Mitchell Wilbekin is a 23 year old 188cm point guard form Gainesville Florida playing his rookie season with Sakarya Buyuksehir Basketbol (Turkey-BSL). He reached Europe after a stellar four year career at Wake Forest from 2014-2018 where he played 119 NCAA games. In his senior season he played 27 games averaging 8.6ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 33.8%, 3PT: 42.5%, FT: 81.0%. Seven months ago germanhoops.com had the pleasure of talking to Scottie Wilbekin after he dropped 41 points on FC Bayern Munich in a Eurocup game and now it was time for a chat with his brother Mitchell. He spoke to germanhoops.com before the Fiba Europe Cup game against s.Oliver Wurzburg
Mitchell thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Welcome to Germany. Is this your first time in Germany? What has been your impression of it?
This is my first time in Germany. It’s a cool country. It’s always nice to see different parts of the country.
What do you know about the country Germany and it’s basketball?
Well the first thought is Dirk Nowitzki. He has been a big part of German basketball in the last 20 years. Also I have heard that Germany has good teams and talent
7 months ago your brother Scottie set a Euro Cup record scoring 41 points in a win in Munich. Do you remember hearing your brother’s version of the feat last summer?
Yeh I did talk to him a bit about that game. He felt like he was in the zone that night and that he couldn’t miss anything.
Your playing your rookie season with Sakarya Buyuksehir Basketbol (Turkey-BSL). What has been your early experiences with the Turkish culture and the basketball?
It’s been great and a real learning experience. It’s my first year and I’m just trying to soak in as much as possible. I have a great coach. My goal is work as hard as possible each day and learn as much as possible each day to get better. Unfortunally I haven’t played as much as I would have liked. You can tell that the fans really love basketball in Turkey.
How beneficial has it been having ex NBA player Toney Douglas on board. Has he been like a mentor for you in the early going?
It has been very beneficial being his teammate. He is a veteran that played in the NBA. He has helped me slow down the game, be patient and not rush anything. He has helped me see the game in a different way.
There two other rookies on the team with Alan Herndon and Junior Etou. Has their existence made the adjustment period a little easier for you knowing there are other guys around in the same boat as you?
Yes the adjustment period has been easier with them around. They have been great teammates. We go through the same things as rookies and help each other adjust. We hang out a lot. The experience has been cool.
You have gotten sparse minutes so far. How tough have the first few months been for you?
For sure it has been tough for me. Like I said before I just try to learn as much as possible and just try to do as much as possible in the minutes I get to help my team win.
How confident are you that you will begin to see more minutes in the future?
I’m confident I will get more minute, but it is not me to decide. I just will continue to work hard in practice and do the best I can in games. I have to be always ready when my name is called.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 188cm shooting guard that is an exceptional shooter. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description.
Lebron James. No just kidding. I never have thought about it and can’t answer the question. I’m a guard that can shoot, get my team involved and run my team.
At Wake Forest you were known for the long ball, taking good care of the ball and just being efficient. What other strengths does your game encompass?
I’m a player that can get my team involved, can penetrate off the ball screen, shoot and make the right plays.
You’re a player that can do a lot on the court well, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t always get noticed right away?
I think that I’m a solid defender with bigger guards. But I want to get better when they switch and a bigger guard is on me. I want to get bigger so playing against bigger guards will be easier.
You also have been known as being a very good teammate. After starting every game as a freshman and sophomore, you had to come from the bench as a junior. Was there anybody besides your parents that helped shape your character development growing UP
It was mostly my parents. They did a good job with me and my brothers. They were a bit strict with me, but they molded me into the man that I am today. I am very thankful for all my parents have done for me. My brother Scottie also has been great. I can always talk with him and can always ask him questions about basketball or life
Has it been difficult growing up in the shadow of your brother Scottie Wilbekin? How is your relationship as is he the perfect big brother that you always wanted to have?
To be honest it hasn’t been difficult. It hasn’t been difficult being the brother of my younger brother, being the son of my dad or mother. We love each other and he has helped me so much in my life.
What do you appreciate most from your brother’s game and has his guidance over the years helped your game get better?
I appreciate the most having been able to play with him while growing up. At the beginning he was always stronger and older. I had to work extra hard and he always gave me pointers along the way helping my game. We don’t always talk about basketball, but talk about life in general. He has always been there for me as my big brother and it is a lot of the little things that he helps me with. He been through so much. So anything that I can bounce off of him is a big help for me.
You played at Wake Forest from 2014-2018. Was reaching the NCAA tournament in 2017 your fondest memory and playing Kansas State?
Yes it was. Getting to the NCAA is what we all play for. I was fortunate to get there my junior year. I would like to have gotten farther and won a few more games, but It was a great experience that many players don’t get.
You were a very consistent player in your Wake Forest career averaging around 7,0ppg through the four years .Didn’t ever bother you that stats didn’t rise each year like it does for other guys?
No it didn’t bother me.
Was the 88-81 win against Louisville where you netted 11 points and hit a late three to secure the NCAA tournament one of your favorite personal moments?
Yes that was a great memory. That was a big game that we needed to win. Also playing in the NCAA tournament and getting a third place at the Maui invitational in Hawaii were nice memories.
How did head coach Danny Manning groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
All coaches helped me. Most of them played professional so they ran the program in a professional way. There was constant preparation for life after. They demanded a lot and made us ready.
Who wins a one on one on one in practice you or your brother Scottie Willbekin?
What do you want me to say? I will always take myself and I hope my brother would do the same.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Grayson Allen was always tough, but the toughest would be Dennis Smith Jr. He was so athletic and the guy at North Carolina State. He was the main part of their offense.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
Lebron James period.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Mitchell for the chat.