Drew Brandon Helped Build A Winning Culture With The wiha Panthers But His Eyes Now Are On Proving Himself In The BBL

Drew Brandon is a 28 year old 193cm guard from Corona, California that finished his 5th professional season in Germany. He began the season with Legia Warszawa (Poland-EBL) averaging: 8.3ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.1apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 42.0%, 3FGP: 40.0%, FT: 59.1%; and played 6 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 8.0ppg, 4.5rpg, 4.3apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 37.5%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 81.8%, in Dec.’19 moved to the wiha Panthers Villingen-Schwenningen (Germany-Pro A) playing 13 games averaging 11.6ppg, Reb-5 (6.1rpg), 3.9apg, Steals-4 (2.3spg), FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 72.7%. He also gained experience for 2 other Polish teams and also played in Finland and Romania. He played his rookie season with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Germany-ProA) playing 30 games averaging 10.4ppg, 5.8rpg, 4.3apg, Steals-1 (2.4spg), FGP: 39.0%, 3PT: 21.6%, FT: 71.1%. He began his basketball career with Santiago High School and then played at Sierra College Calif. (NJCAA). He finished at Eastern Washington University averaging 10.4ppg, 6.2rpg, 5.1apg, FGP: 39.9%,3PT:32.3%,FT:76.0% and : 9.7ppg, 6.9rpg, 4.7apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 24.7%, FT: 81.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the summer as COVID-19 was still an issue. 

Hi Drew 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’m in Southern California, situation is getting better as things open up. Still need mask in public. 

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world? 

No never thought it would turn into this. I thought it would blow over in a week or 2 like most people. But then our game was cancelled and within that week we were leaving to come back to the states. 

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

When I was in Schwenninngen, we were just staying at home until more news came out. It wasn’t big at that point, it was just the beginning stages. 

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’s disappointing because how much we fought to make the playoffs, but it’s bigger than basketball. 

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? 

It’s not a players first choice to play in front of no fans, but games will have to be played with no fans if leagues choose to continue like the BBL and some other leagues may do. 

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? 

These times will separate the ones that want to get better and the ones who don’t, with all gyms closed and having to find ways to get better is a true test of who wants it most. 

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?

I do not dwell on things I can’t control, I will be ready no matter what changes there are. 

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 haven’t been in to much contact with players from the Panthers, but have been in contact with a lot of my past teammates. 

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 when you came on board? 

Coming to the team my first talks with the coach I told him we were going to make the playoffs and even though we were at bottom of the league before I arrived we never took our mind off the goal to make it and if the virus didn’t happen we would have. 

Sometimes it is that one player that can change a whole season. When David Dennis left and you came on board you started to win as you led the team to a 10-3 record. What made the adjustment period so easy for you? 

Yeah we were a top 2 team the second half of season. Everyone on the team seemed to have a new energy and elevated their play. Teams are all about fits and I brought the leadership that this team needed to get over the hill to be serious contenders. 

I knew right away when you were signed that their season would turn around. How was your confidence coming from Poland back to Germany for a second tour of duty? Did you have a good feeling that success could be a reality with the teammates you had? 

Playing champions League and Europe FIBA cup this season made me expand my game and helped me grow as a player. Like I said in one of the previous questions I knew we would make the playoffs I had something to prove after leaving Poland and I believe I did that coming to Germany

Obviously your a very good point guard, but what else changed when you came and the team started to play a lot better? 

Thank you, the whole environment and vibe of the team changed. The team was enjoying the game and the wins followed. 

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? 

At first it was disappointing because we were going to go on a great playoff run but as I learned more about this virus, I can accept it and move on and prepare for next season and be better then ever. 

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 were playing good basketball but we didn’t reach our peak, we had a lot of room to grow. 

Let’s talk about your teammates. You a guy with a lot of experience, but what was it like playing with the walking bucket Bill Borekambi. Did you see something new in his amazing 1-1 play that you could soak up for your game?

It was great having Bill as a teammate. For a point guard he is a guy you love to play with because he doesn’t need plays for him to be effective. He fills the stats sheets under the radar. 

What was it like having Jaren Lewis as a teammate? With some other first year players like Sean Lloyd, Junior Searcy and David Dennis having to leave, what did you learn to appreciate most about his play? 

Jaren has a lot of potential and he really started playing with confidence later in the year and glad he showed his skills. He has a bright future. 

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? 

One of the hardest workers I have come across in Europe. He worked hard every game and every practice. I’m happy for him and all my teammates for getting the recognition they deserve. 

Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 12,1ppg, 6,1rpg, 3,9apg and 2,3spg. How content were you with your season on the court? 

I could always be better. I had a couple games when I first got there that I struggled to get a rhythm. But I am happy with coming to this team and turning them into a championship contender. I have never been a player that focuses on stats even though I normally fill up the different categories, I judge success by winning, and we were doing that. 

You last played in the German Pro A in 2015-2016 with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. Has the league changed since then? Are the teams better from top to bottom and what about the overall skill level of the players? 

A lot of the teams are different from when I played in Germany my rookie season. It is hard to compare how good the league is from then till now because I have got a lot better as a player. 

You have spent most of your time the last years in Poland but also played in Finland. How is Drew Brandon a better player today then with Leverkusen? 

I was a skinny kid back then looking at film from back then. I have grown into my body and countless hours of work to become a better all around player and leader. 

Did you notice that there is a special chemistry with the Panthers and a special winning culture there. Would this be a place where you would like to come back to and finish something amazing in a complete season? 

It was great to build a winning culture with this team. My sights are set on moving up and elevate my career my eyes are on proving myself in BBL 

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

I was so focused on our team and doing everything to win. 

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

I leave all the argument on players to media. I like Luka’s game and hope he keeps up his great career.

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 Germany and my girlfriend showed me a post about it and I couldn’t believe it. I hit me hard, I grew up on Kobe winning championship and a big reason why I fell in love with basketball. Kobe will live on through the game. 

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 feel bad for those kids because I knew what it meant to me to play in the NCAA tournament, but they can’t dwell on it and time to move on and get ready for what the future holds.

Thanks Drew for the chat.

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