Chris Hooper is a 28 year old 198cm forward from the Bronx, New York who is playing his fourth professional season and first in Germany with the Itzehoe Eagles (Germany-ProB). Currently he is tearing up the German Pro B being fifth in scoring, third in rebounds and seventh in blocks. He is plastering the stat sheet like no other averaging 19,9ppg, 9,9rpg, 3,6apg, 1,2spg and 1,1bpg. He has scored in double figures in 16 of 17 games and has scored 20 points or more 7 times. His best scoring games included a 33 point explosion against Rist Wedel, 30 points against TKS 49ers and 29 points against Bernau. He played the last two seasons with Obera Tennis Club (Argentina-La Liga Argentina) and last season played 49 games averaging 16.9ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.8apg, Blocks-4 (1.5bpg), FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 70.5%. Two seasons ago with Obera Tennis Club (Argentina-TNA) he played 28 games averaging 16.2ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.1apg, Blocks-3 (1.4bpg), FGP: 60.1%, FT: 58.9%. He played his rookie season with the Reading Rockets (United Kingdom-NBL D1) playing 21 games: Score-5 (22.4ppg), Reb-1 (12.3rpg), 2.3apg, 1.4spg, Blocks-4 (1.3bpg), FGP-1 (68.1%), FT: 63.9%. He began his basketball career at Arturo A. Schomburg Satellite Academy and then played at St. Francis College (NY) (NCAA) and in his last year played 32 games averaging 11.3ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 58.3%, FT: 57.1%. Last summer he spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Chris thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. After a year in Great Britain and two in Argentina, you now will play your fourth professional season in Germany. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?
Yes three years professional going into my fourth, and I don’t really know anything about Germany but everybody tells me that its nice. As far as basketball I know it’s very good basketball and puts you in a good position to move up or to a better city I know more about the BBL of course because its what’s most talked about when people speak of Germany.
Have you had any friends, ex teammates or opponents that you know of have played in Germany over the years?
Yes I’ve had friends that played in Pro B maybe you might be familiar with the names Moussa Kone , Qua’dir Welton , as well as ex opponents ( JoJo Cooper) .
Congrats on signing with the Itzehoe Eagles. After seeing England and Argentina, what were the main reasons for signing with the Itzehoe Eagles. How vital was it for you having a good feeling about the head coach Pat Elzie?
Thank you I really appreciate that and the opportunity of course. The main reason for signing with the team was I felt a connection between me and coach from the beginning. He explained how he liked my game, broke it down and explained where my weakness was and just told me how much he wants to help me improve and help move up or get where I need to be at least. I’ve always had a good feeling about coach Pat he just seems like a good person and that’s what it’s about. Basketball is important but good character is hard to come by and that’s what coach Pat displayed to me.
Pat Elzie stated that he feels that you will be able to bring the team to a new level. Do you feel like that has more to do with your playing ability or your hard work ethic?
First off I’m glad he feels that way about me and it means a lot and I would say a little bit of both but for sure it all starts with your work ethic so I’m going to lean more towards that answer.
You had solid stats, but now going into your fourth professional season, you have always played in the second division as a professional. Is there a chip on your shoulder that keeps getting heavier and heavier?
Yeah I wouldn’t say the chip is getting heavier but I would say I think I’m definitely a top tier player and proven it multiple times and until I get there I’m going to keep proving myself which starts off by keep working hard and working on all my weaknesses.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 198cm forward that isn’t very big, but very quick and is an unstoppable player one on one. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player new or old who would best fit the description?
If I had to compare my game to an NBA player it would definitely be Zach Randolph, he’s a bit bigger then me but I’ve watched many of his films he’s tough ,gets to his spots on the floor, not the most explosive guy, very energetic, good one on one player and it just reminds me of myself.
You are a very good rebounder for your height. It seems like you have become an even better rebounder since you turned professional. Has that occurred because of more experience over the years?
Yeah I think it just something I felt I had to get better at, because when I became a professional I was responsible for all rebounds so I just tried to figure out ways how to move guys out of the paint because they were usually bigger then me and I won’t out jump them.
You began to play basketball at age 17. What has been your secret to developing so well? Is it more that you were born with immense talent or is it your non-ending work ethic?
Definitely the work ethic and the people that just started jumping in my corner and guiding me the right way, and pushed me to be better and better until I wanted it for myself.
You have been so consistent as a professional always being a top scorer and rebounder. What do you feel has been your secret to being a consistent player over the years?
There’s no secret to being consistent just have to keep working hard and pushing yourself to limits. My mentor always told me ‘what you do in the summer will show in the fall/winter’
Your only 1/9 from downtown in three years of professional ball. Do feel the need to develop a three pointer as you continue to move up the basketball ladder?
Yeah I think that’s what I need to work on the most out of everything is my three point shot, and not just because I’m climbing the ladder but because it takes pressure off me and I don’t have to bang down low all game I can face up , pick and pop etc.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet at ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t always get noticed right away on the court?
A hidden strength I would say in my game is my energy to the game, my leadership on the floor and just being vocal. Those all very important things to the game that doesn’t really get noticed right away.
You played the last two seasons in Argentina for Obera Tennis Club (Argentina-La Liga Argentina). You had very consistent stats. How vital was it being the only American both times? Was dealing with pressure with having to produce something that came easier over time?
It was a very challenging job trying to be a leader and not speaking the same language as my teammates but as the time went on I started to learn a few words and I was able to communicate a little then it became easier. The second year started rough as well having new players and a new coach but I just played the same way, I learned personal and things started to get much easier.
As a rookie you played with the Reading Rockets (United Kingdom-NBL D1) playing 21 games: Score-5 (22.4ppg), Reb-1 (12.3rpg), 2.3apg, 1.4spg, Blocks-4 (1.3bpg), FGP-1 (68.1%), FT: 63.9%. What was your wake up call to being an American in Great Britain where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I never really thought about being far from home because I was treated like family there. I’m a guy that likes to experiences things and places and Reading Rockets gave me that first chance to experience being across the waters.
How important was it having fellow rookie Craig Ponder as a teammate in Reading? Are you surprised that he never played a second professional season?
Craig Ponder was a great player and an even better person, me and him became brothers, on the court we picked up each others slack. We were leaders to each other and it made us so good our rookie season. Yes it was most surely a shock for me when I found out he wasn’t playing a second year but I speak with him all the time he’s doing great.
You played your first two years of college ball at Kaskaskia College in Illinois and at Odessa College in Texas. How important was it getting this experience and how did it get you ready for the NCAA?
That experience for me was very important because it taught me to be tough, and grind hard because in JUCO everybody is competing for one thing which is to get an NCAA scholarship preferably from a Division 1 college.
You played your last two years in the NCAA at St Francis. You made a huge jump in your senior year averaging in double figures in scoring. How did you feel did you develop your game in your last year?
I talked with my coach at the end of the year and he explained to me what I had to get better on and what he thought was best for me for the summer time, which was stay at school all summer and just work on my game and don’t even go home so that’s what I did. Over that summer I shed 27 pounds and got in better shape than I was before.
In your first ever NCAA game, you played against top basketball school Georgetown losing 83-62 scoring 7 points and 5 rebounds in 13 minutes. What memories do you have of this game and the high quality players that you faced?
I wasn’t really worried about the players on the other team, but I was more worried about doing good in my first division 1 game. I was so nervous and just wanted to play well.
How did head coach Glen Braica groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He always preached hard work to me but basketball is not what’s most important to him, it was about getting all of us to graduate and just being a good person no matter what, because there are players who are the most talented but home doing nothing because of the attitude and the kind of person they are, so that’s what he most prepared me for as far as becoming a professional.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Antonio Jenefer?
HaHa me and tone had a lot of battles in the two years we were there but if I had to break it down all the times we played I would say its split even, but tone is a very talented player.
Who has been the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA or in Europe?
The toughest player I played against would have to be Montrez Harell.
Please list your five best teammates of all-time?
Kevin Douglass Tyreek Jewell Craig Ponder Jalen Cannon Jordan Aaron
Please name your personal own NBA Rushmore. Which four heads would you pick past or present for your list?
Kobe Bryant Shaq James Harden Tracy Mc grady
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
To be honest I’m a Kobe fan so I’m going to go with Kobe haha but what Lebron is doing is amazing and greatness and hard work can’t go unnoticed.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Last movie I saw was The avengers end game .
Thanks Chris for the chat.