Jonas Sauer is a 19 year old 187cm guard that is playing with the ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen (ProB). He began his career with the ratiopharm Ulm U19 team (NBBL). Last season he was German NBBL Group 4 Regular Season Champion and reached the German NBBL Semifinals. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Jonas thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and ho is basketball life treating you at the moment?
I’m with ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen, playing for their 1st and 2nd team. The 1st team plays ProB Germany. Besides that I’m in my senior year in German Highschool. Basketball life is treating me pretty good right now.
Talk a little about how you found a love to basketball and your early years? Was basketball always your first love or did you enjoy other sports?
Since I was a little kid I always had a basketball with me, no matter where I went. Since my dad played at a high professional level I kind of had the love for basketball in my genes already. I started playing for Ulm since I was 6 years old. Besides basketball I did gymnastics when I was like 7 and then started with track & fields and did that for quite some time.
Your father Uwe is a known figure in the Germany basketball world. How important has he been for your early development? Was he a guy that pushed you hard or more was a person that let you move at your own speed with basketball?
Of course he played an important role since he always helped me to get better whenever I needed him. Nevertheless I have to say that he never put any pressure on me or forced me to practice or anything like that. He pretty much let me develop on my own pace, but was there whenever i needed his advice or asked him to practice with me, that’s when he was there for me- and he still is.
Last season you played for the ambitious youth program Ratiopharm Ulm reaching the 2018 NBBL final 4. What kind of experience was that for you? How do you feel did your game develop further there?
The Final 4 was a great experience although we didn’t make it to the finals, but I think my game developed a lot during my time in Ulm, having some good coaches there.
You didn’t remain there, but left to play for the Pro B champions ScanPlus Baskets. What were the main reasons for leaving Ulm? Did you not see the good long term perspective with that organization?
The main reason I left was because I wanted to try something new, getting some new input from new coaches, but not really because I didn’t see a future for myself in Ulm.
Ratiopharm Ulm has had some known basketball names at the guard position in Ulm with Marius Stoll and Zachary Ensminger. Was the name Sauer one that didn’t get the chance that it should have deserved?
That’s a tough question. Both of these guys are good friends of mine and both are good basketball players, but yes it wasn’t always easy to not get the same kind of attention and opportunity.
Now you are with the ScanPlus Baskets and have earned some minutes in the Pro B while also playing for the second team. What kind of experience has it been playing for this club?
In the beginning it was a little bit rough in the ProB, especially me being the youngest player on the team but I like it more and more and enjoy every minute I get to be on the court. With the 2nd team it’s been great from the start, having the role of a leader is something I like a lot, besides being the main scorer there I have great teammates making it a lot easier for me.
What kind of a transition has it been for you practicing with men each day and less with boys? What has been the biggest challenge for you?
The first weeks were tough, it’s more physical and I had to get used to be the rookie on the team. Perhaps the biggest challenge was to find my role on my new team.
The team has a lot of age and experience. How beneficial has it been for you learning from many EU players as opposed to only American players?
The older, more experienced players help me to get better, giving me advice and try to help me out when needed. We have German players, players from Eastern Europe and an Americans – they all do their best to help me and to help the team to possibly win every game
Which player of the scanPlus Baskets has been most vital for your development as a player so far this season? Especially at the guard position there are a few guys like a Marin Petric who I can imagine has been important for you.
Marin brings a lot of experience to the team, yet I have to say the guy that helped me and talked to me the most was Dennis Mavin (with Skyliners Juniors in ProB now), who also played PG. Besides him it’s C.J. Oldham, who keeps motivating and helping me. Something interesting to know: my own dad played on the same team with C.J.’s dad on two different occations. Now the two of us are on the same team- what a coincidance !
The ScanPlus Basket are an ambitious team that want to win the title, but do so with many experienced players, How do you see your role continuing to develop there this season. Do you feel like your minutes could rise a little? Is it seeing a guy like Marko Krstanovic get more minutes in the last years give you hope?
I am a high-energy player, especially on the defensive end, that’s what I want to bring to the team. And yes, I feel like my minutes will increase during the season.
What kind of experience was it getting your first minutes in Rhondorf? Did you feel nervous and how do you feel now after a few more game under your belt playing in the Pro B?
Of course I felt a little bit nervous in the beginning, but once I played for a few seconds it felt pretty normal, it’s basketball, something I’ve been doing for more than 11-12 years now. The more games I play and the more minutes I get, the more comfortable I will be.
Let’s talk a little about your game. You’re a 187 cm guard. Which player has always been your role model growing up and how has he affected you how you play the game?
I’ve always liked Rajon Rondo (especially when he was in Boston) since I was a kid playing ball. I like his court vision and his passing skills, things I try to add to my own game.
Talk a little about your strengths on the court and on what things you are working hard on trying to improve?
I am a good defender, I love to pick up full court and I have a good drive to the basket. I ‘m also pretty athletic, which helps my game a lot. The thing I still have to work on the most is to be more consistant on my outside shot. I put a lot of time and effort into that.
How important is your dad in terms of your basketball development today? Does he give you many tips? What has been the most important thing he gives you on advice that helps you on a daily basis?
After games he always tells me the good things I did but also the things I can do better. When I have a question he tries his best to help me. The most important thing probably is the fact that he gives me more confidence and gives me positive advice.
Your long term goal is to play basketball in the states. 10 years ago it was very common for young German players to go via the NCAA route. It isn’t as big now as young players now often try to go the Germany route. What has been your motivation for doing this?
I’ve been in Highschool in the US 2 years ago as an exchange student. I really enjoyed my time there and I think it would help me a lot not only to become a better player but also to become an independent young man, getting a lot of (new) life experience at a young age – I can only get abroad.
Did you make a type of pro and contra list about going the NCAA route? What did you find most appealing when seeing the opportunities of going overseas?
Not really a pro and con list, but I think that the college life in the US is a lot different than being a student in Germany. Besides that I prefer the American lifestyle when it comes to food, music, clothes etc.
Did you talk to nay guys that have gone overseas and been in the NCAA? There have been guys who have had success, but also guys that weren’t as successful. Is there a positive experience from another German player that gives you hope that going overseas could be the successful choice?
I have 3 guys on my team right now that went to college in the US and every single one told me they had a great time there and said I should definitely go. Also my friends from Saint Augustine High in Florida keep telling me to come play college ball.
What kind of experience was playing at the 2018 NBBL top 4 at Artland? What memories do you have of this weekend and what did you enjoy most?
It was a great experience although our goal was to win it all or at least make it to the final. It was very tough not to achieve that. The thing I enjoyed the most was the great atmosphere there during the whole tournament.
When you remember playing against some of the most talented players in the NBBL over the years where do you see your game now? Do you compare yourself to your peers or are you a guy that is able to block out what others are doing and concentrate fully on his own game?
I usually don’t pay too much attention on what others do. Of course there where really good and talented players on the other teams too, but they do their thing and I try my best to do mine.
Guys like Franz Wagner and Jonas Mattisek seem like they will not go to the NCAA, but go the Germany route as they are getting pretty good minutes for easyCredit BBL team Alba Berlin. Are guys like these role models for you in just seeing what real hard work can do especially making it with a top team like Alba Berlin?
Of course it shows me and every other young player that if you work hard enough you can achieve your goals even if it seems almost impossible at first.
Where do you see yourself in five years. Could you imagine doing something else besides being a professional basketball player or is your focus so intense that you are sure that you will be playing professional basketball in the future?
I hope that 5 years from now I’m done playing college basketball, have my degree and see what options there are out there for me, but of course you can never be sure if a basketball career works out the way you want it to (injuries, other circumstances), which is why I definitely want to get a degree to give myself the chance for a good job afterwards, just in case things with basketball don’t work out as planned.
Thanks Jonas for the chat.