One On One With Michael Stone

Michael Stone is a 188cm guard from Kentucky that has played for the Bowling Green Hornets (CBA) playing 10 games averaging 6.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.1apg and most recently for the Suncoast Clippers (Australia-QBL, starting five) where he played 15 games averaging 17.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.7apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 80.0%. He also gained experience with Transylvania (NCAA3) and Roberts Wesleyan (NCAA2, He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

Michael where are you at the moment and how was your summer?

I am currently in Lexington, Kentucky. My summer was great. I have been working out a lot and I feel like I have really improved. I played in a few high level tournaments here in the area with NBA, overseas, and college players and those went well. I have also been training young players and coaching at one of the high schools here in town and I enjoy that a lot.

You are one of countless professional players looking for that next opportunity to showcase your skills. You last played professionally in 2015 in Australia. How tough is it for you not getting the opportunity to play?

Obviously I wish I had been somewhere the last 2 seasons because I really enjoy the competition, but I have used this time to my benefit. I think I am different than the others in my position because I have proven myself with good numbers in a good league in Australia. My work ethic and drive separate me as well, and I truly believe that there aren’t many people out there that have the level of discipline and desire that I possess.

It has been 2 years now since you played with the Suncoast Clippers (Australia-QBL) putting up good stats in15 games averaging 17.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.7apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 80.0%. Do you ever think that maybe that was your last chance? Getting that second chance after that good showing might have opened up doors in your professional career that you had never seen before.

I thought my numbers were solid for my first overseas season, but I am always looking for ways to improve and I always have higher goals. I think in the time that I’ve been back I have improved quite a bit. I am in great shape, I have gotten stronger, I have improved multiple areas of my skill set, and I’ve continued to be a student of the game and learn, so I think mentally I have improved as well. I will absolutely be ready for my next opportunity, wherever that may be.

Some guys make long career´s out of playing in one country. Was Australia never an option for you? Even if the money may not have been the best getting a second job is something players usually chose just so they can make a living coupled with keeping their basketball dream alive.

I actually thought that I was headed back to Australia two seasons in a row and had things fall through last minute leaving me with nothing. That was quite frustrating. I would love to go back to Australia but would also be open to playing somewhere new. I am not as concerned with money as a lot of players. I want to be in a good situation with a club that wants to win.

What overall kind of experience was that for you playing in Australia? How do you feel did your game grow in that short time just seeing a new style something you hadn´t seen in the States?

I really enjoyed my time in Australia. The living was great and the people were very welcoming. In the 5 months that I was there I thought I improved and learned a lot as a player. I also had the opportunity to coach some young players and help teach them the game, which I really enjoyed.

Did you secure a tape of your sensational 39 point, six rebound, seven assist and six steal game against Bundaberg B? Does a game like this keep your dreams alive and gives you the feeling that you not only can play but also deserve a chance again?

Yes I do have the film of that game. That was an important away game, and we were a bit short handed, so that was a great team win. They had beaten us early in the season so that was great to get back on the right side. I have a high level of confidence in myself and I think that I can put up good numbers for a lot of clubs if given the opportunity. However, most importantly, I think I can help clubs win.

Your definitely a guy that can score, but what other attributes does your game possess?

 I am a solid defender and I rebound really well out of the guard spot. I am a good passer and can get my teammates involved. I led my team in efficiency in Australia. I am comfortable playing on or off the ball and I feel I can contribute positively from both positions.

Your also a guy that can also fill the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away?

 I think my ability to defend is underrated. I am 191 cm, I’m quite strong for my weight, and I am a solid athlete. I also think that I am a much better outside shooter than I am given credit for. That is an area that I have put a lot of work into and I am confident that this will lead to results.

If you had to describe yourself in a few sentences as to why you could help any professional team now how would you go about doing that?

 I pride myself on my work ethic and my will to win. I have always, and will always, work as hard as I can. I am a tremendous professional on and off of the court and I lead by example in practice and in games. Most importantly, my main goal is to win basketball games, and my biggest goal is to win a championship. I am uninterested in my personal accomplishments, and I am willing to do whatever is asked of me to accomplish team goals. I am also a great club guy. I like to interact with fans and I am experienced in working with youth teams and players.

You played briefly with the Bowling Green Hornets (CBA) playing 10 games averaging 6.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.1apg. Some guys will grind here a few years and get rewarded with a contract. Is your dream big enough to just grind and take a step back to help yourself possibly take a step forward down the line?

 I am willing to do whatever I need to do to get to a higher level. I think that I proved in Australia that I belonged at the professional level, and I think I have gotten better consistently my whole career. The time that I had in Bowling Green was solid. It is a different game because you have 12 guys that are all trying to prove themselves to get noticed and take the next step. I have a lot of respect for those guys and I think the CBA does a nice job working to get guys exposure and opportunities.

Who was the toughest player that you ever battled at any level that made it to the NBA?

There are a lot of good players where I live in Lexington, Kentucky, which is where University of Kentucky is located. I have played against numerous NBA guys. In college we played the UK team with Anthony Davis, who is a top 10 player in the world right now. That team had 5 other NBA draft picks. One of those was a guy who I know pretty well, Darius Miller. He had a lot of success in Germany and has played his way back into the NBA which is really great for him. Shelvin Mack is also from Lexington and we played against each other growing up, and then played together in a few tournaments this summer. He has had a very solid NBA career.

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

 It is tough for me to pick guys that I didn’t get to see, so I will just include guys that I have watched a lot personally. I would have to start with Michael Jordan, as he is the greatest of all time in my opinion. I think he was the ultimate competitor, and he was a tremendous winner, which carries a lot of weight in my evaluation. Next up I would have Kobe Bryant. I have heard legendary stories about Kobe’s work ethic and he was also a winner. Next I would go with LeBron. Statistically speaking, LeBron is on another level. He has an ability to make guys around him better and he can dominate the game while scoring very efficiently. Last I would put my current favorite, Steph Curry. I am not sure that he is better than everybody that I’ve put him in front of, but I have a lot of respect for him as a player and as a person. He is a great professional, he’s smart, he has a great work ethic, he makes guys around him better, and his only goal is to win, much like myself

. 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?

 When anybody talks about somebody potentially being the best of all time, they are always compared to Jordan. I think Jordan and LeBron are different types of players. I would take Jordan because I think he had a “refuse to lose” mentality and his mental toughness was unbelievable. He was 6-0 in championships, and if he didn’t take time off I think he may very well have been 8-0.

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 think Russ plays as hard as anybody in the league. I never question his will to win. I am also quite impressed with his ability to exert as much effort as he does for as many minutes as he plays every night. He is an athletic machine. I enjoy watching his passion for the game.

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

 I think this year’s draft had a good bit of talent. Being in Lexington I saw a lot of UK’s games and I think De’Aaron Fox is really talented. I don’t know if you can call him a sleeper being that he was the 5th pick, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being the best player in this draft. In terms of more general sleepers I look for guys with good habits and good skill sets that come from good winning programs. I think Luke Kennard fits this mold for sure.

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 respect both players but I am not sure that that combination is the best. I think both players do better with the ball in their hands, though Harden can definitely play off ball. They have nice role players that can score and they have decent depth, but I think the Warriors are still the heavy favorite to win the West. I might also take San Antonio and possibly OKC over the Rockets.

How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?

 If it’s possible I think that both teams may have improved. I think the Cavs got a solid replacement for Kyrie, in IT, but their real improvement was in depth and on the defensive end. I think the Celtics got better in terms of getting a big time 1 option, and I think Brad Stevens is a tremendous coach. I will be anxious to see how both teams come together, but I’m not sure that it matters who comes out of the East. As long as the Warriors stay together they are really tough to beat. They are highly talented, high IQ, unselfish, they all play defense, they all buy into their roles, and they are all willing to sacrifice for the team.

What was the last movie that you saw?

 In theater, The House. On TV, Shooter.

Thanks Michael for the chat. Here is Michael´s contact info: mlstone235@yahoo.com +18598061124

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