CJ Oldham (Bayer Giants Leverkusen) My Aim Is To Be An Extension Of The Coach

CJ Oldham is a 26 year old 203cm forward that was born in Berlin, but grew up in the States and also in Germany. He started his basketball career at Akron in 2010, but played only 17 NCAA games in two seasons. He then transferred to Gannon(NCAA) in 2012 playing a total of 57 games and as a senior played  30 games averaging 5.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 52.1%, FT: 73.2%. He started his professional basketball career in 2015 with BSG Bremerhaven (2.Regionalliga) playing 7 games averaging 14.6ppg. Lasts eason he played for the  Kongsberg Miners (Norway-BLNO) playing  31 games averaging 9.9ppg, 9.5rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6spg, Blocks-5(1.0bpg), FGP: 57.5%, FT: 75.6%. He spoke to German Hoops about Basketball.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing CJ Oldham dad Calvin before a Alba Berlin game against the Fraport Skyliners in the old Max Schmeiling arena in Berlin in 2007

CJ thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer coming along?

I appreciate the opportunity to get a chance to talk with you. At the moment I am in Erie, Pa where I finished my college career. Summer has been great so far. I got a chance to spend time with my girlfriend, family, and friends after being away during my season.

Congrats on signing with the German pro B team Bayer Giants Leverkusen. You are coming from the first division in Norway from Konigsberg. After being a rookie with BSG Bremerhaven, how important was it for you to come back to Germany and play for a team?

Germany has always been like a second home to me. It’s a place where I grew up and learned a lot. To have the opportunity to come back to Germany to play is really exciting, especially Leverkusen where I spent many years.

Your dad Calvin has been affiliated with many teams in Germany like Bayreuth, Ulm, Alba Berlin or Bremerhaven. After being in the Bremerhaven organization you now are with Leverkusen where your dad once coached as well. What was the deciding factor that made you sign with this traditional team?

Leverkusen is a great club to play for and having a previous relationship with both the head and assistant coach made it an even better choice. I have known Achim Kuczmann and Hansi Gnad since I was young and I know having them as my coaches will help me improve as a basketball player.

You have spent time growing up in Germany, but also have lived in the States in Ohio and Pennsylvania. How important do you feel it was for you to get that double culture experience instead of just growing up in the States or Germany?

Growing up the way I did allowed me to experience more in a lifetime than I could imagine. Being able to experience so many different places and cultures has been helpful in many aspects of my life and has allowed me to create great friendships all across the globe.

What were your overall experiences in Germany as a kid. Where were all the places that you lived and how did the German basketball shape your overall basketball career?

We lived in Berlin, Ulm, Bayreuth, and Leverkusen and have traveled to many other cities in Germany during our time there. German basketball was the first basketball I knew. Most of my basketball understanding comes from me watching my father play and coach during his years in Germany.

How important has your dad Calvin been for you in your basketball career? How much did he influence you and make you the player that you are today?

I owe everything to my father. He has taught me so much about the game of basketball. Being able to learn from both a great player and a great coach has helped me tremendously. He has been a part of my entire career and will always continue to be. I also have to give a lot of credit to my mother for how she raised my brother and I. Both of my parents have not only developed my basketball career into what it is today, but also raised me to be the person I am today.

You will be starting your third professional season with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. After a solid second season in Norway, in what direction do you see your game going this season? Besides winning games, what are your personal goals?

Winning games is always the ultimate goal and I hope to bring that to Leverkusen. I just want to be the best player I can be to help win games, whether it be offensively, defensively, or in the locker room.

Usually import players in the Pro B become go to guys and main figures on the team. Your American, but with the new ruling a local player so won´t be seen as an import player. Leverkusen has had some serious scorers the last years with guys like Adonte Parker and Kerry Carter. Do you see yourself being an impact player in the Pro B?

Yes, I believe I can have an impact on the game in multiple ways and hope to do so next year.

Last season you didn´t score in double figures in Norway, but averaged almost 10 rebounds a game. How would you describe your game and to what NBA player would you compare your game and what is your biggest strength besides being athletic and a good free throw shooter?

My size and abilities have always allowed me to play multiple positions. I have guarded many different positions as well. I think it is this versatility and my basketball understanding that are my biggest strengths. If I had to choose an NBA player I would say Shaun Livingston.

You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength that isn´t always noticed on the court right away?

I would say it is my basketball IQ. I aim to be an extension of the coach when I am on the court. As a coach’s son I feel I am a smart player and can help my team in ways that doesn’t always show in the stats sheet.

Last season Konigsberg swept away the regular season, but lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs to Centrum. How disappointing was the end of the season and did you just run out of gas as a team or what was key for the season ending before the title?

Last season was a great season with the Kongsberg Miners. Although, we completed our regular season goal we did fall short in the playoffs. It is always disappointing when the season ends without a title, but I would still have to say we had a successful year. I just have to give credit to Centrum. It was a great playoffs match up and sadly we were not able to advance to the finals.

After coming from the second German Regionalliga and playing in the BLO league Norway, to what league in Germany would you compare the style and level to?

It is hard to compare, but I would say the BLNO is somewhere between the Pro B and the Regionalliga.

What kind of an experience was it having Brit Rolls -Tyson Solomon last season in your development in Norway. Did you guys have some serious battles in practice?

Sol was a great addition to our team when he came midway through the season. He came in at a similar position as I and helped our team. Sol and I really competed and pushed each other in practices. In games we were able to do the same playing together and complimented each other well.

As a rookie you for BSG Bremerhaven in the German second Regionalliga. When looking back was this the right challenge for you coming from the NCAA?

Yes it allowed me to be around my father while he was in Bremerhaven. It taught me how to be a professional and helped me grow as a basketball Player.

I always loved watching German Jan Lipke as a player. He never gave up and was a pesky player on the court. How did you experience him in your rookie season? How did he help you best in your rookie season?

Jan Lipke was a great coach and I loved playing for him. He is intense as a coach, just as he was as a player. You can’t help but play hard for a coach like that. He really pushed me to become as good a player as I could possibly be. He gave me the freedom to play different positions and try different things on the court.

You played only 17 NCAA games for Akron from 2010-2012. Despite not getting minutes, what do you feel was the most worthwhile thing you got from this time?

I got the experience of going to the NCAA tournament, playing for a great coach (Keith Dambrot), and competing against great talent. I learned so much from being in that program and it helped me grow as a Player.

You came to Akron the same time American Quincy Diggs did. He has been developing great as a player and his athleticism is unreal. What do you remember being the most amazing thing he produced in a practice or game that made you go wow?

Quincy Diggs was great player from the beginning and each year he finds a way to get better. It is hard to pick out one moment out of so many where he made a great play. Most people only get to see him in games, but practicing against him every day you could tell he was going to be Special.

How important was it moving to Gannon(NCAA). You played more of a role there despite not being a scorer. How do you feel did your game develop here and did your defensive game get that extra push that has made you the player you are now?

Gannon was an important move for me and allowed me to get a chance to play. Coach Reilly is known for being a defensive coach and allowed me to play a key role in that system. He preached the importance of defensive and playing hard, which I take pride in today.

How did head coach John Reilly groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Gannon(NCAA)?

At Gannon, he allowed me to not only play, but start at positions 1 through 4. We always had high expectations of winning at Gannon and in a conference like the PSAC every game was tough. That forced me to always be prepared for anything that may happen in a game.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Raphell Edwards-Roberts at Gannon?

Raphell was a great teammate while I was a Gannon. I have actually played a lot one on one with Raphell this summer as well. He is a tough and talented player, but I would say I win most of the matchups.

Who was the toughest player you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?

I had the opportunity to play against LeBron a few times during the offseason while I was at Akron. He is a pretty tough Player.

If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?

Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Bill Russel, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?

LeBron and Michael are two of the greatest to ever play and to pick one over the other will always be impossible.

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?

Russell Westbrook is a player that plays at a high intensity and does things very few people in the history of basketball could ever do. I think he is a player that will do anything to win and is definitely deserving of the MVP.

How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?

I think Dennis Smith Jr. will be an exciting player when he gets his chance with Dallas.

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?

Having a smart player like Chris Paul come to Houston will help. But with teams like the Spurs and the Warriors it will be tough to get to the Finals.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Wonder Woman. It was a actually a really good movie. 

Thanks CJ for the chat.

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