Ben Emelogu is a 24 year old 196cm from Dallas, Texas that is playing his rookie season with Asseco Arka Gdynia (Poland-EBL). He began his basketball career with South Grand Prairie High School. In 2013-2014, he played a season with Virginia Tech University (NCAA) playing 22 games averaging 10.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 68.1%. He then finished his NCAA career at Southern Methodist (NCAA) playing 34 games averaging 2.8ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.0apg. In his junior year at Southern Methodist (NCAA), he played 35 games averaging 4.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.8apg. In his senior year he played 33 games averaging 10.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 45.0%, 3PT: 47.0%, FT: 71.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before the Eurocup game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. In the game he scored 12 points and had 8 boards and sealed the win with a trey in the waning minutes.
Ben thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Welcome to Germany. Is this the first time that you have been here? What do you know in general about the country and it’s basketball?
This isn’t my first time in Germany. When I was in my sophomore year at SMU, we went on a European tour and played some teams in Belgium, Holland and Germany. I know that German basketball is very good. I’m from Dallas, so I always looked up to Dirk Nowitzki.
Have you had any friends or ex teammates besides Malik Mueller play in Germany?
Not that I can think of. I know a bunch of guys that play in countries surrounding Germany. I know that Malik is playing there as well.
You are in Oldenburg preparing for a Eurocup game against the EWE Baskets and are playing your first season with Asseco Arka Gdynia (Poland-EBL). Was it a tough adjustment coming overseas after sitting out last season?
The toughest has been getting in a playing rhythm. I sat out for a while and didn’t play organized ball. It was more pick up. Just getting back into the system, the whole scouting thing and find a way to get the easy basket was the toughest adjustment.
Why did you sit out last season? I had heard that you were going to grad school. Talk a bit about how difficult it must have been shuffling school and basketball last season?
It was terrible. SMU is already a tough school academically. It was an up and down year. I got injured toward the end of my time at SMU and I didn’t want to risk trying to begin my career being hurt. I was done rehabbing in December. Then it was either pick school or work. I am 2-3 classes short so I will still be able to get those credits in the future.
What kind of experience has it been playing for Asseco Arka Gdynia (Poland-EBL). You have four other Americans and a number of Polish players. How has the integration gone and how important has veteran Josh Bostic been for you feeling more comfortable?
Josh has been great since I arrived. He has taken me under his wing, given me advice when needed and always pushes me in practice. He gave me valuable advice in that you can’t always control your offense, but you can control your defense. The coaching staff have been very good as well and my Polish teammates have been very welcoming. It also has helped that there have been some guys that come from close to home like Leyton Hammonds.
What kind of role do you have with Asseco Arka Gdynia (Poland-EBL). Are you more than just a three and D player?
At the moment I’m that classic three and D player. I will do what the team needs me to do. My main goal is to always win. If the coach asks me to defend or be aggressive on offense than that is what I will do.I will take on any role that is given to me and get the job down.
Which NBA players are your role models and which player in the NBA would you compare the way you play?
I look up to guys like CJ Mccullum, Damain Lillard and Joe Johnson. The funny thing is that I actually look more at defensive highlight videos than offensive videos. If I had to describe my game to an NBA player then Danny Green would fit best. I respect how he worked his way up from the G-League. I also like the game of a PJ Tucker who makes a living from perfecting his role.
How important has a Josh Bostic been for you in practice and off the court? What has been the most vital thing that you have soaked up from him up until now?
I have learned very much from Josh in only the short time that I have been there. I think learning patience and how to use your body best when off balance have been the most important. He does a good job drawing fouls. He is a strong guard and I look at his leadership and how calm he is.
You began your professional career at Virginia Tech University (NCAA) playing 22 games: averaging 10.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 68.1%. You had a very solid freshman season. Why did you opt to leave after one season? Did you want to be closer to home?
I wanted to be closer to home at the end. At the time my grandmother was terminally ill with cancer. But I didn’t find that out until a month after I signed my letter of intent. The coaching staff did a good job of helping me get through it all. At the end of the season the coaching staff was fired, so then it was my time to also go.
You had quite a number of memorable games at Virginia Tech, but was your 22 points in the win against West Virginia that still remains in your head?
Yes I remember that game well. It was a crazy game. We had lost to USC Upstate before and that had put us down. I learned after that game that college basketball is a lot harder than one thinks. It helped me open my eyes that anybody can beat you. When we beat West Virginia, it was a huge confidence booster. I knew after that win that we could hang with anybody.
What memories do you have of Adam Smith there? Is he a guy that you continue to follow as he is playing professionally in Europe?
I follow him. He just released some music ‘Cross the pond’. What really stood out with him was his athleticism and that he could really score the ball. He is a very good scorer and had something like 28 points in his last game. He really knows how to put the ball in the hole.
You then moved to Southern Methodist (NCAA). The first three years were tough with less playing time and you were also red shirted. What kept you going in that time?
The beginning was tough. I played hurt one season and it continued to get worse. It really helped that I was close to home. Having family and friends be that positive voice in my ear kept my spirits high.
Did you ever think of making another change to a different school? Knowing what you had done at Virginia Tech and not playing at SMU must have really hurt.
The thought did cross my mind. In my time there, I really learned that college basketball is very unpredictable You always see real talented teams that have down years, but despite having my low’s there, I did get comfortable in the system, so there really was no point for me to go.
In your first two seasons at SMU, you reached the NCAA tournament, but lost to LA schools UCLA and USC each by one point. How bizarre was that? Which loss hurt more?
The USC loss was the toughest. I thought that we had enough talent that season, not depth, we played with a six man rotation to make a run. In that game, we were banged up. I shouldn’t have played. I think that we had enough talent and discipline in both years to make a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 or Elite 8.
In your senior year you finally broke free averaging 10.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 45.0%, 3PT: 47.0%, FT: 71.7% Was your 23 point game in the victory against UCONN one of your most memorable games at SMU?
That was another game I didn’t forget. I wanted to get back to March Madness one more time. Even if I was banged up, in pain you can’t do anything about it, but play.
Earlier in the season you scored one third of your teams total points with 12 in a 52-37 loss against Central Florida. How crazy of a game was this?
My wrist was done in that game. Three of our returnie’s were out. We had many freshmen and me on the court. That game was a circus.
How did head coach Tim Jankovich groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He was a very smart coach and really stuck to details. You really needed to have a very high IQ to play for him, because of the way he operated and stuck to the scouting report. The way he worked and how he prepared me translated to professional basketball.
You also played a season for the legendary head coach Larry Brown. Everybody has their special story about him.
He watched film like it was TV. I never saw a guy study the game as intense like he did. Now I know why he is considered one of the greatest. It is crazy to know just how smart he is and how he was able to dissect teams. We were a very athletic team, but also very smart. He really helped us run through teams.
Who won a one on one in practice you or William Douglas?
Definitely me. At the time he was a freshman. He is a lot better now. At the time he had a rough time with me.
After school you had a work out with NBA team Sacramento Kings. How did you notice that the NBA is a business foremost?
The interest was high for me, but they also knew that my injury was holding me back. They also had a very strict schedule. It was my first real experience where I always had to be on time. I knew that I had to work and be focused.
You grew up in Grand Prarie, Texas which is by Dallas. Did you hear about the shooting of Andre Emmett? Does hearing about that situation hit you in a different way since it happened where you grew up?
My brother told me what had happened. It hit every guy hard who knew him. I always saw him during the summers working out at SMU. We also worked out together. Just last summer he told me to kill it in Europe. I remember vividly that he always got frustrated having to play against guys who weren’t strong. He really liked it when I pushed him on the court. His death hit the whole city of Dallas.
Who was your toughest cover in the NCAA?
I played against a lot of tough players. But the player that stood out the most, I never played against. It was my freshman year at Virginia Tech and the player was TJ Warren from NC State. Adam Smith and I were out that game and were watching from the sidelines. I remember Adam and I were watching him in warm ups. Adam said he might go for 40 tonight. I didn’t believe him and said 25. After 30 minutes, he already had 30 points. He was the real deal. I was really shocked how talented he was.
If you had to name your own personal NBA Rushmore, which four heads would you chose?
Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson.
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I never saw Jordan play, but I have seen Lebron. It is hard to go against the competitiveness of Jordan, but Lebron does it for me. He is a freak of nature.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Hunting of Debra Logan. It was a good horror movie with a plot.
Thanks Ben for the chat.