Elijah Allen is a 27 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 about basketball.
Elijah thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Thanks for the interview. I am currently home in Lollar, Germany. My summer has been great. I have been training hard, Watching a lot of game film and spending time with the family.
After reaching the EasyCredit BBL with Gotha, you and the team took a trip to Mallorca. How was that trip and what interesting story do you have from this experience with your teammates?
The trip to Mallorca was great. It was nice to have some off time to enjoy with the guys. I don’t have anything really interesting to tell from the trip. It was just a great time and a moment that I will not forget.
I just read an interesting article about your career in the Maryville Daily Forum and the first line said “You wouldn´t even recognize”. At first I thought you meant your looks, but you meant your game. I looked at the college pic in the article and thought wow “he has really held his own in the aging department. Sometimes all the game stress, family life put a toll on you, but nothing has affected you. What is your secret?
Haha I wouldn’t say that. I have a few gray hairs now. I appreciate the compliment tho!
This is our seventh interview that we have done since November 2014. It is actually surprising that we hadn´t done one already years earlier. Anyway time really flies and our first interview seems like ages ago. Do you feel like time has flown even quicker by the last three years compared to your first two seasons in the German Regionaliga?
To me I don’t feel it went by so fast. Spending two years in Regionaliga and two in the Pro B while working on the side felt very long to me. It was a lot of work and stress. That is why having a successful season with the club moving up was a bittersweet feeling.
You stated in our last interview in May concerning the new season” 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”. That was more than two months ago. Apparently you have had offers from the BBL and Pro A. Have you gone a different strategy this summer concerning your basketball future?
My main focus is finding the right situation for my career and family. The key for me is to be patient and trust my agent. I am confident that I will get signed soon.
August is around the corner and teams are slowly getting filled. What is the present status of your search. I am sure Gerrit at Scorer´s First is doing all he can to place you in a good situation.
I have learned over the years that sometimes good things take time. I trust my agents judgement. In meantime I will keep working hard and stay ready.
Lich is history, but BBL team Giessen 46ers now will have a second team in the Pro B. Wouldn´t this as an ex Giessen Pointer be a perfect situation to go back to your second home and be near that BBL atmosphere and practice with the team and give the kids on the Pro B team experience and mentorship?
It’s unfortunate that Lich is not there anymore but I think it’s great for the youth of Giessen that there is a team in Pro B in the area.
Any guy that helps a team move up to the EasyCredit BBL must be disappointed not to stay there. Did you get a response from Wolfgang Heyder of Ivan Pavic as to why they were planning without you?
At the end of the day it is a business. I wish the club and fans nothing but success going forward.
Does the fact that there is interest from BBL teams help erase the trust that Gotha must not have continued to have with you helping them in the BBL?
I have nothing against Gotha. I had a good time there. I am thankful for the opportunities I had there.
You must still follow what Gotha is doing with player personal. How have you seen their off season work. Do you feel like they will be able to survive in the EasyCredit BBL?
Gotha is a ambitious club. They signed young players that are hungry to prove themselves. Along with that the veterans Mitchell, Watts and Ohle have worked hard this past off-season. I think they will do just fine this year.
You will be turning 28 in September. You have seen much in your basketball career, but where do you currently see you in your development? Are you nearing your prime or are you there or will be there in 2-3 years?
I have grown a lot on and off the court and feel I have so much to prove still. Statistically I think I am better than what I showcased last season in Pro A. This upcoming season my goal is to prove that. I am not in my prime yet and feel there is always room to grow.
In that nice article you stated that you expanded your game in Europe and are a much better defender. How do you feel you would be as a player today had you not gone through your European transformation?
I don’t think I would have a career in Europe if I didn’t get better.
You stated in the last interview also “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”. What else would you need to show at the BBL level?
I feel I have the tools to help any team. It’s just about putting it all together and making the most of opportunity that is given.
You stated in our last interview in May concerning how you have become a better offensive player with Gotha “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”. On what things have you been working on the last two months to make your game even better?
This summer I have focused on attacking the basket and working as a ball handler in pick and roles. I showed that I shoot the ball. Now I want to show that I can do a lot more.
How does your summer work out schedule look like? With 2 kids now, are you still working as hard grinding like you did four years ago without kids or even toning it down a bit with age?
Weights and stretching everyday at 8am and at 9pm at night time I am in the gym conditioning and shooting. I have toned down a bit on running long distances. This schedule gives me enough off time to spend with the family while staying in shape.
I had no idea that you played in Ireland as a rookie. When you look back at that time what was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were far away from home?
Ireland was a great experience. I think the food and lifestyle was the biggest difference. It took some time to get used to things.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Very strong draft class. I think Luke Kennard will surprise some people in Detroit. He has the complete package.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
I wasn’t a fan of the Chris Paul trade. Harden and Paul are both players that need the ball a lot in there hands. I don’t see it fitting well.
What was the last movie that you saw?
War for the planet of the Apes
Thanks Elijah for the chat.