Juwan Parker is a 24 year old 193cm guard form Tulsa, Oklahoma that completed his rookie season in Germany with Pro A team Nurnberg Falcons helping them move up to the easyCredit BBL averaging 6,3ppg and 2,6rpg.. He began his basketball career at Booker T. Washington High School and moved to Georgia (NCAA) in 2013 and played a stellar four year career playing a total of 116 games.In his junior season he played 32 games averaging 9.3ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 43.4%, 3PT: 15.7%, FT: 85.6% and as a senior at Georgia (NCAA) played 33 games averaging 8.2ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 40.1%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 85.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com at the end of his rookie season.
Juwon thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how good is basketball life treating you at the moment?
I’m currently in Nurnberg and basketball is treating me amazingly. I’m enjoying my last couple of days over here with friends and teammates I met during this great season, so live is amazing.
Congrats on the amazing season with the Nurnberg Falcons. With everything that you have achieved in your basketball career, where does this magical season rank?
Man Honestly, it’s up there as one of the best. The guys on the team, the coaches, the fans, everything was amazing. I honestly don’t know if I’d ever have that much fun day-in and day-out with a group like this. It’s definitely one of those seasons I know I’ll look back on in 5-10 years with super fond memories.
Most of basketball Germany never thought it would be possible for Nurnberg to achieve moving up. Did the fact that the club overachieved a bit lessen the disappointment a bit not being able to win it all over the Hamburg Towers?
Yes and no. As a competitor you definitely want to win every time you step on the court. At the same time you have to realize everything we had accomplished this season and still feel good about it.
It was a very exciting final series against the Hamburg Towers. You won the first game by three points and lost the second game. Will that last three by German Justus Hollatz be one of those shots that will always creep back into your memories when look back on this final series?
It was a great shot he hit, but no I don’t think it’ll creep back into my memories. Like I said, we had accomplished so much up to that point and I enjoyed everything so I’ll remember the good times way before I’ll remember that shot.
Let’s talk about the season. If someone had told you on January 26 after having an 8-11 record and having lost 6 of the last 7 games that the club would reach the final and move up to the easyCredit BBL what would you have said?
I honestly wouldn’t have known what to say. January was a hectic month for us playing an unusual amount of games, I had been injured and didn’t play in a lot of them. Basti wasn’t back yet. So we really didn’t have our full team the whole season, but we were just trying to stay afloat at that time.
After that the club went on a furious 11 game winning streak to end the regular season. What were the main reasons for the amazing turnaround?
The main reasons were defense, communication and a belief in the individuals as well as the group. Our team became better because different guys stepped up each game. We were playing really well defensively and taking teams out of their comfort zones.
How was the team different going into the playoffs where you swept Trier and beat Heidelberg 3-1. Did it feel invincible?
We were confident. We knew what are strengths and weaknesses were and we stuck to them. I wouldn’t say we felt invincible, but personally I didn’t think a team was going to beat us, let alone in a 5 game series. Even games where we were behind, I still felt like the team was calm and never wavered.
What did you appreciate most about this club this season? What made it so special to strap on a Nurnberg Falcons jersey?
Everything. Getting the chance to continue to play basketball first and foremost. Then when you’re going out every game playing for such a passionate fan base and then you are really close with your teammates, it’s like going out and playing with family every game. So I appreciate how my teammates and the fans welcomed me, especially a guy coming in the middle of the year that they probably knew nothing about, the love I’ve received here has been humbling.
The club had so many season highlights this season. If you had to pick one which would you chose?
There’s a couple that come to mind. All of Ish’s pindown blocks. A few of Marvin’s dunks, Jackson’s game winner in Chemnitz.
How vital was head coach Ralph Junge for the success and how did you see his development grow. He has been known for years for developing young Germans which he did in Ehingen and kept doing in Nurnberg. Now he had his first huge success on the men’s level
Coach was awesome the entire year. Really keeping us focused on our energy and intensity levels at all times and making sure we were playing with pride.
Let’s talk about your teammates. How vital was Ishmail Wainright for the success of the team? What did you appreciate most about his game and what will be your most long lasting memory of him?
Ish was MVP of our team for me. His unselfishness was key. Whether he scored 20 points or 2 points he was always locked in defensively, rebounding, assisting. He brought whatever we needed to each game. The memory will be just his personality. He’s goofy and very easy going and just enjoys life.
In our last interview you stated that American Jackson Kent had helped you with certain tricks. What were some of those tricks and how did he develop further?
Jackson helped me a lot teaching me about angles and attacking in certain situations. Defenses started keying in on Jackson and he developed by always trying to make the right play or pass. He’s much more than just a shooter and it showed later in the season.
You worked closely with talented Germans Moritz Sanders, Ben Gahlert, and Matthew Meredith. How did they develop further and which guy do you feel made the biggest strides?
Ben was injured when I arrived but you could tell his confidence in his game grew. Same with Mo and Matthew. They’re all very skilled but as the season went on you could see their confidence growing and growing.
How vital was the leadership and energy of German veteran Basti Schroeder? What one experience will you never forget with him that truly showed what kind of guy he is?
Man when Basti came back it brought new life to the team, he truly is The Captain. There’s not just one experience, but he definitely is a great guy. He always looked out for me and the other guys and made me feel welcome and apart of the team. So for that, to him, I’m very thankful.
Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 6,3ppg and 2,6rpg in 14 minutes per game. How content were you with your season?
I believe I had a very solid first season. Definitely have some things to work on, like all players. I need to get my percentages up amongst other things. I am content, but ready to get back to work on it.
You played only 20 minutes or more four times. How difficult was it for you having 14 minutes on average? What positives did you get out of it? Possibly having that continued motivation to prove yourself in practice?
As a player and competitor you want to play every minute, especially when you feel like you should be out there. Positives that I got out of it was just having a hunger every time you go out to prove you can play and produce at this level. Also, it was learning a role, my role was to come off the bench and bring energy, so I believe I excelled at that. But really it’s given me huge motivation for this summer, I want to be a guy that plays most of the game so it’s inspired me to work even harder.
You stated this in our last interview. ‘I think I can do a little bit of everything. I think coming out of college my ability to handle the ball and defend were questioned but I think I can hold my own with anybody’. How do you feel did your game develop despite the playing time?
My game developed a lot. It’s not easy to go from playing college basketball, not playing for 9 months, then coming to play Pro in Europe. It’s a different type of game, and coming in the middle of the season you’re learning everything on the fly. I believe I proved I could guard anybody on the perimeter. Also, I feel my ballhandling and passing got better because Coach allowed me to play the 1 in practice quite a bit. In college I never really came off ball screens or got to bring the ball up, so being allowed to do that in practice helped a lot. I also developed in my ability to read the game, read what defenders were doing.
How did head coach Ralph Junge help you develop further) Talk a little about your relationship to him and how each other’s characters were involved?
He helped me by giving me some tricks of the trade, allowing me to play PG in practice and in some games. He’s a great guy. Very encouraging and he helps instill and build confidence in me how he speaks to you and shows and teaches.
What was your personal season highlight on the court? Possibly the 24 point 9 rebound explosion in the big win against PS Karlsruhe?
I think the Karlsruhe game is up there, as well as Game 2 vs Trier in the playoffs. I think they were just really solid games that were able to show what I could do on the court.
What is the next step for you? Could you imagine remaining in Nurnberg or would you consider going to a new country and culture?
That’s up to God man. My job is to take a little rest and then get back to the court trying to improve every day. I would love to return to Nurnberg, it’ll forever have a special place in my heart, especially with the move to the BBL. But I’m open to just about whatever, I get to play basketball, I have the best job on earth.
On what things will you continue to work on in the lab this summer as you continue to improve as a player?
I want to get in elite shape and conditioning, you can tell the guys who are in elite shape and I think that’ll help me tremendously. Skill wise of course ballhandling and shooting, being able to create shots for myself and teammates at a higher level.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro A this season?
That’s hard to say, there’s so many good players and each team has a unique challenge or threat.
What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?
That man’s entitled to his opinion and as a guy who is an All-timer and an competitor I hope he does feel that he’s the GOAT. Doesn’t mean he’s right, but he could be.
Charles Barkley proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion?
I don’t. Tom Brady is the GOAT of football, but in football you play one side of the ball and especially quarterbacks, they don’t have to be athletic or anything besides have a mind and an arm. Jordan is the GOAT because he’s on the greatest offensive and defensive players ever.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was cold pursuit.
Thanks Juwan for the chat.