Brandon Alston is a 25 year old 196cm guard that was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Fairfax, Virginia. He just completed his professional rookie season with Team Ehingen Urspring (ProA) playing 6 games averaging 9.8ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 34.7%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 45.5%. He played at various schools like Paul VI Catholic High School, Middleburg Academy and Herndon High School before starting his NCAA career in 2014 with Lehigh University (NCAA where he balled in 61 NCAA games. He finished his NCAA career at Georgia Institute of Technology (NCAA) playing 32 games as a junior averaging 5.4ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 38.5%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 70.7% and as a senior played 26 games averaging 7.0ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 83.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career during he COVID-19 crisis.
Hi Brandon where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the outbreak of the Corona Virus?
Hello, I am currently living in Germany. I am staying positive and still working out and checking in on family and friends.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
I had no idea it would spread like this and part of the reason I did not go immediately home after the Pro A league was canceled was because I was scared of unknowingly having the virus and spreading it to my family. It is sad to see people loose their lives and jobs.
How did you experienced the day to day life in Germany during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
Day to day life in Germany has been affected a little less here than in other places. Germany is starting to open the country again but with some restrictions. I must wear a mask when in public and practice social distancing of course.
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing
Yeah, there’s definitely no shaking hands and I watch out for little things like coughing and sneezing more than ever. I think allergy season will cause people to sneeze and scare others in public haha.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?
I think as athletes it really shouldn’t be a big deal. As basketball players, we play competitive pick up games without fans a lot in the summer. It is easy to compete in any environment, especially when you are being paid. Also, I think it brings relief to any fans that are able to watch the game on TV. People desperately need something to take their mind off of what the world is currently going through and I think sports can do that.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
I think you really just learn how to be flexible. I have a tech company that I work on long distance right now with my brother and I have never been on FaceTime and Zoom calls this much in my life.
Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
Personally, I work out all year. Just coming from college, I am used to summer school and fall workouts so it’s not that big of a difference for me. It could help with team chemistry, similarly to college.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
I think the key for all players right now is to live in the present and just continue to train any way possible. I am pretty certain leagues will find a way to resume, but I have no idea what that will look like. All I can do is be ready for my net opportunity.
How have you experienced the day to day life back home in the States? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls.
I haven’t been back to the States since the season in Germany ended. I was actually training here in Germany for a while before they finally closed the gym. I have a few weights and resistance bands. Besides that I have been running a lot.
If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
Recently I’ve been in a lot of contact with CJ McCollum. We are both alumni from Lehigh University and have been working together on some stuff. Additionally, I’ve been talking to Josh Okogie. We played at Georgia Tech together my junior year.
Let’s talk about the season of Team Ehingen. It was a tough season for Team Ehingen finishing in last place with a 4-23 record. How tough was it for you personally coming near the end of the season?
For me, I only played 6 games. I was trying to change the attitude of the team when I arrived. I’m a very positive person and I wanted to see guys compete. We did that against Rostock, Leverkusen, and Nurnberg. We were up 6 against Rosotock with like 2 minutes to go but we didn’t really have the chemistry to close. Similarly, we were up by 8 or 10 against Nurnberg at Nurnberg and just didn’t have chemistry to finish. I think also a big problem is that we were a very young team. Because of this, when guys like Cullen went down for 3 out of my 6 games here, the depth on this team suffers more dramatically. I think this was very evident in the Bremerhaven game.
You came late and finished with a 0-6 season. How was the mood at the end? Did COVID-19 in a way come at the right time to end all the suffering?
I always enjoy competing so I did not like the season ending early. For the 6 games I played, we were up and let go of leads in 3 of them so that is what was most upsetting.
A big problem for the team was cutting down on points. Why was the team unable to find a defensive identity the whole season
I can only really speak on the 6 games I played in. I think the game against Rostock and Nurnberg we really showed more toughness. Coach Dom recruited me for toughness and I think it showed in those games but still, I came very late so there’s not much I can speak on.
A big problem was that most of the roster were new players and there weren’t any other real veterans on the team. Players also came and went. Why do you feel was finding team chemistry particular with this team so tough to accomplish as well as injuries occuring?
Yeah there was a lot going on that I can’t really speak on. Coach Dom and Nico are great people and very good at their jobs. I think it just came down to seeing something that they thought needed to be changed and so they did it. I definitely believe that if I had started playing earlier I could have helped a lot. This is something that Tim Hasbargen and I spoke about
Let’s talk about your teammates. How did you experience rookie American Eric Scheive in your brief time there? How much easier did the big man make your game?
Eric is a great guy on and off the floor. By the time I got there I think the losing had put a little bit of a damper on his happiness but he always plays hard. I really like playing with him because he can pop in pick and rolls and makes a lot more spacing on the floor.
How much of a pleasure was it playing with German Jonah Akim-Jamal? He was a rookie coming from San Diego State. What was your early impression of him who had come from San Diego State?
Akim is great guy. I joke with him a lot and call him Akim the Dream. I think he can be a very good player he just has to be a little more vocal and really use his size and athleticism to his advantage.
What was your impression of German Tim Hasbargen? He made another jump in his second Pro A season. He couldn’t find a role at Cleveland State and played for a NCAA 3 school Babson as a senior. He didn’t have a great season there, but came back to Germany and really stuck out in the Pro A.
Tim is probably the guy I spoke to the most on the team. He is very competitive and just always tries his hardest. We had a lot of battles in practice that were pretty fun. I think college can be tricky. A lot of it has to do with your situation. He may not have excelled in college but I think he will continue to do better and better and have great professional career
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 196cm guard/forward that can do a little bit of everything. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
Right now I watch a lot of Jrue Holiday and Bradley Beal. Over the years I’ve studied a lot of CJ McCollum and his brother Eric McCollum. I’m pretty physical, can shoot, and create my own shot. In these 6 games I got to show that passing comes naturally to me too.
How tough was that whole signing period in the summer of 2019? You played two solid Eurobasket Summer Leagues in Atlanta and Las Vegas, but they weren’t great. Why do you feel did you not have an easier time of landing a team quicker?
Initially I was in the NAZ Suns training camp and wasn’t really looking to go overseas. I was never against going overseas, but the training camp for the G-league starts so late that it kind of cancels out a lot of other plans. After I didn’t make that team, I started looking overseas but a lot of teams already had their foreign players. It was just a matter of getting the right opportunity.
You had some good games with Ehingen adding to the stat sheet and scored in double figures against Nurnberg, Rostock and Bremerhaven. How much % of the real Brandon Alston did we really see in terms of your game? How tough was it finding your rhythm after landing there so late?
I really feel like I’m just getting started. I really enjoyed Coach Dom and Ehingen’s style of play with all the pick and rolls. I was able to show my ability to handle the ball and create for others. I had about 7 assists when we played Leverkusen. Overall, as a rookie it wasn’t the ideal situation to come into a team like I did, but I think it matured me.
Talk about your biggest strengths on the court as a player and how much pride do you take on the defensive end of the court?
As a player, I think one of my biggest strengths is my willingness to play defense and be coached. I just really hate to be scored on. Besides that, my versatility has always helped me a lot. My senior year at Georgia Tech we played a Princeton style offense and a lot of my shots were catch and shoot 3s. I shot 40% from 3, 80% from the free throw line, and led the guards on my team in field goal percentage. Getting the chance to play with more pick and rolls in my rookie year was fun but I feel like I can play in any system.
You upped your three point shooting % in your last three NCAA years, but shot only 31% with Ehingen. Your three pointer is still a work in progress. With what kind of a strategy are you going into this summer to keep building on your shot besides reps, shot selection and finding new confidence?
If you ask Coach Pastner from Georgia Tech, you won’t find many guys who are in the gym working out more than me. I think a big part of the reason I didn’t shoot my usual percentages is because I only played 6 games and did not actually get to attempt a lot of threes. My last game against Bremerhaven I went 2-5 and was starting to understand where my 3s would come from in the offense. I am a very good shooter, all of my past teammates and coaches will agree, so I have a lot of confidence in that and just look forward to showing it next time I play. I shot 40% from 3 my last season in college and that is over many more games than 6.
After playing at Middleburg Academy and Herndon High School, You began your NCAA career at Lehigh University (NCAA) in 2014 remaining 3 years while red shirting one season. You played 61 games and averaged 4,9ppg and 6,8ppg there. How would you describe your 2 years there in terms of early basketball development in your game?
My second game in college, first time I got real minutes, I scored 16 points. My first year it was a decision by the coach to play a senior in front of me who didn’t average more points than me, but was the only captain of our very young team. It was hard for me to deal with at the time, but I used that time to mature. Going into my sophomore year I was predicted to start and take on a big roll in the offense. I ended up getting injured that summer and had to red shirt. Coming back after my redshirt year, my main focus was to ease myself into playing so that I did not reinjure myself. I started the second half of my sophomore year and we lost in the Conference Championship. I scored 18 points in the semi-finals helping us win for the first time at Boston University in along time.
What memories do you have of big man Tim Kempton who made incredible steps in his 4 years and you were there in his senior year where he put up 20/10 stats. In his first two professional seasons he couldn’t make a breakthrough in the Spanish ACB and Greece. Are you surprised that his development hasn’t transformed over into his professional career the way many may have thought?
Tim is a great guy and works very hard. Again, I think a lot of basketball is the situation you are in. As a rookie, he was playing behind a very, very successful veteran at Bilbao. I think he took this year to rehab an injury but he will be back and playing at a high level.
How do you compare your game to guys you played in college that are now in the NBA?
I can play with anybody.
You then transferred to Georgia Institute of Technology (NCAA for your last two seasons. Why did you chose do this? Was the attraction of playing against much tougher competition and schools like North Carolina and Duke big?
These days, I believe you can make it to your basketball destination regardless of what school you are at. For me, I wanted to go to a bigger conference mainly because I needed bigger players around me so I could play my true position. In the Patriot League, my coach liked to use me as a match up problem at the 3-4 and play 4 out. I knew this would not be my position when I started playing professional. My first year at Georgia Tech I played point guard in many practices and played point guard in some games just because guards were now my size. Early my junior year, our starting point guard went down at Tech and I finished the game at point and scored like 22 points and had 5 assists.. and we won.
How do you feel did your game develop further at Georgia Institute of Technology (NCAA)
For me it came down to deciding between Georgia Tech and South Carolina. I knew South Carolina had a better style offense for me but I ultimately chose Georgia Tech because of its academics. At Georgia Tech, I was encouraged by Coach Pastner and teammate Josh Okogie to focus on becoming the best shooter I could because that is what the team needed. My first game my senior season at home I made 5 threes.
You had a vey good span from November 23 to January 5th in your senior year where you scored in double figures in 6 of 10 games including 14 points in a tough 76-73 loss to ST Johns. Was this some of your best basketball in the NCAA?
Yes, when I was on the floor I was scoring at a very efficient clip. I had 16 the second game of the season against Tennessee and they were ranked in the top 6 in the country.
How challenging was it squaring off against future NBA player Gary Trent-JR. What memories do you have of his performance and into what type of an NBA player can he evolve into?
I remember he was a strong player for his age. He is on the Trailblazers now and got a lot of time this year due to injuries. I think he has great mentors of CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. He will keep developing
How did head coach Josh Pastner groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Pastner was big on working on your game outside of practice. He actually bought shooting machines that tracked our shots. He was never hard on me in that area because I worked out the most on our team. I think we had a challenge of making 10,000 shots outside of practice and I made almost 20,000.
Who would win in a one on one, you or Khalid Moore?
Haha I don’t think anybody would’ve beat me one on one. I was pretty hard on Khalid in practice when he was matched up against me but he is going to be good. He just has to continue to work on his game.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced that reached the NBA?
Jerome Robinson from Boston College was a tough guy to guard my junior year. He had a complete game and the ultimate green light. College basketball is a very structured game so anytime you’re playing a guy who gets a lot of freedom like that you got to be ready.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
That’s a hard question. I’ll name 3 from each school that I talked to the most when I was there.
Lehigh: Kahron Ross, Tim Kempton, Kyle Leufroy
Georgia Tech: Josh Okogie, Evan Cole, Abdoulaye Gueye.. my guy Malachi Rice
Please produce your own personal NBA Mount Rushmore with 4 heads past or present?
This is always hard because I can only go from what I’ve seen with my eyes and on Hardwood classics. Durant would have won another championship and Finals MVP this year had he not gotten injured. He may not have all the accolades yet, but it’s hard to say I’ve seen a lot of better basketball players than him.
Mount Rushmore: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant
What is your general opinion with the debate between who is greater Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I would rather play with LeBron because of his passing ability. Off the court, I think what Michael Jordan did for the game is incredible. He really helped shape basketball culture as we see it today. On the court, when LeBron finishes his career, his numbers in points, rebounds, and assists will be hard to beat. To me, it’s really a useless argument because they will never play each other in their primes.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I’ve been watching The Last Dance.
Thanks Brandon for the chat.