is a 30 year old 203cm forward from Queens, New York playing his eighth professional season and first with Rasta Vechta currently averaging 10,5ppg, 5,4rpg and 1,4apg. He began the season with Prienu Skycop (Lithuania-LKL). It is his third stop in Germany after having played in Tuebingen and Braunschweig. He started his basketball career with Notre Dame (NCAA) in 2007 and played 118 NCAA games until 2011 and as a senior played 34 games averaging 9.5ppg, 5.9rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 68.9%. He started his professional career in 2011 with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen where he played for three seasons playing 99 BBL games and in his last season there played 33 games averaging 10.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.9apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 68.4%. In the 2014-2015 season he played for SPO Rouen Basket (France-ProA) playing 11 games averaging 8.3ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 55.1%, FT: 50.0%. In 2016-2017 he returned back to Germany in 2015-2016 to play for the Basketball Loewen Braunschweig (Germany-BBL) playing 34 games averaging 10.9ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 24.0%, FT: 66.7%. He played the last two years in Israel and last season with Ironi Nahariya (Israel-Winner League) playing 28 games averaging 8.7ppg, 6.5rpg, FGP: 59.5%, FT: 61.8%He spoke to germanhoops.com after returning back to Germany.
Tyrone thanks for talking to germanhoops.com It has been almost been two years since our last interview. How basketball time flown in the last two years for you?
A lot! I have played in 4 different countries in the past two years. Crazy to think about.
How good is basketball life for you now coming from Lithuania to Germany where your playing for one of the hottest teams in the easyCredit BBL?
Life is real good. Anytime you are able to come into a positive, winning environment it is a blessing. The intensity and passion from the organization, to the players is contagious and great to be a part of.
How tough were the last two seasons for you. Last season you began in Turkey and went back to your old club in Israel and this season had a very short stay in Lithuania and had to leave again. How do you explain the massive fluctuations in the last two seasons when you look at your first five professional seasons where you played with one team per season?
Honestly, Turkey started out really well. We had a preseason cup where I played really well and helped my team reach the next stage of the cup. And then I’ll never forget the first game of the season, I go into halftime with 20 points and 5 rebounds. And, the first play out of halftime, I get a steal and race towards our basket. I go up for a dunk and I guess I was going so fast that my momentum took me past the rim. I slipped off the rim and came down on my back and head and boom, lights out! I wake up some minutes later with everyone standing around and I’m confused as to why they were standing around me in the middle of a game. I wanted to get back up and play but then I saw all the blood and everyone cautioned me to stay down. I got stretchered off and went to the hospital with a concussion and broken finger. I rested for a week, and then came back to practice. The team definitely rushed me back too fast. Understandably with a broken finger on my shooting hand, I wasn’t able to perform like I was before my injury and the team let me go. Fortunately, I was able to go back to my former team in Israel. And this year, in Lithuania, it wasn’t the right fit for me. I barely received a chance to prove myself at all. But it was a blessing, because I got to back come here to Germany into a much better situation. Moral of the story is that injuries are tough and if you as a player don’t heal fast enough to be able to perform at a high level, teams more than likely will quickly find a replacement.
You began the season with Prienu Skycop (Lithuania-LKL). It seemed like you and other American Austin Arians didn’t get a real chance. What went wrong with this situation?
Yeah, I am not sure what were the organizational/team goals for this season in Prienu. It was one of the weirdest situations I have ever been in, not really being given a chance to play and not being paid. I was lucky enough to always have been paid pretty much on time prior to Lithuania but I guess just add that to list of ‘overseas experiences’.
Arians followed you to Germany and is playing in the Pro A with FC Schalke. Did you guys get a special bond in the short time you were teammates. The situation surely must have been more difficult for him since he was a rookie.
We were able to talk some but I could tell it was a tough situation for him. All I could really tell him was to not let this one experience keep him down and to remain positive.
Congrats on the great season your having with Vechta. You have a 9-1 record sicne you arrived. Can you remember ever being so successful so quickly with a team in your career?
Never! Haha. And let me tell you, it’s a way better feeling when you are winning consistently.
Does it feel like a real Cinderella story or do you feel like as competitors you would be selling yourself short knowing the potential the team had.
Yeah, everyone calls us the ‘Cinderella’ team and I don’t know if we really like that title. We have believed in ourselves the entire time, even if others did not since Vechta’s track-record in the BBL wasn’t always great. You ‘reap what you sow’ and this is just a testament to all the hard work each player has put in day in and day out.
You have found ways of wining in so many ways if it was through defensive battles, scoring shootouts or close wins which occurred three times. Half way through the season what do you feel is the teams biggest strength?
Definitely our intensity and defense. Some days, shots won’t fall but we can always rely on our defense to either keep us in a game or bring us back into a game. I feel it’s tough for teams to compete with us for a full 40 minutes, intensity wise. I think it’s great that we are winning in a variety of ways, that only bodes well for us later in the season.
Years ago winning in Bamberg would have been unheard of, but even now it’s no easy task. I won’t even do research and check if you won there with Tuebingen, because I know you didn’t win there then, What did it feel like winning in Freak City? How big was this win for the team?
Besides Ulm, I believe Bamberg was the only team I had not beat in the BBL. With all the history of great teams they have had it felt good to go in there and win. That win was big for our confidence level as a group and is something we use to constantly build from.
How vital do you feel was the pick up of you? Do you feel the added experience and added depth at the forward position could be the difference between winning one and possibly two playoff series?
Yeah, I am trying to help this team in any way possible using my abilities and experience. When I arrived here, I could see they had a good thing going and I just wanted to come in a nd keep things moving forward. If playoffs are in our future, then I hope I can use my experience to help the team when as much as possible.
Vechta averages 83 points per game and allows only 77 points per game which is third best. What has been the secret to the success on the defensive end?
Intensity! We compete so hard in practice that in games it comes as second nature to not let our opponent score. Each player really takes pride in trying to stop their man on defense and that is a great quality to have. It’s contagious too.
How vital has head coach coach of the year candidate Pedro Calles been? What has impressed you most about his coaching style?
For being a ‘young’ coach and with this being his first head coaching position, his intensity, passion and knowledge of the game is remarkable to me as a player. He pushes each of us to get the best out of each individual player. As long as we play hard, he gives us the freedom to play our game. As players, we really appreciate that.
There are no real super stars on the team. How key has the fact been that everybody has played for each other and that whole ego thing has been put aside?
I think it is great having a TEAM. It really makes us dynamic as a group having so many weapons. You can only take away so much. And with the quality of players we have, we are smart enough to pick and choose our spots to attack.
Let’s talk about your teammates. TJ Bray brought experience and a special fire that really capitulated his game to another level. He was always a solid professional player, but he really made the next step with Vechta. What do you believe has been the biggest reason for his success?
TJ really controls the game out there on the floor and picks defenses apart with his exceptional passing skills. Add that to his ability to shoot, attack the basket and defend that is the recipe of a confident, great player.
Even if there no super stars, American Austin Hollins has been that type of go to guy that has carried the team in his own way. How important has his leadership qualities been?
Austin can really shoot the ball! Once he gets hot, he is tough to stop. Add that to his great athletic ability to play above the rim and defensive skills especially to get in the passing lanes. Austin has a bright future ahead of him.
How important has Seth Hinrichs been for the success of the team. How valuable is his versatility and is he the classic example of the team glue guy?
Coming off of Pro A MVP honors Seth continues to impress me. I don’t think there is anything he can’t do on the court. He is a tough matchup for anyone and has motor that not many players can keep up with. Bright future ahead of him!
How important was the pick up of Max DiLeo for the Vechta defense? How has he made an impact on the defensive end most that has helped the team most?
DiLeo sets the tone for us on the defensive end. He works so hard on every possession which is contagious to everyone else. You have to match his intensity on the court or you will stick out like a sore thumb. And it’s something I can really appreciate.
How cool is it being reunited again with Josh Young. You guys were teammates in Tuebingen from 2011-2014. How has his game developed further since then?
It’s been great to be back with my homie Josh. The biggest thing I notice about Josh is that he appears to have that swagger/ confidence back in his game. Similar to what I saw during our first two years together in Tubingen. It’s good to see because when he plays with that swagger, he is hard to stop.
Let’s talk about your game. You have come in and gotten integrated very well with the team. How would you define your role with Vechta?
Like I said before, I am just trying to come in and not mess up what the team had going. Add my talents and abilities wherever necessary and help the team win. It’s been a different role for me playing the ‘5’ because I am not really a ‘5 man’. But I have been trying my best to play the position to the best of my ability.
How would you in general describe how difficult it is not only coming into a new situation, but into a big time winning situation?. How tough is it mentally having to deal with not stepping on any players feet and just trying to find your own role without disrupting the winning culture?
Integrating yourself on a new team is a process. I was lucky and blessed enough to come into a situation where the guys welcomed me with open arms and made the whole integration process very easy. While also giving me the confidence to play my game and showcase my talents.
You are averaging in double figures and averaging more than five rebounds per game. How content have you been with your play so far?
Ehhh, I’m my own toughest critic so I’m playing ok. I can always play better and I will continue to get better.
How do you feel has your game developed further in the last two years since you last were in the easyCredit BBL with Braunschweig?
I think poise and of of course experience. I finally got a chance to taste the playoff atmosphere while in the Israeli Winner League and also in FIBA competition. Those experiences you never forget and I am able to apply what I learn then to now.
You last played in the easyCredit in the 2015-2016 season. How has the league continued to develop in the last few years?
I feel like the whole marketing of the league appears to have got better. Using social media continues to be a big asset for the German BBL. In a country where soccer/football rules supreme, basketball is becoming more and more popular.
Your ex team Braunschweig is playing a great season. How excited are you to be playing them again this season and will you be extra motivated to win?
Yeah I see Braunschweig is playing great this year. Anytime you get to go up against your former it is great. I can’t wait!
Do you think that when all is said and done that Luka Doncic could possibly be one of the greatest Europeans to play in the NBA?
Yes, I believe if Luka continues to get better then the sky will be the limit for him. He is a remarkable talent, a once in a generation type of talent. It’s great to see.
What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?
Shocking! I am a Lebron fan and I would consider him, for the most part, to be a humble superstar. One who lets his numbers and game speak for itself and for him to say that out loud was a bit shocking. But hey, he is entitled to his own opinion.
Charles Barkley recently proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion?
Charles and his brash statements! I think Brady is the GOAT for his respective sport and Jordan is the GOAT for his. I am lucky to have been able to witness their greatness in my lifetime.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Tyrone for the chat.