Elijah Allen is a 26 year old 195cm swing man from Columbus, Ohio that completed his first season with Gotha in the Pro A averaging 5,7ppg, 2,0rpg and shot 42,3% from outside. He is one of the few guys that has gone from the German Regionaliga to the BBL He played the last two seasons for Lich and last season played 27 games averaging 13.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 69.3%. He started his basketball career at NW Missouri St. (NCAA2) in 2007 where he played until 2011 playing a total of 103 NCAA games and as a senior played 26 games: 14.9ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.1apg, FG: 44.8%, 3Pts: 23.1%, FT: 74.8%. He came to Germany in 2012 and played his first two seasons for the VfB 1900 Giessen Pointers (Germany-Regionalliga) and in the 2013-2014 season played 26 games averaging 20.0ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 58.7%, 3PT: 30.7%, FT: 68.4%. In the 2014-2015 season for the Licher Basket Baeren he played 28 games: 10.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 72.2% He spoke to German Hoops after helping Gotha reach the BBL.
Elijah congrats on an amazing season with Gotha. You helped Gotha move up to the BBL, but lost the Pro A title to 2004 Fiba Europe cup winner MBC. Is the fact that the club reached the BBL a small consolation for not winning the Pro A title?
Thanks a lot Miles. Having the opportunity to play for the Oettinger Rockets this season was a true blessing. The main goal for the club was to make it to the BBL and we achieved that so I think the club can be very happy with the outcome.
MBC had the number of Gotha this season going 4-0. I always felt Gotha had a well rounded roster, but was MBC just better from top to bottom?
MBC was the best team in Pro A for a reason. They brought it every night. Hats off to MBC for the season they had.
Gotha knew coming into the game that they had to win by 8 or more points, but lost by 22 points. MBC shot very well in the paint and won the rebound battle. Obviously when you lose by 22 points, the defense failed, but what did Gotha had to have done better to have won this game by eight or more points?
MBC did a good job of pressuring and trying to deny us the ball all game. Warren and Kerusch also played great when Hatten got injured. We needed to take care of the ball and limit easy baskets in order to win that game.
Three of the four semi-finalists came from the former East Germany. You had played in Giessen and Lich the last years, but seriously what do they feed the players in the east?
Haha maybe its in the water! I don’t know what the secret is.
What is the secret to the success of the teams in the east this season in the Pro A? What is your season summary? It has been the goal of Gotha and Wolfgang Heyder to reach the BBL one day, but nobody expected to happen so soon?
Playing for Gotha has been such a humbling experience. We battled so much adversity all year long and being able to pull it together when it mattered most was just icing on the cake. Every player on our team did something special during the playoffs.
Did the team overachieve this season? Gotha finished only in seventh place and needed 4 games to dispose of Crailsheim and 5 games to get past Chemnitz being down 0-2. What was the secret to the season?
I wouldn’t say nobody expected it. I think it was the exact opposite actually. The club and sponsors really wanted to get to the BBL this season. They didn’t want any excuses. Just results. I don’t look at it as overachieving. We under achieved during the regular season and came alive when it mattered most.
You won the last 3 games against BV Chemnitz by a combined score of 12 points. Was this the most intense week of your professional life coming from the bottom and reaching the peak in game 5?
The whole season we didn’t play up to our abilities together. We had some nice wins and then some bad losses. Playoffs was a time to redeem ourselves. As a team we believed we were just as good as anyone in the league. We have a team of quality players and it was just a matter of clicking together at the right moment. I’m super proud of the group we got.
What was your fondest moment in this BV Chemnitz series that you will remember in 10 years?
The series against Chemnitz was just crazy. I think I had about 5 heart attacks that series. Chemnitz has some really good players that play with heart. I have the most respect for them.
What German player do you feel improved the most from day one until the last loss against MBC?
I would have to say Robert Ohle. He really improved and played huge for us as the season and playoffs went on. He works really hard and played great in the playoffs.
How vital was the pick up of experienced Dane Watts? Where would the team have been in many games without his presence?
Dane was an awesome teammate and person to be along. His leadership and experience was just what we needed to give us that edge.
Let´s talk about your game. You averaged 5,7ppg and 1,7rpg in 16 minutes. You stated in our last interview in December 2016 that “my goal is to just be aggressive in the time that I get and find ways to help my team win” Do you believe that you could do that on a consistent basis with Gotha?
This season was a learning process. I really felt I grew a lot this season on and off the court. Offensively and defensively my main focus is to make that next step. Knowing your role and picking when to make plays was a challenge this season. Making the most out of your role is essential to team success. I’m very hungry and determined to prove that I can play on a high level night in and night out.
In the last interview you also said that “I think defensively and basketball IQ I have made a huge step but offensively I feel I had a more all around game with Lich. How have you become a better offensive player with Gotha where you had way less minutes than with Lich?
The main thing that I have learned is spacing. Having good spacing makes the game so much easier. This summer I will spend time watching film and looking for ways to improve.
You came from the Regionaliga and helped Gotha reach the BBL. How special has your Cinderella basketball career been. If somebody had told you in April 2013 that in 4 years you had gone step by step and would have helped a team reach the BBL what would you have thought?
This journey has been nothing but amazing. I really worked hard to get here and I have so much more to prove. I have always believed in myself and I take pride in finding ways to improve from season to season.
What is the next step for Elijah Allen? The question is will Gotha retain you or will you have to go elsewhere? Do you feel you could be a solid BBL player if given the chance?
I have no clue what the next step will be. I’m just thankful to be able to play the game I love. I will speak with my Agent over the next few weeks. I feel I can contribute and help a club with the right situation.
What are your summer plans? Do you have anything special planned or will you just be staying at home with the family and working on your game?
I am currently on the way to Mallorca, Spain with the team. Plan on relaxing and enjoying the time with the guys. I will stay in Germany with my family for most of the summer. I will also take my family to Greece for a few weeks. Besides that I will be working out and getting ready for the next season.
Devin Booker recently hit the Boston Celtics for 70 points. Did it surprise you that a guy like him was able to do that before many other amazing NBA scorers?
I am not surprised one bit. The kid can flat out score the ball and he is put in the perfect position to do so.
Where do you rank Boston Celtic Isaiah Thomas at the moment with the best point guards in the NBA? Is he a top 3 point guard at the moment behind Westbrook and Harden?
I think he is number 4 in my book. I have to go with Harden, Westbrook,Wall and then Thomas.
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 feel its very special. I am all for the underdogs. Its nice to see schools that are not really known as high majors make it so far in the tourney. All odds are against them.
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 haven’t really seen the kid play much but his dad is taking all of his shine. I wish he would sit back and let his kid enjoy his moment. He is in the news more than his sons.
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?
I mean I don’t see it as a bad thing to be able to average a triple double no matter how you do it. His teammates didn’t complain one time about it so its OK in my book.
Recently there was talk that the Morris brothes did a switcharo in Boston in game 2 where Morris stepped in for Markieff who was nursing an injury. Do you think something like that cam be even possible with all the scrutiny and all the technical gadgets that are around. Could something like that not get detected?
It is definitely possible! Identical twins with the same tattoos is just crazy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it. How could you catch them? Haha
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Elijah for the chat.