Jordan Talbert is a 26 year old 198cm forward from Little Rock, Arkansas that is playing his fourth professional season and first with the Rostock Seawolves (Germany-ProB). Currently he is averaging 13,4ppg, 8,7rpg and 2,2apg. Last season he helped PS Karlsruhe Lions move up to the Pro A averaging 13,3ppg, 7,2rpg and 2,1apg helping lead the team to the Pro A. He came to Germany as a rookie in 2014 and played with the Giants TSV 1861 Noerdlingen (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 26 games averaging 21.6ppg, 9.6rpg, 3.2apg, 2.0spg, Blocks-4(1.5bpg), FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 28.9%, FT: 78.4%. He played his college career at Missouri SO(NCAA2) from 2010-2014 and as a senior played 31 games averaging 11.7ppg, 7.4rpg, 2.9apg, 1.1spg, 1.7bpg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 70.1%. Two seasons ago with Nordlingen he tore up the Pro B averaging 17.5ppg, Reb-1(11.0rpg), 2.4apg, 1.7spg, Blocks-5(1.5bpg), FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 73.4%. He spoke to German Hoops before the start of the playoff series against Iserlohn.
Jordan thanks for talking to German Hoops. This is our 18th interview since you went to Nordlingen in 2015. How has time flown by since then?
Really it’s been that long?? Time has definitely flown by. I still remember very well my time in Nordlingen, seems like yesterday.
Congrats on getting by Giessen in the playoffs. What a wild series. First the game one win on the road, the shocking game 2 loss at home which Rostock could have won on the last play and then the thriller of a game three. How else could you summarize this series?
It’s the playoffs. Every moment and every play counts. Probably the most intense playoff series I’ve been a part of in my 3 seasons in the Pro B. I’m just glad we came out on top.
Congrats on the thrilling game three win in Giessen. I guess your friend Skyler Bowlin who made the trip from Jena was the team´s good luck charm? What did it mean for you to have him in Giessen?
Yeah, I wonder if Jena will let him come to the rest of our games in the playoffs. It meant a lot to have him there. Almost a decade of friendship so we’ve seen the growth in each other over the years. I was glad to be able to share that moment with him.
Was this the most difficult Pro B playoff series that you have faced in the Pro B? You had been in 4 other do or die games before the series and was 1-0 in do or die games against Giessen?
Now that I think about it was the most difficult playoff series I’ve been a part of.
How did you experience the technical foul at 67-66? Did your heart rate sink from top to bottom? How crazy was that finish?
The technical foul at the end of regulation was the closest I’ve ever been to having a heart attack I think. To go from the thrill of winning a tough game advancing to realizing that you have to play 5 more minutes and try to win again. Definitely one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen on a basketball court.
In my last interview with Brandon Lockhart my title read “This Year I’ve Been Better At Controlling The Game When Things Might Get Chaotic”. How true did he stay to the title concerning his amazing play in the second overtime?
Very true and prophetic in a way. He was the most consistent player on our side during the series and he made a huge play to take us over the finish line.
Brandon Lockhart said this about your relationship in Rostock. “He is a great player, but an even better person. His ability to hit the 3 ball helps a ton because it spaces the floor for our team. He’s a high IQ player which is always great to have on your team”. . What has it been like being teammates for a second time? How has your relationship grown and how has his game continued to develop since Nordlingen?
We have definitely continued to grow closer both on and off the court as teammates and brothers. It’s always great to have great chemistry with your pg and be able to communicate at a high level. In my opinion the growth of his game is because the growth in his confidence of his abilities.
What was your impression of the young German point guard Bjarne Kraushaar and quick Dennis Mavin? The American seemed even a bit faster than Brandon Lockhart. Was Maven a guy who is out of place in the Pro B and should be in a higher league?
I was really impressed with their guard play. They both made some big plays down the stretch and put their teammates in great positions. Mavin was extra quick, a problem when he got in the open floor. I don’t believe I’m the guy to say if a player should be in a higher league or not.
Before we talk about the Iserlohn series let´s briefly recap the regular season? Rostock finished in third place in the regular season. With the huge ambitions of the team did the club underperform a bit not finishing first?
I don’t believe by not finishing first we underperformed. There’s a learning period that we had to go through during the season which costed us some games, but ultimately made us stronger because we got through them together.
The team started off very slowly losing three of it´s first four games and then had a 6-6 record up until December 2017. The club didn´t play bad, but lost every game by 6 or less points. Why couldn´t the team learn to win those tight games?
We just didn’t make winning plays at the end of the games when we needed to. That’s the learning period I stated before but our goal was not to play our best basketball in December but to do it in March and April.
From December 9th until the end the Rostock Seawolves had a solid 11-3 record. What was the main reason for the turnaround and what did the team begin to do better at both ends of the court?
Our confidence and faith in each grew as the season continued on. We know we have the talent and pieces all we have to do is our job to the best of our ability and things would fall in our favor.
You told me in our last interview last summer that “we have skilled offensive weapons, but if we want to play for a championship, it will start with our defense”. The club was first with fewest points allowed with 72. Can the club continue to heighten their defense in the playoffs?
That’s sure is the plan.
You and Brandon Lockhart are the meat of the offense, but also the Germans Bill Borekambi and Chris Frazier have been big contributors. What have you appreciated most about their game?
Bill is a walking a bucket. We know that we can get him the ball at any time and he will find a way to get to his spots and make plays. Chris´s ability to shoot the ball creates space for the rest of us to do our thing. Good Germans are the key to any successful team in this league and I think we have some of the best.
You next face Iserlohn in the semi´s. How excited are you not only to be in the semi´s, but again facing a team that you have never faced this season?
It will be fun. But I’m familiar with this team seeing as I played against them in the playoffs each year the past 2 seasons. It will be another tough battle I’m sure.
How dangerous is Iserlohn considering they upset the Artland Dragons. How much were you expecting to meet Artland?
We know how tough Artland was so Iserlohn definitely has our respect. I had no expectations on who we would meet. My focus was and has always been on the opponent I have in front of me not whoever is next after them.
Without being much of a scouting expert one could say that keying in on their scoring trio of Donte Nicholas, Julian Scott and Nikita Khartchenkow will be key, but where else do you see them posing problems?
That combination will be really tough to contain. Not only can they create for themselves but they can create for others. They have other capable players around them so I don’t think it will be just a 3 man show.
Key in this series will be the depth and rebounding as well as defense something Rostock has done well all season long. What kind of series can we await and what else will be important in reaching the final?
I think whichever team wants it the most will win. It’s going to come down to both mental and physical toughness.
How important has your trap been for the overall success on the defensive end this season?
It’s been really effective for us in certain situations because of our mobility at the big positions. I think that makes the offense work a bit more and eventually we try to wear people down.
Let´s talk about your season. You helped PS Karlsruhe move up and can do the same with Rostock. Do you ever contemplate how your season might have been had you continued to play with PS Karlsruhe and showed your skills in the Pro A or had you been able to turn off that memory?
No I don’t really think about what could have been. We’re both very happy with how our seasons has progressed. No sense in being distracted with the unnecessary when they’re goals to be accomplished.
Your stats are pretty similar to last season, but you are averaging more rebounds and shooting at your best clip from outside as a professional. How do you believe have you made new strides in your development this season?
I’m just continuing to evolve as a player. Focusing on strengthening my weaknesses and be the player that my team needs me to be in order for us to be successful.
Last season you stated that “I believed I proved that how effective I can be within a truly professional system designed to get everyone involved and not just a few players”. Rostock is also a very professional team with high ambitions. Has it been more difficult being effective this season considering the more scoring options?
No not at all. If you play the game the right way eventually you will get your chance. I just focus on staying ready when the opportunity comes my way and making the most of it.
Last summer you stated “I want to continue to expand my shooting range because I know at the next level I will be required to stretch the floor even more. I finished the season shooting 34% from 3 which is much better than the 28% I did the season before. I would just like to continue to improve that part of my game”. You have improved your three point shooting. Was it more reps or better shot selection?
I think it’s both and also mental growth. My confidence has now allowed me to shoot myself out of slumps. I remember when if I missed a few it would effect me more than it should, whereas now that’s not the case.
You said this about your defense in our last interview last summer. “I’ve always considered myself to be a great defender. It’s something I really take pride in. I’m confident that I will have no problem making the adjustment to the next level. Improving my strength and quickness are my main focuses in that area”. How did your already good defense improve this season with so many good defenders around you and playing in a defensive orientated system?
I think my ability to communicate on the floor is what’s elevated our defense. Making sure we’re all on the same page and being able to have open dialogue with each other makes us a better unit.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
I didn’t watch any games but I did make a bracket and keep up with the game. Virginia losing has to be the biggest upset but Loyola Chicago was the best Cinderella story for sure.
Deandre Ayton seems like he could be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must have seen some highlights of Real Madrid´s 19 year old stand out Luca Doncic who belonged to the best players in the Euroleague. Should a guy like that be the automatic #1 pick just from sheer experience and talent?
I don’t think they’re an “automatic” #1 pick it all depends on the needs of the team. I am impressed with Luca and I think he will definitely be top 5.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
I think he could average close to 15 per game if passing was his main focus but I don’t think that would give his team the best chances of winning.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
I did see and love black panther but Life is the last movie I saw.
Thanks Jordan for the chat.