Jaren Lewis is a 23year old 198cm forward from Orlando, Florida that completed his rookie season in Germany with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen averaging 13,0ppg, 4,9rpg and 2,1apg and 2,ospg. He scored in double figures in 21 games including a 28 point effort against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and 26 point games against Artland and picked up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro A Newcomer of the Year -20, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro A 2nd Team -20 and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro A All-Defensive Team -20 .. 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 after the season and during the Coronavirus crisis.
Hi Jaren where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
Right now I’m back home in Orlando, Florida. I’d say my mood is ok. I’m just at home trying to stay healthy and hoping everyone stays safe.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
At first I did not think it would have such a big effect, but as I heard more about it I knew it became more and more serious
How have you experienced the day to day life in Schwenningen 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?
During the outbreak there were not as many people out, and you could see more and more people start to really take the virus seriously. I really stayed at home for the most part during the outbreak, but you would still hear about different places closing and how the stores were emptying out.
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
The virus definitely made me think about that more. I started giving out more fist bumps than handshakes, and of course started taking social distancing very seriously
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe including the Pro A. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
I was very disappointed at first. I really wanted to finish the season and see how we would finish, but I understand everything happens for a reason and ending the season was definitely the safest call to make.
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 just imagine that was probably tough for the teams that had to do it, and it was definitely a different type of situation they had to adjust to.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
I just learned to be grateful for the things and people around me. These tough times are very testing, so I learned to be at peace with the situation hand and continue to hope for the best.
Wil 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?
I don’t think it will be too big of an adjustment. It will definitely be weird at first, but I see it as an advantage. This just gives me more time to get stronger and to sharpen my game for the upcoming season. The big disadvantage for me is that I wish I was still in season playing with the team.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including German 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?
Not knowing what to expect is tough, but I am just going to do my part to stay ready for whatever may happen next.
If you had to name another player besides guys from the Panthers that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
I really haven’t been in contact with many other players in the league. I stay in contact with my teammates for the most part, but other than them I would say former teammates of mine from college
Congrats on a fine season in the Pro A. For most the wiha Panthers Schwenningen were able to exceed expectations of reaching the playoffs except for maybe head coach Alen Velcic who always saw you guys as a playoff team. Did you share his optimism when the team was struggling in November?
did share this optimism. The month of November was tough for us, but I always tried to stay positive and I felt like we would definitely turn things around.
Sometimes it is that one player that can change a whole season. When David Dennis left and Drew Brandon came aboard you started to win as he led the team to a 10-3 record. How much credit does he deserve for the success of the team?
Drew deserves a lot of credit. He did a great job for us this season. I also think the rest of the guys deserve credit too. We had a lot of talent, we just started to put it together during that 10-3 stretch. I’m proud of all of the guys though they worked hard all year and then began to reap the rewards
Obviously Drew Brandon is a very good point guard, but what else changed when he came and the team started to play a lot better?
We just started to put things together. We were ready to turn things around and our hard work and persistence started to pay off
How much did it hurt that the season ended and you never got to see how far the team would get? Is this something that will affect you in the next months just never knowing what would have happened?
It was very disappointing not seeing how far we could go. We were really playing well and were hoping to make a big run in the playoffs. I don’t think it will affect me in the next few months. I will continue to be grateful for the experience and I’ll always remember this year and this team
The club won 6 of their last 7 games. Had the team reached it’s peak in the season or did you still see enough energy with the team to make a run in the playoffs?
We definitely still had enough energy to make a run. We were ready to make a run and we felt like we could play with anyone in the league
Let’s talk about your teammates. You a guy with a lot of experience, but what kind of a role model was a guy like Drew Brandon for you who has seen so much in Europe?
Drew was a great teammate. As soon as he came in he impacted the team positively. He was a really steady guard and really stabilized the team. He came to work every day and I really enjoyed playing with him
What was it like having Bill Borekambi as a teammate. How vital was he for your rookie development? He has seen it all in Germany. What could you soak up from him on and off the court?
Bill was a really good teammate, he was a good guy and everybody really liked him. He helped us win some big games too.
How proud are you of teammate Leon Friedrici who was named most improved player by eurobasket.com. In what part of his game did he improve the most?
I was really proud of Leon. I know he is a really hard worker, so to see him get that award was really cool. Leon’s overall play just improved as the season went on. His hard work was really starting to show and pay off towards the end of the season
Congrats on a fine rookie season with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 13.0ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.1apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 56.2%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 81.0%. How content were you with your first season as a professional?
I wouldn’t say I’m content with my season. I was glad to help the team win games down the stretch, but I feel like I can elevate my game and continue to build on the season I had. I still want to do better
In our first interview last summer you stated’ 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’. Did you have to make any extra adjustments to achieve the consistency that your used to.
Not really, I mean the pro game in another country is an adjustment unto itself, but other than that I stuck to my routines and habits for the most part
You showed your immense versatility as a rookie. In what area of your game would you say did you develop the most as a rookie?
I feel like I really developed playing off the ball. In college I had the ball a lot and I was in iso situations a lot of the time, so I feel like over the course of the year I got a lot better playing off the ball
What kind of an effect did head coach Alen Velcic have on you? He gave you a lot of freedom. How valuable was that for the growth of your self confidence and game?
Coach Velcic was really confident, he knew the talent we had and believed in us and our ability to win. But this season was very valuable for my growth because I played a different style of basketball that I was accustomed to, and coach really helped with that transition
On what things will you be working on now so you can continue to make nice strides in your second professional season?
I will continue to work on my overall game. I am going to sharpen my skills this summer while continuing to get stronger.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro A this season?
Dominik Spohr from Hagen gave us problems both times we played them, so I would say him. That’s the first player that comes to mind, he can really shoot it
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?
I don’t think so, but I do like his game a lot
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence?
He had a huge influence on me from a young age. He is my favorite player Of all time so I watched a lot of him growing up and he really inspired me to play the game at a young age
How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now?
It was really sad to see I hate that some guys won’t get an opportunity to play in it this year. I would say just continue to work and be grateful for the time you spent in college, the good and the bad. Those experiences can help you in life in the long run
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Jaren for the chat.