Tucker Haymond is a 24 year old 198cm guard from Seattle, Washington that finished his second professional season and first with the Rhein Stars Koeln (Germany-ProB) aveaging 22,5ppg,6,0rpg and 2,3apg. He played his rookie year with the Austin Spurs (NBA G-League) playing 33 games averaging 2.6ppg. He began his basketball career at Garfield High School and then played at Western Michigan (NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 123 games and as a senior played 31 games averaging 14.8ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 75.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com at the end of his season in Germany.
Tucker thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Thanks for having me. I am currently in Seattle, Washington in my hometown and have been working out with my trainers and getting better every day
You were overseas for a while. What things did you learn to appreciate the most about the European culture as well as basketball in the last 7 months?
The things I begin to appreciate about European culture are the simple lifestyle everything is in the American way as in being bigger and better. I also really enjoyed the Germantown’s that were all near their local food stores and banks as well as the necessities and being able to ride a train everywhere. You can’t do this in most places in America. And for European basketball I learned to appreciate how the fundamentals are taught at a young age and the correct way of playing basketball as a team sport not as an individual sport.
What was the first eatery that you went to when returning home to Seattle and what did you miss from the States?
The first thing I ate when I got back to America was chipotle , I have been craving it for the past two months when I was in Germany and knew that I had to have it right when I got home.
It was a very disappointing season for the RheinStars Cologne. The club didn’t stay in the Pro B. Did the fact that the club couldn’t achieve this lessen your joy for winning the Pro B scoring title?
It definitely does put a hamper on the scoring title. For me, my number one goal is to win. And because we couldn’t achieve this it made me more focused on the fact that we didn’t win a lot of games we should have rather than individual accolades
Let’s talk a bit about the season. In our last interview you stressed that the youth factor was a big contributor for the team not having more success this season. Despite that happening, what benefits do you feel did the young German players get from this overall tough season?
I think it was great for them to get thrown in the fire of a competitive Pro B south division and being able to get playing time and compete. There are a lot of good young players in the Rheinstars program and I would tell everyone to look out for them in the future
Please summarize the season about why the club couldn’t have more success besides it being a very young team. The team had problems scoring on a consistent level and couldn’t keep points off the board.
I think it was tough for the club in a couple different areas because of how inconsistent our roster was. We struggled a lot with keeping our main guys healthy, that’s hard for the players and coaches too. I don’t think we had one game where we had the whole team playing. Now this is a part of the game and teams have to adjust, however it definitely doesn’t make things any easier.
The team had some experience with guys like Malte Herwig, Yasin Kolo and Silvio Mateus. The club brought in more veterans with Max Dohmen and Jan Zimmermann. Even if it didn’t help much in the playdowns, do you feel like if they had been there months earlier that a better team chemistry and success could have been born?
For sure. I believe if Max and Jan had been on the team from day 1 we would have won a few more games. I even believe we wouldn’t have been in the play downs if we would have had some veteran leadership from those guys. They definitely raised the level of play and intensity with us, having them would of been great. Yasin was also great for us when he was healthy. He had some bad luck with a few injuries but that was out of his control, in my opinion he was the most complete big man in the Pro b.
The team had a 1-5 record in the playdowns. It started out so well with a win against Rhondorf and then you lost five games in a row. Do you believe that at the end it was more of a mental aspect that didn’t allow the team to get over the hump?
I think the positives were more mental. Going a month without winning a game and having to go practice every day and come in and be a professional with your work ethic and attitude from players to coaches definitely is a positive. It shows who wants to get out of those slumps and who really wants to turn things around. We had everyone in the whole organization come in day in and day out and work hard no matter the win or loss.
Do you believe being able to beat two very young teams like FC Bayern Munich and Orange Academy was positive showing that the Cologne youth department can keep up with two very known organizations that put a lot of effort into that area?
Yes I believe it was very positive, like I said before the youth is very strong for Cologne and for us to beat those great youth teams I think put some confidence in colognes youth.
What do you feel was the team highlight of the season? The win against FC Bayern Munich, Orange Academy or before Christmas the exciting game in Rhondorf?
I feel like the highlights of our season was winning any derby game vs Rhondorf. Those games were a lot of fun and it’s always fun winning for our fans because they were so supportive all year long
Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a joy was it playing alongside French man Silvio Mateus. How confident are you that the team would have had a few more wins had he been healthy more?
Playing with Silvio was great. It was great seeing him expanding his game and learning the point guard spot when we didn’t have a point guard. Silvio is a great teammate and was always great to have around in the locker room. It hurt us badly when he got hurt, it was just one of the key pieces that went down mid season that was tough for us and the team.
In our first interview around Christmas you stated that German Filip Kucic had made the biggest impression on you from the German players. At the end of the season what German do you feel made the biggest strides?
I think for the whole year I’d say Kucic was the most improved for sure. But to add on to him, Thomas Fankhauser was also very great for us at the end. He brought energy as well as scoring in some instances. He will be very good in his future for sure
What was your impression of talented German Tim Van Der Velde? He got good minutes and was always aggressive. What did you appreciate most about his game and where do you see his future going?
Tim was an amazing defender! He was great at getting to the hoop and drawing defenders and making the smart pass. He had many games where he had a few points, rebounds, steals, and hustle plays. He was the X factor for us and we always played better when he was on the floor!
Benedict Van Laack is another German with talent with Pro A experience. How did you see his development and where do you see him going with his basketball in the next years?
Bene in my opinion was our most consistent German player. As far as effort, productiveness and just showing up every night and playing his game. He always gave us energy on the rebounds and he would knock down big shots for us I can see Benedict playing in the BBL in the future because of his IQ for the game and his size and athleticism.
17 year old Thomas Fankhauser got minutes and made a nice impression at the pro B level. What did you appreciate most about his game and is he still raw?
I appreciated most about Thomas was his hustle and his want to get better. He always was in the gym working hard and shooting after practices. At the end of the season his hard work showed. He is still very raw and I think he can play BBL some day if he keeps working hard for sure !
Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 22,1ppg, 5,8rpg and 2,3apg. How content were you with your second professional season and first in Germany?
I think that I could have been better in a lot of areas. My shooting percentages were lower than usual and my turnover rate was a bit higher than usual as well. Given I adjusted to the style about halfway through the season however I think that I have lots of improving to do. I think it was great to come and experience it but I can for sure do better.
In our last interview you stated ‘Shooters sometimes go through slumps, I started a bit slow this season from three but the last few games I’ve been shooting it well. I expect to be above 30% over the next few games I’m not worried ever about making shots’. You were around 30%. Do you feel like your three point shot let you down at times considering how you dominated the league?
I don’t think my shot let me down, I do think that I had to take some really tough shots given the circumstances, however I think every shot is going in. I just have to adjust and keep working and come out next year and shoot the same shots and know they will go in. I can’t let one year of shooting decide who I am as a player, I’m always improving and getting better.
You also stated in our last interview that you worked very hard on your playmaking this season. How do you feel did that develop further this season?
I think my playmaking developed a lot. The only way in my opinion that playmaking can develop is trial and error. And for me I know I had a lot of errors this year. I was lucky the RheinStars believed in me enough to go through the learning struggle and to get better as an individual and as a team from our mistakes. I think I was a different player now than when I arrived in Cologne, for the better.
You had so many massive games mostly in losing causes, but what game was your season highlight? Perhaps your production in the wins against Munich or the Lowen?
My favorite games were the ones that we won. I think my most favorite game was right before Christmas at Rhondorf when we won going into the break. I liked it so much because we had almost the whole team playing and we had a point guard in Vladi for the first time. We all played great.
What is the next step for you? Could you imagine remaining in Germany or would you like to give a new country and culture and basketball style a chance?
I don’t know where my next stop is, I’m continuing to work hard every day and staying ready for the opportunity. If I come back to Germany it would be great, but if I had to go somewhere else it would be fun too. I’m just enjoying playing every day and being able to do what I love for a job.
On what things will you be working on this summer to continue to keep improving as a player and keep moving up the basketball ladder?
I will continue to work on my consistency in the things that contribute to my game as well as continue to improve my athleticism and my overall IQ. Which comes from playing and working out daily.
Were you very impressed that Jamal Crawford hit Dallas for 51 points or is that something that you could have expected after seeing him in the summers on the court?
Impressed, always… surprised, never! I’m never surprised when Jamal does anything that amounts to being great. He will be a hall of famer for sure. Watching him every summer and playing with him every summer just shows me all the time how great he is. He’s been this way his whole career and he’s doing it at a high level.
It’s still so early, but when all is said and done could Luka Doncic be one of the greatest Europeans that ever played in the NBA?
I think Luka has a chance, but it’s hard to say, he has some big shoes to fill in how Dirk paved the way.
Thanks Tucker for the chat.