In the early summer of 2017, basketball life was really really good for Canadian Taevaunn Prince who was coming off a spectacular rookie season in Germany with the ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen. The then 25 year old 191cm guard who split time at South Dakota(NCAA) and Missouri Southern(NCAA2) before going pro was as upbeat as an American teenager would be leaving the school grounds on the last day of summer as he was very confident and was excited about where his basketball journey would go. Now it´s the summer of 2019 and he is very happy about his basketball life, but in between, his basketball life and luck took a 180 degree turn in the other direction and now he is very blessed and thankful that he is still playing ball and has a bright future, but it could have been totally different. Let´s rewind back to the summer of 2017. In my season ending interview with the athletic beast who averaged 17.1ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 83.4% as a rookie with German Pro B team ScanPlus Baskets, he was so excited about his future, but at the same time knew that he still was far away from being the player that he wanted to be. “I had a very strong rookie season for me. I have improved as the season went on but I still have a lot of work to do in the off season and I am excited and obsessed with the process of getting better and adding to my game. I have not even scratched the surface, my goal is to maximize my potential and looking back I made plenty of mistakes and can be so much better as a player”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. The exciting guard who help pound FC Schalke with 29 points in a nail bitter 76-74 win had goals for his sophomore campaign wherever that would be and was just focused about making the next step. “The next step for me is getting back in the gym and perfecting my craft, I feel this year was decent and ok but I know I can do more and this was just the first step for bigger and better things. Pro B was a test to see if I can hang professional and I displayed that, I think I can play at the Pro A level and prove myself once again. My goal is always to play at the highest level so I will continue to push myself until I get there”, warned Taevaunn Prince. But instead of continuing to ride that high of continuing his basketball journey and signing with a new team for the 2017-2018 season, he would sit at home and be wondering if he would ever continue his professional career.
Usually when August comes rolling around and a player doesn´t have a club yet the alarm sirens slowly start to wail for a player as teams are almost full and chances of getting signed drop. Of course there are many examples of guys that will get signed in October or November or even later and still get a nice season pay check, but most players definitely don´t want to play that risk game. A player feels his best when he gets signed early and to a beneficial situation so he can enjoy the rest of the summer. Having that security early in the summer knowing of where you will play didn´t arise for Taevaunn Prince in the summer of 2017. It didn´t come in the early fall, late fall or early winter for the Canadian as he had to sit at home and watch his friends play the game they love and make money. I noticed sometime in the 2017-2018 season that Prince didn´t have a team and was very miffed, but there was a big reason why he was without a team and a situation that many players have experienced before over the years. “ During that off season I trusted the wrong individual and was very loyal but it wasn’t reciprocated. I was naïve to the business of basketball and believed and trusted a process that wasn’t a real process. When I realized this I jumped on the ball to promote myself but it was already September . I learned a lot about myself in this year and stayed in the gym all year as if at any day I could get a potential call. The year went by and I remained unsigned but I stayed focused and worked on my game even though I was unsigned and off the market. This turned me into a monster made me even more relentless when it came to basketball. Seek and destroy was my approach. Being away from the game made me more hungry”, warned Taevaunn Prince. Even if he couldn´t play the game he adores and the time away must of felt as brutal as how Lakers fans felt waking up on July 6th and reading that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are playing for the enemy the Clippers, he did learn a life long lesson and got mentally stronger. “It was difficult to sit out but I appreciated it after because it made me into more of a man and taught me things only experience can teach. My mentality was crazy before when it came to basketball but now I turned into a monster when I approach training or scrimmages. I learned that you can´t put your trust in the majority of people there is very few , I learned the business side of basketball and all the politics that come with it. I will never make the same mistakes as before I learned my lessons and I’m 100 times wiser and smarter now. Being away from the game helped me research a lot in real estate and business venture. Business has always been a passion of mine. I took business in school so Basketball and Business is what I love and passionate about”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. One word I observed a lot in my talks with Prince recently was the word monster and Mamba mentality. Two words that carried him through his woes in the 2017-2018 season and have also helped elevate his game last season. “Yes I was locked in MAMBA MENTALITY , though I was unsigned I trained and played like I was going to get that call every month. I stayed self motivated, many times I was lost and my pride hit the floor but I stayed true to the grind and prayed to God”, stated Taevaunn Prince.
There were times during the 2017-2018 season where the Canadian who was teammates with ex NBA player Nate Wolters at South Dakota(NCAA) and once hit powerhouse Minnesota for 13 points and 10 boards would reminisce about his stellar rookie season in Germany with the ScanPlus Baskets and remember three special teammates who also played a significant role during his hardships of having to watch for a whole season. “I missed teammates Filmore Beck, Brian Butler and Brandon Lockhart , they were great teammates man. But mostly I missed hitting the floor and having my personal agenda for my opponents to destroy them and win basketball games because that’s what I get paid to do and is my job. We stayed connected via social media and I followed all their progressions, and yes they would tell me to keep grinding telling me things will work and I appreciate that for sure”, stated Taevaunn Prince. The whole process of sitting out was tough, but trusting a new agent wasn´t easy, but his ex head coach Jeff Boschee at Missouri Southern where he transferred to from South Dakota was a huge help. Sometimes those old success moments creep up on you and do good. “Making the move From SDSU to Missouri Southern was the best decision for my playing career. SDSU just wasn’t the right fit for me. I went on to do great things at MSSU. To me basketball is basketball. Put me up against anybody and I’m going to fight and be the last one standing so I wouldn’t say I stepped back, because it was more of a change of scenery and a better situation where I could display my talent and show what I can really do. I have a great agent I work with. He is very professional and knows the game and the business. He has taught and has been transparent with me while and I was out and helped get me back into the market. I appreciate him for believing my abilities. He is well known and established in NBA/European work and hand picks his clients so I appreciate him for taking a chance on me. My former coach from Missouri Southern State University Jeff Boschee is the reason for my connection with the agent I work with. He stayed loyal and helped me through that year out”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. The Canadian knows how lucky he is to have had a great coach in Boschee helping groom and prepare him for a professional career at Missouri Southern as well as being able to count on him in his toughest hours. In 2016, he reflected on how vital he had been for his early career. “Coach Boschee is the best coach in the world, he’s a players coach and I respect him for his work on and off the court, He helped prepare my game for the next level because he pushed me to my limits and held me accountable all the time”, stressed Taevaunn Prince.
Not only did he have countless hours where he could go all out in the gym to stay in perfect shape as well as grind on the court taking shot after shot, but it was especially in his head where he was able to grow further despite being away from the competition. “My biggest improvement was my mentality and I lost weight and leaned out going into last season. I read a lot of books my time off so my mental game made the biggest jump”, added Taevaunn Prince. Players often have a tough time getting back on track after sitting out a year as new players come from college and that strong rookie season in a lower season gets forgotten quickly. He didn´t let any of the horror stories derail his focus, self confidence and passion that he still had for the game and fought to get a contract for a second professional season. “I’ve heard stories of the process being hard for players to get back in the market, after a year, So I at times I thought it was over but I keep faith in God and I knew he would not keep me on the outside”, said Taevaunn Prince. There have been enough players that played a rookie season and then left the game for a year or two and couldn´t get back on the market. Fortunately that didn´t happen to Prince. He found a team in Spain called Residencia Las Encinas CDP Ponferrada. It wasn´t a team in the top division ACB, or second division Leb Gold and not even in the third division called Leb Silver, but in the fourth division called EBA. At that point the Canadian didn´t care if it was the fourth or eigth league in Spain, because he finally had a job again. “I had help from the agent I worked with. It was a great fit and ideal situation for me to prove myself on the market again but this time in Spain a country that is amongst the best in basketball and holds high prestige in the Basketball World”, stated Taevaunn Prince. He picked up from his great rookie season in Germany and topped it in the EBA finishing as the leagues third best scorer averaging 22.2ppg, 5.7rpg, 3.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 87.9%. Germany was a great rookie experience and he had no complaints about his first year in Spain. “The experience in Spain was great I enjoyed it and the competition was also great. The Spanish game seems to be more tactical than Germany so I appreciate both. The competition level in the EBA Spanish league and Germany Pro B is very similar if not the same level in my opinion”, added Taevaunn Prince. He needed absolutely no adjustment period and just dominated the league as if he had never been away from the game. “It feels good to see your hard work pay dividends and to have a bounce back season after I sat out last year, it’s not hard to sit out a year and pick up right where I left off and thrive .But I had an agenda seek and destroy. The time out turned me into a monster so I displayed this imposed my will on every team that stepped in my way of success. I had something to prove. Winning a championship on top of having a successful season individually was great for my return”, expressed Taevaunn Prince.
In Spain he scored in double figures in all 29 games and had 22 games where he scored 20 points or more. It is remarkable just how successful he could be despite never really forgetting the pain he went through the year before. He demonstrated just how far you can go when you have a healthy and potent mentality. “Mentally I am tough. I’ve dealt with adversity on numerous occasions and I take them as challenges. I never forgot about the hardship from the year before. I used it to fuel me everyday, turned a negative and used it for a positive. I was a on a mission returning to the hardwood and the hardship was just added motivation and a reminder that last year I was on the couch”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. He smoked Carbajosa and Betanjos for 35 points apiece and smacked Naron for 30 points. Even if he won´t admit it, it must have felt at times that he was a man playing with boys, but then again one can really only be successful when you have that Mamba mentality. “My mentality was nobody will stop me, I read Kobe Bryant’s MAMBA MENTALITY and this got me going had me ready to destroy. I had the same mentality in Germany and I saw success there as well. So for me it´s just my Killer Mentality towards whoever is in front of me”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. He improved in so many of his stats in his sophomore campaign compared to his rookie season that will be beneficial as he continues to move up the basketball ladder. “I improved my basketball IQ just watching more film and paying attention to small details of the game. Focused a lot on footwork and positioning and different tactics. So overall I feel I improved as a basketball player on both ends”, said Taevaunn Prince. He also made a huge jump with his three point accuracy and is confident that the percentage will continue to rise. “I can always improve my game and I will grow into a 40% shooter through my career I want my game to be all around with no holes. I want no weakness. I want defenders to be even more terrified when they see me. That gives a rush”, warned Taevaunn Prince. Another very interesting note was that the club had three forwards who combined averaged for 57 of the team 87 points per game with him, Amir Warnock and Sean Mcdonell. The special unselfishness among the three players was seen throughout the season and they were rewarded at the end. “Amir Warnock and Sean Mcdonell were great teammates and great players. We shared the ball. This lead to our championship season”, stated Taevaunn Prince.
He was fortunate to not only be able to play the game that he loves again in Spain, but also have the opportunity to live in a very beautiful area called Ponferrada. He didn´t once waste one minute getting caught up in the beauty of the country or the lazy nights with great food, but was in another place called “100% basketball comeback mode” and was in the gym 24/7. “Spain is beautiful yes, but I was on a mission to get my foot back in the door so my mind was locked in from the time I got on the plane in Toronto. In the Pre-Season I practiced and played ACB club Cafes Candelas Breogan and played really well that they kept me all pre-season and I played in 5 games after being out a year. So I was thrown into the fire pretty quickly so my focus was right on. That experience was great for me jumping back into the game”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. After a huge second season, he had offers coming from left and right in the summer of 2019 and signed early with Igualatorio Cantabria Estela Santander. He also made the next jump up a league on the basketball ladder joining the LEB Silver. “I’m excited for this new chapter I’m on a mission to the top so I will have the same MAMBA MENTALITY seek and destroy and win basketball games while keeping it professional. It´s great being in better position this year than last year. Last year there was the fear of the unknown”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. It never gets any easier the higher you go on the basketball totem pole with the competition coming from all sides especially with his new club. He has two new teammates with American veterans Andre Norris and Lamonte Thomas. Both were stars in the NCAA 3 and Thomas averaged 34,0ppg there and was the Pro B scoring champion in Germany with Wolfenbuetel. Both guys are like Prince and have large chips on their shoulders, but the Canadian isn´t frightened, but ready for the new challenge. “I feel no pressure at all. We will complement each other and compete at a high level in practice and on game days. I will bring the best out of them as they will bring the best out of my because we will be representing our club and our goal is to win games. But I love going to war with teammates that have the same chip on the shoulder as me. I love being the Underdog or the wolf climbing the mountain. We will have a competitive atmosphere so this will be great from us individually and as a team, I am self motivated and I don’t need much to get me going I will be ready from day one”, warned Taevaunn Prince. With 5-6 weeks left before training camp starts, he will be back in the lab in Toronto working on his game so he can continue to be that ruthless aggressive basketball monster on the court. “I will be fine tuning everything in my game I still haven´t tapped into my full potential so I will be working on every aspect of my game. My main focus this summer will be flexibility and mobility along with watching some LEB silver games to see the game style and flow”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. But one thing that Prince knows is that he never wants to experience a year again where he couldn´t play and was in fear of never getting signed again and will do what he can to help young naïve players become aware that not every agent is there to help you, but is in it more for their own benefit. “I would tell them to do their research and not just go off of referral or loyalty, go with your true intuition. Have multiple conversations with each agent and pick what is best for you not what others think is best. It’s a dirty game. I’m thankful I went through it early”, warned Taevaunn Prince. And it also wouldn´t hurt for anyone to get a copy of the book Mamba Mentality, because it has been a big part of Taevaunn Prince´s basketball life and something that helped carry him through the tough times.