Kruize Pinkins is a 27 year old 201cm forward from Marianna, Florida that completed his fifth professional season and first with Reale Mutua Basket Torino (Italy-Serie A2) playing 26 games averaging 15.6ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 61.3%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 84.8%. In 2018-2019 he played his first season in Italy with Novipiu Casale Monferrato (Italy-Serie A2) playing 32 games averaging 16.8ppg, Reb-2 (10.3rpg), 2.0apg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 81.8%. He played with the Hebeisen White Wings in his first two professional seasons. In his first season with Hanau he averaged 13.1ppg, Reb-3 (9.1rpg), 1.1apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 20.8%, FT: 68.9%. In his second second season with Hanau he averaged 17,9ppg, 9,5rpg and 2,5apg. He made the jump to the BBL in 2017-2018 with the Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (Germany-BBL) playing 31 games averaging 11.1ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 87.8% He started his basketball career at Chipola (JUCO). He then played at USF (NCAA) from 2013-2015 and as a senior played 32 games averaging 13.9ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 65.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the Coronavirus crisis.
Hi Kruize 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 California and I’m just doing like everyone else and stay cautious.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
No, not like this. I wouldve never imagine something like this would happen in my lifetime.
How did you experience the day to day life in Italy? Are you still there as I know many Americans haven’t been able to go home yet? What things did you notice in the surroundings there that showed that life wasn’t normal?
I left around then middle of March, but I lived in the city of the center which was always noisy during the weekends, but during the Virus there were maybe 5 people outside walking.
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 of course. I’m sure everyone will take more care of their hygiene now.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
Very disappointed, it’s like I wasted a year of my career, because we had goals to win the league but the Virus just canceled it, like it was nothing. But it had to be done because life is far more important.
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 have done it before when I was a 15 during summer AAU games so it wouldn’t have been a problem for me to finish the season like this.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
Just patience and also to keep money saved up, because I see a lot of people are in a panic because they can’t work and make money.
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?
It’s not a start for us, we can’t even get in Gyms right now.
If you had to name another player besides guys from Reale Mutua Basket Torino (Italy-Serie A2) that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
Brad Tinsley who I played with in Casale.
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 Italian people on how they are coping and handling themselves?
Life here is Stagnant. We can’t do anything. We can’t really train. Unless you know someone with a private gym. So life sucks at the moment, But I have faith.
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?
Just talking to family more and making sure they are okay and just staying in touch
You played with Reale Mutua Basket Torino (Italy-Serie A2) this season and last season with Novipiu Casale Monferrato (Italy-Serie A2) after playing your first three professional seasons in Germany. Now after being in Italy for two seasons has Italy become like a second home or is Germany still that after allowing you to break out as a player there?
I like both Italy and Germany but of course Germany will always have a special place in my heart because that’s where I started my career.
You were a top Pro A player in Germany and proved you could make the adjustment to the German BBL posting very good stats. Now you have become a top player in Italian Serie A2. Please explain how one would compare the style, talent level and competiveness of Serie A2 to what you experienced in German Pro A and the BBL? Is it somewhere in between?
I mean the only big difference is number of Import players. They style of play is a bit of the same for me. All are very competitive leagues.
How tough was it having to stop the season with the emergence of the Coronavirus as Reale Mutua Basket Torino (Italy-Serie A2) was leading the Serie A2 west standings with a 18-8 record? What was so special about this team and what was key to the success.
It’s not a good feeling, when you invest and sacrifice so much through out a season and then for it to just be thrown out the window, is devastating but I enjoyed the process and my teammates so those are memories that we can hold on too.
After a 5-4 start, the club began to play it’s best basketball from December 2019 posting a 13-4 record before play stopped. What was key for the turnaround?
We had a lot of big Injuries and some unfortunate bounces because mostly all those games we had won and lost at the end. But we weren’t healthy.
Let’s talk about your teammates. For three years you had German teammates and the last two seasons you had Italian teammates. What have you learned to appreciate from them most with how they play the game and how they carry themselves off the court?
They love hanging out and getting dinner as a team and that really helped our team become close, this last season was the most team events I had in my career.
How much of a pleasure was it being teammates with Derrick Marks? He played in German Pro A when you were playing with MBC in the BBL. What did you appreciate most about his game?
He is a great player but I think his defense is overlooked , he is a really great defender. He made it tough for a lot of guards last season.
A big talent is Ousmane Diop. He had a very strong season and is only 20 years old. How far can a player like that go? Is sky the limit an accurate description for him?
He is talented, he has a lot of potential to be a great player in Italy. He is also a great guy off the court. Which will carry him a long way as a professional.
Let’s talk about your game. Last season with Novipiu Casale Monferrato (Italy-Serie A2) you averaged 16.8ppg, Reb-2 (10.3rpg), 2.0apg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 81.8% and this season with Reale Mutua Basket Torino (Italy-Serie A2) 15,6ppg, 7,2rpg, 1,7apg and shot 37,5% from outside. How content were you with your season?
I was very happy with my season. I knew my numbers would drop a bit, but I didn’t care because I wanted to win and play for something special.
You have 2 more years of experience and continuing to put up strong stats. How is Kruize Pinkens a better player today than 2 years ago with MBC?
Just like you said , just more experience and being a student of the game
You continue to be a very consistent offensive player. What is vital for you to continue to be consistent and still be able to improve as a player?
Just taking care of my business off the court. Eating, staying in shape, stretching. Little things like that which are vital for having a long and successful career.
You improved your three pointer in Germany and percentage wise have kept the same level in Italy. You stated in the last interview in April 2018 that you will continue to work hard to get even better. How confident are you that you can reach the 40% mark and stay there?
Very confident just have to keep working. Just got to stay consistent.
Last season you played with Novipiu Casale Monferrato (Italy-Serie A2) averaging 16.8ppg, Reb-2 (10.3rpg), 2.0apg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 81.8%. You needed no adjustment period as you had a 34/14 explosion in your first game. Does the style of the Serie A2 suit you better than what you saw in Germany?
No I don’t think so because I also put up really good numbers in Germany. I’m just a competitor so wherever I play I’m going to compete. That’s how you Adjust.
What is the next step for you? You have had very good seasons each season as a professional. At the same time due to the Coronavirus, the market will probably be one that we have never seen before. Player salaries might be totally different. You obviously will take the best offer and situation, but according to your performance in Italy do you feel like you deserve a shot at the next level?
Yeah I think so but of course the Virus changes everything and makes everything more difficult.
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?
Not top 3 but he is definitely emerging as a top player in the league.
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 on the road coming back from an away game against Bergamo. It was literally the day after my birthday. I will never forget it. Kobe was like Jordan to those who didn’t get to watch Jordan play.
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?
Yeah that is very tough I can’t even imagine being in that kind of situation. This Virus has derailed a lot of people.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Kruize for the chat.