Ishmail Wainright is a 24 year old 196cm forward from Kansas City, Missouri playing his first professional season with the Nuernberg Falcons BC (Germany-ProA) and helped lead the team into the playoffs averaging 11,5ppg, 7,6rpg and 3,0apg. He began his basketball career at Montrose Christian School and then played 131 NCAA games at Baylor (NCAA) from 2013-2017 and as a senior played 35 games averaging 5.5ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.2apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 29.2%, FT: 68.3%. He recently spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Thanks Ishmail for talking to germanhoops.com You are playing your rookie season in Germany for the Nurnberg Falcons. How blessed do you feel being able to play the game you love for a living?
EXTREMELY BLESSED to play the game I love all around the world.
It has been an up and down season for the Nurnberg Falcons. It started well with a three game winning streak, but since then it’s been up and won with the team never having more than a two game winning streak. Why has the team not been able to go on a run?
This league has many great teams and great coaches that work day in and night to win games. Sometimes games go our way and sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe our run is coming up soon.
How much potential does the club have. It has a nice mix of some very experienced German players with Ohle and Schroeder as well as young talented Germans and talented imports. What is this team still capable of achieving?
*We are capable of many things. We just have to come out every night to prove that we are one of the top teams the league.
Talk about the positives and negatives of having two fellow rookies on the team with Jackson Kent and Juwon Parker? What do you appreciate most about their games?
I believe Jackson has one year under his belt and he’s helped me out the most while being over here. Making sure my confidence is up and stays up. He’s a sharpshooter slasher! Having Juwan is something different because I’ve been playing against him since 4th grade. Now to have him on the same team is even better. I know his game and he knows mine.
Talk a little about talented young Hungarian Marcell Pongo. He is a great guard that has a huge future ahead of him. What has stuck out most with his game that you have appreciated as a guy coming from the NCAA?
Pongo is a tough guard ! A passionate guard that wants me to win every time he touches the floor. He can see the court so well it’s crazy. Some of the passes he makes are just unbelievable.
The Nurnberg Falcons have a lot of very talented young Germans with Moritz Sanders, Ben Gahlert, and Matthew Meredith. Despite being a rookie, are you able to pass on your basketball IQ having experienced a different kind of basketball in the NCAA?
Yes , everyday. I try to help them see what I see while I’m on the court and they do the same. That’s really an everyday thing.
What kind of experience has it been learning from German coach Ralph Junge. He is known as having developed countless young players in Germany. How beneficial has his presence been for your early development overseas?
With this being my first year in Germany, Ralph has helped a lot. I mean a lot a lot because basketball is just different. He’s helped with just understanding the style and the movements with and without the ball. The automatic reads on the floor.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 196cm guard that can do many things on the court. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?
Draymond Green. I’m a ‘tweener’. Between a 3-4 the can bring the ball up the court, rebound, hold positions 1-4, and do whatever else you need me to do.
You had no adjustment period as you have had a solid rookie season despite not playing basketball last season, but playing football at Baylor. What were the most difficult things to get back used to after playing football?
My weight. realizing that most players aren’t as strong as I am so I can use that to my advantage.
There have been guys that have played in Germany that also played football in school. Talk a little about the positives that your abilities with football have that helps your game as a basketball player?
Strength is really the main thing.
You never averaged in double figures at Baylor, but are doing so as a professional. Did you always know that you could be a scorer at the professional level?
Yes but when you are playing with Pros like Isaiah Austin (China) , Corey Jefferson (NBA), Brady Heslip (BBL), Royce O’neil (NBA), Taurean Prince (NBA), Johnathon Motley (NBA), And Rico Gathers (NFL), and others, I didn’t need to score in my mind.
You’re a guy that can do a lot on court. What are your biggest strengths on the court?
I’ve always been a defender. It’s just in my blood. Watching Tony Allen lock up the NBA just fired me up. I want be that player that stays on the court because he can hold the other team’s best player from start to finish. Rebounding and just getting my teammates involved. I love when my teammates score.
Your shooting under 30% this season as a rookie, but shot 40% once at Baylor. How much of a work in progress is your shot in general? Is this something that you feel can become more of an asset as you continue to grow as a player?
Iit’s just reps right now. The more reps I get, the more consistent it will be. I haven’t touched a ball in a year and a half. I’m back and it’s time to work even harder. Yes I feel like it can be more of a shooter.
You were able to improve your rebounding totals in your last three years at Baylor (NCAA) and are averaging more than 7 this season. What has been your secret to your consistent progression as a rebounder?
It’s just a mindset. You aren’t going to stop me from getting that ball off the rim. If you do, believe me, I won’t stop going after it. And that’s the mindset you have to have.
You can fill the stat sheet like no other, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court?
I’ve always pride myself on deflections. I want to get the most deflections and at a high rate too. It’s just something that’s followed me throughout college. Even in practices I do the same.
On what things are you working most on your game so you will continue improving as a basketball player in the next years?
Consistent Shooting and Ball handling. And knowing my scoring spots.
You had a stellar career at Baylor (NCAA) reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 twice. Which run was personally sweeter for you? In 2014 or 2017?
2017 because it was my senior year, I was the only senior and we were picked last in the BIG12, wasn’t even ranked in pre-season. They laughed at us man. We started that season off on a mission. Non conference was tough but we took care of everyone. Conference play was conference play. The Big12 was stacked from head to toe. Everyone wanted us to lose in the first round of the tournament. We fought until the end.
In your freshman season you had some very good players as teammates with Brady Heslip, ex NBA player Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, NBA player Royce O’ Neal, NBA player Jonathan Motley, and NBA player Tauren Prince. How much fun was it being a freshman that season?
That year was a grind. Practices was by far some of the toughest practices ever. We were all fighting for playing time. I loved every bit of it too.
Which player from these guys did you see as being the guy that would most reach the NBA and who was most influential for you being able to get accustomed to the NCAA in your first season best?
Zeke (Isaiah Austin) hands down. But things didn’t go as planed. He should be in the league right now. I feel like he deserves that. Real Deal (Royce), because he had the whole package. Could shoot, dribble, play defense , and just everything. And till this day I feel the same. We talk almost every week. Just checking on each other. He started here in Germany in the BBL and look where he’s at. I’m not saying it could happen to me but you never know what the future holds you know. God works in mysterious ways
You played a season with the talented Belgium national player Manu Lecomte who is currently having a solid G-League season with Agua Caliente. Do you see him being the next Baylor NBA player soon?
He better be ! He is NICE !!! The things I’ve seen him do on the court was unbelievable!! Seeing him go off for 9-10 straight 3s in practice.
You had many very good games in the NCAA, but which one was your personal most memorable game? Possibly your 15 point game in the win against Kansas State?
Louisville game for sure !
How did Scott Drew groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He treated us like professionals since day one. Talked to us like one. Worked us like one. He used to tell us, ‘ You guys want to be professionals someday, you have to walk, talk, eat, work, and take care of your bodies like professionals do!’
Who won a one on one in practice you or Royce O’Neal?
The funny thing about that is, we’ve never played 1 on 1. But we will this summer when I see him. But it is always a battle whenever we face off
You had a stellar high school career at Montrose Christian. Obviously Kevin Durant stands out as the greatest basketball player that went there, but did you ever hear stories from Jason Conley who led the NCAA in scoring as a freshman? He had a great career in Europe and played many years in Germany.
I wish. I heard many stories from STU VETTER , Coach Shopland and Dan Prete about KD. KD never really came around much when I was there.
Who was the toughest player you faced in the NCAA that is in the NBA today?
Buddy Heild. I had to know where he was at ALLLLLLL TIIIMMMEEEESSSS !!!
If you had to pick your all-time best starting five of teammates which 5 guys would you chose?
Kenny Cherry , Ish Wainright, Royce O, Taurean P, Isaiah Austin.
If you had to pick your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
Scottie Pippen, Lebron James, Tony Allen, Magic Johnson
What is your personal opinion of the neve rending debate about who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
I saw the Wizards Jordan. Not the Bulls. Lebron is my favorite player, he just needs more rings
What was the last movie that you saw?
Creed II and it was great. Powerful movie. Going to watch another one tomorrow with the wife and little man also. That’s a every night thing to be honest.
Thanks Ishmail for the chat.