Erik Durham is a 24 year old 193cm guard from Springfield Missouri is playing his second professional season and first in Germany with the EN Baskets Schwelm currently averaging 12,0ppg, 4,0rpg and 1,5apg after 2 games. Last season as a rookie he played with Levitec Huesca (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 12 games averaging 3.8ppg, 1.3rpg. He began his basketball career at Parkview high school and then played at Lamar St.CC (JUCO) from 2013-2015 playing a total of 62 games. He then played at Jacksonville St. (NCAA) form 2015-2017 playing a total of 56 games and as a senior played 34 games averaging 10.7ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 57.0%, 3PT: 47.0%, FT: 66.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com earlier in the summer.
Erik thanks for talking togermanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer coming along?
I am currently in my hometown Springfield, Missouri preparing for the upcoming season. My summer has been well spent and I have enjoyed it.
Congrats on signing with German Pro B team EN Baskets Schwelm. After playing your rookie season with Levitec Huesca (Spain-LEB Gold) where you didn’t find ample minutes, what was your main goal coming into this summer’s transfer period that would best put you into a positive situation in your second professional season?
Thank you I appreciate that. My main goal this summer was to just work on my strength and to stay in the gym working on my game. I’m really looking forward to meeting the guys and being able to try and win games this season.
You have joined the EN Baskets Schwelm. They are a team that once played in the highest German class. What were the main reasons for you joining the team. What did you see most positive about the club?
My main reason for joining the team was their interest in my career and how it plays out. They want me to be successful as a player and they were very welcoming. I believe we will have a family atmosphere and that’s what I look forward to most is being on a team wanting to play as one.
After having a very solid career at Jacksonville State and then going into your rookie season where things didn’t work out as well, do you have a chip on your shoulder at the moment to prove a lot of people wrong?
I just am blessed and happy to be able to play a sport that I love. I look to win games this season and most importantly help the team compete towards winning a championship.
EN Baskets Schwelm head coach Falk Moeller is very high on your game saying you are very motivated coming to Germany. The Leb Gold is a very respected league and at a higher level than the Pro B. Do you feel pressure coming in and do you feel like you can be an impact player in this league?
I believe that Coach has a great mindset and is wanting me to be able to show what I am capable of doing. My shooting ability is what I plan on being an impact for the team. I cannot wait for our first practice and really get after it with Coach and the guys.
Let’s talk about your game. You a very skilled versatile offensive player. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit how you play the game? Would Steph Curry be a fair comparison since seventh grade you have been impressed with him ever since he scored 128 points in 4 games leading Davidson (NCAA) to the Elite 8?
I watch and try to work on things that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson do to get their shots off.
Being an elite scorer takes many reps and time in the gym. Your shooting really stands out as you shot a great 47% from outside as a senior at Jacksonville State. Do you feel like you can be a 40% shooter from outside as a professional as you get better adjusted to the European style?
I do believe that I can shoot 40% and I am going to really show that I can do that. I have many goals this season on improving my stats but most importantly my goal is to win games with my team.
You stated this in your senior year at Jacksonville State. ‘A lot of shots have been put up and many nights of shooting even when I’m not hitting has helped me become a better shooter. The efficiency has come from shooting until I literally can’t put up another shot. So much shooting makes putting up a three feel like second nature’. How would you like to see your shot development progress through the professional ranks?
I just would like it to be known as a versatile shooter that can put it up in anyway. Efficiency is a main objective of mine and making the majority of the shots I take.
You have a very versatile game. You’re a strong rebounder and good passer especially on the pick and roll, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court?
I believe that my ability to hustle and play defense is a hidden strength of mine. If I am set out to not let the other player score I will play my heart out to make sure that doesn’t happen.
You came out of Jacksonville State as a decorated leader. How tough was your rookie season in general. What did you learn from that season that will help you be a better player in Germany?
It was hard to adjust to not being the older player out there and being the youngest. I have learned to be more tough and adjust to the strength and speed of the game.
You then joined Levitec Huesca (Spain-LEB Gold) midway in the season playing only 12 games averaging 3.8ppg, 1.3rpg. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Spain where you knew that you were very far away from home?
My wake up call was just the speed of the game in that league. You are constantly moving and sliding. It has really helped my game improve a lot.
You lived in a very beautiful place not far from Barcelona, Zaragossa or Pamplona. What memories did you get from the country that you will forever have locked in your mind?
The people of Spain were very kind and treated me very well. I enjoyed the fans and just the country itself.
You started your collegiate career with Lamar St.CC (JUCO) where you played two seasons. How important was this time for you to withstand hardships as no one recruited you coming from Parkview high school despite averaging 25,3 points per game? Are Tre Bennett and Jamal Shabazz brothers for life?
This time in my life helped form who I am as a player. Tre and Jamal were there for me from the start. They really had me under their wings and had shown me the ins and outs of playing college basketball. They will forever be family to me and I am grateful for life.
You probably still have many great memories of winning the OVC tournament against Tennessee-Martin where you scored 17 points on 6/9 shooting. Is there a particular play that you will always remember from this great victory.
Just when the buzzer went off and seeing all the smiles on my coaches and teammates faces is an image I will never forget.
In school you had three different coaches, but how did Ray Harper give you that last important touch grooming and preparing you for a professional basketball career?
He came in with a different energy to him. He made me excited after the first day I met him to play for him. He has a winning attitude and has shown me how to really have one of my own. The whole coaching staff are great men and Tommy Wade is a special guy.
What did you learn about yourself as a player after the tough 78-63 loss to Louisville in the first round of the NCAA tournament where you only scored 2 points in 36 minutes on 2 shots.
I just learned that I could fight for something enough to make it through the obstacles to make I to that point. Me and my teammates accomplished our goal and we did it together.
In your last NCAA game you went head to head against future NBA player Donovan Mitchell. Does his game make you want to grind harder every new day and can one get near a guys level like that or does he just have a little more skill than most players?
Just seeing what he has accomplished in the NBA to me is amazing. I think it’s cool how he has came in as an underdog and turned the world into believers.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Greg Tucker?
We always battled it out when we guarded each other. I have nothing but respect for him and I would say it was a tie. We brought out the best in each other and I enjoyed playing with him.
You played against many talented players in your career, but who was your toughest opponent that reached the NBA or is in Europe?
This one I don’t know.
Thanks Erik for the chat.