Shaquielle Mckissic(Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul) I Truly Feel Unstoppable All Because Of A Few Conversations One On One With Ismet Akpinar

Shaquielle Mckissic is a 29 year old 196cm small forward from Kent Washington playing his 5th professional season and first with Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). Last season he played with Gaziantep Basketbol (Turkey-BSL) playing 31 games averaging 13.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.3apg, Steals-3 (1.6spg), FGP-2 (70.7%), 3PT: 27.7%, FT: 69.3%. He also got further experience playing with teams like Usak Sportlif Basketbol (Turkey-BSL), Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain-Liga ACB) and Avtodor Saratov (Russia-VTB). In his rookie season he played with Consultinvest VL Pesaro (Italy-Serie A) playing 9 games averaging 15.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 45.9%, 3FGP: 40.8%, FT: 75.0%, in Dec.’15 moved to Changwon LG Sakers (South Korea-KBL) playing 28 games averaging 16.1ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 71.8%. He began his basketball career at N.Idaho JC (JUCO) and played a season at Edmonds Community College (NJCAA). He ten played at Arizona State (NCAA) from 2013-2015 playing a total of 66 NCAA games and as a senior played 34 games averaging 12.4ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 67.4%. He spoke to after a Basketball Champions League game in Bonn against the Telekom Baskets Bonn. 

Miles Schmist-scheuber meeting Shaquielle Mckissic after a Besiktas loss in the basketball Champions League game in Bonn

Thanks Shaquielle for talking to Welcome back to Germany. Two seasons ago you played a Eurocup game in Ulm losing. What memories do you have of that game?

Two years ago I was with Gran Canaria. I didn’t really fit that system. Also me and that coach were at odds. I didn’t play that much that game. I think I talked back to the coach in the first quarter and he sat me the rest of the game to ‘prove a point’. So no memories from that game, but from that experience with Gran Canaria and the coach, I learned to hold my tongue and not react with emotion.

You have played for many teams in many countries. What have you sampled over the years about the German basketball? Have you had some friends or ex teammates ball in Germany?

I have had a few teammates and close friends play in Germany. I play currently with JT and Ismet who both played in Germany and both love the country a great deal. Also my ex-teammate Brandon Frazier plays for Bonn. He also loves Germany and the Bonn organization.

Your playing your fifth professional season and playing for your sixth team Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). Do you sometimes feel like a basketball Globetrotter? What has been your favorite place you have played and lived in before this season?

I love all the countries I have played. My son was born in Pesaro, Italy so that was a blessing. But nothing Beats Turkey. The comfort I have in this country is unmatched. I truly feel at home. Usak and Gaziantep were both great cities with crazy fans. But playing for Besikats in Istanbul is a dream come true. 

Your playing your first season with Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) and your third time in Turkey after playing with Usak Sportlif Basketbol and .Gaziantep Basketbol. What kind of experience has it been so far and what kind of special aura do you feel whenever you step on the home court at Akatlar arena?

Akatlar arena is very comfortable for me. It always has been. So to play here as a home means that much more. I definitely feel this will be my best season since becoming a pro. It feels different mentally.

This season you have three other American teammates and many Turks. You have played with many Americans over the years, but how special has the trio of Theodore, Mcadoo and Gottcher been? All three guys have very different characters. Have you noticed that this will have a special effect as to how the team will perform this season?

Yeah I mean the good things about this group is that we are all married. So it isnt as many distractions as previous years. All of these guys are good moral guys and have great character off the court so its easy for us to tell each other what to do without somebody getting offended and taking it to hurt. 

How happy are you that Jordan Theodore is on your team? Three seasons ago he had that amazing season with Banvit and swept the season series with Usak. In the second game he exploded with 39 points. I can imagine that it is one of those games that one doesn’t forget simply because of a players amazing performance.

That year JT was on another level. We did the best we could to try to contain him but he figured out every scheme and took advantage of it. The thing with me and JT is we understand each other very well. So we allow each other to be coachable towards one another. If I need to step it up he has no problem telling me and he knows I won’t contest what he is saying, because we both want to win. I also have worked on being coachable by my peers and understanding I don’t know everything.

What kind of an impression has German Ismet Akpinar had on you? This is his first season in Turkey after developing well in Germany. What has impressed you most about his game so far?

Ismet is just very likable. Super humble and comes in everyday not one complaint and does his job. We all know he can shoot with anybody in Europe but Ismet off the court is what is most impressive for me. No ego, and just wants to get better.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 196cm athletic and plays the 2/3. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

I don’t really know. I mean NBA players usually have one thing there good at. I feel in Europe I am unstoppable in transition and once I get going down hill I’m hard to stop. But I can improve with my 3 point shot and free throws. I really took this summer to work on not leaving points at the free throw line. So I don’t know but if I had to say, I think a shorter Tobias Harris. Maybe it’s because I always loved his game. 

You’re a guy that can really do it all on the court. But your athleticism is something that stands out. You take no mercy when flying to the court. Do you feel that at times other attributes in your game get forgotten because of the number of crushing dunks that you always produce?

I mean it’s human nature to focus on eye popping adrenaline plays so I know it gets overlooked. But I am also able to use that to my advantage. Guys when guarding me just think don’t let him get to the hoop. But this year my game has developed with experience. So now I can drive and find teammates that are wide open. I’m my biggest critic so there are still times I get frustrated when I watch film and see opportunities in which I took and made a really tough shot because of my athleticism but I missed a wide open guy in the corner and I wouldn’t have had to exert so much energy. 

You have been an up and down three point shooter in your career. Often players will just say it’s all about reps. But how do you work on improving shot selection? Do you watch a lot of film just trying to find ways to be the best shooter that you can be?

You know my best shooting years I was never a rep guy during the season. It was all instinct. My worst shooting years I would come and shoot before and after practice. I really got away from unnecessary reps before and after practice. I do my reps during practice now more than ever with defense draped over me and the pressure of coach watching me take shots I normally don’t. When I see he doesn’t question my shot selection in practice it eases me up to do it in games. I picked Ismet’s brain about how he is such a good shooter, especially from the free throw line. He told me he doesn’t practice free throws, he just has the confidence. I think that piece of information was top 3 things I’ve heard my whole career. So I applied that to my whole game. I don’t rep 500 3’s or 300 free throws a day. I got out before the game shoot 50 3’s and about 10 free throws to get adjusted to the hoop, and the rest is confidence. It has helped me so much. I really feel my mind is convinced I’m a 90 percent free throw shooter and a 50 percent 3 pt shooter. So I give a lot credit to Ismet, because I truly feel unstoppable all because of a few conversations we had one on one. 

What is your secret to being an amazing dunker. You first really got noticed at Arizona State. There are many talented guys that can dunk, but how important is it having that nonstop ‘I’m invincible’ attitude as you fly to the rim?

I was blessed with athleticism and a body that can sustain the force of which I play. It literally has never been a doubt about making a dunk for me. I don’t know why it comes so easy. I guess I have been honing this not be denied mentality since a young age. My older brother David taught me early on, if you’re going be a dunker. Learn how to contort your body to avoid injury and know when to abort a dunk to avoid injury. That always stuck with me. You will see a lot people always asking why I don’t dunk on certain plays even though I could have, I just shrug it off because my instincts always tell me when to dunk it and when to abort it. It’s just something I’ve developed.

You have dunked so much in your career, but how well do you remember those special ones? I saw an amazing alley-op dunk from you against Colgate. Do you remember that one?

Yeah when you bring it up, I have to think hard but I think I remember. I have dunked so much it’s really all a blur. I remember the ones I missed trying to dunk on 7 footers more than the ones dunking on two or three guys. But thank God for youtube. Also my close friends make it hard for me to forget. I always ask them, like, is my dunking really that amazing ha. It’s so normal to me that I really just shrug off every dunk. I rarely celebrate dunks. 

You began the season well in the Turkish league averaging in double figures and filling the stat sheet. Only your three is a bit off. On what things are you working on most on your game at the moment?

I rarely work on my game these days. I more so work on meditation before and after the games. Really visualizing every possible outcome. Things I think about when its just me breathing and silence is often me dribbling and a defender steps up. or me on a fast break and I think about ways to euro-step to avoid being denied. Or I will think about secondary moves once I beat the first defender. I think about all of these things about 2 hours before the game, by myself in a dark room. I don’t know why but it really calms me and it feels like I’m getting up reps. People are always impressed with my calmness, It’s because I have seen every possible outcome before the game even starts. Even the possibility of things not going how I planned. It’s all apart of life. Both the highs and the lows. 

Last season you played with Gaziantep Basketbol (Turkey-BSL) putting up very good stats. It was similar to your first season in Turkey with Usak. Both seasons you were voted an allstar. How do you feel were you a better player last season then when you were with UsaK?

I was a much smarter player. In Usak we had a young ambitious team so we were all trying things to see what would work. We had 0 pressure so we had nothing to lose. Last year we really had to focus every single game. It was so much accountability, so every player knew they had to do their job or we would not win. I take a lot of pride in last years performance. I felt I took a huge step. Usak was amazing, It showed me everything I am capable of.

Two seasons ago you split time with Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 10 games averaging 5.5ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 59.4%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 55.6%: and played 6 Eurocup:games averaging 7.2ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.0apg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3FGP: 41.7%, FT: 66.7%, left in Dec.’17, later that month moved to Avtodor Saratov (Russia-VTB) playing18 games averaging 8.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 62.5%, 3PT: 19.6%, FT: 60.6%. Was this your toughest time as a professional? What did you learn about yourself and the business in this time when playing in Spain?

It was my toughest time because of me. I felt sorry for myself. I didn’t know who that guy was. I defeated myself. I was so happy to play in Gran Canaria. But I made up in my mind the coach was out to get me. Even if that was the case or not I was already defeated. I let my ego control everything. Things happen at GC that I never knew was possible between player and coach and it got physical between us and my ego didn’t know how to handle it. But it made me understand that this specific coach probably wanted to win just as much as I did. The real story never came out but I’m sure one day it will. I’m positive both me and coach feel embarrassed about what happened and wish things went different. After leaving GC I still was holding onto it. I obsessed over the situation, the way things went down in GC once I left painted a wrong narrative and I couldn’t get over it. But after Russia I went back to Arizona and rebooted my life. I was a workout warrior in the weight room and I just let it go. I became happy with life again. I stop obsessing over every detail I couldn’t change and really realized life is amazing. Both the good and the bad. The highs and the lows. Once I got the confidence back it was game over. 

You rebounded well going to Russia and playing very well in the competitive VTB league. How key was it having many Americans around to help ease the tough traveling schedule as well as just feeling comfortable all the time?

It was everything. Overseas is really about creating a brotherhood with both Americans and native players. But I really hated traveling in Russia. 

In 2016-2017 you had a great season with Usak Sportlif Basketbol (Turkey-BSL) playing 26 games averaging 15.8ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 69.9%; and played 11 BCL games averaging 14.8ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.5apg, Steals-4 (2.4spg), FGP: 62.8%, 3PT: 23.0%, FT: 59.0%; and 4 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 13.8ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.8apg, 1.8spg. How key was hitting Fenebahce for 30 Points in your debut and would it be fair to say that you matured as a player there?

I definitely matured that game. Throughout my career I never feel like I showed up in big games until that game. And literally ever since I feel all my best games are against bigger teams and opponents. But this season I feel every game is a Fenerbahce game. No games off at all. This year will be my best season as a player. 

You played your rookie season with Consultinvest VL Pesaro (Italy-Serie A) playing 9 games averaging 15.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 45.9%, 3FGP: 40.8%, FT: 75.0%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie where you knew that you were very far away from home?

My son being born was my wake up call of life. It was so new to me. I was never scared about being a father but more so about not leaving the proper legacy. So once he was born it was go time and it still is. All because of him. 

You finished the season with Changwon LG Sakers (South Korea-KBL) playing 28 games averaging 16.1ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 71.8%. What kind of experience was it being in the far east? What did you gain most form your experiences off the court?

Seoul is an amazing city. I grew up loving tech. And Seoul is all tech. I was more fascinated with the city and how advanced they are technologically than playing basketball there. I hate to say it and divert from basketball but there technology there is next level. But they play many games both home and away. Sometimes 2 week road trips but it’s nice staying in hotels with amazing room service. 

You played at two NBA Summer Leagues with the Kings and Jazz. What memories do you have from there and what was the best example of seeing that the NBA is a business first in terms of how players are at times handled?

I loved summer league. I was a baby at that time and I didn’t know what to expect. I feel if I went back and played next summer I would have a different mentality. I would have more fun and not take it so seriously because the NBA doesn’t. It’s really to focus on drafted players and players the team wants to see. In Utah I had no chance, but out of ASU the kings really liked me but I shied away from the opportunity. I’m not mad about that because that was just part of my maturation process. The business of the NBA is normal to me. Its all human nature. Those businesses are going to do what’s best for their team the same as I would do for my kids. I’m never surprised about what goes on in the NBA.

Before going to Arizona State you had to pay basketball dues at N.Idaho JC (JUCO)
and Edmonds Community College (NJCAA). How key was it making first real basketball experiences at these schools. Would you have been as successful at Arizona State had you not gone there?

I mean I never made it to northern Idaho. That summer I got convicted of robbery and had to do some jail time along with a felony. So once I got back in school at Edmonds it was go time. I never worked so hard in school and on the court. All that work is still paying off. Because it showed me anything is possible. So once I transferred to Arizona State I knew the opportunity I just received and \i for sure wasn’t going to take it for granted. I committed to Detroit and decommitted. I often wonder if I would have been as successful. I’ve always found a way so I think it would have been a slightly different story but ultimately the same book. 

Besides all your amazing dunks at Arizona State with what memories did you leave the school in 2015? Was reaching the NIT Sweet 16 in 2015 and the March Madness in 2014 and 2015 ones that you will always remember?

March Madness I will never forget. My late friend Jermaine Marshall who died playing in France last year told me how epic it was. It was my first year D1! but his 5th. So once I got to experience it, it’s just kind of one of those things I will never forget as long as I live. The memories are so vivid. Feels like yesterday. I will NEVER forget the Arizona State. Knowing my past and all I had to overcome. It still feels unreal. 

You had amazing games in your last 6 as a senior. Was this the best basketball that you played in the NCAA?

Yes I mean really the whole second half of the season. I wasn’t performing up to my standards and I knew if I wanted to make it to the next level I had to turn up. So I literally went black out the second half, I don’t know what came over me. I felt regret after knowing that was in me all along. Sometimes you just have to be backed into a corner before you bring out the monster. Vintage, human nature.

Was your 22 point game in the 66-61 win against Uconn your best personal game at Arizona State?

There were a few but that one sticks out the most because they were previous NCAA champs and we were on the road and the history with that team and coach really set a nice stage for a potential big game. 

How did head coach Herb Sendek and Bobby Hurley groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

I only played under Herb Sendek and he was really like a father figure for me. He never let up. He felt there was always a way. He really taught me how to fight on the court. There is always a chance to come out on top. He always had that underdog mentality. No excuses, ever.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Savon Goodwin?

Savon will never beat me in one on one. Although he will never admit that. LOL 

Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that reached the NBA?

The toughest player that I faced that reached the NBA, was for sure Zach Lavine. You could tell that he was going to be good because he had so much raw talent. But he was a freshman at the time and me and him had worked out while he was still in high school. So to see his transformation from senior year to freshman year at UCLA was eye popping. He was really unguardable being able to both shoot and attack the rim. 

Please name your personal own NBA Mount Rushmore. Which heads past or present would you pick?

My NBA Mount Rushmore, would have to be Lebron James, Michael JORDAN , Shaquielle O’Neal and Kevin Durant. I don’t go based off of statistics but just the guys I’ve watched and studied the most. I respect the past but for me that’s my personal Mount Rushmore. 

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

I think Michael JORDAN was for sure a more graceful player. But I think Lebron could have played in both eras while JORDAN may struggle now in this league not being a consistent shooter. But who knows to be honest. Maybe he would develop a shot a lot faster to adapt. But for me I’m taking Lebron James over Michael JORDAN.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Last movie I saw was the Joker. I understood the hype. But a tad bit overrated. They could have done without some of the story like to make it even better. But overall 8/10.

Thanks Shaquielle for the chat.

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