Carlbe Ervin is a 23 year old 190cm guard from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma playing his rookie season in Germany with BBG Herford in the Regionaliga. He started his college career at Connors State College and in 2015 moved to Kansas St. (NCAA) playing 33 games averaging 3.1ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.5apg. In his senior year at Kansas St. (NCAA) he played 35 games averaging 2.7ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.4apg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Carlbe, thanks for talking to German Hoops. You played at Junior college and then transferred to top Big 12 school Kansas State and now was a professional rookie with BBC Herford. Has your chip on your shoulder continued to grow this season?
I have felt that the chip on my shoulder has always been growing. Ever since JUCO I have had to depend on myself and overcome obstacles.
You didn´t have huge stats at Kansas State, but you’re a great example of guys with a lot of talent having to start at the bottom as a professional. How tough has your rookie season been mentally and your ego knowing you can play, but having a long road in front of you with your goal of continuing to climb the basketball ladder?
I think this was the perfect start for someone like me. I know I didn’t have the astonishing stats, but I knew I was good enough to play at another level. Playing away from the US has been tough. Not being able to really communicate with the surrounding community makes it hard to feel at home.
You are having a very strong rookie season with BBC Herford in the German Regionaliga. How tough was the adjustment coming from playing in front of 12,000 fans on a regular basis to 500-1000 in Germany. Having had that experience of being at the bottom before at Connors college help you make the adjustment easier?
Being at Connors was one of the biggest blessings of my life. The crowds were small, but I was able to refine my game and really learn how to take over.
Kris Douse is the veteran import and you the rookie. Did you notice despite being a rookie, that the German players looked up to you? How did you use this experience to help your game as a rookie?
The German players didn’t really look at me as better, they are mostly older than me, so we viewed each other as equals. Being a Rookie overseas was hard, but that is how my whole life has been.
It has been an up and down season for BBC Herford that had high goals this season. What has been your season summary of the team? From the talent did it underachieve a bit?
We had a rollercoaster type season to be honest. We won some tough games against good teams, but also played down at times. Being able to lead a team every day is something that I have grown to appreciate and will continue to work on.
In the Regionaliga teams have to rely on having good German role players. There are some veterans, but more young players. Do you feel like some depth has been missing for the team to be more successful?
Yes, depth in the post is where we were hurting the most. I am really impressed with the guard play but having a post player that can stretch the floor, especially in today’s game, is key.
Giving up points has been a problem this season. BBC Herford relinquished 120 points against Herten. What have been the biggest problems on the defensive end and why haven´t the needed adjustments been successful?
Germany is different because everyone is just shooting 3’s, so sometimes the games just become who can outshoot the other team.
How much of a pleasure has it been playing with Canadian Kris Douse. What special tricks have you gotten from him in terms of basketball and off the court?
Just playing my game. Playing defense and getting out on the break is what I excel in, so he was just telling me to keep focused and to make sure I do what I am good at.
I´m sure he told you of his unfortunate experience with Westfalen last season. How thankful are you having him around finding about the horrors of the business side? You will be looking for a new challenge in your second professional season and have to be ready for everything.
I´m not really at liberty to discuss another players situation.
Let´s talk a little about your game. You’re a pass first point guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player, which guy fits your game the best?
Probably and honestly Westbrook. I am a downhill point who will hound players on defense and will always look to either set up teammates or get to the rim. My outside shot has become better after my rookie season. So, incorporating that into my game is really helping to make me a different player.
Despite playing at a lower level, how important has this Regionaliga experience been? At Kansas State you were a distributor and now a scoring force. Is your self confidence at an all-time high now?
I have always been a scorer. That goes back to high school. At Kansas State I had to adjust to the role I was tasked with. That role was to be a defensive stopper off the bench.
You’re a guy that have proved this year that you can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
My shot is becoming something that players have to respect and is making me a completely different player.
Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber called you the team´s best rebounding guard. Have you always had that knack of knowing where the ball would bounce to, or did your rebounding skills come with experience?
I have always been really good at using my body and I have learned to read where the ball will bounce, so rebounding has been a strength of mine as a guard.
When you have been in the gym this season in Germany working on your craft do you ever look back at your encounters with a Frank Mason who played at Kansas. Does his pay motivate you even more to get better?
Frank is a great player and being able to challenge myself by guarding him was good for my game.
There are so many great guards all over the world, but when you see a guy like Frank Mason and what he did on the court with Kansas and now in the NBA, how confident are you that you can play at a very high level at the professional level?
I am getting more confident by the day. I feel as though I can play with anyone.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Germany where you knew that you were very far away from home in Oklahoma City?
The food. Having to get used to other cultures food was very difficult.
What have you learned to appreciate most about Germany? Did you ever have any experience where English didn´t necessarily help you?
Everyone is very nice in Germany. That was something that I am going to miss.
You averaged 15 and 14 minutes in two seasons at Kansas State. Head coach Bruce Weber was high on your play. Weber stated “Are you willing to come off the bench? Are you willing to put the team above yourself? Are you willing to do unheralded dirty work that helps your teammates score?. You said you just wanted to win. Where did you get this role model like attitude?
I have always been more about the team than how my stats look. Winning has been my priority and I hate to lose. I will do whatever it takes to win, whether that means passing, rebounding, or scoring.
NBA player Wesley Iwundu also has spoken highly of you in interviews. How much fun was it being his teammate and did you know going into your senior year that he would make the NBA?
It was really fun. We were roommates and pretty much did everything together, so seeing him have success is awesome.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right now
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Mj, Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Penny
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 is the better player and that is hard to argue the other way, but as far as accomplishments go MJ is better. So overall, I would have LeBron over MJ slightly.
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, Russ gets himself into position to rebound in order to kickstart the break. When Russ rebounds the ball they can skip the step of having to find a guard to give the ball to.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Dillon Brooks for the Grizzlies is a player that I can see shaping out a really nice career in the NBA. Especially as a shooter.
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?
They can win it all if the make their shots. That is all it comes down to. If the Warriors are as unhealthy as they have been then the West is wide open.
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 by far. Kyrie is a game changer at the point.
What was your take on the Cavs wheeling and dealing sending away Thomas, Wade and Rose? How quickly will they be successful?
It takes a long time to form chemistry with new players, but LeBron is an x factor, so you never know what could happen.
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?
The Thunder are starting to show who they really are. With Adams starting to take over the sky is the limit.
Thanks Carlbe for the chat.