Yasin Kolo(wiha Panthers) There Is Always Beauty In The Struggle

Yasin Kolo is a 27 year old 208cm center that is playing his fourth professional season and first with the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningen (ProA) currently averaging 6,4ppg and 4,4rpg. Last season he played with the Rhein Stars Koeln (ProB) playing 11 games averaging 16.8ppg, 9.0rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 74.3%. AS a rookie he played 17 BBL games with Tuebingen and also boats professional experience with Ehingen and the Artland Dragons. He began his basketball career with ASC 46 Goettingen (2.Regionalliga) and then spent six years in the States getting valuable experience with the Fayetteville Christian School an dpalyed 15 NCAA games in total with East Carolina and Hartford. He finished his college career with Bellarmine (NCAA2) playing 29 games averaging11.0ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 46.6%, FT: 66.3%. He spoke to eugermanhoops.com about his basketball career late in the summer.

Yasin thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?

My pleasure. I am in a small town in Germany spending some quality time with family as well as rehabbing and preparing myself for the upcoming season. My summer has been great so far being able to refresh my physical and mental state after that injury and challenging season. It’s good for the soul to have my close ones around during this process.

Congrats on signing with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. After being disappointed in your career a few times, at what things do you keep notice of most now when deciding if a team will be the right fit?

The atmosphere on the team and in the organization is very important to me. I also care about the character of the Head Coach, and how his past players got along with him/her

For you it wasn’t a difficult choice to come to the wiha Panthers because you have known Bill Borekambi since your childhood and the trust from Alen Velcic. Talk a little about how vital these two people were in making your decision easier?

They definitely had a huge impact on me to decide to play with Schwenningen next season. I have a good relationship with Bill. We have played against each other since we were little kids, and the idea of joining forces with him was hard to resist. I also had the chance to get to know Coach Alen Velcic better on my visit. He is a Coach that really wants to win, and knows how to get the best out of every player. He made it happen to move from the Regionalliga to Pro A within 2 years so, that just shows that he is a winner. And I definitely wanted to be part of a winning program. Alen Velcic also cares about his players off the court which is a good thing. He is going to be hard on you, but off the court you can crack jokes with him

Please say something about Bill Borekambi’s game that you like most? Everyone knows that he is a walking bucket, but what is something else that he is that few might actually don’t know?

Like you already said, he is a really good scorer. He is also pretty strong and even though he may be a little undersized for his position, he gets the job done. Bill is overall a great guy to be around and makes everyone around him better.

After a tough season with the RheinStars where a nasty injury derailed your season, how fit are you now and how confident are you that you can bounce back this season?

As of now, I am doing really well in terms of my progress over the past months. Getting better every day and I definitely enjoy the process. Of course the past season was tough, but over the past months, I had the chance to grow even more mentally with the help of God, my family and the power of will. This helped me attack rehab even harder to bounce back and pushed my confidence to a whole different level.

How excited are you to be able to play alongside Marko Bacak. You both compliment each other. What are you looking forward to most this season being able to be his teammate?

I am definitely excited to play with Marko. He is a good player. We definitely complement each other well and I am that we can build a big man duo that can help our team to make some noise this season

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 208cm versatile big man. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

I don’t like to compare myself to proven players like that. But my playing style often gets compared to the ones of Lamarcus Aldridge, Al Horford, Kevin Love or Demarcus Cousins. Just in terms of being a big that can score inside but can also spread the floor and make shots at a high right or make plays off the dribble. I also like to pattern my game after Carmelo Anthony.

You have a pretty outside shot. You shot 45% in your last season at Bellarmine (NCAA2) and in between didn’t shot as well in Tuebingen, Ehingen and Artland, but found your stroke again last season with Cologne shooting 50%. How excited are you for this season concerning your three pointer continuing to work well. How confident are you that you will keep the accuracy from last season?

Well, in Tuebingen I shot about 38% but only attempted 8 3s all season. In Ehingen, I dislocated and broke my finger and played with a cast on my hand that I never figured out how to shoot with. Then I came to Artland and didn’t attempt a single 3 point shot while I was there. Then in Cologne, I could finally find my groove again and use my strength. I am a shooter, so my confidence in my shot is always high because I put the work in

You’re an inside presence that can finish with right and left, score and get rebounds. What other strengths will fans see in the Pro A this season?

I think my passing abilities for a big man as well as my ballhandling. Besides that I think I can be a good screen setter to get my teammates open and roll or pop quick. I definitely want to showcase a positive attitude to the fans and my team and be willing to do whatever helps us to be successful

What are aspects of your game that you will be working on most this summer so you will be best prepared to be an impact player in the Pro A?

Definitely my lateral quickness as well as explosiveness. That was a big goal of mine to improve in those areas, especially after my injury. Defense, in all areas is something I really had my focus on so far

Let’s talk about your career?Last season you played with the Rhein Stars Koeln (ProB) playing 11 games averaging 16.8ppg, 9.0rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 74.3%. How tough was this season with the injury and do you ever wonder what would have happened to the club’s chances of remaining in the Pro B if you hadn’t been injured?

Definitely loved and enjoyed my time with the Rheinstars Koeln. But indeed, it was tough season for us as a team with all the injuries. I have actually been thinking about that subject a lot this simmer. I definitely blame myself for not being able to help the team to stay in the league in this crucial time. But unfortunately it’s part of the game.

In the 2017-2018 season you split time with the Team Ehingen Urspring (ProA) playing 9 games averaging 3.3ppg, 2.7rpg, left in Nov.’17, in Dec.’17 moved to Artland Dragons (ProB) playing 13 games averaging 9.8ppg, 6.5rpg, FGP: 55.2%, FT: 77.9%. How tough was this season for you? Did you ever lose hope and faith in the basketball process in this season?

Yes, it was a tough season. People questioned me, of course. Being a guy that likes to shoot the ball, having a finger injury, the shot is not falling how it used to. Then playing for the Artland Dragons and not attempting a single 3 point shot. But I look back and I am thankful that I went through this. Because it made me stronger. And I never lost hope or faith once in the process. Because there is always beauty in the struggle

You were teammates for a few months with rising German talent Kevin Yebo who in three years made it from the Regionalliga to the BBL. What memories do you have of his game and could he be a German national player down the road?

Kevin is a really talented guy. He has always been super athletic and fast. He was always a hard worker and definitely earned everything. Back then he was really raw skill wise and had to rely on his athleticism to make plays. But within a year he became a more complete player which comes from hard work. The sky is the limit for him I think and I hope he will get a chance at one point.

After six years in the States you returned back to Germany in 2016 and played a season with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. You played only 17 games averaging 1,2ppg. How disappointing was this season. What positives did you gain from this season?

It was probably one of the toughest years in my career but like I said before. There is always beauty in the struggle. But I learned a lot that year and I am thankful for that and had the chance to compete with some high level players.

After six years in the states, how Americanized were you coming back to Germany? Has that rubbed off a bit in the last few years or is that American feeling still with you?

The American culture has always played a big role in my life. When I came back to Germany after 6 years, I did have a hard time to adjust back to the German lifestyle. I had a very strong accent when I was talking German, my family would always laugh about it. But that is normal when you speak only one language for six years. The American feeling will always be within me, especially because of my family there

Tuebingen had a talented front court with Gary Mcghee and Isaiah Philmore. Did you believe like you got a fair chance there from Tyron Mccoy?

Yes, the front court was very talented and experienced that year. Not only the front court, but our entire team. Shane Battier once said ‘Don’t complain about playing time. My job is to play so well the coach can’t sit me. I guess I haven’t proved myself enough but it is what it is

You began your career with ASC Goettingen (2 Regionalliga). What were the main reasons for going to the States? I think back then it was hip to do that in 2010 whereas now it seems like it has become less over the years?

My sister and I always talked about me playing in America and going to college to play basketball. So I always kept that dream with me. Definitely one of my favorite moments when I told her that I got a full ride scholarship from a University to play Basketball after my Highschool year in the States. Priceless.

In your first three NCAA seasons with East Carolina and Hartford, you played a total of only 15 games. How tough was this whole experience? What positives could you achieve from being at two schools despite not playing much?

In my first NCAA game, I had a pretty good game but then I got hurt and had to sit out the rest of the season. That was a difficult situation because I started off so well. My second year I had to fight my way back in the lineup after not playing for a whole year. After that I decided to start a new Chapter and transfered to Hartford where I had a few good games and got some good playing time. It was a learning process that I had to go through back then and that is okay. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done a few things differently. But I had the chance to play in different conferences, play lots of different teams and see a lot of America itself. It was a great experience.

Three was a charm for you as you moved one last time to Bellarmine (NCAA2) and didn’t regret it. How enjoyable was that year for you and what were your fondest moments there?

It was a fun year. The bond of the team was very strong and of course Bellarmine was a D2 powerhouse where winning was just what we expected of ourselves. I remember us winning the Regional Championship at home and then making it to the Final 4 in 2015 and just losing by 1 point in the semifinals. It was a great year but we ultimately missed our chance to win it all.

How excited are you to be playing against your ex Bellarmine teammate Adam Eberhart who signed with Heidelberg? What memories do you have of his game then?

I am definitely excited to play against him. I talked to him after he signed with Heidelberg and they definitely got a good player with him. He always had a good feel for the game. He is not a player that is going to wow you with spectacular athleticism or lightning speed. But he is such a high IQ player that he is going to wow you with the intelligent way he plays with. Definitely excited to see how his game evolved over the years.

You had many great games at Bellarmine, but was your 22/15 game in the 89-79 win over Northwood in your first ever game one of the best you had there?

Yes, it was one of the best I guess. But stats were not important to me back then. I just wanted to come in and be part of a winning culture

How did head coach Scott Davenport groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

He had a huge impact. Definitely something I will always be thankful for. He was hard on me, which prepared me well for my professional career. He had high standards for me and if I didn’t live up to them, he would let me know. Excellence was one his key words. He is a Hall of Fame Coach, and when you are around him, you definitely know why he is in there

Who won a one on one in practice you or George Suggs?

I don’t remember ever losing against him if that counts as an answer haha

Who has been the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA or in Europe?

I would say Montrezl Harrell

Please list your five best teammates of all-time?

Quinn Cook, Austin Rivers, Julian Washburn, Quincy Miller, Stanton Kidd

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

Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant

What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

Michael Jordan hands down

What was the last movie that you saw?

The Equalizer

Thanks Yasin for the chat.

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