Keith Phillips is a 196cm forward from Detroit, Michigan that finished his college career with William Jessup University (NAIA) in 2019 and belongs to the 2020 Howard Hoops Tour roster. He was scheduled to play in Germany in August 2020, but couldn’t get a passport in time.He began his basketball career with Macomb Community College (JUCO) and then played a year with Chabot College (JUCO) playing 29 games averaging 15.7ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 66.3%. He then played at William Jessup University (NAIA) from 2017-2019 playing 30 games averaging 16.7ppg, 8.0rpg, 2.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 56.6%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 63.1% as a junior and as a senior played 33 games averaging 21.0ppg, 8.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 78.2%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Keith thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how have you held up the last months with COVID-19?
Right now at the moment I am currently in California with my girlfriend and I have avoided COVID by staying in the house but I also train everyday that’s the only time I come out.
How have you been keeping in shape best during COVID-19? Did you make a special plan so that you could train and work on your game as best as you could despite the tough times?
I have been working out every day with my trainers and still have a busy schedule due to COVID my workouts are solo so it’s just me and my trainers so I have been able to workout still.
How do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man? What have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know about earlier?
COVID has definitely made me a stronger man dealing with a few passing within my family caused by this disease. This disease has took some of my loved ones and have taught me to check in on your close ones because you never know who can go next.
You are from Detroit, Michigan. Talk a little about your childhood. It wasn’t easy growing up with the peer pressure. How tough was it not being a follower early on, but going your own way?
Growing up in Detroit was fun but tough at the same time you had to be mentally and physically tough growing up in a middle class/ poor community I actually chose to play basketball except for running with the wrong crowd but the good thing is that even though I grew up in a rough neighborhood everyone pushed me to make it out. They told me I would be the first person from that neighborhood to make it out which gave me the motivation to keep playing.
When you were growing up who were your main basketball inspirations and how did they influence your game the most?
One of my biggest basketball influences was my cousin Kenny Ford and Kobe Bryant. My cousin played ball back in the day and was nationally ranked almost getting a chance to play at Michigan state the same year Magic Johnson played but his career ended in a drive by shooting. He has been pushing me my whole life even though he is now in the hospital. Kobe is another where his game and attitude was kind of my style. He is fearless and never gives up and works hard even when he is tired so Kobe motivated me as well s as Draymond Green.
After a stellar career at William Jessup (NAIA) finishing in 2019, what did you do in the last season? Did you play some semi pro basketball? Why do you suppose was it so tough finding a job out of college?
After my season it wasn’t hard for me to find a job I had a few offers but I just worked out for a whole year due to the fact I still had one more semester of school. I could have left and went over seas but my mom and family always wanted me to get my degree and I know that would make them happy so I stayed an extra year to finish up. I wanted to be the first person on my fathers side of the family with a degree so I stuck to school and finished it out before I left to make my mother proud.
How big is the chip on your shoulder in general? You had a great NAIA career and there have been guys that put up your kind of senior stats that have had long careers overseas. Do you realize that you could have a career overseas?
I have a big chip on my shoulder but I remain humble I have a chip on my shoulder because there are a lot of people who look up to me in my community and really want to see me succeed and go far. This is the way I want to feed my family and give them a better life. I think I can play with anybody and hopefully I can get a chance to show it in Germany I know guys that have played and gave me advice I heard people tell me I can play overseas but I just have to let God take control and let him work.
Let’s talk a bit about your game. You have been compared to Draymond Green. How have you seen the development of your versatile game grow in the last years?
I have seen my game change in so many ways in like a blink of an eye I transferred over to guard after playing the five my whole career. I play the five but I always have the ball in my hand like Draymond always talking and I have a good IQ with the ball. I also have a handle and shot being able to score from inside out is key I like my game because if I have a taller defender I can bring him out of the key and if I have a smaller defender I can post him up I’ve developed into a 2-way player thanks to the Sacramento King organization for helping me out.
You’re a guy that fills the stat sheet with ease. You really can do it all. What do you feel is your biggest asset on the court at the moment?
The biggest asset on the court for me is how much attention I can draw. I can draw a lot of attention on the court and I always like to keep a flow in the offensive. Yeah I can fill up the stat sheet but I like to keep a flow on the team so I can have the support from my teammates when I do have big games. I think the number one goal to being a good player is making your teammates better and working on yourself as well. I am a great team player and 2 way player. I can play defense guarding a big or a guard
Your also a player that has demonstrated good defensive qualities. How much pride do you take on the defensive end and what do you feel is your biggest strength on defense?
I take pride in defense. A funny story is that my uncles and father would yell at me if I let another kid get buckets on me and plus I came from Detroit right behind the Pistons ( bad Boy) Era so Detroit basketball was all about defense and being physical. Kawhi Leonard is my defensive motivation and Patrick Beverly.
Your ex head coach at William Jessup Lance Von Vogt said that you have a heart of gold. How important was your mother for instilling this quality in you?
My moms and my grandma always told me to treat people how you wanted to be treated I give people my respect and they give it back. I am very respectful person and would never disrespect anyone unless they cause harm to me I believe we are all god’s children and we must help each other not bring each other down
On what things are you currently working on so that you can continue to get better as a player as you attempt to climb the basketball ladder the next years?
So right now I’ve been working on making my shot more consistent from NBA range and also my ball handling. I can take care of the ball but the biggest thing is staying in shape and making sure I get the proper rest .
You will be taking part at the Howard Hoops Tour in August. How excited are you to play in Germany and how hungry are you to show everyone that you have game?
I’m very excited to be a part of the tour I just want to go out and play basketball I m thrilled to come to Germany I have never been thereand I have always been afraid to go due to the history but I am ready I think this is going to be exciting and fun I just want to show the world that I can play.
How excited are you as well to be able to play with your ex teammates Pindo Drammeth and Oliver Amajoyi? Have these guys become friends for life?
Pindo and Oliver and like brothers to me and it will be exciting to see us all reunite I think it will be fun me and olive and pindo were working on our game before we separated after school. This will be a very fun trip but also I told them it’s. Business trip so we have to stay focused.
How did the contact to Howard Hoops CEO Ron Howard come about? What was the deciding moment that made you chose to play for him?
I contacted Ron through Instagram and to be honest he seemed like he was about his business and I am a guy about business so that got my attention. Another thing is that he was in the Midwest and I am from the Midwest so that got my attention as well plus he has played over there so he has the experience and I’m pretty sure he knows what he is doing.
Ron Howard has a great track record of helping players find jobs. How aware are you that you have a real golden opportunity to get a job because of him?
I hope to bring a show like I said I’ve never been the type to say I’m going to do this on the court but I will give you my all and my goal is just to remain calm and do what I love to do the most and have fun while doing it. You guys will see me being aggressive but under control and I definitely want to show off my inside out skill set
You played your first 2 years of college ball with Macomb Community College (JUCO)
and Chabot College (JUCO). How important was this early time for your basketball development? What do you feel did your game achieve the most in JUCO?
In Juco it showed me that either I had to fix my game and grow as a player. I made a lot of errors in Juco but I learned from themJjuco showed me all the things I needed to work on if I wanted to go further with my basketball career.
You sat out your first season at William Jessup because your mom was suffering from cancer. You went back home to Detroit to be with her. How do you feel did that year back at home shape to be the man that you are now?
The year I sat out showed me how much of a man I really was having to go home and provide for my family and my mother while she was sick. I had to grow up fast but that’s also one of the reasons people support me because I have always given back or gave them my all. That year turned me closer to my family my community and the city of Detroit seeing how many people were truly behind me
You had 2 great seasons at William Jessup averaging 16.7ppg, 8.0rpg, 2.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 56.6%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 63.1% and 21.0ppg, 8.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 78.2%. How do you feel did your game grow in your 2 years there?
I mean those two years showed me that I could really play somewhere. Those two seasons made me learn how to adjust to teams while being targeted and made me more of a team orientated guy because I was getting double teamed so much. Those teams in that league really pushed me every game going up against every teams best defender and getting doubled showed me how to move with out the ball as well.
You reached the 2019 GSAC final losing to Masters. How tough was this loss being so close to getting a title as a senior?
The loss in the GSAC tournament hurt but I was proud of my boys unfortunately our coach got sick and gave it to the team before going into the game. I was weak and low on energy I tried my best but I had the flu and so did like 3 of my teammates so it was tough most definitely.
You had some of your most memorable games against Hope International scoring 35 points in your first year and 33 points in your last season. Was the 33 point game in the exciting 93-91 victory one of your most memorable games in school?
Yes that would be one of them. I tip my hat to Hope international That is a great program and they have a good coach and they are one of the best defensive teams in the country around that time so they made you work which is something I like to do. I want to work for it and that was a very tough team to beat most definitely in my top 5 most memorable games.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced on the playground or in a gym that has been in the NBA?
I have faced a few names in the NBA like Andrew Wiggins Jabari Parker, Aquille Carr, a lot of tough names but the most toughest I think I’ve had to guard was Ben Mclemore. He is family but he is tough to guard just because he can shoot it from any where at anytime and he is athletic to which makes him unpredictable. You don’t know if he is going to shoot or blow by you.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Austin Dill?
In a one on one game I would most definitely would win but Austin’s footwork is crazy. He can put you in a spin cycle really fast and he is very fundamental but I got him though. He would guard me in practice all the time.
Please construct your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of 4 heads past or present.
My four would be Kobe, MJ, Larry Bird , and Allen Iverson for sure
Where were you when you heard of the death of Kobe Bryant? How did he influence you the most when you were growing up as a kid?
I was actually in Los Angels when it happened and I thought it was one of those pranks on social media but it crushed me. It was like losing on of my closest family members.
Why isn’t Kobe mentioned in the standard conversation of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
You know what I couldn’t even tell you but I think it’s funny how they put LeBron and don’t get me wrong Lebron is in the talk but if Jordan’s the best player to touch a basketball how is Kobe not in the conversation when he literally was our Jordan for this era. He has literally done every move Jordan has done made tough game winners won championship idk I would be confused. He was to me like a remake of Michael Jordan.
Will you be following the NBA restart? Do you feel like we could see a surprise winner this season with all the drama that has happened with COVID-19?
I think the Lakers are going to win it all to be honest but I’m a KD fan so I think the Nets have a chance at pulling it off to if they can click well.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Last movie I watched was Chuck and Larry with Adam Sandler which is a funny movie. By the way must see for sure if you haven’t
Thanks Keith for the chat.