Kyle Weaver (Science City Jena) Getting To The NBA Is Easy But Sticking There Is Hard

Kyle Weaver is a 32 year old 198cm shooting guard from Beloit, Wisconsin playing his 10th professional season and first with Science City Jena. He started his career with Washington State and helped them reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008 and was able to improve his scoring each season. As a senior he averaged 12.2ppg, 5.3rpg, AssistsConf-4(4.3apg), StealsConf-4(1.7spg), FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 73.3%: Is the first player in Pac-10 history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 175 steals and 75 blocked shots in a career. Finished collegiate career ranked second in assists in Washington State history with 465, third in steals with 188, seventh in blocked shots with 93 and 17th in scoring with 1,162 points. He played in the D-league and NBA from 2008-2011. He played two seasons with the Oklahoma Thunder and briefly with the Utah jazz. He played in countries like Belgium, Germany, Italy, Israel, Poland and Greece. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Fraport Skyliners.

Thanks Kyle for talking to German Hoops. I remember your second season in Europe with Alba Berlin. That was 6 seasons ago. Since then you have played for 7 teams and in 4 countries. Has time flown by?

I remember my time with Alba Berlin well. Now that I look back at that time, you realize how much you have done and it´s scary. I´m happy to be back in Germany. At that time I didn´t think I would be back in Germany ever again, but now I´m back. With my bad situation with Aris, it´s great to be with Science City Jena especially being together with great teammates.

Now your back in Germany and playing with your 7th team in Europe with Science City Jena. Your on a team now that boasts 3 BBL legends with Derrick Allen, Julius Jenkins and Immanuel McElroy. Did your arrival in Jena feel like a school reunion since you had battled two of them back with Alba Berlin and had Allen as a teammate?

I remember my time well with Alba Berlin and being teammates with Derrick Allen. Jenkins was playing with Bamberg and MEelroy was with Braunschweig. I always had a lot of respect for those guys and just with normal research had known what they had done in their career. I never knew those two at a personal level until now. It is really cool being able to know them better now at a more deeper level. They aren´t only great players, but great dudes.

The goal of Science City Jena was too stay in the BBL and they accomplished that early on. You have played with so many teams in your career and had many different roles. What kind of role have you had with Jena?

It is never easy coming into a new situation in mid season. It is always a challenge for all. The funny thing more than often guys go to a new team thinking about themselves and their roles, but guys don´t think how their arrival will effect the roles of the others. Coach has allowed me too be myself which is important. Coach Harmsen hasn´t wanted me too do too much or to little on the court. He has kept me honest. Allen, Jenkins and Mcelroy have pushed me too do more and always be aggressive. They want me to be a key player and that has built my confidence. In the last few weeks, I haven´t thought too much, but just played.

You had some big wins this season including beating Bamberg, but lost in Wurzburg again. Did that 5 game 4 game series pop up again in 2012 which you lost when you entered the arena some weeks ago?

I memory that series well. I got hurt in one of those playoff games. I went back to Wurzburg and did think about that and had some revenge, but I just wanted to focus on us at that moment. They were without Benzing and it was still a tough loss.

When I think of your three teammates Allen, Imac and Jenkins, these things pop up right away. Allen is considered of the hardest working BBL players, Imac that hard nosed defender and winner and Jenkins as the shooter. If you could describe them three best how would you do it?

Allen and I have some history going back to our Alba days. When I think of him I would say “intense” and “drive”. When I think of Imac I woúld say “tough and smart”. Jenkins is that great scorer. They are all leaders, but important is also that they listen. They all bounce things off each other that we catch. Coach Harmsen leads them, but also takes some of their advice.

On the weekend you play against The Fraport Skyliners. Back in the 2011-2012 season you blew out Frankfurt in their living room 83-57 as Dashaun Wood had 21 points and you played against NBA players Jon Leuer and Jermario Davidson. Do you have any memory of that game?

I remember a little bit of that game. I remember that we played really well in that game. Frankfurt was a tough team and I remember Dashaun Wood being really focused playing against his ex team.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex NBA player Kyle Weaver who is one of the few players that can boast he was teammates with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden with the Oklahmona Thunder

You played a season for head coach Gordon Herbert who belongs to the best coaches in the BBL. He often has had success with teams with a lower budget bringing the best out of each player. With Alba Berlin he had a high budget and talented players. How do you remember his coaching style then on a top club as Alba Berlin?

Gordie is a great coach. It is never easy when you go from a team where you had a big influence to a new club where there are different voices and influences. That can really affect you. We had a really good team and he did a really good job that year. What many may not know is that that season our two bigs Torin Francis and Yassin Idbihi were out for a long time. That affected us a bit. Gordie didn´t really do anything different in that time. He was just dealt a hard hand. It was tough for him having to meet expectations that season.

You have played for many teams, but how special was last season with Torun reaching the final and losing a hard fought 5 game series against Stelmet? Torun had been in the second league only a few years. How special was this Cinderella season?

Last season in Poland was special in many ways. It was much better than a Cinderella story, but it was more like Cinderella 2. It was the total opposite to what we had in Berlin. In Poland we were fighting for our lives. I remember at the start of the season fans coming up to me and saying “We won´t be that good this season. Just play hard, we know it won´t be easy” It was an amazing season going in as a team with a lot of doubt and finishing second. I remember when we had lost the final series that so many fans came to greet us even though we lost. It seemed like we had won. It was nice being able to bring so much joy to the fans. This season was a good example of what can happen when all thongs come together.

Two seasons ago you played with Mec-Energy Roseto (Italy-Serie A2) playing 35 games averaging 14.7ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 55.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 79.3%. I remember your teammate Byron Allen putting up 37 points in a game. You have played with and against many great scorers, but form sheer talent where does he rank for you?

He will be a real solid player in Europe. Just from pure talent, he could become a top guard in Europe. He knows who he is as a player. I think all he needs now is more experience.

In the 2014-2015 season you played for Bnei Hertzeliyya (Israel-Winner League) playing 10 games averaging 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.7apg, 1.7spg, 2FGP: 48.1%, 3FGP: 23.1%, FT: 86.0%,. What kind of experience was it playing in Israel? American players often marvel about how nice it is being able to play there.

Israel was great. I enjoyed it despite being in a tough situation. I was let go and then the coach was fired. So much was going around behind the scenes. I wish it would have been different for me and that I could have done better. Everything else was great. The food, weather and people. It was a great place to play.

After a season in the D-League, you returned to Europe in 2013 and played with Azzurro Napoli Basket (Italy-DNA Gold) playing 30 games averaging 17.2ppg, 7.8rpg, 3.5apg, 1.6spg, Blocks-1(1.5bpg), FGP: 59.3%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 77.6%. Statistically it was your best season in Europe. How key was it coming back and right away showing you can be an even better player in Europe after a season away?

After that D-League season, I was trying to make another run to the NBA. I was turning down other offers to try to make it back to the NBA. Naples was a last resort at the time. It was a good place to play at after chasing the NBA dream. I used the fire I had for the NBA and used it with Naples. I kept the fire burning there which helped me to the good season.

After a stellar career at Washington State you were drafted by the NBA in 2008 and played two seasons with the Oklahoma Thunder: That whole experience is almost 10 years ago. Do you feel like if you came out of school now that you would have gone that same path or has the NBA changed so much over the years with guys coming from school?

That’s a good question. When I look back to that time when I got drafted in 2008 that was the last time frame and stretch of good college players going to the NBA. That was a time when a lot of the drafted players were older guys that had good college experience. The competition level was better when I was in school. A year later it started to change. Then you started getting more 1 and done´s and 2 and done´s entering the NBA draft. These guys were so much younger and still learning the game and weren´t as developed as guys were in my time. If I look at my draft big time players like Serge Ibaka and Deandre Jordan were only second round picks. These guys developed over time Now a lot of these young players do well while others fall out. It is really easy to get lost in the transition. I played in a good system at Washington State and was a bit more groomed and was ready for the NBA.

Not many guys can say they were teammates with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at the same time. They were so young then. Was a young buck like you smart enough ten to soak up as much as possible from then or were you looking more at other veterans for getting rookie tips?

I was a sponge. I watched and listened to everybody. I was in the gym early and late. I had great veteran guys there with Kevin Olle and Desmond Mason just to name a few. I soaked up as much as possible form them, but also from the young guys Durant and Westbrook. I stitched my own little pieces from them and tried to use as much as possible when I had the opportunity on the court.

Many of your best scoring games that rookie season came in loses. What was your most memorable game as a Oklahoma Thunder player?

I have two games that I remember well. The first being when we played in Milwaukee and I returned home. I remember getting tickets for my whole family and even my old teachers form school came. They were all proud of me and it was great having everyone there. The other game was against the Utah Jazz. I started the game and got more minutes than usual. This was a good time for me. I was slowly getting into the rotation and was producing good numbers. But then the next day I dislocated my shoulder which set me back.

In your second season with the Thunder you experienced rookie James Harden who only averaged 9,7 ppg his first season and it would take him 4 seasons until he would become a top 5 NBA scorer. If somebody had told you then that he would be scoring 30PPG in 2018 what would you have thought?

I had played against him in college and knew what he could do. You have to tip your hat to what he is doing on the court now. He has a great work ethic and really has polished his game in the last years. He is so comfortable when he plays and that is most dangerous. Back then I would have said that you have to wait and see if he can average 30ppg, but I knew the potential was there.

In the 2010-2011 season you had one last NBA go getting a 10 day contract. What memories do you have of your Utah Jazz stay and playing for coach Tyrone Corbin?

It was a great experience being part of the Utah Jazz organization. They had a young team with guys like Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. The reason I played so much then was because so many guys were banged up. I got good minutes which was great for me. I finished the season with them. They didn´t reach the playoffs and I did my best for them. I then finished the season in Belgium and won a title.

You finished the season with TEC Spirou Charleroi (Belgium-D1) playing 11 games: averaging 7.5ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 64.7. So far it has been your only title in Europe. How special is this title for you?

I had great teammates with guys like Demond Mallet and Brent Wright. We had a great team. I didn´t expect to win the league title. They struggled at the start, but once we got a flow we were amazing.

Recently your ex teammate Demond Mallet retired who had a great professional career. How vital was his experience for Charleroi winning the title?

His experience was huge. He was the heart and soul of the team and a big piece to the success. Everything ran through him. I just came in and tried to do my part. He was a great leader. We pushed each other every day. He did a lot in his career and deserved everything that came his way.

After two seasons in Europe, you gave the NBA one more try, but played in the D-League with Austin and Canton. Why do you feel did you have such a short NBA run and why is it so hard to remain in the NBA?

What a lot of people don´t see is that so much is out of control for the player. It´s not about the player, but other things like the salary cap, numbers game, the position or style of play. I believe that I could have been longer in the NBA and probably still could be there today. At the end of the day, it´sa bout what the organization wants. I am blessed that I was a part of the NBA. There are so many guys in the NBA just sticking around. They want more minutes, but don´t get them. Getting to the NBA is easy but sticking there is hard. Just as fast as you can get to the NBA, you can quickly be gone again. I´m blessed at the age of 32 that I´m still playing and being a key part to a team like Jena. Instead of being a 12th or 13th man on an NBA team. These guys get paid well don´t get me wrong, but I had my run. Things happen for a reason. I´m happy for my situation with Jena.

What was the most harsh example that you remember from the NBA that will always prove that it is primarily a business and nothing else?

Just the whole process of guys coming and going. The harshest example is just how a team will get rid of you because your hurt. They get rid of you as if it means nothing. This is out of the hand of a player. You can´t make the team keep you. All a player can do is take the lumps and keep going.

You played at Washington State from 2004-2008. You reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008. What was your fondest memory of playing at the big dance?

Reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 was a great experience. We were the underdog and no one expected us to come out so strong with coach Tony Bennett and play so well. The biggest moment was how we beat Notre Dame who had a great team with guys like Luke Harangody.

You were teammates with Aron Baynes who has been in the NBA for years. It took Baynes a little longer to get to NBA. He seemed to be a late bloomer. Did you also notice that in school?

I always thought he could get to the NBA. He was big, physical and athletic. He is in the NBA because of what he can do on the court with his size. He is on the perfect team and I´m very happy for him.

You played with coaches Dick and Tony Bennett. How did they groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

I was long and a defender which fit well into the schemes that they played. I came to Washington State with 5 other freshmen. This helped me develop from year to year, because I was wit the same guys every year. We had young and old players and nothing in between. I was pushed early on and that helped me develop sooner.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Caleb Forest?

Caleb was more of a 4 man when I was there. I had more battles with guys like Randy Green, Thomas Abercrombie and Ivory Clark. I remember when Ivory and I had an argument at home, that we would go out and settle it on the court.

If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?

I loved the Jordan era, but also like the new age. I would have Jordan, Kobe, Lebron and Shaq.

What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?

Yes. Black Panther was my last movie. It was a great movie.

Thanks Kyle for the chat.

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