Andrew Barnum is a 28 year old 198cm forward from Memphis, Tennessee that is playing his fifth professional season and first in Germany with the Hamburg Towers (Germany-ProA). He has been an instrumental player in the club having a 11-4 record and sitting in second place of the pro A standings leading the club is scoring at 16,8ppg, 4,1rpg and 1,8apg while shooting 38% from outside. Last season he played with the Maine Red Claws (NBA G-League) playing 37 games averaging 4.9ppg, 2.8rpg. In his previous four professional seasons he gathered experience in Japan, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. He began his basketball career with Christian Brothers High School and then played two seasons at Memphis (NCAA) playing 49 NCAA games. He finished his NCAA career at Gonzaga playing two seasons from 2012-2014 amassing a total of 65 NCAA games and as a senior played 36 games averaging 6.3ppg, 3.0rpg, FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 48%, FT: 64.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before the season started.
Drew thanks for talking to germanhoops.com How was your summer?
Summer was great. The NBA G-league season finishes early so I got a lot of time to work on my game and improve. I have arrived in Hamburg, Germany.
Your playing your fifth professional season and can be charachterized as a globetrotter having played in Japan, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary in only your first three seasons. You have seen a lot, but do you have any idea that you will be living in one of Germany’s most beautiful cities with Hamburg?
I did not. It is truly a beautiful city and a great club. I am excited not only to live in Germany but to take part in the season with great teammates and coaches/management.
Some years ago your new head coach Mike Taylor spent some time at Gonzaga and remembers your positive character and the way you treated your teammates then. What do you remember positively sticking in your mind about how Mike Taylor presented himself there?
First of all, he is extremely positive and genuinely cares about the people he coaches. This is why he visited Gonzaga. He is a hard worker and really understands the game of basketball. He gives you his all into making you and your team a better group. Nothing but respect for him.
Congrats on signing with the Hamburg Towers. The club is very high on your abilities and character and Mike Taylor had seen you play before. Besides Mike Taylor what were other deciding factors that made you want to play for the Hamburg Towers?
I thought it was a good situation for me at the place I am at, in my career. Secondly, I want to win and Hamburg has the same goals to win and move up to first league.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? How excited are you to be battling former Gonzaga teammate Kyle Drangnis this season?
I have a lot of former teammates and friends playing in Germany. All of them had positive things to say about the quality of basketball and Germany as a country.
He is already talking some smack so I can’t wait to play him and his team. The weekend before I arrived in Hamburg, Kyle and I were groomsmen in a wedding together so we have had plenty of conversations.
With what kind of feeling are you coming to Germany. You played in the G-League last season not being that offensive force due to a lack of minutes. Do you feel pressure coming back to Europe and needing to prove yourself?
I don’t feel any pressure. The G-League is a very talented league and can be difficult for people if you are not a selfish player. I am just happy to be doing what I love, and confident in my abilities to help Hamburg.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a versatile player that is a team player and has a dangerous shot. If you had to pick an NBA player that best describes how you play who would best fit that description?
The three players I watch the most and try to implement my game after are Mike Miller, Klay Thompson, and Gordon Hayward.
You last shot over 40% in your senior year at Gonzaga at 46%. Since then you were close twice at the 40% mark shooting 39% in the Czech Republic and Romania. How much of a daily challenge is it for you to do what is needed to get your shooting at 40% or over?
I shoot when I’m hot, and shoot to get hot. A lot of the %’s has to do with the quality of the shots and the difficulty of them. But shooters shoot, so I don’t concentrate too much on the % but trying to get the best shot up and in to help my team.
You’re a player that can fill up the stat sheet at ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court?
I think a hidden gem is sneaky athletic and knowing where to be on the court at the right times. Whether that is spacing in the corner to give the big man room to work drawing the defense out because of my shot or being in the correct spot on defense.
How refreshing was it coming back to the states after three years overseas and playing in the G-League. You didn’t play as much as you would have liked. What kind of experience was it and would you try the G-League again or has that route ended for you?
I was nice to be able to go home and see my family and my sisters’ kids for a year. I had been gone a while and it was a good experience for me. I was able to do some workouts with the Celtics and learned a lot.
In 2016-2017 you split the season with BC Mures Targu-Mures (Romanian Liga Nationala) playing 13 games averaging 13.2ppg, 5.9rpg, 3.1apg, 2FGP: 41.3%, 3FGP: 39.8%, FT: 73.3%; FIBA Europe Cup: 7 games: 9.4ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.7apg, 2FGP: 32.1%, 3FGP: 40.6%, FT: 81.8%, in Jan.’17 moved to Falco KC Szombathely (Hungary-A Division) playing 33 games averaging 8.4ppg, 5.3rpg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 62.7%. Was reaching the Hungarian final which made the season all in all a positive one in the end?
Yes, it is always good to play for a championship! We had a great team in Hungary and it took me a little while to carve out time and establish myself in the middle of the season. I was a major contributor by the end and helped our team make it to the championship.
In your second professional season you played with SLUNETA Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic-NBL) playing 41 games averaging 14.1ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 81.2%. This was your strongest season on the court. What memories do you have of your breakout season in Europe. You scorched Brno for 33 points and lost 112-67 to top Czech team Nymburk scoring 19 points.
This is where I added a lot to my game and became more than just a great shooter. It was fun to get to play a different role and really work on my game to improve for the next season. It was my building year.
As a rookie you played with Oita Heat Devils (Japan-BJ League) playing 52 games averaging 9.6ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 74.0%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Japan where you knew that you were very far away from home?
Very little English was spoken unless it was my translator. It was a real wake up call for me to truly be on my own and figure things out.
There were three other Americans on the team in your rookie season, but all had had previous professional experience. How important was Todd O’Brien in your rookie season for you getting through it well?
Todd was huge! He showed me how to be a true professional and exactly what European basketball was all about. He is one of the main reasons I have had the success I have had.
You started your NCCA career with Memphis (NCAA) and played in your hometown from 2009-2011 playing a total of 49 games. You played for Josh Pastner after the well known John Calipari left. Have you ever wondered after what may have happened in your case had Calipari remained?
Calipari had his own players coming in. If he had stayed, I would have gone to play for Brad Stevens at Butler which I think would have been a good move for me.
Were you impressed amazed or dazzled by freshman Will Barton in your last season there. Would you ever have thought that he would become such a good and consistent NBA player?
I matched up with him every day in practice for 2 years. He always dazzled and played his own unique game. We had many battles against each other. I knew he would be this good if he found an NBA system that gave him freedom to be creative.
You then was with Gonzaga from 2011-2014 playing the seasons from 2012-2014. In your first season you were teammates with Germans Elias Harris and Mathis Monninghoff. What do you remember impressing you most about their games back then?
I actually came in the year Mathis left Gonzaga. But Elias was an elite level talent. He had the whole package. I wish he would have stuck in the NBA. Elias is an even better person and friend.
You had your best season as a senior at Gonzaga averaging 6.3ppg, 3.0rpg, FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 48%, FT: 64.7%. You were the best three point shooter on the team. What was your secret that season you having the most accurate shot from outside?
Let It Fly! And I had great teammates and coaches who put in the right positions to succeed.
Your ex teammate Kevin Pangos has had been climbing the basketball ladder for years and has reached FC Barcelona in his fourth season. Do you feel he can follow teammate David Stockton and get that NBA chance down the road?
Yes! For sure, Kevin is a NBA player who just isn’t in the NBA yet. He will be there in a couple years. Plus he is my best friend
How did head coach Mark Few groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He taught me how to play the game and the fundamentals. He is a Hall of Fame coach and I grew exponentially under him!
Who won a one on one in practice you or Kyle Drangnis?
Me of course!!
You played against so many great players at the NCAA level, but which player was your toughest opponent that is in the NBA now?
I think the best I played against was Aaron Gordon or John Wall.
How Did your 2018 summer work out plan look like? On what things will you be working on most so you will be fully prepared for your rookie season?
I really worked on ball handling. Shooting full speed of screens. And sharpening up the little parts of my game.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
Larry Bird. Pistol Pete Maravich. Klay Thompson. Mike Miller.
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan?
Jordan. Has 6 rings and has a better jump shot!
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening? 100%.
They have the best young talent in the NBA and they have, in my opinion, the best coach in the NBA. They will be dominant for many years to come.
Deandre Ayton was the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. Do you feel that from sheer talent and experience that Luca Doncic should have been the real #1 draft pick?
Ayton has the better physical body, but Doncic is the better basketball player for sure! Best talent in the draft with out a doubt. He will have a great career there.
How did you follow the 2018 NBA Draft? How cool is it having two Germans being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers? Yes!
I really followed people from my college and people I was friends with. Fun to watch people’s dreams come true.
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?
He is the best in the game right now. I believe him being such a threat to score helps his passing, with people focusing on him. But he could easily average 10 assists.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
Haha! Actually I have not seen Black Panther yet. The last movie I watched was ‘I can only imagine.’ Great movie.
Thanks Drew for the chat