Kruize Pinkins is a 25 year old 201cm forward from Marianna, Florida that is playing his third professional season and first with the Mitteldeutscher BC. He played with the Hebeisen White Wings in his first two professional seasons. In his second season with Hanau he averaged 17,9ppg, 9,5rpg and 2,5apg. He started his basketball career at Chipola (JUCO). He then played at USF (NCAA) from 2013-2015 and as a senior played 32 games averaging 13.9ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 65.0%. As a rookie last season with the Hebeisen White Wings he played 29 games averaging 13.1ppg, Reb-3(9.1rpg), 1.1apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 20.8%, FT: 68.9%. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Fraport Skyliners on Easter Monday.
Kruize, thanks for talking to German Hoops. This is your third season in Germany and our seventh interview. Your third professional season is coming to an end. Has time flown by since your first professional game against Vechta where you netted 12 points and hauled down 12 boards After two very strong seasons in the Pro A with Hanau, you made the jump to 2004 Fiba Europe Cup champion Mitteldeutscher BC. How much of a blessing has it been for you being able to play in one of Europe´s top 5 leagues?
It´s a big blessing and I never take it for granted. It´s a very tough league that is making me a better player.
The Mitteldeutscher might only have won 8 games to this point, but any season where it remains in the BBL is a big success. How have you experienced your first season in the BBL? What have been the team highs and lows so far?
It´s been a great experience for me. I have learned a lot of things throughout the course of this season. The hardest thing I had to deal with was being out two weeks with an injury but we have a great medical staff here which helped me return quickly
The club lost 4-5 very close games The club allows 88 points per game. Where do you feel the team would be today if it had been able to play more consistent defense? What have been the main flaws on the defensive end this season?
It was not about defense in most of those close loses. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t drop your way and every possession matters. Most of those teams were very experienced. Our guys go out and play their hearts out on defense every night. Every team has a defensive drop here and there, it´s a part of basketball.
Marcus Hatten doesn´t play your position, but belongs to the players with the most professional experience in the BBL. He is a guy that has seen it all. Have you become an overall smarter player on the court just by seeing his play and stories about his basketball life?
Yeah, Marcus has taught me a lot. It´s made me a better player just by getting knowledge from him. So yes I take as much knowledge about the game from him as I can!
Jordan Sibert moved on to the Fraport Skyliners, but had his share of good games and now MBC has hauled in sniper Andrew Warren who has helped win three games in eight games. Where would MBC be today had he remained in Weissenfels and not gone to Japan?
You never know. Drew is a great and experienced player who has come in and made an impact. It´s hard to say how good we would’ve been if he didn’t leave.
What has it been being teammates with talented German Till Glogger who played four years at Maine(NCAA)? In my interview with him last summer he said this about you. “What I respect most from his game is his physical and mental toughness. He also was a great scorer and rebounder last year”. How have the daily battled with him in practice helped your game and what have you appreciated most about his game?
Till is a good player and even better person. I was able to gain a relationship with him this season. Because we both came from Pro A and we are also the same age so it made it easy for us to click.
You have played with and against many tough players in your career, but please describe what it has been following the amazing season of warrior Sergio Kerusch who was diagnosed with cancer and three months later returned to the court. What have you learned about life in general having been with him day to day that you hadn´t really reflected upon before getting to know him?
Man that story is amazing for him to come back from something like that and keep playing shows you what kind of guy he is. Most people would give up. But it´s been fun battling with him every day in practice and we have also developed a friendship outside of basketball.
The next game is against the Fraport Skyliners. What memories do you have of the 96-93 loss? MBC had 5 possessions more, but couldn´t get the job done? How disappointing was this loss?
I mean every loss like this is tough to swallow especially against a team like Frankfurt. They made some big plays down the stretch.
What was your impression of German 18 year old Isaac Bonga who had 9 points and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes. He is a projected 2018 early second round NBA draft pick. Can you see him making an impact down the road in the NBA?
He is a very lengthy point guard so that is always good for the NBA but if he really develops his outside shot he should do fine.
Let´s talk about your game. You aren´t averaging the stats you did in Hanau, but your also not the work horse with MBC the way you were with the White Wings. Your averaging 7 minutes less than last season. What have been the major differences on the court between the BBL and Pro A?
It’s a very physical league everyday takes a toll on your body and your always playing against experienced players so sometimes it´s more mental than physical. You just have to prepare yourself mentally for every game.
You’re putting up solid stats for 25 minutes per game averaging 10,6ppg, 6,0rpg and 1,3apg. How content have you been with your BBL rookie season? How do you feel has your game been able to develop different now in the BBL than in the Pro A?
Like I said before. I have learned a lot through the older guys on our team. Mainly that it is more mental. Such as knowing when to cut or taking your time and reading the defense. That will definitely help me in the future.
In our last interview last season you stated this about your three pointer. “Yeah I worked on my shot during the summer and learned that it was more mental I had to have confidence with my shot and that really helped. Your shooting your best from outside as a professional. Does the added confidence you have now knowing you can be a very good player in the BBL give you the added incentive to make the next step with your three pointer?
I am always trying to improve because I can always be better so this summer I’m going to work even harder on my outside shot. But yeah I think being a knock down shooter would really open up my game a lot more.
Your on course to eclipse the number of three´s you took last season with Hanau. How difficult is it with shot selection in the BBL? Do you have to think even more on the court than when you were the main scoring guy in the Pro A?
I mean not really it´s just all about knowing when to take the right shot. I am always trying to take good shots because your chances of making them are higher unless your Steph Curry.
Last season you stated this about your defensive game in the Pro A. “Yeah I feel like I got better defensively but I know I still have things I need to work on and I will focus on that during the summer”. How do you feel has your defensive game grown with the better competition in the BBL?
I feel like it´s grown a lot, with the way coach wants us to play on the defensive end.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Wilt, Kareem, Jordan, Lebron.
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?
It´s very close honestly. Lebron has at least four more years so it will be very interesting once his career comes to an end. His points, rebounds, and assists will all be in the top 10.
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?
Boston got the better trade as you can see throughout the season, Isaiah Thomas was great offensively but his troubles came on defense because he is very short.
How refreshing and strange was it seeing a NCAA Final 4 without a Kentucky, North Carolina or Duke?
Yeah, its pretty crazy but that´s the thing about march madness. Its only one game, win or go home. Seeding doesn´t matter!
The 2018 NCAA Final 4 is set with Michigan-Loyola Chicago and Kansas-Villanova. Who will reach the final and who will win it all?
Villanova will play Michigan in the final and I think Villanova will win it all.
Recently Lebron James made some pretty passes for assists in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Where do you rate his passing overall in his game? If he played only point guard for one season what kind of stats would he have?
I mean he is the point guard basically. So I don´t think his assist would jump that much if he moved to Point guard.
Thanks Kruize for the chat.