KT Harrell is a 25 year old 193cm point guard that was born in Wiesbaden, Germany and lived some years there before moving to Montgomery, Alabama. He is playing his third professional season and first with Basic-Fit Brussels (Belgium-Euromillions League). He started his basketball career at Virginia (NCAA) in 2010 where he played two seasons playing 42 NCAA games before moving to Auburn in 2013 where he played two season playing 65 games and as a senior played 35 games averaging18.5ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 43.4%, FT: 81.4%. In the summer of 2015 he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Philadelphia 76ers) playing 4 games averaging 5.3ppg, 1.3rpg. He then started his professional basketball career with Akhisar Belediye (Turkey-TBL) playing 32 games averaging 16.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.6%. In the summer of 2016 he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (New Orleans Pelicans) playing 5 games averaging 1.2ppg, 1.4rpg. Last season he played with Mens Sana 1871 Siena (Italy-Serie A2) playing 30 games averaging 19.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 30.5%, FT: 83.9%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Champions League qualifying game in Ludwigsburg
Thanks KT for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. You were born in Wiesbaden, Germany, but grew up in the states. With what kind of feelings do you have concerning Germany where you were born?
I have very good feelings about Germany. I was born on the airbase in Wiesbaden as my parents were in the military. I spent six years living in Germany before going back to the States and living in Alabama. It would be cool to go back to Wiesbaden one day.
What do you know about basketball in Germany? Do you have any friends balling in Germany?
I don´t have any close friends playing in Germany, but I do know that they have a very good league and one of the best in Europe.
Your preparing for a Champions League qualifying game in Germany against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg who are a very talented team with many strong American players. What kind of game can we await and what will be key to winning the game?
We have been working very hard preparing for them and their press. We have been working on different defensive schemes so we will be prepared for them. I am really looking forward to this game as we are ready.
Your playing your first season with Basic-Fit Brussels (Belgium-Euromillions League). You have been a flat out scorer since your junior season at Auburn. What is your role this season as your playing with two other talented Americans and some other imports?
I don´t only want to be seen as a scorer, but also as a good defender, being able to create for my teammates and be a complete player. My goal this season is to become a complete player and that is what coach is expecting me to do.
You are an explosive scorer that put up points at ease. To what NBA player would you describe your game and what other strengths do you possess that show you aren´t a one dimensional player?
I really like the game of CJ Mccollum. I would compare myself to him, but more so in terms of our body type and that we are the same height. He is a player that can attack, shoot off the dribble and also create for others which is how I like to describe my game.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
My defense doesn´t get noticed. Coach was shocked how I play defense. He knew I could score, but wasn´t awaiting the kind of defense I play. I really have worked on my quickness and I want to show that I can be a two way player.
Last season you played with Mens Sana 1871 Siena (Italy-Serie A2) playing 30 games averaging 19.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 30.5%, FT: 83.9%. You scored in double figures in 27 of 30 games and scored 20 points or more 15 times. How do you feel did your game grow in your second professional season?
I really learned a lot last year. The coach had a lot to do with my progression in that he helped me elevate my game on offense and defense. I knew that I had to get better on defense and he really challenged me. Key was that he helped me become a more attentive and focused player on defense something I am carrying into this season.
Last season you netted 36 points against Latina Basket, but also 33 points in an exciting 106-103 win against Virtus Roma. Which game was most memorable to you?
I think the last game against Roma was the most memorable. We had been a team expected to make the playoffs, but didn´t that season. We had lost many games at the end, but came back and beat a very good team at the end in front of our home court fans which was very special for me and something that I will always remember.
As a rookie you played for Akhisar Belediye (Turkey-TBL) playing 32 games averaging 16.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.6%. You stated one of your wake up calls as a rookie was being the only black man there and everyone staring at you. What other major adjustments did you have as a rookie?
The biggest one was that people there weren´t used to seeing a black man. The people saw me and figured I was an athlete because I was so much taller than everyone else. The culture was a lot different and it wasn´t as Americanized. My rookie season in Turkey was a great and humbling experience. I didn´t take this experience for granted, but appreciate the opportunity I got. I realized that I had to work hard to get to where I wanted to get to in my career.
What kind of experience was it for you having DJ Newbill as a teammate the last few months after he had suffered growing pains with his first professional team Asvel. How did you benefit from his presence and he from yours?
Having each other around was good for the both of us. He came from the France Pro A and brought a different level of play to our team which helped us. We were both guards and we meshed together very well. It was never “I am the guard here”, but we really understood each other well and hung around together in our free time.
After Auburn you played 2015 NBA Summer League with the Philadelphia 76ers. What kind of experience was that first Summer League? Did you get any advice from the organization about how to continue to further your game best?
It was a great experience playing NBA Summer League. I played with many talented players that were already on the 76ers roster as well as against very talent players from other teams. The best advice I got was just to keep working hard. In the NBA there are enough good scorers, so you really have to work on other parts of your game to be able to add another dimension to your game in order to become a two way player.
In the summer of 2016 you played NBA Summer League with the New Orleans Pelicans. What kind of experience was it being teammates with Buddy Hield? When you see his game and where he is now, just how much difference is there in skill level between a guy like him and you?
With all due respect to Buddy Hield, he can really play. He struggled a bit in the first few games, but then found his rhythm. He was taking most of the shots and that is what everyone expected. You can´t compare two players that are on different paths. The NBA is a business and reaching it has to do with knowing the right people and being connected. It is hard to compare two players that are on different paths. I never compare myself to someone else. I am on a different path to better myself.
What did you learn about how the NBA works in your two summers of NBA Summer League play? Is reaching the NBA not always about being the best skilled player, but really having the right connections?
I think that it is a little of both. You obviously have to know the right people and be connected, but also have skill and have some natural gift from God. Guys in the NBA are there for a reason. It is the same with guys unsigned overseas. There are many great players unsigned wanting to paly somewhere here, but just aren´t connected.
You played at Auburn for head coach Bruce Pearl. How did he groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
I was lucky to play for three good coaches with coach Bennett at Virginia and coach Barbee and Pearl at Auburn. Pearl was a great coach with a great mind and was one of the best coaches that I ever played for. He taught me to always play with passion. There are always some nights where you don´t want to play, but he taught always play with passion. To this day I always play with 110 % effort.
You beat LSU scoring 29 points to reach the in the SEC semi-finals. Was this one of your most unforgettable NCAA games?
That was one of my most memorable games. I hit a three to get to OT and then we won. That was the first time that Auburn ever won three games in a SEC tournament. This was a big moment for Auburn and something that I will always take with me and remember.
What stories do you remember hearing about Quantez Robertson who played at Auburn from 2005-2009 and is playing his 9th professional season in Germany with the Fraport Skyliners?
I did remember hearing stories about Quantez Robertson from my ex teammate at Auburn Franke Sullivan. I never saw him play, but heard that he could really play.
You played your junior season at Auburn with then senior Chris Denson. Were you surprised that he was out of professional basketball after his rookie season in Holland?
Yes a little bit. He is doing good now and happy with life. He was always a guy that knew what he wanted to do. He was a very talented player that was very gifted. He wanted to do something else in life. He will be fine.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Chris Denson?
Oh I won the one on one games. I never crushed him, but we had some battles.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
The toughest player I battled in the NCAA was Iman Shumpert of Georgia Tech. I played against him as a freshman. He was very athletic, physical and quick. I wasn´t that strong or mobile yet. He was an all-around player.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Kobe, Iverson, Jordan, Shaq
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?
I´m biased. I´m a huge Jordan fan. My dad had Jordan tapes and I watched them as a kid. Later I fell in love with Kobe´s game, because he copied Jordan´s game. Lebron is a great player, but is behind Jordan.
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?
No, I don´t think so. He was an MVP for a reason. The intensity that he gives in every game is unmatched. Nobody can match it. He gives 110% each game and plays hard each possession and takes no play off.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Dennis Smith Jr isn´t a sleeper but a guy who I think will win rookie of the year. He will be a main threat on the Dallas Mavericks.
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 think that the Rockets will be good, but with the west being so stacked a 3rd or 4th place finish.
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?
I think that the trade was good for both sides. I would take Kyrie over Thomas, but in the long run the Cavs got a lot better considering who they already had, got through free agency and the players from the Celtics. They have enough depth now to be a threat to the Warriors.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder end this season with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony?
The Thunder have a chance, but the Warriors still have more depth and just shoot the ball too good.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Shooter TV series.
Thanks KT for the chat.