Diamonds In The Rough Like Jackson Trapp Helped The Uni Baskets Achieve Success

Jackson Trapp is a 27 year old 193cm guard that was born in Tallahassee, Florida and complet-ed his first season with Pro A team uni Baskets playing 26 games averaging 14.5ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 88.2%. He brought professional experi-ence to Germany having played in Canada with the Island Storm and with the Yakima Sun Kings (TB). He played at Florida Atlantic (NCAA) from 2012-2016 playing a total of 118 NCAA games. His best season was his junior year where he averaged 10.1ppg, 3.2rpg, FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 83.3%. He spoke to during the Coronavirus and after his first season in Germany.

Hi Jackson 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?

Hey Miles, I am currently back home in Orlando, Florida. I am always an optimistic person, but at the same I have to be very cautious for myself and especially those who are older like my parents. 

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?I knew it could when I first heard about it happening in China, but I never thought it actually would. 

How have you experienced the day to day life in Paderborn 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?

Honestly while I was still in Paderborn (I left on March 17), my daily actives were not too different. The only main difference was that we stopped practicing about 5 – 6 days before I actually left, which definitely felt pretty weird. 

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

For sure. I think everyone has become very aware the precautions that need to be taken with a contagious virus like this one that can be very dangerous for multiple reasons. 

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?

It was very disappointing, but I know it was something that had to be done. We were right where we wanted to be in the standings, and most likely would have made the playoffs for the first time in several years, which would have been a huge accomplishment for the club as a whole.

Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Eu-rope Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?

I think it is okay, but only if it is absolutely necessary. Fans being at the game plays a huge part to the outcome of the match, and it would no doubt be very strange to play as a player. But at the end of the day, it is a business and although the clubs would lose a lot of money from ticket sales, In many cases with the higher level leagues, the money lost from cancelling the games would be even larger when you factor in the TV/streaming deals that many leagues/teams have. 

You have returned back to the States. How have you experienced the coronavirus outbreak at home compared to Germany?

Right now as the cases are exploding in the States (and only expected to continue rising for the next few weeks), things are getting very serious. Florida just issued a state wide stay-at-home poli-cy that only permits people to leave home for essential travel. This makes it impossible to do any sort of basketball training outside of home for at least the next 1-2 months. 

What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?

I think its forced me to be more cautious of the people around me, and is another reminder that the decisions that we make can affect everyone else, sometimes without even realizing it. 

Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill devel-opment? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this

I think this will definitely delay my basketball training for a while. This is something that is an issue for all players. With that being said, I like to be optimistic about things. I have been dealing with a groin issue for the past three months that had been very painful to play on. The closure of all courts will force me to rest and let my groin heal back to 100%.

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?

Its crazy to think how this virus has a negative affect on all industries, including basketball. Since almost all leagues didn’t get to finish the season, they all lost money on those missed games. On top of that, with all businesses struggling, sponsors will have less money for the teams. This will make everything difficult, and I know that it could very well mean a pay cut for many players around the world. Depending on how long this lasts, it could also delay the beginning of the next season. But neither of those things are in my control, and I have to remember that. All I can do is focus on myself and make sure I am ready for next season, whenever that may be. 

Congrats on a marvelous season with the Uni Baskets Paderborn. The club finished with a record of 14-12 in sixth place. It was the clubs best finish in 6 seasons. What made this years club so special?

Thank you, we definitely had a special team. I think we had a lot of talent this season, and were fortunate to get the guys that we had. Coach did a good job at recruiting, and was able to find sort of the ‘diamonds in the rough’ with some of us Americans (Kendale was a rookie from a D2, Ryan came from ProB, I came from injury and a league that is not well known in Europe). Add that with the talented players from the season before and knock down shooters like Thomas, DImi and Dan-iel and we had a playoff level team. Coach also deserves a lot of the credit in realizing the type of players we all were, and allowed us to play to our strengths without restricting us at all. 

How tough is it being at home now and not knowing how the season of the Uni Baskets would have ended. Do you sometimes go over certain scenarios of how the season might have gone?

Its definitely tough. We knew we were good enough to make the playoffs, and I definitely believe that we would have. From there it of course would have been tough, but we showed throughout the season that we could beat anyone, so who knows how far we could have gone. 

The Uni Baskets Paderborn began the season slow losing 4 of 5 games, but then won 6 of 8 games. What were the reasons for the swift turnaround?

Although our losses at the beginning were to playoff caliber teams, I don’t believe that we knew exactly how good we could be until a little later on. We also learned how to play with each other a little better. 

How vital was that exciting 77-75 victory over Tuebingen to begin the turnaround?

This was a huge win for us. Getting a close win on the road always gives any team a huge boost in confidence, something that we really needed at the time. 

The club kept a good core of guys from last season and added 4 new players that made the differ-ence. How confident were you that this team chemistry would continue to grow throughout the playoffs and lead to success?

Everyone got along with everyone, so I am confident that we would. We showed throughout the season that we could not only compete, but beat some of the best teams in the league.

Head Coach Steven Esterkamp has been undergoing a stellar development as a coach. He got good Pro A experience in Gotha with Chris Ensminger, led Wolfenbuettel into the Pro B playoffs and now did the same thing with Paderborn. What was it with his style and coaching that made the season so successful?

I’m not sure how he was with his previous teams, but he did a very good job recruiting guys this season. As I mentioned before, he lets his players play and did not restrict us at all from doing what we know we can do, even at times when we were hectic. He also was a player only a few years ago which helps in almost all aspects of coaching, especially in relating to players and understanding when to get on guys and when not to.

Let’s talk about your teammates.How vital was the experience of Demetrius Ward? How vital was he has a veteran for the team?

Dimi was great for the team this year. He was a great playmaker on the court and was our most versatile player, playing anywhere from the point to the 4 man at times. He definitely helped me get accoladed to the European style of play, teaching me the rules, the type of things that do and don’t work in the European game etc. He also was an awesome guy off the court, and the biggest help in getting me used to the lifestyle in Europe. 

The trio of you Kendale Mccullum and Ryan Logan was a big reason for the success this season. Could you describe a little what you appreciated most about them on and off the court?

They were both really good players. They both were unselfish with high IQ’s, and were very good passers. Kendale used his small size to his advantage and was able to get to the paint at will, and was very good reading the defense off of pick and rolls. Ryan was another very versatile player that we had. He could bring the ball up the court when we needed him to and was a problem for every defender in the post. Us three were actually all roommates, and therefore saw each other a lot and were able to hang out whenever. 

If you had to choose one player who you feel improved the most this season who would you pick?

I would have to say Henning. He’s still a younger guy that seemed to come in to preseason a little timid. Throughout the season I noticed his confidence had increased a lot, which helped him both offensively and defensively. 

Let’s talk about your game. You played 26 games averaging 14.5ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 88.2%. Was your strong individual season a good reminder for all out there that there are very good players playing in lower leagues in North American that can play well at a high level in Europe?

There are very talented players that play in smaller leagues in the U.S., that are easily talented enough to play in leagues like ProA. There is no question about that. The question is whether or not some of the players IQ is high enough to play in European leagues. I think thats the biggest factor that separates players making it over-seas or not. 

After playing in Canada and North America in leagues NBL, NABP and TBL, you needed no adjustment period to having a very good season in the German Pro A. How vital were your teammates and coach Esterkamp for you making a good adjustment and being able to be a very good pro A player?

They were huge for me. We had unselfish players that found guys when they were open, which is something that shooters need in order to be successful. I was very fortunate that coach gave me a lot of freedom to do what I could do.

You shot a solid 38% from outside. In pre season coach Esterkamp told you that you always have the green light to shoot. How important was getting this confidence right away instead of not hav-ing had that green light from the get go?

Confidence in basketball is huge, especially when it comes to shooting. I had confidence in my shot because I always knew that I had practiced and shot more shots in the offseason than my oppo-nent, which is why I was overall disappointed in the my 3pt % this season. Although the groin injury during the second half of the season did not help at all, I was really planning to at least be above 40%, which unfortunately was not the case. 

How happy were you with three of your strengths of penetrating, playing 1-1 defense and being unselfish develop further in the Pro A?

I believe I did a good job at penetrating, although there were times where I settled for shots when I should have penetrated. My 1on1 defense was pretty good in general and I believe I was unself-ish throughout the season. 

On what things will you be working on in this extended spring/summer to help you make the next step again as a professional player?

I want to make sure my body is at 100% for next season. That is my first goal. I would also like to improve reads out of pick n roll. I also will continue to get a lot of shots up each day, continuing im-proving every type of footwork variation out of shots, and continuing getting my release even quicker, while still shooting at a high percentage.

You had many super games with the Uni baskets like your 25 points and 6 three’s against PS Karls-ruhe. What was your most memorable game?

Most memorable game had to be the win against Chemnitz. Its always fun to be an underdog, and we were definitely ones that game.

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro A this season?

I am not sure, there were a lot of good players that I had to guard this season, so picking just one is tough. 

You have probably seen many beautiful places in your basketball career, but how did the city of Paderborn grow on you?

Paderborn was a great city. Initially I didn’t know much of it. But as I explored the city more It grew on me. The Downtown part of the city was awesome, and very different than downtown areas in the U.S. cities.

Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?

He is an amazing player. Because he shoots so many 3’s, I think if he increases his 3pt % from 31-32% to 36%+, he will be top three for sure. 

Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence? 

I was in my room in Paderborn when I initially heard about it. Kendale actually came and asked if I heard what happened, and I didn’t believe it at first. Although he was never my favorite player, there is no doubt that his Mamba Mentality influenced how much I worked out, or to the intensity of how I worked out. 

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?

I think it is a very unfortunate situation. I especially feel bad for the players of the mid major teams that would have made it. For them it most likely is a once in a lifetime opportunity that they will never get to experience. Especially with a school like Dayton, who is technically a mid major and was ranked #3 in the country when the season ended. The guys that move on to NBA will have great experiences in basketball again, but most of the guys will never get another chance to expe-rience something like that. 

What was the last movie that you saw?

Spiderman: Far From Home 

Thanks Jackson for the chat.

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