The basketball world is huge and the influx of Cinderella stories that have occurred over time is as rampant as it is seeing how the NBA has gone from an offensive league to a crazy offensive infested league with teams putting up 140 points as if they had Lebron´s and Steph´s secretly parading in masks for them. The examples are huge of guys going from the bottom to the top like currently Golden State Warrior´s 203cm forward Alfonso Mckinnie who was making 1,500$ only a few years ago in the second Luxemburg league and now is teammates with Draymond Greene and Mr few touches equals many points Klay Thompson.Especially in Germany one has often seen guys move from the Regionalliga to the top division BBL over the last years like a Steve Wachalski or from the Pro B his new teammate Deandre Lansdowne. Then again there are guys like a Brayon Blake who was at the peak in 2014 winning the Washington high school state championship with top school Garfield that boasted great basketball alumni like Brandon Roy or Tony Wroten, but only a half year later wasn´t teammates with current Euroleague player with Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus Nigel Williams Goss at Washington or with current Indiana Pacer Domantas Sabonis at Gonzaga, but instead was living in Sierra Viste a small rural town with 43,000 plus habitants and playing for Cochise CC which was about as far away from the NCAA as he was from ever being able to perform a guitar solo the way the legendary Jimi Hendrix could of who is one of the most notable alumnists form Garfieldhigh. But he worked his butt of and via N.Idaho JC (JUCO) and then played his last two years of ball at Idaho(NCAA) putting up great numbers as a senior that may have gotten him drafted by the NBA had he played in a higher conferencethan the All-Big Sky. “I had a huge chip on shoulder because I wanted to prove to people my skills and that’s what I did. I just never got content with awards and accolades I wanted more so I kept working hard each day and that’s why my numbers are like that. I just tried to get a little better each season”,stressed Brayon Blake. He then breathed some NBA air over the summer of NBA Summer league with the Cleveland Cavaliers and now is playing in one of Europe´s top leagues the easyCredit BBL with theBasketball Lowen Braunschweig. He now can exchange basketball stories withteammate Deandre Lansdowne and compare who´s chips had had more weight on their shoulders as he now is about as far away from Sierra Viste is as his new teamin Germany is from making the playoffs. This is the fascinating story of ayoung American basketball player with Brayon Blake who has seen a lot in his young career as his Cinderella story continues with this up and coming playerlooking to continue to rise through the ranks in Europe and beyond.
Blake is a 22 year old 201cm forward from Seattle Washington that is playing his rookie season in Germany with the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. He played atthe well known Washington state high school Garfield winning the state title in 2014. Instead of going to an NCAA school, he had to start at the bottom and played with Cochise CC (JUCO). However he didn´t sink his head in the sand andmope over the conditions, but decided right away to give his all and work his way up to the NCAA. He left a lasting impression as a freshman playing 30 games averaging 16.4ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 64.4%. This strong season got the attention of N.Idaho JC (JUCO) where he would play his sophomore season. It seemed like another step backwards as he had to prove himself againat the JUCO level, but his mentality didn´t suffer as he put up huge stats in 32 games averaging 21.2ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 67.6%. There was no three´s a charm as after two seasons, he finally got that opportunity to show everyone in the NCAA that he was for real. He lists ex Brooklyn Net Jacob Wileyas his toughest cover in the NCAA played his last two years at Idaho (NCAA)playing a total of 63 games. He was able to improve his scoring and rebounding from his junior season to senior season from 10,0 and 6,1rpg to 17,0ppg and 9,6rpg and was a perfect example of how not becoming a couch potato over the summer did wonders for his game in the NCAA. “I watched a ton of film of my junior year and saw where I can be effective on the court. Like I’ve said multiple times I just try to get a little better in whatever it is each year and that summer showed my hard work that I’ve put in and it helped me have a successful senior year”, stressed Brayon Blake. He became more of a versatilebig man as his three point shooting really took of as a senior as he shot 45% coming from 27% as a junior as it was a combination of more reps and better shot selection.” Putting up many reps builds your confidence as a playerbecause you know you’ve been putting in the time and it will for sure pay off.I’m a good shooter I just had to continue to get as many reps as I can to buildthe muscle memory so that it becomes easy for me”, warned Brayon Blake. In his junior season he scored in double figures in 17 games including having a 20 point game against Montana State and as a senior scored in double figures in 26 games and registered 12 double doubles. He scored 20 points or more 11 times and remembers his 27 point and 11 rebound explosion in the exciting 79-77 winover Montana as one of his fondest. “It for sure is up at that top of the list just because Montana was undefeated at the time and we didn’t back down at all and it showed. I would say my number one most memorable game would have to be senior night against southern Utah, I hit the game winner in front of my family and friends that never seen me play live. That was a good feeling to do that and send my year off with a bang”, said Brayon Blake. He also remembered coaches Don Verlin and Kirk Earkywine at Idaho State as being very instrumental for him taking the right development and becoming the player he is today. “They coached all of us as professionals because that was the next step for us. Treated us as professionals not students which is very good because now everything on this level is familiar and I’m used to it because I’ve been coached like that coming out of college. Two great coaches that know lots about the game and I truly thank those guys for giving me the opportunity for playing for the University of Idaho”, stressed Brayon Blake.
Blake showed at Idaho that he could play with anyone and put up staggering stats as a senior and was rewarded with a NBASummer League invitation from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He didn´t only have to compete with other young prospects, but also felt the challenge of being among other players that had already played in the NBA like Jamel Artis,John Holland,Cedi Osman,Okaro White and Ante Zizic. He didn´t get many minutes, but still got into six games averaging 2,5ppg and 2,5rpg. It was a great experience to see where his game was after the NCAA and on what things he still needed to work on as he was nearing his rookie season. “This was huge for me playing in the NBA summer league. You know as a kid you dream to be on that stage playing the game you love and I was able to do so. I learned a lot from the coaching staff and players throughout my weeks playing for the Cavs. They just told me to keep working hard and the rest will take care of itself they liked what I brought to the table it just wasn’t my time and I totally understand that. They liked my progression during my time with the team and I thank the Cavs for giving me that opportunity. Guys I can call on for any advice and help with my game”, stressed Brayon Blake. Of the players he was teammates of with the Cavs this past summer, it was Artis and White that had the biggest impact on him. “These guys have NBA experience and that’s where I’m trying to be I would ask those guys millions of questions each day just about the little things that goes on in a game. Most definitely two individuals I can call on if I need any help or any advice. My time with them was very great had lots of fun together and competing against each other”, warned Brayon Blake.
After the NBA Summer league, he didn´t have much time to rest or relax as Europe was calling. He signed a deal with easyCredit BBL team Basketball Lowen Braunschweig that have belonged to the lower tier teams in the league, but had success 10 years ago reaching the playoffs on a few occasions. It´s claim to fame at the moment is that it is the organization where NBA player Dennis Schroeder started his career and now is a part owner of. Braunschweig is the perfect place for an ambitious and hungry rookie looking to make the next step. For him it wasn´t difficult coming to a country like Germany as he had heard good things about the league and also remembered two friends having played here with Bryce Leavitt and SterlingCarter. “I didn’t really know much about Germany besides they have really good food here which is good to me because I love eating and trying new foods. The basketball here is one of top in world there’s lots of great players that come out of Germany and they know a lot about the game especially starting at a young age. Also they’re some Germans playing in the NBA representing the country very well. I got lots of information about the pro level from alot guys in the NBA this summer and also guys that I’ve met and have had a good relationship with over my lifetime”, added Brayon Blake. One thing that stoodout right away about Brayon Blake was his character. He had very nice words of thank for getting the opportunity to play for the Lowen and it was genuine and from the heart. One really had the feeling that the American has remained very grounded not taking anything for granted as he experienced a lot of highs and lows during school the last years. “I’m blessed and extremely thankful to be in this position, coming from where I come from and battling through all the adversity I’ve been through you cherish every moment you can because you realize that everything you’ve been through your not supposed to be here. I beat all the odds, silenced all the critics that said I wouldn’t make it and I made it to be a professional by hard work and pure simplified work. A lot of people helped me to get here in this position and I’m extremely thankful for them, I’ve been through a lot and the thing that kept me going was I wanted to tell my story to the world and let people know who’s struggling with life that they can keep fighting through whatever to go make their dreams become a reality”, warned Brayon Blake. Everything fit for the American to name Germany and Braunschweig his new home especially feeling that special early connection with head coach Frank Menz. “Coach Frank was very honest from the beginning and as a player that’s all you want from a coach is a honest relationship and one that’s going to shoot it straight to you and he told me what he needed for this season and I said I’m ready to work and do whatever you need. The thing tha tmade me say I wanted to play here was the chemistry me and coach Frank made by talking on the phone every day and watching film of the team. I felt like this was the best fit for me based on the style of play and the team personal”,commented Brayon Blake. He was also content that his abilities were something that nobody had seen before in Braunschweig and something that no other player brought to the table this season. “I bring high intensity and a motor to the game that I think makes me different from lots of players. My passion for the game shows on the court and that’s how I always played the game of basketball extremely hard like it’s my last”, warned Brayon Blake.
It hasn´t been the best startfor the Basketball Lowen Braunsvhweig as they are currently in 12thplace with a 3-5 record. They lost their first five games including two tight games to the Telekom Baskets Bonn and by one point to medi Bayreuth. However the easyCredit BBL is known as a league where anybody can beat anybody as Braunschweig showed dismantling top team Brose Bamberg 92-66 a few weeks ago. Blake is the youngest American on the team and has some talented and experienced teammates with Scot Eatherton, Deandre Lansdowne and Joe Rahon as well as talented German Christian Sengfelder who also arrived from the NCAA from Boise State and Austrian national player Thoma Klepeisz. As a rookie it is never a cake walk to just come in and dominate right away, but the American has that healthy confidence and special work ethic that should be able to carry him to a long career. “As a basketball player you should always have controlled confidence because all the late nights and unseen hours I put in that nobody sees is going to pay off. I work very hard on my craft trying to get a little better every day and remain positive. I’m very confident that I will be an impact player in the top 5 league I don’t know when it be could be this year,next year etc. I’m just going to keep working hard and let my game talk for itself I think it’s better that way. We’ve been working extremely hard together trying to improve our record from last season and I think we have a good chanceto surprise a lot of people in this league”, warned Brayon Blake. He was a player that especially at Idaho(NCAA) not only put up consistent points and rebounds, but was also that special player that always had that knack of making the big play at the most vital time and hopes that that will continue to be as a professional.” It’s not challenging at all for me. I just go out and play hard and prepare myself for whatever may come in a game. I think my preparation is very key because practicing different key situations will have you ready for whatever comes in a game and doing so I’m able to overcome it. I just love the game and respect everything that comes with it, I work extremely hard and I’m never content I want to keep striving to be better and doing that good things happen out of it”, warned Brayon Blake.
So far this season theAmerican is still trying to find himself as through eight games he is averaging 24 minutes per game, 9,0ppg,3,3rpg, 1,1apg and 1,0spg and is shooting 31% from outside. So far he hasn´t been that big rebound monster, but if the effort is always there then only good things will result in time. “I work hard to make sure I’m in the best shape so I’m able to attack the glass the whole game and doing that I’m able to rack up a bunch of rebounds. It’s pretty fun to go chase after rebounds and snatch it down like a man, I love that feeling. I’ve always been a great rebounder because of my effort and high motor”, stressed Brayon Blake. Even if his offense a tIdaho(NCAA)was his biggest strength, it is his defense that is still something that is developing and where he seems to be a late bloomer. “I take lots of pride in my defense and that’s one thing coach Frank challenged me on this year is my defense. I’m a great defender just wasn’t able to show it in college because I was classified as a big. I love being able to lock up the player your matched up against and also the team. Playing good hard defense is a good thing for the team because you get steals and transition points. I’m a good defensive player but couldn’t really show that during my college career. I think I can make reads and big plays on the defensive end and people really don’t see that but if you watch film I think that’s one thing people can notice for sure”, warned Brayon Blake. He has scored in double figures in four games with a 14 point game against Vechta and 12 point game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn. He also was solid in the big win against Bamberg scoring 9 points on 4/6 shooting, grabbing 3 rebounds, blocking two shots and getting 3 steals. In the last weeks, he has been more consistent and been a big factor in the team´s current 3 game winning streak. He produced 14 points in the win over Wurzburg and 15 points in the victory over MBC. It is still early and he doesn´t have the huge monster stats, but he has shown versatility and can fill the stat sheet. He has made a good impression on the coaching staff and they are content that his game will continue to grow this season. “Brayon is an athletic player that has a good three pointer. He is a nice young man that is diligent and works hard. He came to us highly motivated and trained like crazy and had a good pre-season. He went into the season expecting to win everything, but he then realized just how competitive the BBL is. He has to learn that it´s not only about stopping your man, but helping others. If he can get better with his decision making, rebounding and play away from the ball then he could become a very good BBL player. I am convinced he will average double figures in points by the end of the season”, warned Basketball Lowen Braunschweig assistant coach Steven Clauss. One thing that will never hurt Blake´s stay in Braunschweig is his attitude. He knows what he has to do to be successful this season. “I’m just trying to be the best playerI can be and learn a lot from the vets and players that have been here. I don’twant to compare my game to anyone I want do a little bit of everything and be different and show people my true talent”, warned Brayon Blake. One thing is for sure he has no rush or time table for him to perform great right away and there is no pressure of midnight popping up out of nowhere, because his Cinderella story is long from over as he has arrived in one of Europe´s top leagues and continues to look to rise as a professional.