Ishmail Wainright is a 24 year old 196cm forward from Kansas City, Missouri that completed his first season in Germany with the Nuernberg Falcons BC (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,1ppg, 7,3rpg and 2,8apg. 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 spoke to germanhoops.com at the end of the season before signing with easyCredit BBL team Rata Vechta.
Ishmail thanks for talking to germanhoops.com How good is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Feeling great ! Coming off a great season.
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?
Might be at the top to be honest. It went better than I expected.
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?
No because at the end of the day our goal was to win it all and we had the chance to do so but fell short.
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 lst 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?
Yes ! For sure !
The 2019 Pro B finals were very tight. Why do you feel couldn’t the Hamburg Towers get over the hump in game 2 and win the title?
The Hamburg Towers are a great team with a great coach. They played hard and was coached well. They stuck to their game plan and came out with the win. We fell short at the end of the day to a great team.
Let’s talk about the season. If someone had told you on January 26 after having an 8-11 record and hving 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 would say it’s possible if the team sticks together and play like they have nothing to lose.
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?
We came together and knew what we wanted to do. We wanted to do something that hasn’t been done in years.
How was the team different going into the playoffs where you swept Trier and beat Heidelberg 3-1. Did it feel invincible?
YES ! We did something that hasn’t been done in Nuernberg in some years. Basti and Big Rob deserved every bit of that run. That was for them !
What did you appreciate most about this club this season? What made it so special to strap on a Nurnberg Falcons jersey?
The fans that traveled to EVERY away game. They showed so much love it was crazy !
The club had so many season highlights this season. If you had to pick one which would you chose?
That playoff run ! Swept Trier, got MLP 3-1, beat Hamburg in game 1 and that game was CRAZY. That run right there was just crazy !!!! 14 game winning streak in Europe? That’s hard to do.
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
Ralph is a great Coach. Helped me understand the European style of play. He will continue to be a great coach. He deserves every bit of this !
Let’s talk about your teammates. You stated this about your teammates Juwan Parker and Jackson Kent in an earlier interview with me. ‘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’. How do you feel did these guys grow further steps through the whole playoff time?
They took a step forward because everyone knew Jackson was a shooter and he did more than just that. We played fantastic defense. He grabbed rebounds and made the right passes at the right time. Juwan did the same with the limited time he had on the court. They both should be proud of themselves in what they did this season. I know I am ! I’m extremely proud of those guys.
You stated this in my last interview about Marcell Pongo. ‘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’. How do you feel did he grow further during the playoffs?
He was unstoppable during playoffs ! That’s all I’m going to say on him.
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?
Matthew before the injury. He made huge strides. Knocking down 3s. Got clutch stops on defense. He will bounce back even better.
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?
Basti is the man ! If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have gotten far in the season at all. I told him I wanted to win. I told him this season was for him. I told him that before every game.
Head coach Ralph Junge helped you with understanding the style and the movements with and without the ball. The automatic reads on the floor. How else do you feel was he instrumental in making you the player you were at the end of the season?
Encouraging me to just go play and kill whoever is in front of me.
Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 12,1ppg, 7,3rpg, 2,8apg and 1,7spg. How content were you with your first season in Germany?
That being the first year it went pretty good BUT I’m extremely hard on myself. I know I can give more. I have to give more. I have A LOT of work to do.
You demonstrated that you can be a very versatile player as a professional. How do you feel did your game grow further and your leadership qualities?
My game grew in many different ways. And far as being a leader, that just came with everything. You have to want that. And I want that. And I feel like the team this year allowed that to happen. We had a great team and we all worked well together.
After playing a full season of basketball after playing football, what did you learn about your body now that you didn’t know about before this season?
I’ve pushed my body so much over these past few years playing basketball, gaining so much weight (270 pounds) to play football , then back to basketball and lose 35 pounds. I didn’t know how my body was going to react and after that second month, my body felt a lot better. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in a minute. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
You stated this about your defensive qualities in our last interview. ‘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’. How did your defense continue to develop this season in Germany?
I feel like I was the best defensive player in Pro A. That’s my mindset. Not many guys have that mindset. Defense to some guys are the relax time. I still need to figure things out but at the end of the day, I felt like I did what I had to do on that end of the court.
What was your personal favorite game this season? Possibly your 26 and 11 explosion in the exciting 97-95 win against Chemnitz?
Yes. That game was something. One of my favorites. That crowd didn’t know what to do.
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 in God’s hands. I have to do what’s best for my Family. My wife and two little ones.
On what things will you continue to work on in the lab this summer as you continue to improve as a player?
Consistent shooting. Weight. Flexibility. Studying the game more.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro A this season?
The OG Bucknor
What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?
I agreed in a way. His Top 5 for sure !
Charles Barkley proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion?
Not at All. Tom Brady is for sure the GOAT in football but not more than MJ.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Upside with Kevin Heart
Thanks Ishmail for the chat.