Kellon Thomas is a 25 year old 180cm point guard from Indianapolis, Indiana playing his rookie season in Germany with EVL Baskets Limburg (Germany-2.Regionalliga). Currently at the mid season mark, he has led the team to a 8-3 record averaging 32,0ppg, 6,0rpg and 5,0apg. He began his basketball career at Southport High School and in his senior year averaged 21.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.3apg and also played quarterback on Southport’s football team. He began his NCAA career in 2012 and played four years there playing 106 games. His best season was his last season where he played 32 games averaging 12.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 72.6%. He played on emore year of ball at IUPUI (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 9.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 35.1%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 90.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball before the start of the season.
Hi Kellon thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
Hey Miles, I am in Limburg Germany at the moment.
Congrats on signing with German Regionalliga 2 team EVL Limburg. You could have been a rookie last season but wasn’t. What were the reasons for not being a rookie? Did you need time to find yourself or didn’t the right offers come?
Last year I sat out and didn’t play because of issues with my previous agent. It was a misunderstanding.
There are so many players in the world and also a lot of teams, but still many more players. Do you feel after looking back at your NCAA career where you averaged 12,3ppg at a very good basketball institution and Kent State that teams in general didn’t see your true abilities until now with EVL Limburg head coach Danny Stahlbohm?
When I played at Kent State, I had my best year stats wise and I think some people or coaches do not understand the sacrifices some players have to make for their teams. Just because a player doesn’t average big numbers, doesn’t mean he isn’t capable. It just means he did what the coach told him to do or whatever was needed for the team to win.
You will be starting your professional career in the German fifth league. Your obviousoey very blessed to get this huge opportunity to present your skills, but still does the chip on your shoulder keep growing as you have to start from far back compared to many other guys that play in higher leagues and get more pay, but in many cases aren’t any more skilled than you are?
I am blessed with the opportunity and I thank God and coach Danny for allowing this to happen. My goal is to move up in the top league and be very successful there. I do not really like to compare myself to other players because everyone comes from a different background in basketball and I know what I am capable of and will just have to prove it to the world.
Talk a little about how you and EVL Limburg came together? I can imagine that coach Danny contacted you and the rest was history?
The Deal with EVL came together when Coach Danny and I reached out to each other and decided this would be the best fit for both of us.
How vital was your last coach Jason Gardner from IUPUI (NCAA) in getting your interest in possibly playing in Germany? He had a great career in Germany with the EWE Baskets winning a title in 2009.
Jason Gardner played a big part of the recruitment process. He has been a great mentor for me ever since I started with IUPUI. I owe a lot to him.
What were the main reasons for getting sold on EVL Limburg? Did you adore the coaching philosophy of coach Danny and what he has planned for you?
I wanted to play for coach Danny because he was a genuine guy who didn’t just tell me what I wanted to hear. We both discussed the importance of my role on the team and I knew this would be a good situation for me to begin my career after sitting out a year.
Over the last years EVL Limburg have American guards that have dominated and put up big stats in the Regionalliga. You will be playing one step lower than where they were the last six years. You should dominate the league. How excited are you to have the team in your hands and do you feel any pressure?
I am excited to play and to get out there with my teammates. I have never been a player to underestimate anyone so I will play with the same aggression and hunger that I have always had plus more since I have something to prove. I do not feel any pressure because this is what I have been preparing my whole life for. I worked really hard this offseason and it will pay off.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a small point guard at 180cm and there have been many fascinating guys show their stuff in the NBA. If you had to compare your game and style to an NBA player who would best fit the way you play?
If I had to compare my game it would be more of a Nate Robinson or Derrick Rose when he was on the Bulls. I attack the basket and penetrate really well and can score on guys that are taller. I am also very physical and a bully when driving into the lane.
How have you experienced going through your basketball life concerning your height? What was not one of the most common things that you heard about your height, but what was something rare that you heard about your height concerning your abilities?
My height has never been a problem with my game. I have always found ways to compensate my height. My mid range game is really good and I have spent a lot of time working on my game to finish over bigger players. I was once told that I shouldn’t attack the paint because of my height by a coach. But I was also told that attacking was one of my strong points of my game. I have learned that when I’m attacking and aggressive, it makes me and my teammates play better.
You were a scoring point guard at Southport High School and filled up the stat sheet like a Monta Ellis. Would you still consider yourself a scoring point guard as you enter the professional ranks?
I am the all time leading scorer at my high school as of now. I would consider myself a scoring guard, but also a play maker. I know when to score and when to attack and pass. I also know different ways to score the ball.
You’re a very exciting and shifty guard that knows how to finish in traffic. Do you feel this belongs to your biggest strengths on the floor or is your three point shooting when on your biggest weapon?
I think my mid range game and attacking is my strongest point in my game. My 3pt shot is a good weapon for me as well because teams will play back because I attack so well. When they do that it opens up my 3pt shot.
You never averaged a steal per game in any season in the NCAA, but playing good and consistent defense isn’t all about how many steals you get. Are you more a player that does many of the little things that doesn’t get noticed on the stat sheet on the defensive end?
I think solid defense goes unnoticed in many people’s eyes. I love to do the little things on defense. I like to take charges, be in good help side position and anything else that will help my team win.
You’re a player that can fill the stat sheet at ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away when your on the floor?
I think a part of my game that goes unnoticed sometimes is how good of a passer I am and how well I can see the floor
You played four years at Kent State (NCAA) playing a total of 106 games. How tough was it for you coming from high school where you were a star to playing little as a freshman. Were they big growing pains for you or a part of the process that your ego was able to accept?
When I went into Kent State, It was a big adjustment for me. I had to play a small role at first and then later in time work my way up to a bigger role. I loved Kent State because they developed me as a complete basketball player, not just an offensive scorer like I was in high school.
You had ex guard Deandre Haynes four years as an assistant coach at Kent State who now is an assistant at Michigan and played many years in Germany. What kind of relationship did you have with him and how did he help your play grow at Kent State?
Coach Deandre Haynes is like a brother to me. I still go to him for advice and we talk all the time. He played a huge part of my life at Kent State and now.
What memories do you have playing behind Randal Holt as a freshman. Did some of his genuine scoring qualities rub off you as you were a young buck coming from high school?
Randal Holt took me under his wing when I first arrived at Kent State. I remember him talking to me personally about what I needed to do to be successful. I learned a lot from Randal on and off the court and I can see a lot of his game rub off on me.
You had many memorable games at Kent State, but was your 22 point game and six assist game in the win against NJIT where you dropped six three’s one of your best games there?
The Game Against NJIT was one of my best memorable games in my career. I loved it because it was on the road against a team we weren’t supposed to beat. My teammates all did great and it was a great team win. My best memorable moment was when we beat our rival Akron at home on ESPN 2. I also played well that game.
As a senior at Kent State (NCAA) you played 32 games: 12.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 72.6%. Do you sometimes wonder where you might be today and where your career may have gone had to turned professional after this season?
Yes with Kent State being my best year in college basketball, I wonder if I would have had better opportunities after that year. However I believe everything happens for a reason and I enjoyed my time at both Kent State and IUPUI.
You played one last season at IUPUI (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 9.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 35.1%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 90.6%. How important was having this extra season in the NCAA for your growth? Your free throw shooting really improved?
My extra season at IUPUI was big for me mentally. As a player I learned how to play under two totally different systems and able to adapt. The biggest take away from IUPUI is how to handle myself in a more pro atmosphere with coach Gardner treating his program with more freedom
You lost by 12 points against Michigan steering 10 points and holding your own against future NBA player Derrick Walton Jr. He played with Miami as a rookie and now will play with Chicago. He is obviously a very good player and deserves to be where he is, but when you look back at that game and see where your game was at then do you see a huge difference in skill level?
When we played Michigan it was good because I got to test my talents against a very good player. I can see why he is where he is. I thought I matched up well with him and I know I can hold my own against a player like that. Physically he is a few inches taller, and that is why he looks more appealing to coaches and scouts. Strength wise, I match up well. I did not see myself far off against him and hopefully in the future I will get to test it out again.
Does remembering competing against guys like this motivate you every day to do a little extra in the lab each day to hopefully get to the highest level one day?
I love competing and I love proving myself. Playing against these guys adds fuel to the fire because I can see I’m not far off. It’s always good to play against better players to get yourself to that level or push you more to get better.
How did head coach Jason Gardner give you the last push in grooming and preparing your for a professional basketball career?
Coach Gardner always told me the truth. He told me about all his experiences overseas and what he felt I would run into. We connected on a different level where I know I can always trust him to help me. He has given me a lot of very valuable knowledge.
Who won a one on one you or Darell Combs?
Darell and I have never played one on one but I’m sure he would say he would win and I know I would win. We will have to play next summer to find out.
You played against so many great players at the NCAA level, but which player was your toughest opponent that is in the NBA now?
In high school I played against Jabari Parker and he was the best player I ever played against. In college we played against Mike Muscala when he went to Bucknell and he was unstoppable.
How did your 2018 summer work out plan look like? On what things did you work on most so you would be fully prepared for your rookie season?
This past summer I would workout just about everyday. I conditioned a lot because sitting out a year I didn’t have any game experience. After running, I would workout with my trainer. then I would lift weights but mostly body weight and dumbbell excercises. then I would do yoga and stretch and shoot on the gun (shoot-a-way) machine to get a lot of reps. This summer I focused a lot on 3pts off the catch and off the dribble to extend my range. Also a lot of floaters going against a bigger defender.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
NBA Mt rushmore would be Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, and probably Bill Russell
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan?
I’m taking Jordan over Lebron because of Jordan’s passion for the game and his competitiveness. He always did whatever to win and that’s what i loved most about his game.
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?
If Lebron played point and truly focused on finding his teammates he could average 12-15 assists per game depending on who his teammates are
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
The last movie I saw before I left for Germany was Mile 22. Really good movie, I recommend it.
Thanks Kellon for the chat.