Jake Marvin is a 203cm forward from Lincoln, Nebraska that recently completed his rookie season with TSV Neustadt temps Shooters (Germany-Regionalliga playing 24 games averaging 16.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 64.1%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 67.2%. Before turning professional he played with Hastings (NAIA) and as a senior played 30 games averaging 8.3ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 62.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about his basketball life.
Jake thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your early summer vacation?
Thanks for the interview. Currently, I am actually still in Germany, living in Wunstorf outside of Hannover. And to be honest, it hasn’t felt like too much of a vacation. I’ve been very active in my church and youth work here in the Wunstorf community. As the leader of the youth group for a local church, we’ve been busy with our weekly meetings, participating in service and preaching, as well as outside events like attending a weekend retreat, starting a little running group, and a financial seminar that I put on for the kids.
You went from the bank to the basketball court after playing your last college game in 2013. Why do you feel did it take so long for you to get a professional job?
Since college was over, I hadn’t actually been looking to turn pro until summer 2016. I had some injury issues my senior year, and at that point was ready for the next step in life. It wasn’t until I quit my bank job in the spring of 2016 that I began to think about the possibility of a return to basketball. I definitely wasn’t satisfied with sitting behind a desk from 8-6 every day and was longing for something more. I was healthy again, feeling good, and playing my best basketball in the Denver ProAm and other competitive leagues I was in. I thought that was the right time to chase the dream again. After making the decision to try again for the pros, it took me just one season to get my foot in the door and land my first opportunity. I knew all the while that God had meant for me to be doing this and opening the right doors at the right time. I’ve learned over the years to be patient and trust his timing.
How big has your chip been on your shoulder since Hastings(NAIA)? Did you always feel like you could be a professional basketball player?
I always did feel like I could play at this level. I chose Hastings at that time because I felt like it was the best fit for me as a student and as an athlete. I had offers at higher levels, but felt like it was the best fit for me as a whole, not just athletically. In college, I was starting as a freshman with over 10 points per game. I was playing in summer leagues with current professionals and holding my own. It was always a dream of mine and I knew I had the skills and the work ethic. Unfortunately, the timing of the injuries and other life events didn’t lead to the traditional path. My teammates in my Denver leagues (many of them former professionals themselves) also were always encouraging me to get overseas and explore my basketball potential at the higher levels. I knew my playing style and skillset would fit really well with the European game, so I felt confident knowing whenever I got that chance I would be able to succeed. And I think I’ve proven during this season that I can be a force over here. I feel great and am playing the best ball of my life right now.
What was your fondest, and craziest experience working in a bank and do you feel there is anything you can take from this experience that somehow helped you on the court?
I still remember the first time I was working in the vault and holding a few hundred thousand dollars at one time. Most people don’t ever hold $200,000 in cash in their hands – it was a pretty surreal experience. Unfortunately, once you get to that point, it just begins to feel like dirty paper. I also once was so focused on the loan interview I was having with a customer, that I didn’t notice my fingers fidgeting around with the secret alarm button. Next thing I knew, our bank was surrounded by cops closing in on it because they thought we were being robbed. I had accidentally pressed the button. I was a fairly new employee at the time and thought that I may get fired. Luckily, it was just used as a learning experience and I was off the hook.
Were you actively searching for a basketball job the last years while you were working in a bank or was the TSV Neustadt temps Shooters gig something that happened by fate?
It was a lot of fate and a lot of God. I had quit my bank job in March 2016 without knowing what was next. I wanted to travel and I wanted to rediscover my passions and what I wanted in my next career. The day before I turned in my resignation, I got a call from a basketball organization called News Release Basketball (NRBasketball.org). They asked if I wanted to spend my summer traveling Europe, playing basketball against the local pro teams, and putting on basketball camps to help the kids. I said yes on the spot and knew that God was doing some crazy work behind the scenes. One of the teams we happened to play that summer was the TSV Neustadt temps Shooters. I had a great experience with them and really liked what their club was doing and where it was headed. We stayed in touch, and a year later they had an opening for me, and the rest is history. It was definitely one of those “right place, right time” scenarios. Some may call it fate – I think it’s God and his providence doing exactly as he planned.
Talk a bit how important Oliver Jokisch was for you and would you still be in a bank had you not met him?
I met Oliver in summer 2016 when we were playing the Shooters as part of my News Release Basketball (NRB) tour. I had already quit the bank by that point. However, he was very important in the chain of events that got me to the Shooters. It was his connection with both the Shooters and NRB that even allowed that first game and meeting to happen. He also is a leader of the local church that I now work at, and he played a very important role in the details of both getting me a spot to play with the Shooters and be able to lead the youth at the church. It really has been a great situation, a true win win win for all parties. He plays an active role with SRS International (https://www.srsonline.de/) and it’s great how the work they do and News Release Basketball does to help guys like me be able to come to Europe and make a difference both on the basketball court and in the community.
You only got the basketball job with the TSV Neustadt temps Shooters because an American left. You were initially planned to help with the youth work. Did you think that doing this might get you inside the door in Germany and possibly find a professional basketball job?
Yeah that was one of the possibilities I was exploring. I was hoping for the right door to open for me to play at a competitive level, but was also looking for a great place to serve the youth and the community. I knew that getting my foot in the door was the key, and the rest I could prove with my ability. I had offers from a different REG1 team and some lower level teams, so had the offer from Shooters not opened up and came at the right time, I probably would have been competing against them this year actually, as funny as that is. It definitely worked out the way it was supposed to and allowed for us to have a very successful season.
You finally got your big chance with the TSV Neustadt temps Shooters and helped them to a second place finish. What was your summary of the season? What was missing to winning your division and moving up to the Pro B?
I would say the summary of our season would be that we just dug deep and found a way to win games. We had a lot of things fighting against us and a lot of challenges to overcome, but still found a way to pull out 20 wins in our first season in the Reg1, which is quite an accomplishment. Even though we lost a couple close ones, there were a lot of games that went down to the wire that we found a way to win that we snuck away with. While the goal was another year of ascending leagues, a second place finish and 20-4 record is something we can still hang our hats on. The BSW Sixers are a great team and it was always great competition and intensity playing against them. We had both been the front runners from early on in the season, so it already seemed like a big rivalry even though it was our first season playing them. I think the talent level on both teams was pretty similar, but they played a bit better team basketball when it mattered in our first game against them, and they got the win. If we could have executed a bit better at the end, it could have changed the course of the season for sure.
What kind of experience was it for you playing with many Germany, A Dutch, English and Greek player? What did you learn basketball wise in this season that you never learned at Hastings(NAIA)
It was a great experience. I wanted to really immerse myself in the German and European culture while I was over here and being with all those guys really helped with that. It was a common experience for me to hear four different languages from the time I stepped in the gym until when I left. That’s something you don’t get in Nebraska for sure. I really enjoyed learning more about the different basketball leagues and learning some of the ins and outs of the DBB. I’ve really enjoyed not just playing, but watching German basketball both live and on Telekom. It’s more of my playing style and what I can relate to than watching the NBA. And I learned a lot more skills and techniques of the guard position this year than I ever did back in college. This was the first team I’ve ever played on that I wasn’t the tallest player (I was 4th tallest on this team), which really allowed me to work more on my guard skills and develop those, without leaving a hole in the post. Coach Allen Smith let me embrace my complete game and work on getting lots of practice and game reps at different positions, which was a luxury we couldn’t normally afford at Hastings, where I was needed to play post primarily.
What kind of experience was it playing with english player Rishi Kakad? Did you ever have long conversations about his time at Hawaii-Pacific and yours at Hastings?
Yeah it was always fun catching up about our college playing days with Rishi. He has such an interesting story and playing background that it was always fun for me to hear about his past career. We also drove to practice together each day which allowed for some good conversations. We actually discovered one of his former junior college teammates (Darrin Dorsey – Dakota Wesleyan) ended up playing in my conference and was one of the best players I played against in college, and he’s now doing some great things somewhere in France.
You were a 26 year old rookie battling 21 year old German Lennart Holsten who had more professional experience than you had. How did you see his development over the season and what kind of future do you see him having?
Oh Lenny – he’s a good dude. I think he could do some big things someday. It’s not common you see a 6’11” guy be able to move the way he does and slash from the wing. I really appreciate Lenny’s attitude and composure on the court. I liked working with him and mentoring him because I thought he and I were very similar in a lot of ways, and I could always count on him being able to keep his composure during the intense times. I think as he continues to progress in his shooting ability and scoring with his back to the basket, he will have some great opportunities to compete at a high level.
You had a strong rookie season playing 24 games averaging 16.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 64.1%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 67.2%. You needed no adjustment period. What do you feel was your secret to playing so well despite being out of basketball since 2013?
I think it was a combination of a lot of things. We had a lot of talent on our team (with 6 guys having 9ppg or more), so it took some time for everyone’s roles to be sorted out. I feel like I did a lot of the small things right, which helped lead to my personal success. I would watch extra film and do scouting, always taking care of my body well, getting the extra shots up, and working to get better each day and develop my skills. I have the John Wooden mindset of always being prepared and not having to use emotional energy surges to get motivated. I just always am doing whatever I need to do to prepare to be able to play at and stay at a high level consistently. I treat every day like an interview/tryout, so I know that every day I’m going to be bringing forth my A game. And also, some of the leagues I was playing in before I came over here were still some really good basketball, which helped keep me in good form.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You’re a 203cm forward. To what NBA player would you compare your game to and what are your biggest strength on the court?
I generally go with the Kevin Love comparison, probably more Minnesota style than Cleveland style though. I also say Doug McDermott, just because I used to play him in summer leagues and we have similar styles. I work to be able to be a triple threat offensively, hit the boards hard, and always play smart basketball. I feel like those guys have great minds for the game, and always find a way to add value in whatever situation they are in.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength that doesn´t always get noticed right away?
I like to think it’s my mental strength which can be shown in many different ways. The mental toughness, always making the right decision, leadership, and willingness to do the small things. The small details. The mentoring to younger players between plays, setting the tone with my defensive talk, and always being aware of what’s going on. I’ve always been trained to play with a next-play mentality, and you’ll never see me take any time to sulk or lose my composure when something doesn’t go our way. I’m always thinking about what the options on the court are and trying to find the best shot for the team. I also think it showed in my offensive transition and being ready and willing to run the floor hard. I got a couple of buckets per game this year in transition because I can beat the guys guarding me down the floor.
It´s no secret that your best game was against Bergedorf where you exploded for 50 points. Everything worked for you on this day. How quickly did you know in that game that something special would happen?
It happened pretty quickly. I think I hit 4 or 5 shots in a row and got into double digits within the first few minutes. Although, I didn’t realize quite how hot I was until my coach told me at halftime that I had 26 points, which was already higher than my season high. When the second half started the same way with more buckets in a row, I knew it was really going to be a special day.
Did you ever have a big point total like that in your career? What will you always remember most from this amazing game?
My junior year in college I had 40 on the road against one of the better teams in our league and helped us get a narrow victory, but that was the closest I’ve come to this before. This game was special not only because of the points, but also because my dad and stepmom were here visiting from the USA and got to see that game. They also had happened to be at the game where I had 40. Something about being on the road and having them in the stands must have an impact. I also remember when we came together as a team when I was in the 40’s and my teammates were set on helping me get to 50. It was cool that they were working hard to help me accomplish this special feat.
You hit 7 three´s on this night. Did you discover a new hidden strength in your game with that? Does an experience like that give you extra motivation to work on your three?
My previous high for 3’s in my career had been 5 in one game, which I had done a few times before. I’ve always grown up a shooter. Most people don’t realize this about me, but my height kind of came out of nowhere. My dad was an All-American shooting guard in high school and he played in college, and my family always thought I was going to stop growing at some point and end up being a guard. So I’d been trained to shoot, shoot, shoot ever since I was young. It’s a skill that comes in handy now as a 2.03m guy. I think that game and this season just helped me with the confidence to continue my development as a wing player as a whole, because I see a high potential for me to be a solid wing player, as well as post player.
What was the most enriching thing you could get out of your youth work with the TSV Neustadt temps Shooters? How do you feel did you make a difference most besides just giving your basketball expertise? What other attributes do you feel could you share with the kids 12-18?
I really appreciate being able to help out kids in that age group and be someone they can look up to. I went through some hard times when I was that age, so there’s a special place in my heart to help those kids out. The relationships I’ve built with different kids throughout the year through the church work or basketball nights will always be what I remember most. I love seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when you teach them the right way to shoot a basketball and then they start hitting shots. It’s an electric happiness that I always enjoy getting to be a part of. As a church leader, I also like being able to share with kids what has been the most important thing in my life, which isn’t basketball, but my relationship with Jesus Christ. The impact my faith has had on my life has far outweighed anything else, and I like being able to share that with the kids and hope they can have that experience as well.
What is the next step for you? Is your drive big enough to make the next step in a higher league or are you content with staying with the TSV Neustadt temps Shooters and working with kids and playing for little with the team?
I really want to be playing at the highest level I can and continue to show that I can add value to any organization, regardless of the level. I have already declined my offer to return to the Shooters, as I want to pursue playing in a higher league, whether here in Germany or in a different country. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience this year and the TSV Neustadt temps Shooters are a great organization with high potential, and I wish them nothing but the best. I also have other dreams and aspirations in life, such as entrepreneurship and other business ventures, and I’m blessed to have opportunities outside of basketball as well. It helps me not get complacent, because I know my options back home are better financially than they are here. It really helps drive me to continue to pursue the highest level for the love of the game and not be satisfied. I want to use every ounce of talent I have to help glorify God through basketball, and I know I could do that in a higher league.
You played at Hastings(NAIA). What kind of experience was this for you and what did you get most out of this experience basketball wise?
Hastings was a good basketball experience, but had its ups and downs. As I touched on before, I was plagued with some knee injuries that happened at the wrong time, never fully allowing me to get in my “flow” after my freshman year. It was a great experience as a whole, and allowed me to graduate with honors and get a great education, which is why I went there. I’d say basketball wise, I really learned to struggle through the adversity and keep confidence in myself, and trust in God’s plan even when things weren’t going the way I thought they were going to.
How did the (then) head coach Lance Creech help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
I got a lot of repetitions practicing my back to the basket skill work while at Hastings. We drilled every day on post moves, fakes, finishing around the rim, etc. That is the part I grew the most at there that has helped me in my pro game today. Even if some of the other aspects of my game aren’t flowing well, it’s always a good feeling knowing I can go do some work in the post and see the ball go in a few times to get the confidence up and keep excelling at the other parts of my game. That work definitely helped me to accomplish the 64% fgp this year.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Dylan Flinn?
Oh we would’ve needed a series to decide that – I’m not sure we ever even played 1 on 1. We have very different skillsets and both got the best of each other at times in practice. Strictly speaking just 1 on 1 though, I think my skills work a little better for that style and I would’ve got the W.
Who was the toughest player that you have battled at anytime in your career that is in the NBA or in a high league somewhere in the world?
So most people don’t know this, but both current NBA players Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott played together on the same high school team in Iowa. We played them in a summer league game when they were both sophomores in high school. Barnes was much more of a standout back then, but we didn’t know who he was until we looked him up after the game and saw he was the #2 recruit in his class nationwide. Also in my summer leagues in college, I would play against former top league European pros like Wes Wilkinson and Andrew Drevo. He would never remember this, but I remember one game going back and forth with Wes and holding my own very well. It was that night that I really knew I could play at this level.
If you had to construct your own personal NBA Rushmore which 4 heads old or new would you pick?
So I doubt anyone will agree with me on this, but my personal Rushmore (heavily influenced by who I got the chance to watch) would be: MJ, Lebron, Kevin Durant, and Shaq. MJ and Lebron for obvious reasons. KD has been my favorite player since he played at Texas and I had so much fun enjoying his game while he was with the Thunder (not as big of fan now). And Shaq was just the most dominant big man the league had seen. Watching his game and some of his highlights now just makes you watch in awe. Also, I’d put Nick Collison as an honorary member. The stat sheet won’t show the all-time greatness, but everything he does and the player he is is something I really admire. His brother and I battled in college, and I’ve been a big fan of him from the time he was a Jawhawk to his now retirement with the Thunder. There’s a documentary on him coming out tomorrow (June 9) that I think will really show people how he was a true professional and the consistent value he brings to a team.
What is the current state of Lebron James? What is your personal opinion where he ranks in the never ending debate of who is the greatest him or Michael Jordan?
As of today (Lebron just losing the 3rd game of the finals), I think Lebron is not going to be with Cleveland next year. He doesn’t owe them anything anymore, and wants to be somewhere he can have the players around him to win more championships. I don’t think it’s fair to say that since he lost so many times in the finals that he isn’t great. He made it there and displayed some superhuman things along the way. At this point, I don’t join the debate. Like you said, it’s never going to end, and I just really like getting to watch great basketball and appreciate Lebron’s greatness now. One being greater than the other shouldn’t take away from us being able to enjoy watching possibly the greatest player of all time play at his highest level right now.
Ex NBA player Tracy Mcgrady stated that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors in the east in the next years. Do you share his assessment?
That’s a tough one for me. On paper, you would absolutely think so with the return of Hayward and Kyrie. But I’ve seen teams before that are functioning really well, but then don’t play as well together when the “stars” come back. I don’t think there will be enough shots to go around, and it will take some great team attitude and coaching to have some of the guys who are playing so well right now step back into complementary roles. I’ll be interested to see what a team like Philly does next year in the East, as they are all playing together well right now with all their pieces, but all are just going to keep getting better and better individually.
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?
Man, there are so many variables to this scenario! My first thought was somewhere around 16 or 17 per game, but if people weren’t worried about him scoring, it would obviously close up some of those passing lanes. I really like how Lebron studies the game and likes to know the little things like how his teammates like to catch the ball and giving them his best chance for them to succeed. I think he could be successful playing full time at any position, even jumping leagues and being a wide receiver in the NFL.
What was the last movie that you saw? It can´t be Black Panther, because that is some months old already.
While I did see Black Panther, the last one I saw was Avengers Infinity War. I was on a short trip to see Berlin and I went in the theatre there. I always like to treat myself to a movie when I’m on vacation. I’m really interested to see how it all ends up because it definitely leaves you hanging and questioning everything. Thanks for the interview Miles. I really appreciate the time and effort to make it happen!
Thanks Jake for the chat.