Tarique Thompson is a 24 year old 196cm forward from Raeford, North Carolina playing his rookie season in Germany with MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel (Germany-ProB). He played with High Point (NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 107 games and as a senior played 31 games averaging 10.0ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 58.7%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 77.3%. He spoke to German Hoops before the start of the Pro B playoffs against the Dragons Rhondorf.
Tarique thanks for talking to German Hoops. You just completed the regular season with MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel. What kind of overall experience was your first season overseas like?
My first season overseas was a great experience, The game is played slightly different here, I had to get used to not taking a step before I put the ball down so I was adjusting to that, it took a while but I got used to it pretty fast. I’m in a nice town, and as far as meeting people it wasn’t that hard because I’m more of a people person because I’ve moved around as a kid so many times because my mom and dad was in the Military so adjusting to the culture wasn’t really that hard for me, the only thing that I would say was hard was the time difference.
How proud are you of the team in general of making the playoffs and bouncing back after the poor year last season?
I’m really proud of the accomplishments that we’ve had this year, everybody has worked extremely hard to get where we are at right now. Making the playoffs is a great thing to do but we don’t just want to make the playoffs, we want to win it!!! The coaching staff is amazing, Coach Steve is a great coach and he knows the game extremely well. Yes we’re the players playing on the court but he’s the main reason we are where we are now because its more than just scoring more points it’s how you do it and the way you do it and he’s taught us every step of the way. Last years season I don’t think was as structured as it was this year, Not taking anything away from their coach they had last year.
The club had a poor start losing five of it´s first seven games. What was key for the slow start and was the team not on the same page on the defensive end?
We’ve been on the same page since day one, we just had some injuries and some of them playing for our first league. Defense yes played a big role for some of the losses so in practice we focused a lot of that every single day to perfect our weaknesses.
You then turned it around winning 8 of 9 games. What changed within the mindset of the club and what did the club do better on the court?
What really helped us a lot winning the 8 of 9 was bringing along Ole Angerstein, he is a big force field in the paint and a really good athletic big for us, also everybody engaging in what Coach Steve was saying and what we were trying to to do and become this season.
You can´t win any added games by thinking what could have been, but seriously how strong is MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel when you have all of the BBL license players on board?
Honestly if we had all the BBL licensed players we would have went undefeated this year because of the amount of talent and the coaching on top of it.
The club is going into the playoffs with a three game winning streak. How confident is the club that they will be able to make some noise in the playoffs?
We are all confident, and humble going into the playoffs. We all know what we have to do to be successful in the playoffs, and that’s never taking a possession off and play as hard as you can for 40 minutes. Coach Steve always prepares our game plan perfectly so if we take in what he says and the game plan we should accomplish a lot in the playoffs.
How much are you looking forward to the challenge of playing a best of three series against a team Dragons Rhondorf that you have never faced before?
I’m definitely looking forward to playing the Dragons, I’ve already started looking at film and going over a lot of the statistics of some of their games. The best thing for a player to do to be dominant is to be a student of the game as well.
The Dragons Rhondorf are a vey talented team with solid German players and MVP candidate Kameron Taylor. What will be key to upsetting this team and how vital will it be for keeping Kameron Taylor in check?
The main key to upsetting this team is to play to our best ability, and prep for our game plan. We’re not worried about any certain player we just have to come out and play our game and everything will speak for itself. He’s a talented player, we just have to keep him off the free throw line.
Who was the toughest player that you faced this season as a rookie in the German Pro B?
Andre was the toughest opponent I faced, he’s a good versatile player. He can play the four and the three better than all the others I faced.
How important has it been for your game as a rookie as well as the team for having Demetrius Ward on board who is like an assistant coach on the court?
It was pretty important because I came from High Point, which is a really good program but I was much of a role player there so coming here being one of the top guys I had to adjust my game a lot. Having D Ward out there with me also being a coach is a really big benefit. Some things Coach Steve doesn’t see Demetrius does and he corrects me on it.
When you watch German guys like Tom Alte, Lars Lagerpusch and Luis Figge in practice and games and look at your own game, in what areas do you feel do you need the most improvement to be able to make the next jump to a higher level?
To be able to elevate my game to the next level I need to gain more weight.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a 196cm forward that can score and also grab rebounds at ease. When you look at your game, to what NBA player would you best compare your game to?
I never really compared myself to any NBA player. I’ve always had my own style of play and just played extremely hard.
You had a solid rookie season in Germany. How do you feel have you been able to develop your game further as a rookie since coming from the NCAA?
I definitely developed my first step. It’s way faster and more under control, and my jump shot is a lot smoother and consistent.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet with ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I feel my hidden strength is that I’m always talking on the court and I’m vocal majority of the time.
How vital has it been for your progression as a professional player having American head coach Steven Esterkamp. How has your game benefited most from him paying attention to details in the small things that makes the biggest difference?
It was very important because he also played for number of years at the top level so taking in everything he’s learned since he has been here was a pretty intense process but a very good experience because of the knowledge and understanding he has for the game of basketball.
You played at High Point(NCAA) from 2013-2017. You had your best statistical season as a senior whereas in the first three seasons not having as big of a role. When did you feel like you could have a professional career as a player?
I had that mindset that I could play professionally after I graduated high school. That’s just my mentality and the grind I’ve always put in and the hard work since I was 5 years old.
How important was it having a guy like Lorenzo Cugini around in your first three seasons at High Point where you battled each other daily in practice for your development?
It was very important having him on the team because his ability to shoot the ball better than a lot of people that I know helped my defense being able to guard a bigger player being able to shoot as well.
How did head coach Scott Cherry groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He honestly prepared me mentally and physically better than anyone I know, on the core he pushed me to my limits that I never knew I had, off the court he challenged me every single day to be the best student athlete I can be.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Miles Bowman?
Me and Miles Bowman never got to finish a game if one on one because it would get too intense so it always got stopped, we’re two players that hate to lose so we do whatever it takes to not lose.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right now
D’Angello Russel was the toughest player I battled against that in the NBA now.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
It would have to be Lebron James, Russel Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden.
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 I think is still the best players of all time because he still has so much time to play the game and if you take out the 6 rings argument then comparing Michael and Lebron would be a different story.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I watched was The Godfather.
Thanks Tarique for the chat.