Ron Mvouika is a 26 year old 196cm forward from France that played a short second professional season and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen playing only 4 games before an injury cut his season short. He was able to make an impact in the pro B averaging 17,0ppg, 4,5rpg and 3,5apg while shooting 45% from outside. He started the season with the Plymouth University Raiders (United Kingdom-BBL). Last season as a rookie he played with Aurore de Vitre (NM1). He spent a lot of time in the states going over in 2010 going to Huntington, WV / Huntington-St.Joseph Prep School. He then played two seasons with Sheridan JC (JUCO). In 2013 he transferred to Missouri St. (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 6.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 59.2%. In his junior season at Missouri St. (NCAA) he played 2 games averaging 5.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.0spg. For his senior St.John’s (NCAA): 32 games: 8.5ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 38.4%, FT: 66.2%. German Hoops spoke to him when he was playing in Germany for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen before his injury.
Ron thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. For a guy that is from France, but lived for 6 years in the States, did you have any previous dealings with the country Germany? What do you in general about it´s basketball?
I don’t have any previous dealing with Germany, Its my first time here and I enjoy it. Over the past years, Germany has had a great reputation when it comes to basketball. Dirk played a huge role in that, after the career he is having in the NBA, he put Germany on the map. New guys like Dennis Schroeder is bringing even more light into the country so its positive and beneficial for all the leagues here.
You lived 6 years in the States and are back in Europe to play professionally. Do you ever wonder where your basketball career would have gone had you stayed in Europe? Where do you think could you be today without the American experience?
Yeah, I wonder sometimes where I would be if I didn’t play in America for so long. I’m sure I would of been playing in France somewhere, but I don’t regret anything if I had to do it all over, I wouldn’t change anything. Live my life with no regrets is my way of life.
Congrats on signing with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. How did the club wet your appetite best for signing with them?
It´s a honor to play for the winningest club ever in Germany. A club with so much history and a historical Coach is something that I couldn’t turn down. I was fortunate enough to play in great and historical programs in the NCAA, hall of famers like Coach Mullin but also Mitch Ritchmond and Coach Achim is a figure in Germany so I take it as a blessing to learn from these masterminds. I stay in sponge mode and learn everything I can while I’m here.
Head coach Achim Kuczmann is extremely impressed with your leadership qualities and the need to take responsibility on the court? What other strengths do you have on the court?
I could always score the ball with ease since I was young but a part of my game that people are not really aware of is my ability to pass the ball. I love getting assist for my teammates. I like it just as more as scoring. Outside of that, I love rebounding the ball also, get in the mix with the bigs and fight for it, I enjoy it, I´m a fighter so its a fun thing.
What kind of role do you envision having with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen? They have quite a few scorers. What do you see yourself doing best on the court?
I am a natural leader but I’m not trying to come on this team and take over. My job is to bring my experience and my help to the team the best way I can. The team have great players who are good at what they do and I just have to find my place and do what I do also. Its been great so far and its going to get better with time.
If you had to describe your game to an NBA player, which player fits your game best that is in the NBA?
A lot of people see some Paul George in my game. I take it as a compliment since he is one of my favorite players in the game actually but there is similarities in my game and his game. I don’t jump as high as him though and can’t absolutily not dunk the ball the way he does but outside of that, we have similarities. I probably pass the ball better than him tho haha, so Paul if you ever read this interview one day, know that.
You are a player of many fine qualities, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that often goes unnoticed?
I said it earlier but my passing game goes unnoticed often. Unless you see me play in real life, you won’t really notice but that´s something you could ask my previous coach or coach Achim and he will tell you.
Talk a little about your professional career since returning back in 2016. You briefly played with Aurore de Vitre (NM1) last season and before Leverkusen was briefly with the Plymouth University Raiders (United Kingdom-BBL). You hardly have played since coming back. How big is the chip on your shoulder to prove to the basketball world that you have game?
I am a very confident person because I know the work I put in every day. Basketball is not a sport to me, it’s my life so me not finding stability since coming out of college never really made me doubt myself or anything else. I was just working very hard every day, waiting on the right opportunity to present itself, an opportunity where I could express myself and show the world what I can do and Bayer was the perfect marriage. I don’t feel or add any pressure, if anything, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time so now its time to show all the work that I was putting behind close doors.
You averaged 8,5ppg in the NCAA with top school St Johns. You must have much self confidence or has that left a little simply with your misfortune as a professional in the last year?
To be truly honest, I never let stats determine the player I would be. I had a specific role at St John’s that I had to fit in and I did my job. I think I could average more if I was a little more selfish but that’s not what Coach Mullin wanted me to do and I had to do what’s best for the team. Every team and every challenge is different and as a professional player, you should adapt to every situation that will come your way. God never makes mistakes, what happend last year wasn’t just bad because I learned a lot more about myself, about the business and even more but I never lost confidence at no time, I kept working. My brother always told me ” stay ready so you won’t have to get ready” and that’s what I’ve done. Now my chance is here and I will take it.
You played at three schools with Sheridan(JC) Missouri State(NCAA) and St Johns(NCAA). How important was it for you to have had the experience at three schools? How did that shape your game and character best?
You forgot one team, which Huntington Prep, a prep school in West Virginia where I played with Gorgui Dieng, who was my roommate and now in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins and more players came out of that school but I played at every level with prepschool with Hprep, Juco with Sheridan, Mid Major with MSU and High Major with St John’s, which shows that I went up every year and got better every year. It pushed me to be the best I could be because I had to surpass my limits each and every year. What I learned from all my experience is that hard work does always pay off and that’s a fact, and not just a cliché.
Your started your college career at Sheridan JC (JUCO) where you played two seasons. How confident were you then that you had the game to play in the NCAA?
I had a great freshman year and My sophomore year was one of the best years of my career. I scored close to 20 pts per game, averaging 8 rebounds a game as a guard. I was the best player in my conference, made first team in my conference and was top 100 in the nation. I had A LOT of NCAA teams who was recruiting me. Playing in college was a goal that I set myself when I was young so I never looked at it like I couldn’t make it there. I’m from Paris, France so if I come to America to play ball, I have to play in college and that was just the mindset from the jump because I knew I was good enough to play there.
You were two seasons at Missouri St. (NCAA,) but played only one full season playing 31 games averaging 6.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 59.2%. Were you born as a player here coming from the JUCO?
No I wasn’t born as a player there. My coach and I wasn’t on the same page. One thing about the NCAA, these coaches will tell you everything you want to hear and once you get there, they don’t do half of the things they promised. I was in the top 100 coming out of Juco and I purposely chose to go to a Mid-Major so I could play and helped the team right away and that´s why they recruited me. I got there and he benched me for a freshman who came out of high school and wasn’t better than me. I was frustrated but I knew my time would come. Players got hurt, he started me and my first start in college, I scored 28 points on National TV. It was a way for me to let him and everyone know that I am good enough to play and should play more.
In your second season you had a tough injury. How challenging was it staying focused and having the confidence to come back healthy?
It wasn’t my first back surgery but my second and I told myself, if you overcame the first one, you can and will do it again and that was my mindset. The doctors told me they didn´t think I could play again but I am a fierce believer in God and like I said, he don’t ever make mistakes. It was just another fight in my life I had to go through. I couldn’t let this injury stop me from getting to my dream, I’ve done so much, work so much and there is no way in the world, I would of let this thing stop me so I kept that in mind and worked super hard to come back better and by the grace of God, it worked out for the best. I played on bigger teams and better opposition after my second surgery so I guess I passed the test that God set me.
One of your best games in the NCAA happened at Missouri State where you lost 94-89 to N Iowa. You scored 28 points going 6/6 from outside and was the best man on the court. What memories do you have of that game? Do you feel like people really took notice for the first time with your game?
Like I said, my coach and I wasn’t on the same page and he wouldn’t play me even when I was the best player on the court. The game before this famous UNI game, I was supposed to start due to injuries of other players but 20 minutes before the game, he decided to leave me on the bench. Another player got hurt and it was a road trip so we ended up playing the second best team in our league and one of the best defensive team in the country and coach told me you will start this time. I told myself go out there and kill everyone, don’t let off until the end of the game and I took my opportunity and ran with it. I feel like people knew I could play but this was the stamp that made it official.
With Missouri State you lost in the CIT tournament to Murray State 66-63. Was this one of your most bitter loses in the NCAA?
Definitly, we was up the entire game and lost at the end. I still feel some type of way about it lol.
You then moved to top program St Johns. Talk how it came about? Not just anyone can go join their basketball program? What did head coach Chris Mullin like about your game most?
One of the best coaches I had in my career is Rob Orellana. I had him when I playrd in Grand Canaria, in his academy. Once he found out I was free from MSU, he helped me finding a new team. He went to New York and had a random lunch with Coach Mullin. He told him about me, showed my highlights and talked about our personal relationship. He like a father to me, so it couldn’t been a better person to talk about me than Coach Rob. Coach Mullin loved it and the staff loved it, Coach Matt, his assistant and now close friend of mine called me with Coach Mullin, we talked and just like that I was in New York.
You had many good scoring games like 20 points against Depaul or 19 points against Xavier. What was your personal favorite game with St Johns?
My favorite personal game was against one of our biggest rivals Syracuse at The Madison Square Garden. We had a brand new team, young team with Coach Mullin´s first year as a coach so everybody left us for dead saying that we could never beat Syracuse. We ended up winning, the Garden went crazy. The best game I’ve been a part of in my career. The Depaul and Xavier game were cool but we lost both of them so it doesn’t matter.
How did head coach Chris Mullin give you that extra push and groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Mullin treated me like a pro from day one. He had that professional approach with all of his players because he is been dealing with the NBA his whole life, so he was pretty cool, laid back with all his players. Now don’t get me wrong, when he got mad, everybody knew about it lol but it was really cool, open with all his players. With me being the team captain, we had a very great and open relationship on and off the court. He gave me a role and I did my best to execute it.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jarmar Gulley who is a star in the Luxemburg league?
Hahah Me of course. Gulley and I lived together for a year in the same apartment, he was my roommate and still is one of my brothers today. He is definitely one of the best player I played with and one of the best scorer I ever seen, even though he only goes right haha but that´s my brother, I love him.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right now.
I played against a lot of them like Ron Baker ( Knicks), Fred Van Vleet ( Toronto Raptors) But I will say Kris Dunn who is with the Bulls right now. Kris is special, he dominated the Big East and was averaging a crazy stat line, filling the stats sheets every nights. He was tough to guard but I had fun battling against him and his squad.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Shaquille O’neal. In that order.
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 is and will always be the greatest player that ever played this game regardless. He changed the game, went to the finals 6 times, won all 6 of them, 6 finals MVP, first team all defensive multiples times. The man had no weakness on a basketball court and was even better on defense than offense. He is the GOAT. Lebron is the second best player that basketball has seen. Most complete player of all time, his leadership and ability to make other players around him better, he is right behind Mike. Kobe is great but he was the Michael Jordan of our time, another version of MJ. Lebron is his own player and I don’t think we will ever see anything like that. Maybe in 20, 30 years.
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?
Listen, its hard to get a double double to start with, so don’t even imagine how hard it is to get a triple double, in any league, any division in the world. Now, the man is doing it in the best league of the world. He AVERAGED a triple double a night, there is 82 games in the NBA bro and on top of that, they made the playoffs without Kevin Durant. He carried that team on his back the entire season. Those criticisms are just people that want to create a debate and talk about something that’s not even worth talking about. Last time I checked, to finish a good defensive position, you have to get the rebound so technically, he did what he was supposed to do since he grabbed 10 of them a game. That’s just my opinion.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Every rookie who came in with the buzz and the flashlight have been playing good so the NBA is in good hands. Guys like Lonzo, Mitchell, Tatum, but Ben Simmons and “The Process” Joel Embib all are doing great. Ferguson from OKC is a player people sleeping on but he is a real problem, and his game will explode soon I think.
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?
Of course they do, they going to play against the Warriors in the Western Final and they could possibly beat them, even if I think that Golden States will win in 6 but The Rockets are definitly one of the best team in the NBA right now. The guy with the beard is not even from earth, so when you have martians like that playing on your team, anything is possible.
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?
Its a tough question because both teams ended getting great players. I didn’t think Boston would of been this good because they are playing really really good, but in the long run, the Cavs are going to win it. Last year, the best way to stop Boston was to double or triple time IT and let the other players score. This year, they won’t be able to do that because IT is playing with the best player in the universe. I don’t think it will be a good idea to double team Isiah Thomas and leave Lebron James, D- Wade, Jr Smith and all those killers open.
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?
Its my favorite team because my favorite player, Carmelo Anthony is playing with them. I want to see Melo win so bad that I became an immediate fan lol. Plus PG my second best player and I´m a huge fan of Russ so I think they will make it to the semi-finals and if the chemistry really shows up the way we think it will, then the sky is the limit for these guys. It won’t be that easy to beat OKC in a playoff matchup, I know that much.
What was the last movie that you saw? ”
Le Brio” a french movie who was excellent by the way.
Thanks Ron for the chat.