Dominic Early is a 198cm forward from Atlanta, Georgia that will be in his second professional season after being a rookie in Australia and now will play for the Itzehoe Eagles (Germany-ProB). He started his basketball career at Furman(NCAA) where he played 41 games in two seasons. He then moved to USC Aiken (NCAA2) where he played 19 games averaging 15.6ppg, 8.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 82.4%. As a senior he played for Co.Georgia (NAIA) playing 32 games averaging 20.9ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 73.7%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Dominic thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer going?
I am still in Australia and won’t go home for another month.
In school you were a kind of nomad playing at 3 schools Furman (NCAA), USC Aiken (NCAA2) and Co.Georgia (NAIA). After your rookie season in Australia you are in Germany now. Do you have the feeling you might go the same route as a professional bouncing around from team to team and country to country?
I only transferred schools because of coaching changes. I will let my career take its course and I will make those decisions as I go.
You signed with German Pro B team Itzehoe Eagles who play in the third division. How excited are you to be playing in Germany this season?
I am excited to play in Germany. It is a chance to play against the best and show what I can do.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Do you have any friends playing in Germany?
I know a good bit about Germany as a culture and I am in the process of learning the language. And I did have a friend that played in Germany for the Licher Baren last year.
You stated that a reason why you came to Itzehoe was because the club is tight with the city and the city loves it´s club. You also stated that the club has many goals and you want to play so the city ids proud of you. It seems like a whole big family wants to be content. After moving from school to school, where did you develop this kind of feeling. This positive feeling of basketball family.
I developed this feeling by embracing my teammates and coaching staff at my schools. Basketball is a team sport.
Head coach Pat Elzie is very respected in Europe. How important was his character and knowledge of the game for your decision to go there?
Coach’s character was a huge part of the reason I chose to come to Itzehoe. He has a lot of basketball knowledge and I can’t wait to learn from him this season.
Often in the Pro B there is one or two Americans on the team and they get that go to guy role. This is something you had at USC Aiken, Costal Georgia and in Australia. How important is having a healthy self confidence and not unrealistic self confidence that has made you so successful as a scorer in the last years?
Staying inside of your game is the key to being a great scorer. Also not being afraid of the moment. You have to believe that you are the best player on the floor at all times. You also have to make sure you have a good balance of getting your teammates involved, but also being aggressive.
You are a 198cm forward where scoring and rebounding standout as big strengths in your game, but what other things do you feel help your team be successful on the court?
I am a leader on and off the floor. I bring great energy to the floor along with playing the lanes for steals and help side defense.
You are a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
I would have to be my ability to anticipate passes and get steals. I have led my team in steals the past two years and last season in Australia.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Australia where you knew that you were very far away from home in Atlanta, Georgia?
My wake up call was the pace and physicality of the game. It took a while to adjust but I did and was fairly successful.
Often players go up the school ladder from NAIA, NCAA” to the NCAA, but you went the other route starting in the NCAA to the NAIA. Talk about Going from Furmin via USC Aiken to Costal Georgia. Do you feel at the end of the day that this was the right way? Do you feel like having been at Furmin for 4 years would have made you a different player?
I only transferred schools because of the coaching changes. I feel like I made the right choices to showcase my game. And I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to showcase my talent at Furman. I got my chance at those other schools and was ready to show what I can do.
You played 41 NCAA games at Furman in two seasons. What positives could you take from this experience?
I take the experiences and the skills I learned from Furman. I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot.
You scored in double figures at Furmin itwice inclusing a 12 point game getting six rebounds in a 21 point loss to North Carolina school Davidson where you dueled against many future Professionals like Euroleague Player Jake Cohen, Demon Books who plays in the German first division and other talented first division players like Tyler Kalinoski and Chris Czerapowicz. When you look at guys like this and the skill level of a school like Davidson(NCAA) how far do you see yourself in your development now as a player where you feel you can reach a first division team one day?
I feel like I can play with those guys. Like I said I played at Furman my freshman year. I have grown a lot as a player since then. My confidence and skill has grown. I feel like I can play with anybody and I don’t back down from a challenge.
You then moved to USC Aiken (NCAA2) where you played 19 games averaging 15.6ppg, 8.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 82.4%. There you played for head coach Vince Alexander. What kind of experience was this year and why did you move again to Coastal Georgia?
It was a great experience. I made the all conference team and I left because he took a coaching job at another school.
As a senior you finished at Co.Georgia (NAIA) playing 32 games averaging 20.9ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 73.7%. You scored in double figures in 31 of 32 games and really dominated. How vital was this season for you playing at the NAIA level? Was it just another season to help give you that killer instinct which you took to Australia on the court?
It forced me to be a leader. I had to set examples for my teammates and lead the team to wins. I enjoyed that experience. And it gave me a chance to learn to play with a target on my back. When people are game planning to stop you, you have to learn to make adjustments and still find ways to be successful on the floor.
How did head coach Jessie Watkins give you that last serious push as a senior and help you get groomed and prepared best for a professional career?
He gave my freedom to take things into my own hands but also made sure I had a goal to meet. He pushed me to be greater and he kept me focused on the end goal.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jamaal Rhodes?
Me of course.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
The toughest player I battled was Trevor Booker from Clemson.
Your from Atlanta, Georgia and German Dennis Schroeder plays for the Atlanta Hawks. Do you see him becoming atop 5 NBA point guard down the road?
He is a great player and I believe his future is very bright.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
MJ, Shaq, KD, and Reggie Miller
Where will Lebron stand in the never ending debate as the best of all-time now that he still stands at 3 NBA rings against Michael Jordan´s six rings?
He has a chance to be the best ever but as of now he is definitely top 5.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
He is a top 5 power forward of all time. He had a great career.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
This is one of the great NBA performances.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
Yes Russell Westbrook is the best player stat wise in the NBA right now.
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?
He does what it takes to help his team win. Can’t criticize Russell for that.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Split.
Thanks Dominic for the chat.