Scottie Wilbekin is a 24 year old 188cm point guard from Gainsville, Florida that is playing his fourth professional season and third with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). Last season he played 26 games averaging 13.1ppg, 2.5rpg, 4.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 82.4%. In the Euroleague, he played 31 games averaging 11.6ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.2apg, Steals-4(1.4spg), FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 87.0% As a rookie he played with Cairns Taipans (Australia-NBL, starting five) playing 32 games averaging 15.2ppg, 3.7rpg, Assists-4(4.3apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 45.3%, 3PT: 28.4%, FT: 83.5%, in Mar.’15 moved to AEK Athens (Greece-A1) playing 9 games averaging 8.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.9apg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 66.7%. He played at Florida from 2010-2014 playing 143 games and as a senior played 34 games averaging 13.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.6apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 41.5%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 72.5%. He scorched FC Bayern Munich for 65 points in the two game Eurocup series. In game two he scored 41 points leading Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul to the 87-83 victory and Eurocup final. German Hoops spoke to him after the win.
Scottie thanks for talking to German Hoops. You have been in Germany before playing against teams Alba Berlin and the Brose Baskets Bamberg. Was last seasons tight series against Bamberg where you won both games by only two points your biggest highlights against German teams before Munich??
Yes those games were big, and biggest was my teammate last season Brad Wanamaker scoring 30 points in our two point win. He really took control in that game.
One could call you Mr crunch-time as well as your team. You beat Bamberg twice in crunch-time, bear Munich a few days and tonight again overall Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) has been exceptional this season in the Eurocup winning tight games. What has been the secret to being so strong in the last minutes this season?
Our defense has been the key this season for our ability to win close games. Guys like Howard Sant-Roos, Michael Eric and Jajuan Johnson are all about defense. These guys really take their game on the defensive end to a totally new level on the defensive end in crunch-time.
Congrats on the exciting 87-83 win in game 2 in Munich. What an amazing and tight series. Besides your 41 points tonight what was key for reaching the final? Did you guys just want it a bit more than the German team?
I don´t know about that, but I do know that we wanted to win this game a lot. We knew coming into game 2 in Munich that it would be a tough environment with the fans. We were able to bear down at the end and key was our defense and defensive rebounds.
You scored 41 points tonight a career high as a professional and in school. What was different tonight that you had never encountered before on the court? How much in the zone were you?
This was the most points that I ever scored in my career. I am thankful that my teammates and coach had a lot of faith in me. Everything was going in tonight. It all worked out for the best for us.
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) didn´t foul at the end in game one and really surprised FC Bayern Munich by pressing and causing the turnover which led to the Stanton Kid game winner. Was this just another amazing call by head coach David Blatt or is this something the team has been used to all season long?
We didn´t have a time out. It wasn´t coach Blatt, but I actually told Howard Sant-Roos to trap as I knew that coach didn´t want to foul. Coach didn´t have a chance to tell us. We got the steal and it worked out for us.
You are still chasing your first professional title. How confident are you it will happen this season in Eurocup action?
I have the confidence in my team and out abilities to beat Lok Kuban. I feel this will be the toughest team and series we will have seen in the Eurocup this season.
Let´s talk a little about the club Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). How much of a pleasure has it been sharing the back court with American will Cummings? How do you guys compliment each other best and how have you made each other better?
In practice we have made each other better. I already knew Will when he came. We had been teammates back when we were kids in AAU. It is fun to be able to play with him again.
How important has ex NBA player Jajuan Johnson been for the club? Has he been that glue guy that has kept the team together?
Jajuan has been a huge addition to our team. He does so so much. He can score in the paint, can create his own shot, gets back on defense and is always giving pressure in the paint. He is a big time scorer for us in the paint.
He doesn´t score in double figures, but fills up the stat sheet like no other and has been a big factor on defense in the Eurocup and has been living a basketball cinderella story as he played in very low professional leagues and always kept climbing the basketball ladder. Has Howard Sant-Roos been the team´s unsung hero?
I always tell him that he will continue to go places with his game. His play this season has been incredible. He is always a pest on the court. He always creates havoc on defense and always has to guard the other teams nest guard and does a great job.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a guard that is leading the team in scoring and assists in the BSL and Eurocup competitions. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would fit your game best?
I have no idea. The kids in Turkey call me the Turkish Steph Curry, but I think that is a little too high.
You really have been shooting the ball well the last few years. You aren´t even 25 yet. Do you feel like you can take your scoring game to a new level with the continued development of your three pointer?
I don´t think that I have reached my potential yet as a professional player. I work hard in the summer time and always try to come back having improved in one area or in a few areas. My goal is to keep working and improving my game.
This is your third season with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). After two straight seasons in the Euroleague, you had to take a step back and play Eurocup this season. Was this more of a step back for your game or a blessing in disguise for your game?
I think taking a step back to play Eurocup after two seasons in the Euroleague was a blessing in disguise. I worked really hard last summer and came back to Turkey having developed further and I have had a bigger role this season and gotten better. My scoring efficiency is better and become a better leader.
How important was veteran Jamon Gordon in your first season with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) who had already played 5 Euroleague seasons prior to you coming. What do you feel was the most important thing you soaked up from his game?
It wasn´t one important thing that Jamon helped me with, but moreover it was many little insights to the game, his experience and gaining pointers on the court that helped me in my first year here. I tried to take as much as possible from his game and piece it into my game. It made me better as a player in my first season in Turkey.
You have played for legendary David Blatt now for two seasons. How do you understand that he is a top coach in the world that the NBA didn´t seem to see?
I have no idea about what happened in the NBA. All I know is that I´m very grateful to be able to play for him. I have learned so much in the last two seasons. The most important things has been what to do in certain situations and how to read situations better. . He also has helped with what is a bad shot and what is a better shot. This kind of advice that he has given me one can only get from a top coach. I think he is if not the best one of the best coaches in Europe.
As a rookie you played with Cairns Taipans (Australia-NBL) and briefly with AEK Athens. What was your wake up call to being a rookie where you knew that you were very far away from home in Florida?
I didn´t have any. I had been preparing for Europe during my 4 years in school at Florida. I knew early on that I might have a possibility to play professionally overseas. Coming over for my rookie season wasn´t a big deal for me.
You had a strong senior year with Florida, played at five NBA Summer leagues and was as good as in the NBA door with the Philadelphia 76ers, but then was waived. How did you experience the NBA and was it difficult as a fierce competitor to stop playing mind games with your self why you didn´t make it?
I haven´t dwelled on it. I´m an easy going guy and learned early on that you can only take what life gives you. I can only control myself and my game. I will continue to keep working and getting better as a player.
It seems like since you signed with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) you have turned your back on the NBA. You will be 25 when next season starts. Is it still a dream or have you stopped dreaming?
I have not given up on the NBA dream. Making the NBA hasn´t been on my mind, but moreover being successful in Europe. The NBA isn´t on my mind. I´m just happy wherever I go to play in Europe.
Besides the NBA being a business and having timing and the right situation, what else have you learned about the NBA that has proven to you that making it there isn´t always about talent.
I see this all the time that not the most talented guys are in the NBA. I could give you a list of players that in Europe that are better than guys in the NBA now. This was something that I didn´t realize at the beginning that not all te best play in the NBA. When I came to Europe is when I realized that there are really great players that play in Europe. Not every player is made for the NBA. NBA teams often take chances on the young kids instead of taking a 26 year old who will get the job done. NBA teams like to look for the next Lebron James or Kevin Durant. NBA teams have to take these chances.
As a junior you lost by 20 points to Michigan that had top guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. When you look back at their games then and see them now and compare how you have developed, do you feel like your game is that far away from theirs?
I don´t know if it´s that far away. Trey Burke has been in the NBA for years. I can´t compare myself to a Burke, because I don´t really know how all he did in the last years. I don´t focus on them, but only myself.
You played at Florida from 2010-2014 and won the SEC tournament and MVP as a senior. What was your fondest moment from this?
I remember each game of the SEC tournament win. I remember being undefeated in the SEC going 18-0 and beating Kentucky in the last game. It was a great season and senior year.
You reached two NCAA Elite 8´s and a NCAA fInal 4 losing to Louisville, Michigan and Uconn. Which loss hurt the most?
The last one against Uconn that went on to win the NCAA tournament. That was my last chance to win it all and was my last time playing with my teammates. I felt we had the team to win it all that season. I was disappointed losing to Uconn. We had a very bad game that day.
How did Billy Donovan groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
The biggest thing that coach Donovan instilled in me at Florida was not to fold when the pressure is there. He taught me when things are going bad, you find out a lot about the character of a person. I have kept his words with me since then and rely on what he had told me and move on to the next play.
You have battled Erving Walker for some years in Turkey. Who won a one on one back in the day at Florida?
I did. The funny thing was that I felt when I was a freshman that he was better than me. I just remember that whenever we played one on one that I won. Maybe he let me win. I don´t know.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right now
Trey Burke. We only played that one game which he won. I couldn´t stay in front of him. He was the only player that I faced in college where I threw absolutely everything at him on the defensive end and he still got by me.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant. Lebron James, Larry Bird.
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?
Michael Jordan will always be the best. He won 6 titles in a row. I feel that is more impressive than what Lebron has done. Lebron has had many accomplishments, but it has just been more impressive how Jordan won so many titles in a row. Jordan had that killer instinct that nobody will beat that.
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 don´t know. All stats are padded in the NBA. They give an assist after three dribbles.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I don´t follow college as much, but more the big teams. My sleepers were Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma. I didn´t even know who Kuzma was when he was drafted.
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? What was your take on the Cavs wheeling and dealing sending away Thomas, Wade and Rose? How quickly will they be successful?
The Boston Celtics got the better deal. They have the better record and that´s even without Gordon Hayward.
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?
How far they go depends on who they get in the first round. I feel that they can make it out of the first round with a Russell Westbrook.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Scottie for the chat.