Shawn Jones is a 25 year old 203cm forward from Florida playing his fourth professional season and first with Banco di Sardegna Sassari (Italy-Serie A). Last season he split time with Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel-Winner League) playing 15 games averaging 5.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.2bpg, 2FGP: 51.8%, FT: 56.7%: In the Eurocup: he played 18 games averaging 5.5ppg, 3.3rpg, FGP: 62.1%, FT: 53.1%, in Apr.’17 moved to Scandone Avellino (Italy-Serie A) playing 3 games averaging 12.3ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.0spg. He came to Europe in 2015 and played with MoraBanc Andorra (Spain-ACB) playing 34 games averaging 8.7ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 64.7%, FT: 63.5%. He played his rookie season with the Miami Heat (NBA), released in Oct.’14, then moved to Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League) playing 52 games averaging 13.2ppg, 8.7rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 67.9%. He played at Middle Tenn.St. (NCAA) from 2010-2014 playing a total of 126 NCAA games and as a senior played 32 games averaging 13.9ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.8bpg, FGP: 57.6%, FT: 68.3%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Basketball Champions League game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Oldenburg.
Shawn, thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. Last season with Hapoel Jerusalem you lost 103-77 in Ulm. What memories do you have of that tough game?
I remember we had a tough travel day. We got in late and we practiced at midnight. That was the latest that I had ever practiced. We had some flight delays which was the reasons for the late arrival. Ulm was like a machine in the game. They hardly missed. It just wasn´t our night.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Do you have any friends playing in Germany now or in the past?
I have some former teammates playing in Germany like Reggie Upshaw and Marcos Knight in the past. I remember having some battles in college with Augustine Rubit. I have heard only good things about Germany. Guys have said that they have called Germany home for the 10 months that they were there.
Banco Di Srdegna is playing solid in the Serie A and Basketball Champions League, but surely has a lot of upside. What are you most excited about that this team has and will still show in the coming months?
I am more excited just seeing our potential to keep improving every day. I feel that we can still improve in all aspects and don´t really have a real feel for each other yet.
The Eurocup is supposed to be a level above the Basketball Champions League. From your Eurocup experience from last season with Hapoel Jerusalem what league is more skilled and competitive?
I would say that the two leagues are at the same level. People say that the Basketball Champions League is a step under the Eurocup, but to me the level is the same. I feel that we and many other teams from the BCL could compete in Eurocup.
Even though you’re a veteran yourself, how much can a guy like you still learn from experienced American William Hatcher who is playing his 12th professional season? How important is he for keeping the team together?
That is crazy. I have never been called a veteran. He has played forever in Europe. We all like his knowledge of the game. We like to pick his brain about certain situations in the game and what we can do then. His wisdom is very important for the whole team.
Dyshawn Pierre is still looking for his breakthrough with his new team, but how content are you that his game will continue to progress in the next months and how lethal is his athleticism?
The first few months haven´t been easy for him as it was his first time playing in an international cup. He didn´t know how to fit in, but now he has shown that he can be a very good defender and I feel he is the most active on the court. He slowly has his rhythm and his confidence keeps growing. When it reaches the ceiling, he will be a very dangerous player. His athleticism is crazy. I never saw a guy with such a quick jump. He is athleticism is elite.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a 203cm power forward that can score, rebound and are a rim protector. To what NBA player would you compare your game best to?
Back when I was in college I was compared a lot to a Emeka Okafor. Now it´s hard to say. I try to base my game especially with my low post game on a Zack Randolph. I always try to affect the game as much as possible making blocks and making the right reads.
You have been compared to 3 time Euroleague winner Kyle Hines with a better skill set. How much does it flatter you to be compared to a guy like Kyle Hines?
That shows just how much upside there is in my game. I heard that comparison when I signed in Spain in 2015. Just knowing that I could maybe be like him one day really motivates me more each day to keep working harder.
Does hearing a compliment like that you motivate you to work even harder to get to the Euroleague level? What do you still feel is missing form your game to get there?
I think that three things are missing for me to get to the Euroleague. I think that I need to expand my range to the three point line, improve my lateral foot work and polish my post game.
Your also a guy that has proved to be able to shot at a high percentage from the field and block shots, but do you feel is still a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed on the court today?
I feel my playmaking is a hidden strength. I haven´t really been able to showcase my passing as much. I always try to expand my game as much as possible.
Last season you played with Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel-Winner League) playing 15 games averaging 5.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.2bpg, 2FGP: 51.8%, FT: 56.7%: In the Eurocup, you played 18 games averaging 5.5ppg, 3.3rpg, FGP: 62.1%, FT: 53.1%, in Apr.’17 moved to Scandone Avellino (Italy-Serie A) playing 3 games averaging 12.3ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.0spg. How tough was the season in Israel? You averaged 14,3 minutes. Do you feel that you were one odd big man out?
You could say I was the odd man out. We had 8 Americans and you can only play a certain number of Americans in the Israeli league. I got the bulk of my minutes in Eurocup.
What kind of experience was it playing with ex NBA player Amare Stoudmire? What did you learn about him and his character that you hadn´t known before?
At first when you see an ex NBA allstar come over, you think that he would be stuck up or in a shell, but he was very open. He was a very humble person. I remember in practice he would ask me things about how he could adjust better. It was just something I wouldn´t have expected coming from a guy like that. He was always working hard and trying to get better trying to learn about the traveling rule and putting up extra shots. He was also very welcome to meeting new people. He invited me to his house on many occasions for dinner. He still texts me to this day.
What special Amare Stoudmire story do you have that you will be able to tell your grandchildren one day?
I remember our battles in practice the most. I learned so much in our battles like how to defend better and how to stay in front of your man best. I won some of our one on one games and so did he. It was fairly even.
You started your basketball career in Europe in 2015 with MoraBanc Andorra (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 34 games averaging 8.7ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 64.7%, FT: 63.5%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home?
My wake up call was the first day in Spain. I was the only American on the team in the first six months. Nobody knew English, it was more broken English. At the beginning, I just stayed in my apartment as I had no one to talk to. It was hard to adjust to. In restaurants I didn´t know what to order. I would just point at something and hope for the best. It was a real eye opener for me.
What growing pains did you have in Spain? You had reduced minutes coming from the G-league where you were a central figure in the Sioux Falls Skyforce system. In Spain you played very efficient in the minutes you got. Do you feel like you made strides in the minutes that you got?
I thought I made strides in Spain. I felt that I did a good job doing the most with the time I got on the floor. People saw how efficient I was. Teams and scouts really watch that a player is efficient. I still try to be like that to this day.
As a rookie you played with the Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League) playing 52 games averaging 13.2ppg, 8.7rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 67.9%. You started the season with the Miami Heat and got cut. What kind of experience was this? What were the positives and negatives?
Everything with the Miami Heat was positive. I really learned how to be a professional with the Heat organization. I was fortunate to learn early how to take care of my body and that has helped me to this day. The whole experience also gave me a lot of confidence going into my professional career, because I saw I was very close to being a NBA player. I was the second to last cut. I know that all it takes is one break and I could be in the NBA. No matter what you do, someone is always watching you.
You had some big games especially against Iowa and Westchester where you combined for 60 points on 27-34 shooting. Did you ever feel like you could get an NBA call up?
Yes I thought I did. I remember talking to my agent who told me that at one point, I was very close right before the allstar break. A player got hurt, but they needed a veteran scorer with experience and took Bill Walker. I was happy for him, because I knew that he had worked hard to get back to the NBA.
You played at the NBA Summer League from 2014-2016 and in 2015 had a good campaign with the Washington Wizards playing 6 games averaging 9.7ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 54.8%. Have you put your NBA route on the backburner for good and concentrating on a career in Europe or would you play Summer League again or got a training camp if invited?
Reaching the NBA is still my dream and I haven´t put it on the back burner. If I get the right situation, I will take it in a heart beat.
You played at Middle Tenn.St.(NCAA) from 2010-2014 improving your stats points and rebounding each season. What part of your game do you feel progressed the most in your four years there?
I feel that in the four year time, I became more of an offensive threat. As a freshman I didn´t play much, but over the next two years my minutes gradually increased. When I became a senior I was the main focus. My four years there gave me a lot of offensive confidence.
You had many great games at Middle Tenn( ST (NCAA), but where would you rate your 12 points in 19 minutes in the 86-66 win against UCLA?
That was one of my big games. I remember UCLA being a top 20 team.
When you were a senior Reggie Upshaw was a freshman who is now playing his rookie season in Germany with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. What impressed you with his game and were you able to mentor him a bit?
Yes still to this day I mentor him. He is like my little brother. At first, I didn´t really like him. But I quickly saw his potential to be that big man that could also shoot from outside. I told him to keep working hard, because there weren´t many guys like him. I remember telling him that he could destroy the conference. He took my advice and ran with it.
How did head coach Kermit Davis groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He was a very hard nosed coach. The most important thing he told me was to never make excuses and just get the job done. This is so important especially as a professional. When you get in the game there are many expectations and no excuses.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Reggie Upshaw?
I beat him every time. He hasn´t beat me yet. You can ask him. I won´t allow him to beat me.
Who was the best player that you battled at the NCAA level that gave you most fits on the court and is in the NBA now?
Tony Mitchell who played at North Texas and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons. He played in Israel last season. He is a very athletic specimen and can do anything off the jump. Patrick Young was also tough. He was a full out animal on the offensive rebound.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant
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 am pretty sure he didn´t stack his stats. He is always trying to put his team in the best situation to win. With him being the leader, you always want the ball in his hands.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Dennis Smith Jr was one of the best point guards in the draft. Kyle Kuzma should be rookie of the year
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?
It´s possible. They have been playing good basketball. If they can make shots in the playoffs then they will be good. You live and die with the three. They will be good with their roster as they are meshing well.
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 Celtics got the better deal. Kyrie is younger and can defend better
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
I don´t think they will. Many need the ball there and there aren´t enough balls. They will make the playoffs, but mot contend
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Shawn for the chat.