Ricky Easterling is a 33 year old 190cm guard from Baltimore that completed his 11th professional season in Germany and first with BG Karlsruhe(Pro B) averaging 14,4ppg, 3,5rpg and 2,5apg. Over the years, he made a name for himself in the German Regionalliga being crowned Mr Regionaliga as he averaged over 30 points three times with TV Saarlouis belonged to the the top 3 players in the Pro B the last two seasons. Before moving to Saarlouis in 2007 he played at Bridgewater (NCAA3) and then as a rookie played with TSG Reutlingen (Germany-Oberliga and Bergheim Bandits (Germany-Regionalliga). Last season with TV Saarlouis, he played 28 games: Score-1(23.1ppg), 4.0rpg, 4.4apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 18.2%, FT: 81.2%. He spoke to German Hoops at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 pro B season.
Ricky thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and what basketball thing has occupied you mostly today?
Hello Miles! It is always a pleasure chatting with you. At the moment I am still in Germany. Our season is over so I am taking a short break from basketball. I want my body to recover from the long season. I recently linked up with my guy Chris Cummings and we made a work out plan that will start next week. He has helped me a lot with my game over the years and I am looking forward to training with him again.
Your season has ended after a tough three game series against Weissenhorn. Did the tough three game series against Oldenburg take it´s toll on the team mentally and physically?
I don’t think the Oldenburg series effected us at all in the Weissenhorn series. We had enough time to rest and scout Weissenhorn. We had our chances to win the series and we were not able to do it. It is simple as that in my opinion.
Do you feel as if the series against Weissenhorn was lost in game one? Had you won game one, you would have been on the best way to advancing.
Yes I think that is an accurate statement. Game 1 is the away game we should have won. We had it and gave it away at the end. If we would have won that game I think we still would have won at home and we would be advancing to the final 4.
BG Karlsruhe played Weissenhorn who has many very ambitious and talented German players very tough, but you can´t look around the 1/22 shooting performance in game three from downtown. Was it just one of those games where nothing was falling or was this the main factor for losing this game?
The bad shooting definitely was a part of the reason we lost but not the only reason. They jumped out on us early and we never recovered from that. We knew exactly what they wanted to do offensively and defensively but could not take advantage of it. They were simply the better team in game 3.
You had very good games in two and three combining for 41 points. Do you feel like you could have done more in game three to have helped get the win despite the team going 1/22 from outside which isn´t your speciallity?
I think any player that has lost a game can look back and think about things they could have done better to help the team win. And I am no exception to that. So as I look back, I think when I entered the game in the 2nd half I could have brought more to the game offensively. As I did in the first half.
What was your impression of young Hungarian point guard Marcel Pongo who I have been following for some years now. You saw him 5 times this season. Does he have the game to become an impact player in the BBL down the road?
He is a solid PG. If he keeps working on his game and stays focused on getting better I think he will do just fine in the BBL.
You told me in our last interview that “This season has been a roller coaster ride! We have had our ups and we have had our downs. Within all of this we experienced many situations that can help us in the playoffs. Why do you feel wasn´t the team rewarded in the playoffs with all this experience in many game situations this season?
We definitely learned from these experiences throughout the season. But through these experiences we are also smart enough to know there is 2 sides to this. On the one side you grow and learn from mistakes and bad plays. On the other side we are in these situations because we put ourselves there. And if you keep playing with fire you will eventually get burned. That is exactly what happened to us and unfortunately got us eliminated from the playoffs.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Ricky Easterling after he led Saarlouis to 94-87 win dropping 31 points against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors
What is your team summary? BG Karlsruhe made the playoffs, but was it all in all a success? The ambition and goal of the team is to get back to the Pro A?
In my opinion the season was ok. I think it ended too early because on a good day with the talent we had on our roster we are one of the best teams in all of the Pro B. So I think it is disappointing that we didn’t make it to the finals and move up to Pro A. But we have been through a lot as a team this season and I am still proud of how far me made it.
What was your summary of head coach Jibril Hodges? He was a rookie as coach and helped lead the team into the playoffs. Does he deserve to continue and get a shot of building a new team this summer?
I think he did a very good job this season as a rookie coach. I would like to see him get a chance to coach a team from the beginning. He came to us after the season had already started and I think that it not easy to do for any coach. But he handled the situation very well and deserves a chance to build a team with the players he chooses to coach.
Would you agree with me that Shawn Gulley was the most improved player or was it a given for you at the start when he arrived that he would have such an impact?
I think I can agree with you on this. Before Shawn came to BGK I never even heard of him. When I heard that he was coming to us I looked at his highlights and seen he had a lot if potential and could definitely help us out. He came to us and made an immediate positive impact and made us a better team. After playing with him I can’t believe I never heard about him before. He not only came to BGK and made us a better team. He also made a name for himself and I think he has a bright future ahead of him.
Congrats on another strong season concerning your game. Congrats on coming into a situation where you wouldn´t score 30 points a night. You accepted the situation and role and somehow still led the team in scoring. How do you feel did you grow as a player mentally this season?
This new role definitely took some time getting used to. To be honest it was at times very frustrating. But I think I did a good job with the role I was given. I wish I had a bigger role on the team because I know I could have done more. But at the end of the day it is not just about me and what I feel I can do. I know this and mentally I was able to put my feelings and ego to the side for the team.
You stated to me recently in an interview that “I was able also concentrate more on other parts of the game. Since I didn’t have to do as much at times offensively with this team I could use more energy playing defense. On what area on defense do you feel were you able to make strides this season?
I don’t think I improved in a particular area on defense. I have always been a good defender. Ever since my youth days. People here in Germany just did not realize it because I was always a volume scorer and that seemed to over shadow what I do on defense. I think just having more energy to use on the defensive end helped because I was able to be more active on and off the ball.
You remain very humble and true to yourself when you told me this in our last interview in March “I have had a pretty decent season but definitely not up to my own expectations. I feel I could have done more. But my main concern is not my personal performance. I came here with team goals not personal goals. I want to play for the championship. If we make that happen. It would be better than any personal award for sure”. What do you feel you could have done better with the minutes that you got?
I think I played very well with my limited minutes. But no one is perfect and I feel I could have done better at times. I don’t think I had a single thing that I can point out, and say I could have done this or that better. Every game is different and in these games it could have been maybe a bad shooting night. Maybe another game I shot well but had a couple unnecessary turnovers. But these negatives where not something that was a consistent problem in my game. It just happens sometimes. Everyone has a bad game or makes mistakes throughout a game.
What is the next step for Ricky Easterling? I will go on record saying I predict that you won´t only be back next season playing in Germany but I see you playing until your 40. You will be turning 34 in November. How many more productive years do you have in your motor?
I appreciate that comment! I hope coaches see that as well! Haha! In my case my age is just a number. I still feel good and I have been lucky to stay injury free. I have proven year after year that I still play at a high level and I hope I have the opportunity to continue playing for at least a couple more years!
What place would you like to visit this summer where you have never been to?
Unfortunately my summers are always a busy time for me. It is more business for me then it is vacation. I don’t have much time to travel because I am training the youth and also working on my game. I use the summers to get better as a player and a coach. I can travel when I’m done playing. Haha but if I do have a chance to go somewhere I would like to go somewhere tropical with a beach, clear water, and lots of sun. I never been to a place like this.
Now that March Madness is history, what sports do you concentrate on watching in the next months when you aren´t in the gym or traveling?
To be honest after the NBA playoffs I don’t keep up with any other sports. I do keep up with my hometown teams. In Baltimore we have the Orioles, and the Ravens. I watch there games and if I am in Baltimore at the time I try to check them out live. Other then that I don’t care to much about what goes on in the MLB or the NFL.
How special was the run of South Carolina at the 2017 NCAA tournament? Do you feel like this was the story of March Madness 2017`?
I was surprised to see that SC made it so far, but I knew their luck would run out eventually and it did.
Is Lonzo Ball the real thing? Do you feel like he will be able to develop further despite the antics of his father on social media?
I am a big fan of Lonzo Ball. I think he will be a good player in the NBA. Even though I think his father is funny and knows exactly what he is doing with the comments he makes to the media. I do think that might put more pressure on Lonzo but like Lonzo said in his interviews. He knows his dad and all this stuff we see, hear about in the media and think is crazy talk. Is something Lonzo is used to and does not let it effect his game. He grew up listening to his dad craziness. Haha
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
No I think it is true. I don’t fault him for it though. The Thunder has no chance to win the finals. So why not try and go and make history another way.
Is Russell Westbrook the 2017 MVP or should James Harden coupled with his better record give him the nod?
I think Westbrook should get it. He has done something that not a lot of players can do even if they tried to. And at the same time lead a team with no shooters to the playoffs out of the strong Western conference even after losing a superstar like KD. I don’t think Harden is as good as a defender and I don’t think he can consistently rebound like Westbrook can. I also think that if you tell Harden to go get a triple double he would not do it as often as Westbrook. For that reason I give the MVP to Westbrook. Not to take anything from Harden because personally I like Harden more than Westbrook. I might even pick Harden over Westbrook to be the center piece of my team because I feel Harden makes better decisions. But that is totally another conversation.
What was the last movie you seen?
The last movie I seen is called “Split” with James McAvoy.
Thanks Ricky for the chat.