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 about the next step in his basketball career.
Ricky thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
My summer has been good up to this point. I spent most of my time this summer working at Kutshers Sports Academy where I teach basketball to the youth, and also have the opportunity to stay in shape and work on my game. I am now finished at KSA and am currently in Baltimore visiting my family.
We did a season ending interview in April and almost four months later your still unsigned. Did the whole BG Karlsruhe mess interfere with your summer transfer period and in what direction you were going to go in?
I don’t think the BGK situation held me up. I feel the situation or Role I had on the that team messed up my transition process this summer. I had to deal with some ups and downs that were not my fault and I guess teams are second guessing me for some reason.
BG Karlsruhe didn´t get their Pro B license renewed and most likely will play in the Regionaliga. 10 years ago they were in the BBL. You only played a season with them, but do you feel for the fans who just have suffered for years with the club moving down a league?
Yes I feel for the fans in this situation. For true fans it is hard to see the team you support fall off. But they got some good people involved and I think they will make there way back up to the 1.Bundesliga or 2.Bundesliga one day.
You’re a guy that can be labelled as one of the best Regionalliga players not only in the last 10 years, but ever and you put up two amazing seasons with Saarlouis where you led the league in scoring and last season was still solid playing for a team that had 4-5 other scoring options averaging14.4ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.5apg. Do you feel a bit let down by the basketball process as you have no interest from other Pro B teams?
Yeah it is very disappointing that I have not received any 2.Bundesliga offers so far. I always did what I needed to do for my team. Whatever role that was asked of me I did it at a high level. And to now not to have many options is kind of hard to understand.
I have stated often that you probably have the best and most mechanical mid distance shot in the Pro B in the last years. Do you feel that never having a reliable three point shot as perhaps held you back a bit being able to play at a higher level?
That could be true. I’m not really sure if it did hold me back from Pro A or BBL. Or it could have been decision making earlier on in my career. I had a couple chances to move to the Pro A in the past, but the money offer was so low that I decided not to take those offers. Now looking back maybe I should have made that sacrifice.
When I asked you in our last interview what the next step is I added that I could see you playing into your 40´s. You answered with. “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! Do you feel like age is shielding/hiding your still consistent stats that you continue to put up as a professional player?
I hope my age is not overshadowing my stats. I mean 33 is not that old. Jordan was 35 when he won his last championship and was no question still the best player in the world. He could have kept going but he chose to stop. Jason Kid was 38 when he locked up LeBron and won the finals with Dallas in 2011. There are also many more examples I could use. In my case I’m 33 just helped a 6th seed team advance to the quarter finals of the playoffs and have been lucky to stay injury free missing only 1 game in 10 years. Then if you take a look at my numbers they speak for themselves.
I feel that one of the most important things that you proved last season with BG Karlsruhe was that you played 13 less minutes than the two seasons before with Saarlouis in the Pro B. Not only did you play way less, you stayed consistent scoring in double figures in 19 of 25 games and accepted a lesser role. How did you grow mentally as a player last season where you had a role that you had never seen before in Germany as a professional?
Thanks for noticing that Miles. Accepting this new role was not easy. It took some real soul searching to stay focused and still go out there and get the job done. At the end of the day I am a team player. Whatever role is giving to me I am going to do and I will do it to the best of my abilities.
One things that also doesn´t lie are stats. You were always around 60% from the field in the Regionaliga, but in the Pro B had your best shooting season from the field in the Pro B shooting 58%. This is another positive showing your not a ball hog, selfish player or guy that just shoots, but demonstrated precise shot selection. How proud does this stat make you?
I am very proud of that stat. When I played for Chris Cummings we spent a lot of time together working on my game, breaking down film, and he helped me become mentally better at the game. One of the things we always talked about was get better everyday! Practice new things or other things that you are not good at and turn them into skills to use in the game. Then in games we want to stick to what we know we can do. Playing with that mentality helped me stay true to my game and take good open shots. As many jumpers as I put up on the daily basis I better go out there and shoot well. If not then I might need to reconsider my profession haha!
If you don´t find a Pro B team, you will most likely return to Saarlouis. In Oldenburg Ricky Paulding is known as Pauldingburg. How does the name Easterlinglouis? How special is the Saarlouis organization for you?
Haha I don’t know about that nickname! We might have to think about something else! Haha! But yes Saarlouis is very special to me. I spent most of my career there because I got a lot of love for everyone I met and worked for in Saarlouis. I could definitely see myself there again at some point if they would take me.
After three years in the Pro B, you battled against many tough guards. Who was the toughest that you encountered in your time?
Ummm! That is a hard one! I’m gonna have to get back to you on that one. This is a question I have to take to the lab and think on it a little bit. So in our next interview I will have a answer for you.
How does a summer work out look for you in 2017 at age 33. What are you concentrating most on this summer and what do you tone it down a bit to help rest your body?
My workouts are looking the same for the most part. I always get up a lot of shots. The way I do my fitness training and conditioning always changes because I like to keep that interesting. Then I break the game down and work on everything trying to become a better all around player. I also read about the game, and players and exercise my mind to pick up on things that can help me mentally.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Well I can’t go too deep in the draft and find sleepers because all my attention is on Lonzo Ball. I like him because he reminds me of my brothers and I back in the day. When we were young coming up playing ball. I also like how he plays the game. I hope he helps the Lakers become a good franchise again.
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?
They got to go through the Warriors and the Spurs. Changes aren´t looking too good for the Rockets. I think they won’t make it any further then they did this season. Chris Paul should have went to the Spurs if he is trying to get a ring. That’s just my opinion. I think Harden did a good job at the point. I think it would benefit more if the Rockets got a beast big man instead of CP3.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Last movie I seen was “Get Out”
Thanks Ricky for the chat.