Dominic Early is a 198cm forward from Atlanta, Georgia that recently completed his rookie season with Limburg in the German Regionalliga playing 15 games: Score-5(24.8ppg), 6.4rpg, 1.6apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 68.5%. He started his basketball career at Furman(NCAA) where he played 41 games in two seasons. He then moved to USC Aiken (NCAA2) where he played 19 games averaging 15.6ppg, 8.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 82.4%. As a senior he played for Co.Georgia (NAIA) playing 32 games averaging 20.9ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 73.7%. He spoke to German Hoops after the end of his rookie season.
Dominic thanks for talking to German Hoops You just completed your rookie season in Germany. What were your first thoughts after the tough 70-66 loss to Crailsheim? Possibly thank god this roller coaster rookie season is over?
No problem. Thanks for the opportunity. My first thoughts after the game was what we could have done differently to come out with the win. I was more thankful for the opportunity to play for Limburg then upset about the season.
Limburg gave a another great effort, but came up short again losing it´s fourth close game in a row. Did you sometimes think that the basketball God was purposely trying to scold the team by putting some type of curse on the team in crunch-time?
That’s an interesting way to look at it but sometimes things just don’t go your way. We had opportunity to win games but made some mistakes that resulted in losses.
When looking at the stats, Crailsheim crushed Limburg on the boards getting 20 rebounds more, but Limburg had 7 possessions more. What were the most crucial errors in the crunch-time that led to the season ending loss?
Exactly. They killed us on the boards but we were able to speed them up and create some turnovers that kept us in the game. At the end of the game we weren’t organized enough. And as a result it led to us not getting a good shot.
A consolation was keeping dominant American Eric Ross to only 9 points and 12 rebounds on 3/14 shooting. He averaged 14 and 12 this season and came into the game with 17 double doubles. How was it battling him on the court?
He was a great competitor and it was fun going up against him in that kind of game.
Before we talk about your Limburg season let´s go back a bit to the start of your rookie season. You signed with Itzehoe Eagles (Germany-ProB), but that was a short stay. What kind of experience was that? Was the whole experience a misunderstanding?
First I want to thank Itzehoe for the experience. The experience was definitely eye opening. It gave me insight not only to the business side of things but also made me appreciate the things that came afterwards. I still believe that I can play at that level and be productive but it didn’t work out that way. Limburg gave me an opportunity and I used it to prove that I belong here. I feel like that experience added fuel to my fire.
How tough was having this experience? The club stated the reason was because they had another player they preferred. Is that what happened or did you see it differently?
It was extremely tough. But it’s business and that’s how Basketball works on this level. No hard feelings towards them. Again I thank them for the opportunity.
You then took a major step back going to BBC Montabaur (Germany-Oberliga) which is the 6th league and three levels below the Pro B. How much of a bruise did your ego have then?
It’s wasn’t my ego that took a hit. I still believed in my abilities. But this was very hard for me. The coach, Marcel Kastor, really helped me make the transition easier and allowed me to showcase my talents. He has a lot of knowledge for the game but most of all is an amazing man.
With BBC Montabaur (Germany-Oberliga) you played 6 games averaging 29.3ppg. Was the biggest plus there that you was able to heighten your self-confidence? What kind of experience did you have there?
My self confidence was still high. I just wanted to play hard and be ready for the next opportunity I would get. My experience there was good. Met some great people and played for a great coach.
Limburg head coach Danny Stallbohm became aware of you and signed you. You came to a losing team and lost 15 games in a row. How tough were the last 3 months there putting up great stats but losing?
Honestly it was the toughest seasons I have ever played. I wasn’t really worried about the stats but wanted to come in and do everything I could do to help win games. We came up short but I thought the team really improved along the way.
Had you ever experienced a losing streak like that before? How were you able to mentally get through this time and still dominate like no other in the German Regionalliga?
No I have never experienced anything like this. So it was definitely an adjustment but as a competitor you go out on the court every night and try to win games. Mentally I had to continue to focus on the next task at hand. Trying not to allow the lack of success to prevent us from give the best effort possible.
Was a big reason for the loses the lack of depth? I have rarely seen so little depth as compared to other teams?
That was definitely a part of it. We battled with injuries, losing members of the team during the season, along with other things. At times I felt like we just ran out of gas in the 4th quarter.
Let´s talk about your game. In our first interview last summer you stated “I am a leader on and off the floor. I bring great energy to the floor along with playing the lanes for steals and help side defense”. Despite the losing how do you feel was your game able to grow as a rookie?
I feel as if my ability to shoot behind the arc has become a more essential part of my game, it gives me the ability to spread the floor which results in driving lanes and allows me to make plays for both my teammates and myself. Also I’ve become more efficient and aggressive on the offensive end. I feel as if my ability to read passing lanes has increased as well.
You stated also in our first interview that your ability to anticipate passes and get steals is a hidden strength in your game. How did you have to adjust to playing defense for a losing team? How tough was it as a good defender coming to a team that allowed 88 points per game?
Playing defense is all about effort. So even though we were losing we were still playing hard and giving effort. Our rotations improved as well as our help side defense. I feel like with my length I was able to cover up some of the holes and even erase some mistakes.
Besides putting up great stats, were you able to gain some other positives from the Limburg experience? You got to the know the nice Stallbohm family and also got to know knew teammates.
Definitely. The experience off the floor was great. I was able to embrace the German culture as well as meet some great people. My teammates were a group of guys and I’ve made some relationships that will last a lifetime.
Was your season highlight netting an amazing 48 points against Saarlouis in the 90-81 loss. Was that the most points you ever scored in your life?
Although it came in a loss it was definitely a highlight part of the season. I wish we would have come out with the win more than anything but it was great. Yes. It is the most points I have ever scored in a game.
You hit Saarlouis for 7 three´s. You really improved your three point shooting this season. Was this on count of better shot selection or did you put in the extra reps last summer and during the season?
I think both of those things played a part in the improvement. I definitely put in the work this summer to improve my shooting. But also I think my coaches and teammates believing in me helped as well. Even on rough nights their confidence didn’t change and that allowed me to continue to shoot with confidence and accuracy.
What is the next step for Dominic Early?? You had a strong Regionalliga season in Germany. Could you imagine staying in Germany or trying another country?
Your guess is as good as mine right about now. It’s still early in the process but I believe that something greater is on the horizon. I am ready to take my game to another level and I’m itching to win some games with an organization and show people that I do belong in the some of the top leagues in Europe.
The Pro B will only allow one import next season. Could you imagine playing another season in the Regionalliga to continue to put up good stats and tweak your game while also winning some games with a team?
I was made aware of the changes in the rules and it will make things tougher for imports but I feel as if I have proven myself enough in this league to be able to play at the higher levels. Also I feel as if I can be the difference maker on both ends of the floor which will make me more valuable to teams that can only sign one import.
How does a normal summer day workout plan look like for you on and off the court? Will you be switching things up from last summer to fit how you want to continue to keep improving your game?
A normal workout day consists of weights, speed, and agility in the morning. Then individual skill work in the afternoon. Taking a break and enjoying the summer time for a few hours then back to the gym in the evening for lots of shots. Yes. This summer will be more focused on strength training and ball handling.
Who was the toughest player that you battled on the court this season in the German Regionalliga?
There really wasn’t a player that was tougher than the others. They all presented different challenges and they were all competitors. The toughest team I faced all year was Schwenningen. They were a good team on both ends of the floor.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
Experiencing the NCAA Tournament involved a lot of late nights because of the time difference but it was incredible. The most spectacular upset was Loyola-Chicago over Miami because I actually picked that one in my bracket.
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 guess that’s for NBA GMs to decided. They are both great talents. Both are young and will continue to get better as they get older. Doncic is a great player and will definitely be a top 5 pick.
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?
Lebron James is one of the greatest to ever play and if he really wanted to he could lead the league in assists every year.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
Actually no. I have yet to see Black Panther. The last movie I saw was The Theory of Everything. It is a movie about the life of Stephen Hawking.
Thanks Dominic for the chat.