Rene Melendez is a 190cm point guard from Mexico that will play at the 2020 Howard Hoops tour in Germany. He recently completed his career at Mayville State University (NAIA) where he played 43 NAIA games and as a senior at Mayville State University (NAIA) playing 28 games averaging 11.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 70.5%. He previously played at Trinidad State Junior College (JUCO) playing 59 JUCO games averaging 4.4ppg, 1.8rpg and in his last season averaged 5.5ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 72.7%.He played with the Mexican U16 National Team at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Punta del Este (Uruguay) -in 2013 averaging 11.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.0spg, FGP: 33.3%, 3PT: 22.6%, FT: 64.3%. he also won two North Star Tournaments. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Rene thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how have you been holding up the last months during COVID-19?
I was living in Denver, Colorado, USA. For a couple months after the school and the basketball season ended. I’m currently in Mexico.
You played your last college game on March 1stth against Waldorf winning 65-62 and steering home 17 points. How tough was it ending your NAIA career like that?
As a team and for me personally we made our goal. We accomplished everything we wanted, but we didn’t finish the way we wanted because we still had to play in the NAIA national tournament, and we couldn’t do it. I had a great game in my last college basketball game, it was a great feeling, I wouldn’t change it for anything, I know I have more to come. The time will decide.
How did you keep busy the last 4 months? How much of a challenge was it staying in shape? Did you know in March 2020 that you wanted to prepare and be ready for a possible professional career?
It was hard to keep my body in shape but I did what I need it to do. I was working-out at home, dribbling the ball everyday and running every morning in a park close to my house and doing pushups, squats, using any weight that I could. Being a professional player has always been my goal. It’s something that I can do. I’m ready to show people what I can do.
You just finished your college career at Mayville State University (NAIA). How excited are you to be able to test the professional waters this summer?
I’m very exited to start my professional career. I know I can show others what I can do. This is something that I been waiting for years.
COVID-19 has affected the whole world. How do you feel have you become stronger as a man off the court during these hard times?
Those hard times are the ones that make us a better person and be really close to the ones we love. This pandemic still coming to us, but we will be able to overcome everything that comes against us. Personally, I spent more time with the ones I love, more than any other time so, I feel great right now but now is time to work.
I have often met American players having high expectations of themselves and not knowing how brutal the professional basketball world is. How aware are you that having that long professional career coming from NAIA isn’t easy, but it can be done?
Being from Mexico, I already know that being a professional player its hard because since I left Mexico to go play in the best basketball of the world in the United states, it’s been always hard but, the hard part won’t stop me to make my goal reality. I know a lot of basketball players from Mexico that have told me that it won’t be easy but I will take the risk and be ready for whatever is coming.
How big is your hunger to prove people wrong after playing at 2 schools in 4 seasons? How big is your chip on your shoulder to show people just what you are made of on the court?
I have been on teams where things weren’t easy, coaches, players, etc. have a role in a team, and everything that other people say or do will affect the team but I have always overcome those things around me and I finally made my goal of playing at a great level and I have always improved my game in each of the past 4 years. The journey has been hard with little bumps sometimes but like I say, I’m ready to show what I can do. My last coach has taught me that things won’t be easy.
You have signed up with the Howard Hoops Tour. How did the contact to Ron Howard come about. He is currently living in Minnesota and has been training young hungry players for years. Is that how the contact came about?
Ron Howard became a friend when I signed at Mayville state University, He was really close to coach Thigh and he told me to keep working to be a professional player. Ron Howard is doing a great job teaching young people for their future. I Know Ron knows what I can do. Ron is a great person.
How excited are you about having the opportunity to go to Germany and show your talent as a player? What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?
I can’t wait to go over there and play basketball, represent myself, my family and my country. I know Germany have great basketball leagues, beautiful people and I heard they like people from Mexico.
What do you know in general about the Howard Hoops Tour? How aware are you of the positive record of Ron Howard helping get guys like you with little or no experience jobs? Has that increased your hunger even more to succeed?
I have always started at the bottom because I been living in a country that wasn’t mine and I had to get my spot in every team, like I said before I have always had that hunger to succeed. I thank Ron Howard for the opportunity that he has brought to me and for trusting myself. It’s time to keep working.
How big is your dream of becoming a professional player. Does your feeling of wanting that succeed any kind of feeling you have ever had for anything in your life?
My dream to become basketball player is so big that I would like to live from the basketball, I’m willing to give everything I have to be successful. I always represent myself and my family.
Talk a little about the man Ron Howard. He is an absolute basketball workaholic. How have you gotten to know the man on and off the court the best and what do you appreciate most about him?
Ron Howard has trusted me to work with him. Ron loves basketball like I do. I didn’t know much about him but I Know he trusts me for how I play, and he believes that I can play that’s why he is giving me the opportunity to play in Germany representing his name and his agency. I don’t have words to say how grateful I’m to be part of this agency. I appreciate the opportunity that he has brought to me.
He also played at Mayville State many years ago. Is his legacy still present there? Do you remember hearing stories about him?
Yeah, people know him a lot in Mayville. I have heard stories about him and I have seen videos of him. People know that he did very well during his time in Mayville.
Let’s talk a little about your game. You’re a 190cm guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would bets fit the description?
I would say Marcus Smart from the Boston Celtics, someone that plays hard all game, intense defense, can shoot 3’s and can dribble.
Talk a little about your strength as a player. What kind of attributes will be on display when you play in Germany?
Someone that plays hard all game, intense and smart. I describe myself has a shooter and I can finish at the basket.
On what parts of your game are you working on most in the lab so that you can continue to improve your game as you continue to move forward as a player?
My midrange shoot, I just need more consistency.
You were born in Mexico and live in Denver Colorado today. Talk a little about your childhood and when you got infected by basketball?
I started to play basketball when I was 6, my family played sports all my life and it’s something that I like to do in my daily basics, each and every day. I was one of the best players in my city in Chihuahua, Mexico. I went to play in EL Salvador and Uruguay, representing Mexico U15 and U17. I moved myself to Denver, my junior year of high school. After high school I went to Junior college Called Trinidad State University, and then I went to Mayville State University.
You began your college career at Trinidad State Junior College (JUCO) playing 59 games over 2 seasons, but never averaged more than 5,5ppg. Despite fighting for minutes, what positives could you take form this experience?
I take a lot of experience, the reason why I say this is because we had great players that went D1 and I wasn’t very athletic or couldn’t do things that others could do, but I had to play better and make crucial shots when I was in the game. I did something that other players didn’t do like take charges and play defense.
You then moved to Mayville State University (NAIA) playing only 13 games your first season averaging 2.8ppg. How tough was this season coming from JUCO and continuing to play little minutes in the NAIA? How did you survive that first season?
I survived knowing that I could play, I really had a tough time with the coach and other players but I knew that I could be in the game any time. I just didn’t have the opportunity to play because of other seniors. I was very depressed but I knew it and I did it at the end showing people what I could do.
In your second year at Mayville State University (NAIA) you went from 6 minutes to averaging 25 minutes playing 28 games averaging 11.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 70.5%. How do you feel did your game grow the most in this season?
I knew that coach was trusting me and I knew that I could be doing that the past season. I just didn’t have the opportunity to demonstrate it to the coaches. Obviously, my game improved in every aspect but the most in character, my mind was stronger and my body was feeling great.
You had many memorable games at Mayville State (NAIA), but was the exciting 65-62 win in your last college game one of your more memorable games in terms of personal play?
Yeah, my last game as a comet was the best game I had. Because I played very well.
You won the 2019 and 2020 North Star Tournaments. Which one was more sweeter?
Obviously, the one in 2020 because I played more and I was more involved on the team.
How did head coach Darren Tighe groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Leadership, and having a stronger mind. Coach knew that I had to be in that process which was very hard my first season but I did something that others couldn’t do, like I say I didn’t play my first season at Mayville State but I came back to see if I could play my second season, and I did it. Most of the players that didn’t play one season they transfer, I took the risk and I made it. My game and mind have improved in every aspect.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jalen Valverde?
Jaylen Valverde is a great player, but I’m taller and I could shoot better. Me.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Who has been the best player that you have battled on a court anywhere that has been in the NBA or a high level?
Jayson Tatum in 2014 with the USA National team.
Please list your personal NBA Rushmore of 4 NBA heads past or present?
Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson
Where were you when you heard of the death of Kobe Bryant? How much of an influence did a guy like that have on you growing up?
I was in a restaurant and I was on my phone, I saw the news and I couldn’t believe it. I grew up watching Kobe Bryant, watching every game, every night. I saw the hunger on him for the basketball.
People often compare Jordan and Lebron as the best ever, but why isn’t Kobe Bryant mentioned more often in this discussion? Do you feel like Kobe gets a little side tracked in this discussion?
Of course, I feel like he gets a little out of the discussion, I think those three players could be in the same page but there is a reason why Kobe isn’t in the discussion. I would say Kobe is more versatile, but Lebron is more a team player great skills Kobe as well. But I think Kobe should be in the discussion.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Above the Shadows by Claudia Myers.
Thanks Rene for the chat.