Brandon Watkins is a 23 year old 206cm forward from Atlanta playing his rookie season in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. He started the season with AZS Koszalin (Poland-PLK), only pre-season, then signed at Enosis Neon Paralimni (Cyprus-Division A) playing 2 games averaging 7.0ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.0spg, 1.0bpg. He played at W Virginia(NCAA) form 2013-2017 playing a total of 113 NCAA games and as a senior played 36 games averaging 4.3ppg, 2.8rpg. He helped the school reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2015 and 2017. He spoke to German Hoops recently about basketball.
Brandon thanks for talking to German Hoops. You recently joined German Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf after gaining rookie experience in Poland and Cyprus. How good is basketball life for you at the moment playing for a winning team?
It’s been great! I’m happy to be playing with a great team and coaches.
You have experienced the carnival atmosphere in Rhondorf. How important was this time for the team to relax a bit in a time with the very hectic stretch run?
It was a time for us to not worry about basketball and enjoy hanging out with each other to celebrate an important part of their culture.
How tough has your rookie season been. You left Poland in preseason and played only two games in Cyprus. You were idle for almost three months. How did you mentally survive your rookie season?. Did you ever have doubts about trusting the professional system?
I just kept faith and hoped that I would get another opportunity to play. At one point I did, but Shasta Scott , my agent , told me that things would work out and just keep working.
How have you adjusted to your new home in Germany? I can imagine that culture wise, Germany has been easier to get adjusted to than Poland or Cyprus?
So far I’ve gotten used to being out here in Rhondorf. It is much more easier to get around and a lot of people speak English and is much friendlier.
The Dragons Rhondorf have had a great season. Do you feel like the club has that confidence to win the title?
Yes, we feel like we could make a run towards a title. We just have to keep working hard together and take it one game at a time.
The team can score a lot and rebound very well. What has personally impressed you most about this team?
I am surprised at how unselfish the team is. Also how they keep their composure when other teams go on big runs.
A big strength is the consistency and team chemistry of the German players. Talk a little about the importance of these guys being able to step up from game to game?
They know that in order to win games we have to execute our game plans and play hard. We all know how each player plays and try to put them in situations to contribute. We also know that every game somebody is going to have to step up and we all take on that challenge.
How much of a delight has it been being teammates with Kameron Taylor? He is the absolute leader on the team, but is as humble as they get. What have you appreciated most about his play on the court and how he handles himself off the court?
It has been great playing with Kam. He’s been a leader on and off the court. I like how he is a fierce competition and loves to see his teammates do good as well. Also he has been a great friend off the court, he has helped me a lot with getting settled here and showing me Around.
Let´s talk about your game. Before you arrived the team had Canadian Kevin Thomas at your position. Your teammate Kameron Taylor attempted to compare you to. “Brandon is a little taller and a bit more powerful than Kevin but they both provide the same with basket protection and great energy around the basket which makes them very hard matchups on defense and offense. They both are able to guard the Big and small positions which makes them very versatile and valuable to the team”. How would you describe your game best?
I’ve always been a rim protector, I like to run the floor, get defensive and offensive rebounds, I am a pretty good interior passer, I have nice range on my jump shots and have post game as well.
You’re a guy that can do a lot on the court, but if you had to compare yourself to an NBA player who would you pick?
I would say Kevin Garnett in a sense.
You have never been the dominant offensive player, but do you feel like when you make big plays on the defensive end that that can more often than not spark your offense?
Yes, I feel like if defense creates offense. So, I try to help get stops so we can turn that into instant offense and with that I get rewarded.
Talk a little about your short time in Poland and Cyprus. What growing pains did you make and what did you learn about the basketball business that you will do better the next time around?
Just getting used to being away so far was difficult at first. I’ve always known at a professional level basketball would be a business and not to take it very personal. Next time just know that it is different than being at home and being willing to adapt.
You had two good games in Cyprus, but was the heavy guard rotation something that doomed your stay there?
Partially , but overall it just wasn’t a good situation for me.
You played at W.Virginia (NCAA) from 2013-2017. What did you enjoy most of the NCAA experience. Did the success of the team and two NCAA Sweet 16 runs outweigh the actual playing time that you got?
Just being able to play for a university that I always wanted to play for and take on some of the best teams in the country. No, I had ACL Surgery and that it was hard to bounce back.
What kind or relationship did you have with Devin Williams? He got the minutes and almost put up double double stats as a senior. How did you profit best from him on and off the court?
Devin has been like a brother to me since we first met on an official visit. To practice against him was good because arguably he was one of the nations best power forwards so I had to work and I also learned a lot from him.
After a tough rookie season in Australia and the G-league, Williams is having a strong G-league season with Maine. Can this guy get an NBA call up?
We talk all the time and the summer before he put in a lot of work. In my opinion I definitely think he should.
What do you remember most from the 39 point rout against Kentucky in the NCAA Sweet 16 that boasted 8 future NBA players? Which Kentucky player impressed you the most then? How great of a team that was.
I was impressed with Karl Anthony Towns the most.
Last season you lost only 61-58 against 2017 NCAA finalist Gonzaga. What do you remember most about that loss in the last minute?
That’s we had them against the ropes and somehow let them get away with a victory.
How did head coach Bob Huggins groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Playing for Coach Huggins taught me how to play the game and understand that the small things you do can really have a big impact.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Devin Williams?
We would go back and fourth , but it was always a tough battle .
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right now
Karl Anthony Towns
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Lebron James , Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal
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?
He’s second, Jordan will always be the greatest in my opinion.
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, he just plays very hard . He does at time take questionable shots, but a guy with his skill set and will to be the best , you can’t blame him.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Donovan Mitchell has been a beast all season and I didn’t expect for him to be playing like how he is now.
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 they will make a run to the conference finals I’m not sure if they will beat the Warriors in a seven game series, but I would like to see them make a finals run.
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?
Well Kyrie was the best trade because I.T isn’t with the Cavs anymore . Boston would keep Kyrie forever.
What´s your take on the Cavs trade deadline dealing of Thomas, Wade and Rose. In what direction is this team heading in?
I’m not sure but hopefully in a better direction that their season has been going.
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?
Yes I think they can make a run, but the western conference has always been so stacked I’m not sure how far they will make it.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Black Panther.
Thanks Brandon for the chat.