Jackson Trapp is a 27 year old 193cm guard that was born in Tallahassee, Florida and is playing his first season with the Uni Baskets Paderborn. He brought professional experience to Germany having played in Canada with the Island Storm and with the Yakima Sun Kings (TB). He played at Florida Atlantic (NCAA) from 2012-2016 playing a total of 118 NCAA games. His best season was his junior year where he averaged 10.1ppg, 3.2rpg, FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 83.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com earlier in the summer
Jackson thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
Not a problem at all, I am currently In Paderborn. My summer was good, just did a lot of training with my brother who is a basketball trainer in Orlando.
Congrats on making it overseas after struggling as a professional in your first three seasons. How difficult was the grind in the past and what have you learned from the whole experience?
Thank you! And there have been many ups and downs the past three years. I have learned to always stay positive, no matter what life throws at you. When one door closes another one opens. After I left Canada I ended up being very happy with my move to Washington to play for the Sunkings, I met several guys that I will carry on to know the rest of my life.
How tough was the struggle playing in a few games in your first two professional seasons in Canada. Were you totally overlooked getting a chance in Europe or was the correct representation missing? You had a solid career in the NCAA at Florida Atlantic that should have gotten you a chance a lot earlier.
Well I actually ended up getting hurt my rookie year in Canada. I broke my foot towards the end of training camp. The coach there, Joe Salerno, seemed to like the player I was, and decided to keep me on the IR for the few months I was out. Unfortunately I rushed back into things too quickly and was only able to play two games before being let go. I had an agent that was not the right fit for me, so after I got injured there were not many options at all that following summer.
Congrats on signing with the Uni Baskets What was different this summer in the search for a team? How thankful are you that you landed in Germany with the Uni Baskets?
Thank you! At the start of summer I did not have an agent, so I reached out to hundreds of them within a month or two, hoping for a few that would be interested in finding a spot for me. Fortunately there were 5-7 of them that were really interested in me, and helped me get looks all around the world. I am very thankful that I was able to land a spot here in Paderborn.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you had any friends, ex opponents or ex teammates play in Germany besides Justin Raffington?
Honestly, I did not know too much about it, except for the fact that it follows the ‘European’ style of play, with a lot of screens and a lot of movement. They focus less on 1 on 1 and athletic ability, and use their basketball IQ to play better team basketball. Yes, I know several players playing in the BBL, ProA and ProB.
How enticing was the offer from Paderborn and what was the main reason for you wanting to play for this organization?
It was an offer that was hard to turn down, in large part due to the fact that Pro A is such a reputable league around the world. I had many offers throughout Europe, but decided to turn down them for that reason.
Did Grant Benznger help you with the adjustment period? His dad was a well known baseball player and your dad was a professional football player so I imagine you guys could relate to each other well.
Grant has been a great teammate in this first month here in Paderborn. He has definitely helped with several things that I have had to deal with in this ‘adjusting’ period of moving to Europe for the firs time. And yes, I just discovered that his dad played pro baseball! My dad actually did too briefly along with football, but my dad is significantly older than his haha.
How important has your dad been Richard for your overall development as an athlete? How do you feel has his experience helped you in becoming that special athlete?
Honestly my whole family has been a huge impact on me and the player that I am today. When I was younger, before I knew what work ethic was, it was both my mom and dad that on a daily basis made sure that I was working, no matter how much I did not want to, and I can’t thank them enough for that. In the past 5-7 years or so, although my parents are still a large influence, it has been my brothers, especially the one that currently is a basketball trainer, that have kept me on track. I would not be where I am today without all of them. So thank you TNT Hoops in Orlando and the rest of my family for making me the person and player I am today.
How have you experienced your short time in Germany with Paderborn? The team has a very nice point guard duo with the very experienced Demetrius Ward and talented youngster Kendale Mccullum and nice fitting parts with Germans and a strong shooter with Grant Benzinger. What kind of team is it and how competitive do you feel will it be?
I think we have developed a lot in the past month already. Demi is an experienced guard who knows how to control the pace of the game and never gets flustered by the defense or any runs the other team may make, which is huge for a somewhat young team like ours. Kendale is a very good point that plays older than he is. He is extremely fast and is really good out of the pick n roll, making him extremely difficult to contain. On top of that both Demi and Kendale are good defenders. Add that with the shooters and skilled, experienced big men we have, and we should be a really good team. In terms of how competitive we can be, I would just say that out of the four ProA teams we have played so far, there is not one that I don’t think we can’t beat when it comes time for the season.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 190 cm guard that has a nice versatile offensive game. For those that want to get an impression of your game, to what NBA player would you compare your game best to?
I like to see myself as a more versatile JJ Reddick. We are about the same height, weight, and neither of us are highflying dunkers. I love coming off screens and I have a very quick release. But when guys close out too hard I can drive to the basket and either finish or kick out.
What kind of role do you have? You are also a very good shooter. How do you feel do you compliment your teammate Grant Benzinger best?
Right now we are still figuring out the roles. Coach has told me that I have the green light to shoot whenever I am open, whether it is in the half court or in transition. Unfortunately I have not been able to play with Grant yet because of his injury, but I know he is a good shooter. The more shooters you have the easier things become on the offensive end and even the defensive end.
What other strengths does your game have besides shooting that will help the Uni Baskets be successful this season?
I believe I am good at penetrating to the basket when guys close out too hard. I also believe I have good 1 on 1 defense. On top of this I believe I am an unselfish player.
You played last with the Yakima Sun Kings and was the best three point shooter in the league. How do you feel did you make extra strides in your shooting this summer that will help your shooting make the transition to the European game?
I am always shooting. As I mentioned before, I am very fortunate because my brother is a basketball trainer back where I live in Orlando. I believe the best way to become a great shooter is by repetitions. I would make sure that 5 days a week that I shoot anywhere from 700-1500 NBA 3’s a day, whether it be in workouts or on my own. On a daily basis, once I felt my shot had become ‘automatic’, I would continually shoot quicker and quicker until it became natural.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet well, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that still somewhat is off the radar for many?
I believe my defense is a hidden trait that many don’t know about.
You played last summer at the well known Basketball tournament. What kind of experience was that for you and how did you do?
It was an awesome experience and got to play with a lot of talented guys. We ended up losing in the regional finals (Sweet 16) to the team that had won the previous four years, Overseas Elite. We were up 6 going into the 4th quarter but ended up short.
Your were teammates with Robert Nortman a guy who had to play many seasons in Canada before getting a chance in Germany. What memories do you have of him there?
Rob is a great guy. He actually was my Roomate during the time I was there. We had a lot of fun playing video games each day after long practices.
As a rookie you played two games for the Island Storm (Canada-NBL) and the next season didn’t play at all. Why didn’t your career take off in Canada?
I broke my foot towards the end of training camp. Next season I ended up joining the Yakima Sunkings in the TBL.
How important was it getting a chance with the Yakima Sun Kings and playing well there? How did this experience help your self confidence and get you ready best for that next step?
It was huge. The league, the TBL, is a brand new league and I would recommend any American to that needs a start to their career to take a look there. We had a great coach there in Paul Woolpert, along with a ton of teammates that I played really well together with. Helped me build my confidence and made me realize the type of player I can be.
You played at Florida Atlantic (NCAA) from 2012-2016.Despite not winning any titles there, what was your fondest memories there?
I also met a ton of great guys at FAU. I had some good coaches that I learned a whole lot from over my four years there. My fondest moment had to be our 24 point comeback against Louisiana Tech and my game winning 3 I hit with 2 seconds left.
You played against powerhouse North Carolina in your first NCAA game losing by 24 points and netting 2 points in 5 minutes. You played against countless future NBA players. What will you remember most from that first NCAA battle?
That game got me prepared for the rest of my career at FAU. There’s a reason that coaches at mid majors like scheduling bigger schools to play against at the very beginning of the season (besides the money), and that is to set the tone for the rest of the season, and that’s what that first game did for me. The atmosphere in general is what I will remember most there.
In your first senior game you lost to Michigan State but scored 10 points had 7 rebounds and three assists. How far do you feel had you come from that first game against North Carolina as a player?
It had been three years, So I had developed a lot as a player. But another huge difference in those games was my confidence. I knew I was the senior captain of the team and had to lead by example and go all out in order to set the tone for the rest of the guys
What kind of relationship did you have with German Justin Raffington? Do you plan on meeting with him again in Germany?
Justin is great guy. I have had a lot of great memories with him in our years at FAU. If we are ever near each other we will for sure be seeing each other.
You played for two head coaches in the NCAA for MIke Jarvis and Michael Curry. How did each guy help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Jarvis taught me a lot about discipline and helped me a lot on the offensive end. Coach Curry was a defensive specialist and brought a lot of his knowledge from the NBA to us guys at FAU.
Who won a one on one you or Nick Rutherford?
Haha we never got a chance to play each other 1 on 1!
Who has been the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA or in the gym that is in the NBA or in Europe?
That is tough. I have played against a lot of great players. I would say playing against Rodney Hood when we played Duke was very tough in large part because I was so young. Austin Rivers is a guy I grew up with and to this day is still one of, if not the toughest, players I have ever had to guard.
Please list your five best teammates of all-time?
This is tough! I would have to say Javier Lacunza from FAU and Lance Stokes who I played with in high school because they are some of my best friends today, but there are so many other factors in this that it hard to make a decision, so I will have to pass.
Please name your personal own NBA Rushmore. Which four heads would you pick past or present for your list?
Lebron, Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I would have to say Lebron because he is the most valuable player of all time. But, full disclosure, I am biased because I was too young to really watch Jordan back in his prime.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Just watched ‘Role Models’ because it was on Netflix.
Thanks Jackson for the chat.