to continue to learn and progress”, stressed Vincent Sanford. He had the opportunity to play and watch in amazement against Skyliner Quantez Robertson who has belonged to the top defenders in the BBL for years and was probably hoping that he could be playing like that when he is 32. “Though I do not personally know him, I have a lot of respect for him and the way he plays. He’s been out here in Germany for a while and is still consistent as a player and shows how much he takes care of himself being able to guard and score the ball at a high rate”, stressed Vincent Sanford.

In his second game, he had another fine outing as he posted 13 points and four rebounds in 17 minutes, but that stat remained a minor side note as Wurzburg had lost their fifth straight game to the Telekom Baskets Bonn 101-84. In that game he saw a ridiculous performance by teammate Jake Odum who hit a crazy half court shot and the next weekend in Frankfurt was hitting Steph Curry type shots from anywhere in the building something that he didn´t see in the Pro B. “Jake is going to come out and play as he always does. It’s been a while, since I’ve seen something like that. Almost video game like from how crazy the shots were”, joked Vincent Sanford. In his fourth game in the BBL, the 6 game losing streak finally snapped as the club showed a spirited and total team effort destroying and embarrassing 2009 BBL titlist EWE Baskets Oldenburg 98-73. The American had his best game up to that point in the BBL posting 14 points in 19 minutes from the starting position while grabbing five rebounds, two assists and two steals. In this game he was battling against BBL legend Rickey Paulding, top defender Chris Kramer and top BBL center Brian Qvale and held his own. Sanford isn´t only thankful that head coach Dirk Bauermann has given him minutes right away, but also for all his wisdom and guidance in practice and games. “I have felt comfortable from the beginning, playing for a coach who sees a lot in your game and wants the best for the team is what he has been since I’ve met him. He really has helped me grow with my patience, naturally I want to stay attacking the rim or a pull up. But he has helped me with picking and choosing when to go at that point. Along with being patient with my adjustments to the BBL game”, added Vincent Sanford. In the next six games after the big Oldenburg win, Sanford and Wurzburg only won once against lowly SC Rasta Vechta, but he had his real BBL break out game hitting up top German team Alba Berlin for 21 points and five assists in 26 minutes and lit up Ludwigsburg for 19 points. His guard teammates Jake Odum and German Maurice Stuckey who has 8 years and 197 BBL games experience have been a real help for Sanford. “I watch their ability to be patient with certain situations, both guys are really good players. I’m coming off an off year to Pro B now BBL and I see how patient these guys are in situations. I have grown a lot and will continue to improve with the adjustments”, added Vincent Sanford. Getting acquainted with a new style and level of play hasn´t been easy, but he has coped very well. “The size and the persistence of the players everyone on this level is full out pro along with the flow of the games is different than in the Pro B”, stated Vincent Sanford.

Currently Sanford is averaging 11,3ppg, 3,3rpg and 3,0apg and is shooting 40% from downtown(8/20) and 50,7% from the field and has done a brilliant job with his shot selection as he has learned quickly that when playing with a talented team with many scoring options, you won´t necessarily always get ample shots so choosing wisely becomes vital. He also has done a very good job limiting turnovers as currently in 20 minutes he is averaging 1,0 turnovers while in the Pro B where he was averaging 23 minutes, he was at a rate of 1,6 turnovers per game. He knows taking care of the ball at the BBL level isn´t a cake walk, but knows he´ll pay if he becomes too fancy. “Just trying not to force the issue, and find the open teammate keeping it simple instead of forcing the issue on a bum hand in which I did in Frankfurt. For me until the end of the year. I just have to keep it simple and play with all my effort”, warned Vincent Sanford. The American knows that a chance like this might not come again so quickly, so he knows what he needs to keep doing to continue to be successful at this level. “I need to be able to see and notice how to affect the game by controlling the pace. I’m beginning to see how it plays a major part of the game”, warned Vincent Sanford. The American played so well in his first games that he not only convinced Dirk Bauermann of his basketball abilities, but also management as they rewarded him by keeping him until the end of the season. Sanford won´t reach the BBL playoffs this season, but knows already now that he has what it takes to play at this level as he has proved with his all around excellent guard play. “I know and I am confident that I will play at this level, still have a lot to prove but I believe I just have to stay consistent with everything along with getting back healthy in the offseason. I work very hard so I am not worried about anything, just thankful for the opportunity”, warned Vincent Sanford. Sanford is blessed and thankful of how God has chosen his path, but if he wanted to be really mean, he could call up ex Georgetown head coach John Thompson the third and remind him that his ex player Markel Starks who got minutes over him with Georgetown was cut by the Fraport Skyliners and couldn´t adapt to the BBL level while Sanford is just starting to make a name for himself, but talking trash isn´t his style as he will just let his strong actions on the court speak for him.

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