Ishmail Wainright is a 24 year old 196cm forward from Kansas City, Missouri that is playing his second professional season and first with Rasta Vechta (Germany-BBL) currently averaging 10,3ppg, 5,5rpg, 2,4apg and 1,9spg. Last season he completed his first season in Germany with the Nuernberg Falcons BC (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,1ppg, 7,3rpg and 2,8apg. He began his basketball career at Montrose Christian School and then played 131 NCAA games at Baylor (NCAA) from 2013-2017 and as a senior played 35 games averaging 5.5ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.2apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 29.2%, FT: 68.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com during COVID-19 before the easyCredit BBL had announced it would complete the season in Munich.
Hi Ishmail 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?
I am currently in Germany during this whole Corona turmoil. The BBL has agreed to the tournament and I flew back out to go to war with RASTA.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world? –
No I didn’t think it would shut the world down like it did. I thought and heard it was similar to the flu. So I really didn’t think much of it.
How did you experience the day to day life in Germany during the Corona Virus outbreak when you were still in Germany? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings? –
I still continued my every routine to be honest. Woke up and went to weights and still got up shots even though we didn’t have practice. That was an everyday thing. It only affected me walking around the city like I normally do to get some fresh air. It was more walking on trails then in the city.
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 –
Yes. Absolutely!! Every time someone coughed I was scared. I was scared to cough myself. Haha
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this at first thinking the season may be cancelled? –
I WAS HEATED! we was going on the second half of the season and we as a team was finally feeling and looking how we wanted to look.
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 it’ll be weird to play with out fans over here to be honest. I mean, I’ve played without fans growing up and also like in Summer league games without fans but this is a way bigger stage than those times you know. So playing without fans will be weird but it doesn’t matter at the end of the day because we (RASTA) will have our own energy.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person? –
It’s giving me time to actually sit back and think about life. Where it was taking me and where it could take me in the future.
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?
– It can get to you at times because I know it has got to me. Not knowing when the season is going to start back up. Or where am I going to play at this year. This is only my second year professional, I’m just getting started.
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? –
Really all my Baylor guys to be honest. We are everywhere. Stateside. Poland. Germany. France. Puerto Rico. Belgium. Australia. And a few other countries. It’s a brothahood.
On April 27th the BBL after having a video conference with all 17 teams have decided to finish the season with only 10 teams as 7 teams declined to finish. What is your first reaction to this? –
I’m down ! I just want to hoop and have fun doing it !
There are a lot of positives and negatives to this. How do you personally feel about playing in a time where most of Germany’s sports is shut down coupled with that fear and risk of infection playing against other players and being around other people? –
This is what we do for a living, I’m sure they are going to take every step to make sure we are safe.
The BBL has decided to have 2 groups of 5 teams play each other which then will be followed by the quarterfinals, semi-finals and finals best of 3 all played in one location. What are you looking most forward to this format and what do you feel will be most difficult for the players playing in one location? –
I would love it. It’ll feel like middle school and high school AAU times but on a lot more serious stage you know. Some guys wouldn’t want to be stuck in one location for a long period of time. I personally don’t think it’ll be difficult because it about business. One goal and one goal only and that’s to win.
Possibly not all teams will have their imports on board plus some teams may have to put in their youth players. What would you tell critics who say that no matter what happens and who wins the title, the season won’t have the same value as if the season had been finished under normal circumstances? –
We are going to compete like it was the regular season is on the line. We are going play every game like it’s our last.
How vital will be the 2 week quarantine time and short training camp before the new Corona season starts? Obviously no player for any team has ever experienced this before, but what do you feel will be most vital for each team to come through this time best to best prepared for the rest of the season? –
Making sure our bodies will be ready to move when it’s time. Some guys will have to change routines. Some guys have probably had the same routine for years and now have to change them due to the 2 week quarantine. Each team will have to work twice as hard to be on the same page as one another.
How big will the mental factor be for the clubs that aren’t Munich or Berlin knowing that it’s a new season and no team has a real advantage? –
The mental factor is huge because now I’m sure teams have changed a lot during this time. Teams have had two and a half months to break down even more film. But all I can say is that we will compete from start to finish.
Rasta Vechta began slow losing it’s first 3 games and then from mid October to the end of January had it’s best time winning 10 of 13 games and then finished at 2-3 before the season was stopped. What was key for the club being successful in that time? –
Trusting in what we did best and believe in the process.
Rasta Vechta lost 2 key players from last season with TJ Bray and Austin Hollins. How much has head coach Pedro Calles impressed you with his coaching making another competitive and successful team. What have you seen as being his biggest strength? –
Getting us all to buy in in his teaching. Pedro is a phenomenal coach !!
What has it been like playing with 32 year old veteran Josh Young? He played in the Pro A and with Nurnberg and is shooting the ball at a clip he never did previously as a professional? Is he a candidate for being that so called perfect teammate? –
It’s been great. He’s helped my game and taught me things in the court. He’s given me and not just me but everyone on our team the confidence that we need to keep going and also in our play. And Yes ! He’s for sure the Perfect Teammate!! He know basketball. He loves the game.
How vital was Steve Vasturia been for the success who will make the next step and play for BC Zalgiris next season? How big has his IQ and versatility been for the team? –
Steve is a tremendous player ! He’s game speaks for himself ! He took the challenge Pedro gave to him and killed it and I’m proud of him. We all are proud of him !!
Let’s talk about your game. You have needed no adjustment period in the BBL coming from the Pro A averaging 10.3ppg, 5.5rpg, 2.4apg, Steals-2 (1.9spg), FGP: 64.5%, 3PT: 26.8%, FT: 79.1%. What has been the key for success? How much did self confidence from your great Pro A season plays a role? –
I came in with a chip on my shoulder and will continue to have that throughout my whole career.
In our last interview you stated that ‘I feel like I was the best defensive player in Pro A. That’s my mindset. Not many guys have that mindset. Defense to some guys are the relax time. I still need to figure things out but at the end of the day, I felt like I did what I had to do on that end of the court’. Despite being the second best steal getter in the BBL what has been the toughest adjustment defensively in the BBL and how has your game at both ends of the court developed further this season? –
I was trying to be the 1st steal getter in the BBL this year. But the toughest adjustment was really , the players. They are smart. Older. And also our style of defense. I love what Pedro does on the defense standpoint of the game. Play to the limit and I will carry that with me where ever I go throughout my career. My game has developed a lot and still will continue. Shooting the ball. Scoring off the dribble. Finding my spot on the floor. Things I still have to work on to being one of those top guys in Europe.
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 playing 2k in my home in Vechta and I just broke down crying. Growing up I use to have the Kobe Crazy 1s. With the armband. Wearing number 8 and the mini Afro. My father was a Kobe fan. It was tough because I too have a daughter and that broke my heart.
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? –
The Baylor Bears would’ve won the whole thing for sure !! But I know the feeling of being in the tournament and getting that taken away from you sucks man. It really does. Dreams come true during those times. Guys get drafted of what they do in the tournament most times you know. To the seniors out there, I know you all gave it y’all’s all to get to the tournament. I know it’s tough but don’t stop. Go into those NBA workouts, Mini camps, or whatever y’all got going on , go to them teddy to show them and give them everything you got. You’ve been doing this your whole life, it’s time to feed your families now.
What was the last movie that you saw? –
All Day And Night
Thanks Ismail for the chat