Evan McGaughey is a 24 year old 203cm forward from Carthage, Illinois that completed his rookie season in Germany with the MLP Academics Heielberg averaging 11.8ppg, 6,4rpg and 2,1apg while shooting 41% from outside. The American played an illustrious career at Quincy(NCAA”) where he averaged double figures in scoring average each season. As a senior he played 25 games averaging 16.6ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.0apg, 1.2spg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 50.6%, FT: 77.8%. He spoke to German Hoops after his rookie season in Germany.
Evan thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on a solid rookie season in Germany. However your season ended on a sour note losing to the Romerstrom Gladiators 3-2 after being up 2-1. How disappointing was ending the season like this?
Hey Miles! We had quite a season this year. It definitely ended on a sour note for us though. It’s hard to lose in the playoffs like that after you work so hard all season to get to that point. The day after a season ending loss is always the hardest, but I’m sure in a few weeks we will be able to look back on the season and be proud of what we did.
Was these the toughest two back to back loses in your young career? Did this compare to anything you witnessed in the NCAA?
Yes, I would say these are the toughest back to back loses I’ve ever experienced. It’s a little different in the college post season, because if you lose once then your out. In a playoff series you still have hope after each game. We just weren’t able to put the series away when we had our chances.
The MLP Academics Heidelberg were up 2-1 games to one. You could have wrapped up the series and had a date in the semi-finals with Crailsheim. Would it be fair to say that Heidelberg lost the series in game 4 in crunch-time?
We lost game 4 in the first 5 minutes and the last 5 minutes of the game. Throughout the other 30 minutes we played some of the best basketball that we have played all year. We have them an early 22-6 lead, and then we were up by 10 with 4 minutes left and just couldn’t seal the deal.
The MLP Academics controlled the first half, but what adjustment did the Romerstrom Gladiators make in the second half that helped them get the lead and keep it? They shot better and rebounded better, but had 7 more turnovers, but that didn´t help you either.
I’m not sure they made any major adjustments, but they were making the big shots down the stretch. We had great looks all night but just couldn’t put the ball in the hole.
Despite bowing out to the Romerstrom Gladiators, how proud are you of the season? Do you feel like the team didn´t exceed expectations that seemed to rise as the season went on?
We were proud to have the best finish in Heidelberg history in the Pro A. We finished the regular season in 3rd place and no team in the past has placed better than 5th. That is something we can hang our hat on, but unfortunately we will all remember losing in the playoffs.
Let´s talk about the team season. The club started very slowly having a 6-5 record, but then had a4 game winning streak and then lost 3 in a row. What really was keeping the club from having a more consistent season?
We were a very young team this year. I think early in the season that’s what kept us down. We knew that we had all kinds of talent on the team but we just needed some more experience and time with each other to lock things in.
The best stretch of the season came from January 22-March 25 where you had a 9-2 record. What did you learn about the team most in this time?
During that time I learned that this team had the potential to make a solid run in the playoffs. We were clicking during that time and everyone was gaining confidence. That was when we realized how good we could be.
What was the team season highlight? Possibly the two exciting razor sharp wins over the RheinStars where you outscored them by only 5 points combined.
Those were two very close games. We had several games during the season that came down to the wire. A few others that stick out were; game 1 of the playoff series, our away game against Chemnitz, and the battles at home with Vechta and Crailsheim.
Let´s talk about your teammates. How much of a thrill was it playing with fellow rookie Jaleen Smith? How important were you both for each other as rookies especially at the start having to deal with so many new things on and off the court?
It was a lot of fun playing along side him all year. He’s the type of player that every team needs. He would run through a brick wall for you if you told him to. We lived together this year and we were able to learn along the way. It’s a different lifestyle over here than it is back home in college, and we had to get used to that.
How vital was it for your rookie development having a very experienced veteran in Albert Kuppe? Last season as a senior at Quincy(NCAA2) you shot 50% from outside so you knew something about dropping trey´s, but still did you pick up something extra from his shooting game as he shot 44% from outside the last two seasons.
Albert can absolutely torch the nets every game. If I learned anything from him it would be that you have to stay confident in your shot. He had a few games this season where he would struggle in the first half, but would bounce back and hit several 3’s in the second half.
What did you pick up from Shy Ely during the season. He played 3 years in the D-League and played his sixth season in Europe and fourth with Heidelberg. How did you pick his brain best about the game of basketball?
I looked up to Shy for everything this year. He is a very experienced and smart player. He knows the game very well and I picked up several things from him this year on both sides of the court. He is as good of a guy as he is a scorer too, and it was great to learn from him my first year.
How did you see the development of 24 year old German guard Niklas Wuerzner? He has improved his scoring each season and had solid rebound and assist stats this season. What did you appreciate most about his game and what part of his game improved the most?
The drive and passion that he had during the games might have been the highest of all guards in the league. You always have to have your hands up and ready when he has the ball. He made some incredible passes this year and was a great defender at the top of the key. His length makes him a great player.
Let´s talk about your game. Going into game 5 against Trier you averaged 11,8ppg, 6,5rpg, 2,1apg and shot 42% from outside. How content were you with your rookie season in Germany?
I was happy with what I did this year, but I’m never content with it. I still feel like there was more I could have done to help the team.
How do you feel did you grow as a leader with the MLP Academics Heidelberg? You came from a winning program with Quincy(NCAA2) and was a major factor in the success of the German Pro A team?
I think my leadership grew along the course of the season, but most importantly we had a great group of guys on the team. We all had the same goals and we weren’t going to get in the way of each other. Our team chemistry was huge for us this season. It’s easier to help lead a team when everyone is on the same page.
You stated in our last interview that “I like to think that my biggest strength is the ability to see the floor. I take a lot of pride in my passing ability and setting up teammates. How did the overall team game in Europe bring your passing ability to a new level as a rookie?
I felt as though my passing got better as the season went on. It’s always easier to make the extra pass and find the open guy because at this level there are a lot of great shooters surrounding you. In college I may have taken an extra shot or two per game, but at the professional level you have even more confidence in your teammates that they will make the open shot.
You stated in our last interview in the summer of 2017 that “That’s the big thing with college basketball. If you don’t continue to improve each and every year then you might not be playing next season. Nothing is guaranteed, so you have to put in the work to get playing time”. How do you feel did you make another step in your player development as a rookie?
I would say the biggest step I made this year was understanding the European game. It was a little bit of an adjustment for me, but this was a great year to gain experience. I’ll use everything I learned this year to continue to get better.
Did you get a chance this season to catch up with Courtney Belger who played at Quincy(NCAA2) He had another good season in the Pro B making the playoffs. After seeing the competitive level in the Pro A how close is he to the Pro A now?
I was never able to see Courtney in person, but we did talk a few times. He had a fantastic year with Schalke and I think he will be in the Pro A next year. Honestly, I’ve felt like he could play at the Pro A level for a few years now, but I guess the GMs see something different.
You probably saw some EasyCredit BBL games as Frankfurt is only 1 hour away from Heidelberg. When you see the skill level and players, do you feel like there is so much missing from your game to reach that level?
I feel as though I can play at that level. The main difference is that once you take the next step everyone is a little bit faster and more athletic. It would just be another aspect to adjust to. It’s always a goal to play at the highest level possible, and I hope that I will get my shot to play in the BBL at some point in my career.
What is the next step for Evan Mcgaughy? Is the Pro A a league you could imagine playing another season for added grooming or are you adventurous and try out another country?
I haven’t really thought about it too much honestly since the season just ended. I really enjoyed playing in the Pro A this season. I have full trust in my agent though and I know he will put me in the best spot to succeed.
What did you appreciate most about the country Germany? How many times did you visit the castle in Heidelberg?
I loved the country of Germany. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first came over here, but it was everything I could ever ask for. Heidelberg is a fantastic city, and the weather is usually nice too. I would recommend to anyone that makes a trip to Europe to stop by Heidelberg. I visited the castle 3 times whenever I had visitors. A lot of history in that place.
How does a normal summer day workout plan look like for you on and off the court?
A normal summer day would start with some time in the gym with my basketball trainer or in the weight room with my fitness coach. It’s convenient for me that their schedules are fairly open during the day and I can get to work whenever I need to. I’m really looking forward to get back home and working with them.
Who was the toughest player that you battled on the court this season?
There were a lot of great players that I went up against this year. There guys come to mind first. Seth Hinrichs, Jermaine Bucknor, and Dan Oppland were all tough matchups this season.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
I had some late nights staying up and watching the tournament games. The games wouldn’t start until 1 or 2am on some nights, but I had to stay up and watch. I loved the run that Loyola made this year. I’ve always rooted for the underdog and they were a great Cinderella story.
Deandre Ayton seems like 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?
Absolutely, if I was a GM I wouldn’t hesitate to take Doncic #1 in the draft. What some people don’t realize back home is that he has been putting up great numbers the last couple years against the top talent in Europe. If he can play that way in the Euroleague at such a young age then it would have almost been unfair for him to play in college. This year will be a solid draft class, but I would still take him first.
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?
The sky is the limit for him. It’s incredible to see the numbers he has put up this year. I think he could easily average 15 assist if he concentrated on being a point guard, but that just won’t happen because he is such a dominant scorer.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
The last movie I saw was Shawshank Redemption on the bus. I haven’t seen Black Panther yet but I’m sure I will when it is released again.
Thanks Evan for the chat.