Shavar Newkirk is a 23 year old 183cm guard from the Bronx, New York that played his second season in Germany with FC Schalke 04 (Germany-ProA) averaging : 13.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.6apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 78.2%. Last season as a rookie with FC Schalke he averaged 15,4ppg, 4,2rpg, 2,8apg and 1,5spg. He began his basketball career at Cardinal Heyes HS /Bronx, NY. In 2014 he began his NCAA career with St.Joseph’s (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 3.3ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.3apg. In his sophomore season with St.Joseph’s (NCAA) he played 37 games averaging 8.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 31.2%, FT: 73.8%. In his junior season at St.Joseph’s (NCAA) he played 12 games averaging 20.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 84.7%. In his senior year with St.Joseph’s (NCAA) he played 32 games averaging 17.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 76.4%.He spoke to germanhoops.com during the Coronavirus crisis.
Hi Shavar 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?
Hello, how are you ? Currently I’m back at home at The Big Apple. My family and I are well, we are just tring to take precautions in this crisis. I am in good spirits , even though we are in the epidemic of the Corona Virus, it feels good to be with family again.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
When I first heard about the Corona Virus, I didn’t think it would be this drastic . Maybe if I took it more serious , others would have too and it probably wouldn’t have spread as much.
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
I’m already a clean person , so it’s in my characteristics to always keep hand sanitizer and wipes at all times. I was taught to always wash my hands and face each time I enter the house from outside . So by staying the same, I continued to protect myself from being in line or fire with germs.
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 am very disappointed ,the team and I had goals to finish the season strong . With the type of players we had, there was no reason for us to be at the bottom of the league. At least we were able to finish the season with a win. It felt good to end on a high note.
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?
The fans is what makes the sporting event so special. You get to interact and build a bond with them as time eclipse. I do not like the fact of playing a game without fans.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
I learned that during these tough times , you learn your strength and weaknesses. You become very critical about yourself . I learned that it was some skills I was missing and that this was the perfect time to work on me becoming a better person.
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?
No it shouldn’t be a big adjustment starting earlier with workouts. As a professional , there is a must to continue working on your craft. The only disadvantages that I see , if your a hard worker like me, you can burn yourself out because the seasons are long . So you just have to work hard, but smart.
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’m just going to handle it accordingly. That’s why they say save your money because you do not know when a crisis is going to happen. Whatever happens I’m a be ready for it .
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?
It would be Tony Hicks and Terrell Harris. They are cool and we keep in contact here and there.
How has the day to day life been now in the States with the outbreak of the Coronavirus? Have you noticed any differences and are there any differences between the Americans and German people on how they are coping and handling themselves?
Well I’m from the city that never sleeps. It was weird seeing the emptiness of the streets of New York. That’s what we have to do in order to get over the virus. It was no difference between America and Germany. All the stores are closed , only grocery stores are open.
How has your approach to family changed since the outbreak of Corona? What things have you seen yourself do that you may not have done before?
I’m big on family , I missed them a lot while I was away. It feels good to be back and continue to be around the love.
Let’s talk about the season with FC Schalke. It was your second season with the club. Last season you helped lead the team to a 14th place and this season to a 16th place. Because of the season ending abruptly and it not being able to be completed there will be no teams going to Pro B which might have been the fate. How do you summarize this season with how the season ended? I believe you lost many crunch-time games that really hurt.
The season was long . My organization made changes during the season that everyone had to get adjusted to on the fly. It’s a sigh of relief, the organization do not have to go down a league . That would have looked bad on the players. I believe it was a blessing in disguise.
Talent wise was there much difference between the two teams in the last two seasons? How disappointed are you with the season and do you put some blameon yourself as point guard?
It was a difference in the talent level. The guys this year was able to create on their own and for others. We didn’t have to rely on just CB or myself to make plays. With that being said, I am disappointed on how the season turned out for us. I do put the blame on myself and I learned that I have to go above and beyond if I want to be a better leader.
The team scored 77 points and allowed 82 points per game. The club allowed 80 points or more 17 times. It was strange at times, because the team knew how to defend once allowing Artland to only 46 points and early in the season in December had 5 games in a row allowing under 80 points. Was the consistent effort missing?
The consistent effort was missing, we struggled with attention to detail. That’s what we needed every single game due to the fact we were playing different teams. We know teams have game plans and adjust of the fly. We just didn’t pay attention when teams adjusted.
Let’s talk about your teammates. How much fun was it playing with new guard Tucker Haymond. He had to pay his dues in the Pro B last season which led to the scoring crown and came on board late and demonstrated in 5 games that he can be a very good Pro A player. Do you feel like the club would have had a different season had he been on board from the start?
Yes we would have had a different season if he was here from the jump. Iron sharpers iron and that would have been another talented player to practice against everyday. We could of learned each other’s tendencies faster and it would have been a different outcome for us:
What did you learn to appreciate the most about German big man Adam Touray? He had his third excellent Pro A year in a row. Do you see him being a bit off the BBL radar and how did he make another step as a player?
It’s great having Adam Touray as a friend and a teammate. Adam was consistent all year and that’s what I loved about him. I knew he was going to have my back protecting the rim when a guard went past me. Almost every rebound was his and he ran the floor very well. Adam also improved to hitting his jumper from 17 ft. That was the big step Adam needed to take.
It was your second season playing with Courtney Belger. In our last interview you stated this about him. ‘Courtney Belger was a great teammate and is a remarkable man. He taught me so much off the court while my time at Germany. It was also great playing a long side him on the basketball court, he was a true teammate . He did what it took to get the win and knew all the right things to say to his teammates I will never forget the late night shooting sessions we had, working on our game when we thought the previous game we played bad’. How did your relationship grow with him and how do you feel did he make another step as a player and push you to make that next step?
Well after the season last year, we stayed in contact and we grew as friends off the court . I felt he made a major step as a player and the biggest thing was his three ball. He had more confidence in it and made the defense pay when they went under ball screens. Courtney helped me take a step as a better player by teaching me what to do during the long season. Now I know how to handle a full season when I enter my third year.
If you had to pick one guy that improved the most in the time with you were with the FC Schalke organization who would it have been?
The guy that improved the most was Darnell Dunn. In the beginning of the season he wasn’t playing that much and didn’t know the plays. He started putting in extra work off the court and it payed off as the season went. He got more playing time and really hit the 3 ball for the team.
Let’s talk about your game. Last season you came in the second half of the season and this season was on board from the get go averaging 13.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.6apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 78.2%. How content were you with your game in your second professional season?
I wasn’t content, this year I struggled due to personal problems off the court . It’s not bad , but it’s not how I wanted to show out my second time coming.
Have you ever experienced losing so many close games where you had good scoring games? You scored 22 points and lost by 4 points than scored 20 points twice losing by 2 and 1 point and scored 16 points losing by 1 point. How frustrating was this? This obviously showed that FC Schalke was a better team than what it’s record showed.
As many times I lost , I have won. It’s going to be games I play great and the team lose. There is going to be games I play bad and the team win. I’m happy with the good performances I had , but the win is most important and each time was a learning experience on what I could do better and the team.
Your stats were a bit down from last season, but how do you see did your development as a player continue in your second professional year having gotten more experience?
The development as a player I learned through my campaign season is that, I learned how to be a professional. I didn’t experience a full length season and I have gotten to do so this season. It’s a long journey and takes a physical and mental toll on your body . I started off good and at the end I begin to derail. I know what it takes to stay at the top of my game all season now.
You stated in our last interview that your never happy with your game because you feel like you can always do more which is a good mindset. On what areas of your game will you be working on this spring/summer to make that next step as a player?
This summer I will be working on my body , I have to get back to the physic of how I was during college. I will add a new array of moves to help me when the defense get hip to my go to moves. As always I will continue to work on my deep ball because the game of basketball is evolving around the 3 point line .
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro A this season?
I do not have a tough player I battled against this season. I did struggle against teams game plan to stop me this season . If I had to choose, it would be Kendall Mccullum due to the fact he kept constant pressure on the defense.
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?
Even though Luka Doncic has an amazing sophomore campaign he is not a top 3 NBA player now. You have to continue to play well consistently for years to earn that stamp. In 3-4 years I believe he will be a top 3 NBA player.
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. You were 12 years old when he began in the NBA. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence?
When I heard about Kobe’s death, I was with a couple of teammates eating dinner at the Chinese buffet. When my teammate announced the death of Kobe, it felt unreal. It felt unreal not in the sense he died, but how he died. A legend like that shouldn’t have gone the way he did. Kobe had a big impact on my mental approach to life . He taught me the fundamental approach you have on the court, apply that to life . Probably the greatest lesson Kobe taught all of us .
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 is so sad that the tournament got canceled. I feel sorry for the senior class that worked hard during their time at school to live this opportunity and get cut short. I know it’s a great experience because I love every moment I endured during the tournament. The best advice I could give seniors is, basketball doesn’t stop. Stay prepared and get ready to be a professional.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Bad Boys For Life.
Thanks Shavar for the chat.