Even if Vincent Golson was 12 years away into the future from being born in 1982, the term “Wow does he really live here, I thought he only flies in for games” was something the American could have classified Andrej Mangold doing in his rookie season. Back in 1982 the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High which became a cult classic 80´s movie years later gave unknown actors at the time like Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage their first roles and had numerous funny scenes that still remain timeless today. One of those was when a little kid is standing next to the high school´s star football player played by Academy Award winner Forest Whitiker and is practically drooling at his sight says “Wow does he really live here, I thought he only flies in for games. For Andrej Mangold, you could have used that same term as well as he was Golson´s teammate in Cologne this season, but rarely played games. The reason for his inconsistent team participation was that during the season he was the German reigning Bachelor from the RTL show. Even more than a half a year when the show ended, the ex easyCredit BBL player still had numerous business engagements especially on weekends that got in the way for the games. He would be jetting all around Europe and literally one could say he flew in for some of the games. Mangold who hadn´t played much the last years, but was still in pretty good basketball shape and way to good for the German fourth division called the Regionalliga. Golson and Mangold only played 4 games together and are both point guards. One can only wonder how much better the team would have been when Mangold had always been at practices and games. Despite Mangold not always being around, Vincent Golson still had a fine impression of the German basketball veteran. “Andrej´s game I liked the most since he had a tremendous background in German basketball. When you hear a background like this you assume selfishness just trying to score this or that . Especially under the circumstances. but no, his game would fit virtually anyone’s game. He seems to play hot potato with the ball passing and even his attitude. He is a really good defender. You honestly learned from him by just watching”, warned Vincent Golson. They played together one last time on March 7th beating Rhondorf 100-82 as they combined for 49 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists and 10 three´s. The RheinStars got revenge for their road loss in Rhondorf 86-83 where Mangold hadn´t played. He might have made the difference. But then the Coronavirus hit the world and ended the Regionalliga season. Luckily for Golson he resigned early in 2020 and will be back next season with the RheinStars and will be looking to continue to grow as a player as his meat on his bones and quickness will make up for his short height.
With the Coronavirus in full swing in the United States, the American flew back to Los Angeles, before heading home to Oakland to visit his mother. It hasn´t been an easy time, but besides having more contact with his family, he also has stayed in touch with teammates like Karl Dia. Michiel Peterson and Tibor Taras and trying to stay in shape somehow with stretching core, jump rope, sprint jumps and jogging. At the moment he is cool and relaxed, but like with so many other people on earth, the way that the Coronavirus has affected the world really surprised him. “When I first heard about CoronaVirus I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was some type of sickness that would pass within a month at most. It never crossed my mind that everything minus grocery stores would be shut down”, said Vincent Golson. The American who played college ball at California State University Dominguez Hills (NCAA2) remembers how the world crisis started when he was in Germany and how he has had to deal with it back on home soil which has allowed him to find new hobbies. “When I was in Cologne it was the first week of the pandemic shut down in the United States and Germany. It left me in my apartment and one other teammate alone. Isolated. Given some of our other teammates stopped by a day or two to say goodbye to us before we left. It was a super boring experience if I may say so. It has affected my day to day lifestyle. I would usually go to a friends house, the gym, hang with a lot of different people, etc. Right now I can’t and I’ve probably been around one or two friends since being back in the states. My day to day life has been affected a lot honestly. I spend most of my days inside, no gym access as of right now but I will be able to get it soon. I also have been spending a lot of time on you tube getting used to arts and craft like making a pinata from scratch”, smiled Vincent Golson. The Coronavirus hit everyone by surprise, but when it came to being able to handle himself in public with other potential infected humans, the California native had learned how to cope from his mom. “When it comes shaking hands and being around someone coughing I think my awareness is the same. These would be considered manners by my mother. Covering your mouth when you cough or not being near a sick or possibly sick person would be measures that were already instilled in me by her. As far as shaking hands I just wave and hope others understand the situation”, warned Vincent Golson.
The Coronavirus not only shutdown the world in many ways, but also the sport he loves basketball. On account of many many leagues shutting down like the Regionalliga, he was unable to play for the title in the playoffs. In the end the RheinStars still won the title because they had the best record. He sees positives and negatives in the way the season ended. “I was very disappointed. Although it is good that I can get an extra month being home after my first pro year, I planned my next few months around going into the playoffs. This being stuff like when to start working out again or just being able to go to open gyms. As far as finishing the season we wanted to go into playoffs because that is what we were preparing for. I wanted to see if we as a team had another gear since playoffs are always different and more challenging than regular season. But given the circumstances, I’m happy and grounded that we took care of business early in the season”, stressed Vincent Golson. Some teams played with no fans shortly before the Coronvirus shut everything down. Golson wasn´t one of those players that would experience it, but if he did, it wouldn´t have affected his game “It probably would have been very different playing with no crowd. Some competitors often play for the crowd and if they can’t see that, where else would they gain their motivation from? In my most humble opinion, I do believe all competitors or at least the true competitors would have just wanted to play fans or no fans. You love the game the way you say, it would have been no difference preparing for a game with no fans”, added Vincent Golson. The whole Coronavirus crisis will have a huge effect on the world economy and basketball will also not escape it as teams may fold and salaries could go down, but the American is very positive about the future of basketball. “I’m not too worried about my future in professional basketball because there is a lot of time between now and next season to figure out this current situation. I know in the past there have been things of this nature happening, not sure how long they last, but we seem to always come out with a solution. Mentally? I’m stress free! I’m breathing, laughing, taking good measures every day, and around family”, warned Vincent Golson. He also isn´t worried about how he will return for his second campaign with more time to prepare. “It won’t be a big adjustment given college usually gives you close to four months of rest or so. The advantages is you can finally give your body time to heal and recover from a long season and no need to rush back into working out just yet. You can ease into your workouts at a good pace. The disadvantage is if you start too early in working or doing too much you may put wear and tear on your body before the season even starts”, warned Vincent Golson. The whole Coronavirus crisis also made him sentimental and he has gotten something out of it even if it wasn´t anything new, but something that justified what he already had in his thoughts. “I have learned a lot before from previous times but this time magnified my beliefs already. One of my beliefs is that a lot of people like to prepare for themselves in life which is perfectly fine but the results of those decisions you have to be mindful of them not for yourself but others”, warned Vincent Golson.
With more time now than usual during a season he has a lot more opportunity to think back on the season and reflect on the good times and just how successful the RheinStars were. The club finished 22-2 and will move up and play in the Pro B next season. “We would have loved to finish the season the way we actually imagined which was in the playoffs of course but we were satisfied with our record of course. From my coaches point of view a lot of people didn’t expect us to do so well given that we were basing the program around weird elements such as Tibor being one year removed, me being two years removed, and other factors. But I truly believe the personality of each individual within the RheinStars program made it easy this season”, commented Vincent Golson. The club began well with a 10-2 record, but then finished with a 12 game winning streak and seemed invincible going into the playoffs. Two close nail bitter wins against BG Hagen and Leverkusen were also vital for the team having extra confidence going into the playoffs. “Coaches were telling us this how playoffs would be more than us beating teams by 20 plus majority of the time. It would show our discipline and capabilities of finishing a game the proper way with extreme focus”, stressed Vincent Golson. A big strength of the organization was it´s defense which was the best in the Regionalliga West as discipline and trust were huge factors for the success. “The secret was honestly trying to keep your man if he had that ball in front of you at all times. Pressure was another one without gambling and trying to get steals all the time and knowing our rotations for each position. The trust has to be there to know if I get beat by the ball handler or something happened the other four would help figure out in time for the other to recover”, added Vincent Golson. Another big reason for the success was a very strong team chemistry that didn´t take months to develop, but right away as guys really liked each other. “It was a bunch of guys that liked each other’s beliefs. It showed the first three days or week I was there. The players that were there invited us all to go to the park and hangout for the majority of the day. We had a lot of weekends like this that if not all but the majority of the team would attend at the same time. Given you do have some players who will always be closer than others but we all allowed each other some time of day. problems on the court remained on the court and the rest solved itself with simple text messages or reply”, explained Vincent Golson.
The RheinStars Cologne didn´t have any real crazy American superstars averaging 28,0ppg something you often see in the league, but had a bunch of guys that understood how to play team basketball. Three guys averaged in double figures and 5 other guys 7,0ppg or more. The team´s top scorer was Tibor Taras who was one of many German talents who just couldn´t make the step to the BBL the countries top division. He tried to get to the BBL via the Bamberg organization, but there was no room for him there. He has shown in the last years that he isn´t too far behind from the BBL having solid Pro A seasons(2nd German top league) and playing in the fourth league with Cologne was a step back, but by averaging 22.0ppg, 5.3rpg, 4.4apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 82.3%, he got the needed minutes and confidence to attempt another go at playing at a higher division. He even exploded for an unbelievable 51 points against BG Hagen netting 12 three´s. Taras is definitely a teammate he will never forget. “It was definitely a pleasure playing with Tibor. That is the correct word to describe it. I have seen Tibor go for 50 points off less than 5 misses as a spectator, Seen him with a triple double as a spectator, seen him help me make better decisions as a playmaker, seen him play defense, and most of all I have seen him try to rally us as a team in tough times. He has major potential and I’m pretty the German Basketball world knew that already considering he played at the highest level in Germany. I appreciated him not getting mad at me when I made a mistake and actually helping me find better solutions in practice and games”, warned Vincent Golson. The American also had a lot of joy watching the further development of German Thomas Michel who he described as a guy that came in as a shooter, but left with much more. “Tommy became one of my favorite teammates if not favorite. I saw more than I expected from him than when I first looked at him. He is confident in finding his shot throughout the season. While doing that he eventually adjusted his game and became a glue guy. There aren’t many people that attempt to keep up with my play style in my entire life of basketball but Tommy made that happen. He adjusted his game to help my game and probably didn’t know he was helping. Seen him play the 5 position and do a great job at it given he’s a 3/4. His energy is great and I love it. Tipping the ball for a score or rebound, diving for a loose ball, or making timely three´s was enjoyable”, added Vincent Golson.
Golson who lists ex BBL point guard Soren Fritze of BG Hagen as his toughest cover had a solid rookie season averaging 14,3ppg, 3,7rpg, 4,8apg and 1,4spg. He was very happy that he didn´t have to come in and have the usual American guard role of needing to score 25 plus points a night. “I felt under my circumstances I didn’t have to take on so much my rookie season with just scoring. I was able to actually learn the game of being an European Point Guard not just throwing it up at the rim. More than just numbers I was satisfied with the fact I got better at reading pick and rolls a bit and actually making a proper decision after reading the defense”, stated Vincent Golson. His three pointer continues to be a work in progress as he shot only 28%. He shot in the low 30% in school and will continue to work on his shot. He made only 12 three´s including 4 in his last game in the win over Rhondorf. There was a reason for taking less three´s and he already knows how to fix it this summer. “I had confidence shooting before that game but like I said before some games didn’t require me to shoot like other games did. Some games I would hesitate. I think my team believes I can shoot and towards the end of the season going into the playoffs my coach wanted me to show teams that I could too. So it is going to be focused mainly because Euro ball requires more of that than athleticism. I can improve my shot with taking care of my body and mind. Lock in like most great players do before games, practices, and workouts. My rookie season was pretty hesitant although coaches did instill confidence in me. But now I know how the game is played so hopefully I won’t make the same mistake twice”, warned Vincent Golson. He was also content with how his playmaking and defense developed as a rookie. “My playmaking improved a lot. Since we ended with a lot of pick and roll offense it, the game gave you a lot of chances to read and react to defenses. I felt it improve slowly. I felt like it would have been slightly better if I wasn’t hurt for so long. This reminded me of the way we played as a team when I was in junior college. Play at least 10 players and each player plays around 20-25 mins for full potential on both ends. My defense always benefits from not having to play 40 minutes every night. It was more of coaching than European Style”, expressed Vincent Golson. But the biggest plus that he could take from his rookie season was being able to be successful despite his length of only 173cm. He has had a chip on his shoulder his whole life concerning his size and it has been the knock against him. Even if he is short, he has two important vital attributes that continue to weed out his length and something that will help him to continue to develop despite his stature. “I don’t think it was my size they were adjusting to but more to my speed. Some teams did pretty well if I didn’t shoot those games and others not so well I believe. teams made it tougher for me to touch the paint or get to the basket of course. I do feel my game and size will continue to develop along in Europe as long I keep confidence in shooting. I’m not a scrawny short kid. I have a lot of meat on my bones just short. In my opinion people get short confused with an automatic mismatch. That I am not”, warned Vincent Golson. The American is a true competitor that knows that greatness and improvement won´t come from dreaming, but grinding in the lab like a hungry wounded antelope. He already has this summer all lined up with continuing to improve. “I will just focus on my body this summer since I didn’t have much time last summer given the circumstances. So I have my motivation already. Pick and Roll situations, different finishes, deeper range, quicker release, and off the dribble threes. Coach got me watching different players from Europe”, added Vincent Golson. A big motivation is the work ethic of Kobe Bryant and even if he won´t be flying into games like a Mangold next season, he will continue to strive to be the best that he can so that one day he can actually fly to games instead of taking a bus as he does now in Germany.