Sharif Hudson is a 26 year old 188cm guard playing his third professional season and first with HSB Landsberg (Germany-2.Regionalliga). He played his first two professional seasons with BG Aschersleben Tigers (Germany-Regionalliga) an din his rookie season played 25 games averaging 14.8ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.6apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 64.8%. Last season with BG Aschersleben Tigers (Germany-Regionalliga) he played 19 games averaging 15.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 78.5%. He started his basketball career at Southern Union CC and then played his last two seasons in the NCAA 2 with Ark.-Monticello (NCAA2) playing 29 games averaging 10.1ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 61.3%. In his senior year he played 13 games averaging 14.3ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.2apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.7%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Sharif, thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are in your third professional season and many Americans dream to be in your situation even though your far away from a top level. How thankful are you for having the opportunity to play the game you love for a living?
It’s a blessing to be able to just play the game. Regardless of the level that I am at right now, just being able to lace up every week and compete with a group of guys is something that I don’t take for granted.
Your third professional season is winding down with HSB Landsberg (Germany-2.Regionalliga). How tough has this season been with coming late to a losing team and taking a step back to the German Regionaliga 2?
It wasn’t tough to come in late and get the ball rolling. While I was at home I was in the gym every week. I was conditioning, lifting, and doing whatever I can just to stay in some type of game form just for moments like I’ve experienced. Regionaliga 2 was a step back from where I previously was but you have to pay your dues somehow. Any opportunity I had to play I wasn’t going to ignore it.
A positive aspect to your season has been that you came to a losing team, but since your arrival they started winning. Did you feel some pressure coming in needing to help and how did you like having that savior label?
I didn’t feel any pressure at all. At the end of the day, I’ve been playing basketball since I was maybe 4 or 5. Doesn’t matter what level, I’m going to compete and do what is asked of me and whatever I need to do to help my team get in the best position to win. I wouldn’t say it’s a “savior label”. HSB Landsberg asked me to come in and be a leader. So if that involves scoring, that’s what I have to do. If it involves defense, that’s what I have to do and so far since I’ve been here the team I feel like has gotten better and the wins picked up.
Before we return to your current situation, why didn´t you extend your contract with Aschersleben(Regionaliga) after helping the team reach position 3 each season?
Honestly I am not sure but I will say it was more mutual than anything I believe. There wasn’t a conversation that came about. I just think after 2 seasons both sides were pretty content with going in opposite directions as far as that is concerned. I have no bad feelings about Aschersleben. To be able to start my career with that organization will always be memorable. Terrific fans, really solid club, and we finished top 3 both seasons which wasn’t easy at all when you look at the teams that were in the league those 2 seasons.
You came late to Landsberg. I had heard you had had problems with your former agent. How tough was the first months of 2017-2018 where you didn´t have a team and didn´t know where your career might go?
Yeah I did but I can understand. It’s a business. There’s no hard feelings or bad blood between me and anyone. I don’t feel any type of way about the situation. It’s how stuff works sometimes. Stuff like that only makes you stronger and more hungry in my opinion. I mean it was tough I can’t lie. Because I didn’t know where to turn or what to do next because it was so late. It was already September and I honestly didn’t even know if I wanted to hoop anymore but I couldn’t get through to anybody who could help me make something happen. But the type of people I have in my circle around me never let that be an option. So that really made me more motivated to just take my time and invest in myself and see what I can do for me on my own time. And luckily it worked out. And for that reason I’m even more motivated now because I know it’s possible even if it does take some time.
You had two solid seasons in the German Regionaliga, but weren´t putting up huge stats of 25-30 points per game. Every player wants to reach the top, but after two seasons were you a bit realistic that with just how the process works in European basketball that anything further than a Regionaliga or Pro B career would be a reach?
I’m capable of putting up those type of numbers if I’m put in the position to where I can make that happen. With the team we had those 2 seasons in Aschersleben I didn’t have to put up 25-30 a night. I played on a team that finished top 3 each season and averaged 14-16 points per game along with 3/4 other guys who average double digits. If I have to score I’m very capable of producing if I’m put in the situation where that’s what I need to do. I obviously played Regionaliga 1 and had quite a few pre season games against some pretty tough pro B teams in the second year with Aschersleben. I know what I’m capable of. It doesn’t matter if it’s Regionaliga 1, pro B, pro A whatever, I’m going to compete as long as my feet are on the court. If I have to pay my dues to get to Pro B or higher then that’s what I´m going to have to do and it will get done. I don’t think it’s impossible or out of my range to play higher than Regionaliga 1.
So now you took a step back to the Regionaliga 2 but are averaging 27,0ppg. What kind of experience has this season been and what´s the biggest differences between the Regionaliga and Regionaliga 2?
The experience has been good. I’m actually running the point guard spot full time which is different for me because I usually play off the ball. But the transition to the PG wasn’t hard for me. I think it was just made me better as a player honestly. The biggest difference between regionaliga 1 and 2 is probably the level of players. I don’t mean that in a bad way I’m just saying compared to what you’ll see each night in regionaliga 1 it’s not the same.
With Aschersleben you were the lone American, but still had many other nationalities around you. With Landsberg you are the lone American. What kind of experience has it been being the only American? Have you noticed that the young German kids look up to you?
Being the only American isn’t too bad being that everybody on my team can speak English so the language barrier doesn’t become an issue. I just be myself no matter where I am. I don’t have to carry myself any different than I would if I was back home in the states. I think it’s pretty normal for young kids to look up to you, not just because I’m American but because I play ball and they enjoy the games. Even at practices they like to shoot with you and things like that. So it’s alright.
Fabian Ristau played in the Pro B with BG Karlsruhe and Cuxhaven. When you see his game, how much does that motivate to keep grinding to continue to keep moving up the basketball level?
I mean I know I have to keep grinding no matter what. But Fabian’s work ethic is crazy. Since we came here around the same time we were always lifting, getting up shots before practice, or even on days we don’t practice. So the grind is always going to be there no matter what. I feel like I can play and compete in the Pro B. I also know that I have to work on some stuff in my game to not just get there but to stay there and continue getting better. But there isn’t a doubt I have that I can play on that level and keep moving up. It just take time.
Landsberg didn´t have a great season without you, but have turned it around since your arrival. What positives can you take from the few months that you were there that will help you down the road?
I think the leadership qualities will definitely help down the road. Leading anyway I can, making sure I’m keeping my teammates heads together and focused because you can’t win them all but if you have those leadership qualities to where you can keep a team together mentally, and motivate, and hungry to compete I think it will go a long way for anybody.
Let´s talk about your game. How did you have to change your game this season where you were the only real scoring option form the last two seasons at Aschersleben where there were many more scoring options?
I didn’t have to do to much changing in my opinion. I know I can get my own bucket. It just so happens that now I have to do that more often than what I had to do in Aschersleben. The ball is in my hands more now that I am playing the point here, I have to create for others as well as myself and I think it’s helping my game more than what it may seem.
Knowing that you can score almost 30ppg in the Regionaliga 2 give you that added confidence that you never had before? Do you feel like that if you moved back to the Regionaliga that you could become that explosive scorer?
For sure. Just getting to this point when I didn’t have anything at all the first half of the season gave me extra confidence. And it’s higher now than ever before because I feel like when I can hoop freely within my own game and whatever system I’m playing under with a coach, anything is possible. If I were to make the jump back to Regionaliga 1 I definitely think I can be an as explosive score. As long as I’m in the right situation where I can hoop within the system given to me, I can make it happen. It’s basketball. I been doing this for a while and I know what I’m capable of and I believe in my game.
You’re a 188cm shooting guard that has scored in double figures in your last 4 seasons. If you had to compare your game to a NBA player who would you pick?
This tough but I would compare it similarly to Westbrook or DeRozen just to the point where I think attacking the basket and getting out in transition and the midrange shot is my strongest asset of my game. Westbrook or DeRozen aren’t the greatest shooters from deep but I think they both have a good midrange shot as well as attacking the rim. I think my mid range is definitely better than my outside shot even though I can knock shots down from the outside. I think that might be the closest comparison I can think of right now. It might be a reach but it’s my opinion.
You have always been an extremely good rebounder for your height. Was this something you always had or did that develop with time?
To be honest, I think it was something that developed. My senior year in college coach Tolin told me like a week into official practices that he wants me to crash the glass hard every possession and that I would be successful just because I’m athletic enough to do so and grab rebounds in the game. It’s definitely something that can help my game and will be good for me if I can continue to make that an important factor.
Your also a very good defender. Is your defense something that often gets your offense going? Talk a little about how important your defensive game and your biggest strengths?
For sure. My aunt started collegiately at Ohio State. And she was a guard who was known for defense. So I think I’ve always had that in me just for that fact. Defense definitely gets me going. Create pressure, cause a turnover and get a run out and that gets me going. I hear sometimes that people don’t expect Americans to play good defense. That’s crazy but I can only control what I do and playing defense is pretty big to me. Throughout my career it’s been times when I drew the matchup against the best perimeter player so defense is something that I have to continue to take pride in. My biggest strengths is my ability to play defense, make rotations and things like that.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet at ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away?
I think my overall game doesn’t get noticed right away. I’m not a pure shooter. I’m not just a slasher. Not just a mid range shooter. I think I do all equally well across the board but my mid range I think doesn’t get noticed. If I can take a dribble or 2 inside the 3 and take the mid range, I will every time because I think that’s a stronger part of my game than what some people might realize. I’ll take the open 3 but if I have a lane or mid range shot I don’t usually turn it down. It’s a higher percentage shot for me.
Explain in a few sentences as to why you could help any team with your game. How would a team benefit best from your basketball abilities?
Well first I’m giving 100% every game. I love to compete. I can help in that aspect as well as defensively being able to guard well from the perimeter. I’m coachable, I can be a leader, I can score when needed to, and I can create for others.
You played two seasons with Aschersleben and especially last season you were surrounded by many nationalities with a Serbian, a Finish and a Croatian to name just a few. How did your overall game develop in these two years thanks to the different types of playing styles and characters on the team?
I think I definitely got better with my PnR game playing with those guys. Being able to read those type of situations got better from playing with those guys since PnR in Europe is a big deal. Having different characters isn’t so much different because it’s still basketball. And those guys know the game just as well as I do so it wasn’t a big change in that sense. However I did get better at reading certain situations, my IQ got better, knowing what’s good plays and not. I learned and developed some good tools.
What were some of your personal highlights with Aschersleben on the court? You split with Alba Berlin 2. Was it big playing against the farm team of one of Germany´s best basketball teams?
A couple personal highlights for me was last season when we had Cuxhaven at home. They were number 1 in standings at the time. Huge game for us. We came out with the win against a well coached and tough team. But Aschersleben managed to get my dad to the game without my knowledge. I didn’t know he was at the game until afterwards, which was the first time he was able to see me play since the district championship my sophomore year in high school because he works out of the country. So that was big for me. Something I won’t forget. Outside of that, we happened to beat BSW Sixers 1 time each season. Of course they are always a tough team. It’s a derby and the games were always crazy so that was big as well.
You played against many players in the Regionalliga, but when I throw in huge German talents like Jonas Mattiseck of Alba Berlin 2 or Philipp Herkenhof of Vechta, do these names still ring a bell, or were there just too many players to remember?
Yeah those names ring a bell. They were always highlighted on the scouting report the times we played and I had to guard Philipp a couple games. He is a tough player. He has height on me as has the ability to play the guard and well as forwards positions. Both players were tough. They obviously come from pretty good youth programs. Even though they are young they held their own in the league from what I can remember.
Who has been the toughest player you have faced in Germany who really gave your team a tough time?
In Regionaliga 1 it was a few good guards in the league both seasons. The American from the Sixers was tough just because he could play the guard position but also play in the post. But I don’t think there was a player that gave me a tough time to where I couldn´t handle. I held my own against anybody that was in front me. Last second season with Aschersleben we played most of our preseason games against Pro B teams. Artland and Bernau had some tough guards on their roster as well as Itzehoe and Rostock that season.
You played at Southern Union Community College, Ark.-Monticello (NCAA2), German Regionalliga 1 and 2. How big is your chip on your shoulder? Has it felt like a never ending journey for you always having to prove to people that you can play?
For sure. I have a chip on my shoulder. I ain’t saying I’m better than everybody but I ain’t no slouch either. If I have to continue to prove that I can play then that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll keep the chip on my shoulder. I know what I can do and what I’m capable of. I wouldn’t say it’s never ending. It just takes time. I know it’ll be a point where I get noticed for what I can do. I’ll just keep playing that role of having to prove myself. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
What kind of growing pains did you have at Southern Union Community College and how important were these two seasons for getting the right mentality about where you wanted to go as a basketball player?
I didn’t have any growing pains. My mentality to do something as a basketball player hasn’t changed since Southern Union. My first year after high school I actually went to the NCAA1 on a track scholarship to the University of South Florida. But it wasn’t long into that year that I knew what I wanted to really do. I just didn’t have many options basketball wise from high school so I took my best option which was track but at the end of that year I knew I wanted to play ball so i made the jump and landed at Southern Union for 2 years. From that first year on I knew what I had to do to have the impact on the court that I was looking for. And now I’m here in Germany.
You played two years at Ark.-Monticello (NCAA2). How important was this experience for you and how did your game grow in this time?
The experience was good. The great American conference is more competitive than what it may seem. I got stronger, I learned how to go about certain situations. I got that extra kick at what it’s going to take to be successful. At the NCAA level you do way more scouting. You have to watch film. It changes everything. Not just against your opponent but with your own game. Putting in that extra work ethic help me grow a lot in that time in college.
As a senior you earned All-Great American Conference honors after ranking seventh in the league in scoring (15.4 points per game), 12th in rebounding (6.8 per game) and third in steals (1.6 per game). You were also a two-time selection to the GAC All-Academic Team and was also nominated for the All-State Good Works Team. What were your fondest memories there on and off the court?
On the court just playing with some of the best brothers I could ever have. Just competing at a high level. Putting in extra work on the gun late nights. Pre season conditioning. You don’t forget stuff like that. Off court we did what we did. Always hanging out. Being like a family and being around one another. That something that your never forget whether you winning or not.
How did head coach Kyle Tolin groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Ark.-Monticello (NCAA2)
Coach Tolin actually was newly signed coming into my senior year so I didn’t play for him but one season. But his background spoke for itself. Along side his dad for a while they had one of the best programs while they were there at Oklahoma Baptist. He taught me just to stay ready. It was a lot of small things that he critiqued me on that really made me take pride in what I was doing. He told me it’s going to be different from college. He told me what I needed to work on and told me if I didn’t do this or that then the chances it won’t work out how I want it to. I don’t think he would have told me that if he wasn’t hoping the best for me. He was tough on me as a coach both on and off but it definitely was for the good.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jamaal Peterson?
Haha. Wasn’t expecting that question. bro know who won those. We didn’t have too many one on ones in practice but he’s a tough guard no matter his size. His work ethic was crazy. He made me better and I think I did the same with him. Anytime I want to hit the West coast and he is home I know I can put in work with him.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in the NCAA 2 that is in the NBA now?
I’m not sure if any are in the NBA now but my junior and senior year at UAM we played Angelo state out of Texas when they were coached by coach beard (at Texas Tech now). He had some nice guards on his roster. You couldn’t take a play off.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
MJ, Lebron, Kobe, Magic. All of them are definite game changers of the NBA What they did for the game I don’t think can or will be duplicated.
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?
In my opinion MJ is the GOAT. The way he revolutionized the game can’t be done again. It’s not about rings because it’s players who have more than him. I grew up in the Lebron era though. He’s the best player of my generation. I didn’t come up watching Jordan on tv. So he’s behind Jordan in my opinion without question.
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 I don’t. If you see he is leaving his assignment waiting on a shot then exploit that. If it’s not hurting his team by giving up game winners or something like that then it is what it is. Rebounding is about effort. He goes and gets the ball off a miss. It ain’t like he on the court rebounding his own misses. It’s 9 other guys on the floor with him. He still has to score and still get his assist numbers which mean he including his teammates as well.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
I was watching march madness on my fire stick this year and it was wild. Virginia losing to UMBC might be the best one. The season they had is probably the best they’ve ever had but they will always be remembered as the first team to lose to a 16 seed. That’s tough. It was some high seeds that didn’t stand a chance in some games. They simply got blew out so I can’t even call it an upset.
Deandre Ayton seems lie he could be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must of 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 think it depends on the draft order. Doncic is a point forward. If Philly has the 1st pick it wouldn’t make sense for them to draft him when they already have a point forward in Ben Simmons. Ayton is a presence inside but shoots the ball from outside like a guard. So I think it depends on team needs because he’s a clear point forward who can have the ball in his hands and make plays. A team looking for that should get him. He easily a top 5 pick in my opinion though not just off skill and experience but he can actually hoop!
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?
He could easily average 10-12 a game or more if that was his only focus just because of the attention he attracts. He’s already top 5 or something like that in assist now. He’s a different type of player that what anyone has seen in the long time.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
You know it’s crazy that I haven’t even seen Black Panther. I don’t have practice today so I might to catch up on that. It’s a few movies I need to catch up on.
Sharif thanks for the chat.