Jaren Lewis is a 22 year old 198cm forward from Orlando, Florida that is playing his rookie season in Germany with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen currently averaging 9,6ppg, 3,9rpg and 1,6apg through 9 games.. He began his basketball career at Lake Highland Prep and played at Abil.Christian (NCAA) from 2015-2019 playing a total of 123 games. In his freshman year he played 30 games averaging 9.7ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 53.2%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 72.6%. In his second year at Abil.Christian (NCAA) he played 28 games averaging 13.5ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 71.3%. In his junior season at Abil.Christian (NCAA) he played 31 games averaging 13.4ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 79.1%. In his senior year at Abil.Christian (NCAA) he played 34 games averaging 13.8ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.8%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his career a few months ago.
Jaren thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Right now I’m in Houston, Texas. I’ve had a pretty good summer I’ve been staying in Houston with my older brother since I graduated in May. And I’ve just been in Houston working out, training, and getting ready for the upcoming season.
Congrats on signing your first professional contract with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. From Sacramento to Schwenningen. One place is a city and has an NBA team and the other is more a town and a Pro A club. Are you afraid that you will witness a culture shock?
No I’m not afraid about witnessing a culture shock. It will definitely be different for me and will be something I will have to adjust to. But I think I am ready for it . I’m ready to get there and get to work.
Describe what kind of a feeling it was working out for the NBA team Kings. How did it come about and what will you never forget about this experience?
It was a great experience working out for the Sacramento Kings. It came about because my agent did a great job getting my name out there and marketing me. Once he did that teams started taking a closer look at me and I’m grateful for the Kings giving me an opportunity to come work out there for them. It happened kind of fast because I took a while before signing with an agent, but as soon as I did my agent got to work for me and it has paid off. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I performed. I feel like I had a pretty good workout and I’m just eager to build on it and to continue getting better.
What other players were there and with what coaches did you work with? Did they just give you the normal blabla advice about continuing to work hard or did they offer other tips on your basketball journey?
I worked out with Kyle Guy from Virginia’s national championship team, BJ Taylor from the University of Central Florida, John Konchar from Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne and two big men one from Eastern Kentucky University and another from Louisiana Lafayette. The workout was put on by assistant coaches of the Sacramento Kings, but most of the organization and newly hired Luke Walton watched and evaluated the whole workout. A couple coaches had a few tips for me regarding to my basketball journey but that was it.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Have you had ex teammates or friends play in Germany in the past?
I have heard Germany is very beautiful and that the food is very good. I’ve read that Germany is a very diverse place and it can be full of the world’s different languages. Germany has a very large population so I wasn’t surprised to find that out. I don’t know much about German basketball and I don’t have any friends or ex teammates that have played in Germany in the past. But I am looking forward to learning more and gaining more experience.
Wiha Panthers Schwenningen head coach Alen Velcic is real high on your skill level. Did you have the feeling with the first phone call that he had a special heart for his team and players?
I did have that feeling on the first phone call that we had I can tell the Coach Velcic is really passionate about the game of basketball and he is going to give his all to ensure that we are successful on and off the court. Coach Velcic really does have a special heart for his players. You can tell by the way he talks about developing players not only as basketball players but also as men.
What other reasons were there for you making the wiha Panthers Schwenningen your home in your rookie season?
The main reason for me signing is the opportunity the league and team present. I can really grow and develop in this league and it can be a great platform for me to showcase my talent. I have connected with Coach Velcic several times and we have common goals. We have started to form a really great relationship and I feel this partnership will benefit us both.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a versatile and athletic 201cm forward. If you had to compare your style of play on the court to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
That’s tough I can’t really say there is a NBA player that I can compare my style of play to I feel like I’m very unique and I bring a lot to the table. I am very versatile so it is hard to compare my game to other people.
Consistency could be your middle name. You averaged 13,0ppg in your last three NCAA seasons. How important is it for you to be consistent and do you believe you can continue to carry it in the professional ranks?
It is extremely important for me to be consistent and I do believe I can carry it on to the professional ranks because of my habits and my routines. The work I put in makes me feel confident that I will continue to be consistent. I feel like my preparation will continue to help me find success and consistency.
You’re a guy that can really do a lot at the offensive end. What other strengths does your game possess that you will display on the court in Germany this season?
I think my complete game will be on display on the court in Germany this season. I really can do a lot on the offensive end and I look forward to putting that on display every time I go out to play. I think exactly that will show, I will do whatever it takes to help the team win.
How much pride do you take on the defensive end. What part of your defense do you feel will be most exposed in your rookie season?
I take a lot of pride on the defensive end. I don’t feel like any part of my defense will be exposed in my rookie season if I continue to stay locked in and consistent.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
I feel like my passing ability doesn’t always get noticed right away on the court. I feel like I am a very good passer and have an excellent feel for the game.
On what areas of your game will you be working on most this summer so you will be most prepared? How well oiled is your three pointer? The highest you averaged in the last three seasons was 35%. Do you feel like your shot will be getting better over time?
This summer I’m working a lot on shooting and also getting stronger. I do feel like my shot will be getting better over time and I’m ready to show the strides and improvements I’ve made.
You played at Abil.Christian (NCAA) from 2015-2019. How great was your NCAA time. Was winning the Southland Conf. Tournament as a senior your most cherished moment or leading your team to the NCAA tournament for the first time in over 100 years?
It was a lot of fun. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and yes I would say winning the southland conference tournament as a senior was my most cherished moment in my time at Abilene Christian it was just so rewarding because we had been working so hard for that moment. And to see that hard work pay off meant a lot because we went through a lot to get there.
How proud are you that you are only the second guy from your prep school Lake Highland with ex Duke great Joel Berry to have made the NCAA tournament. You guys were teammates there. Was he like a role model for you?
I am very proud that I got a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. Joel was a great teammate and set a great example to follow. I did learn a lot from him and I’m grateful for the time we spent together at Lake Highland.
You were very consistent in your last three seasons in the NCAA. How do you feel did your game grow in this time?
I feel like my game grew a lot and I truly became more versatile over my time at ACU I think when I came in I was primarily just a scorer but over time my game grew and I begin to be able to do multiple things on the court and it really helped my personal growth and my team’s success. I added a post and mid post game to my skill set and became a better leader.
How did head coach Joel Golding groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Golding prepared me by challenging me. He always challenged me to do more or to get better at something. He consistently challenged me to be a better leader but he also helped me get better at playing off the ball. He challenged me with a leadership role in my sophomore year and he never gave up on me even when there were times I thought I wasn’t ready.
Despite losing 69-65 to Nicholls State in your junior season, you scored 18 points and had 20 rebounds. Was that one of your best games in the NCAA?
That was one of my best games but I think in the same week I recorded 20 points and 18 rebounds or something like that in a game against the University of Incarnate Word. I also had 26 points in a game against Charleston Southern my sophomore year. And 20 points against the university of the pacific my senior year. Those are just some games that come to the front of my mind when thinking about some of my best ncaa games.
In your last NCAA game you lost to powerhouse Kentucky 75-44, but you left a lasting impression with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. What memories do you have from that game?
I’ll always remember it because it was the last game of my college career, but I will also remember it because it was in the NCAA tournament. To play on that stage was a dream and to finally do it felt great.
When you look at a guy like Keldon Johnson or Tyler Herro who were both drafted by the NBA in the first round or a Reid Travis who probably will play in the NBA, do you feel like there is so much difference in what they can offer on the court and what you can offer. How important was your play in this game for your self confidence?
I don’t feel like there is much of a difference. I have never felt like that. I think it is because I have been playing against the so called top players my whole life. But it was a great experience playing against Kentucky but I already have a great self confidence so my play just made me hungrier to get where they are.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Hayden Farquhar?
I don’t think we ever played one on one before.
Who was the toughest opponent that you played in the NCAA that is in the NBA or in Europe now
There were a number of guys that are in the conversation for me. Kay Felder from Oakland was tough I think he is in the G league. Jordan Howard was tough to stop as well I know he was in the G league this past year. Rashawn Thomas was very tough as well I know he spent time in the g league but I think he is in Europe now. But aside from that I played against Brandon Ingram in high school and he was pretty tough as well.
Please list your five best teammates of all-time?
Joel Berry, Jaylen Franklin, Jovan Crnic, Jalen Little, Drake Green
Please name your personal own NBA Rushmore. Which four heads would you pick past or present for your list?
Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Magic Johnson
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Neither. I’m t Kobe Bryant fan so I believe Kobe Bryant is the greatest basketball player of all time. I just believe he was more skilled than Michael Jordan and Lebron and I feel like he always found a way to do more with less. Whether that was less athletic ability than Michael or Lebron or worse situations.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I just saw the movie child’s play, I’m a huge fan of scary movies.
Thanks Jaren for the chat.