Kendall Stafford is a 23 year old 193cm guard from Corinth, Mississippi that completed his rookie season in Germany hooping with the Baskets Vilsbiburg (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 20 games averaging 21.3ppg, 9.8rpg, 3.2apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 56.6%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 61.7%. he began his basketball career at Corinth High School and then played at Northeast Mississippi Community College (JUCO) from 2015-2017 averaging 6.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 38.4%, FT: 57.9% as a freshman and 10.7ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 68.0% in his second year. He then moved to the University of North Alabama (NCAA2) averaging 15.6ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 45.8%, FT: 65.8% as a junior and 10.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 50.6%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 65.9% as a senior. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the Coronavirus crisis.
Hi Kendall 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 am currently at home, in Corinth, MS. My mood is actually pretty good, because I am finally at home with my family and friends. I am enjoying spending as much time with them (at a distance) as I can before returning back overseas. I miss them so much. Although, I am disappointed our season was cut short.
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, I did not expect it to be as serious as it is. The main reason why is because public officials and media did not portray it to be a big deal. They acted like it was just a common flu or seasonal allergies. I believe that America should have acted sooner, and possibly this could all be under control by now. It is crazy how this one virus has affected almost the whole entire world.
How have you experienced the day to day life in Germany 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?
I did not get to experience the effects of COVID-19 in Germany. My coaches sent me back to America before things became how they are. I do believe that the Germans would take it more seriously than us, Americans.
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, I have learned a lot about the 4-6 feet rule, washing my hands often, and avoiding crowded places. I also try to avoid people who think they have been in contact or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
I was very disappointed because we just had begun figuring each other out and all it took to win. We were also on a win streak and I believe we could have won the rest of our games at the rate we were playing.
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 would personally not like playing without fans, because I enjoy having people watching me. It is a motive to do good and try my hardest. When the crowd’s energy is there, so is mine.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
These times have taught me to not take life for granted. You never know when your last game, practice, social event, or just day alive will be. We all need to start taking better care of ourselves and our environments.
Wil 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?
The advantages will be getting back in the gym sooner and working on perfecting and advancing my crafts. I will be able to get back doing what I love. There are really no disadvantages to this when you are a gym rat and basketball is your passion.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish 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 believe that in the beginning a lot of people are still going to be afraid of big crowds and big events, so fan base will smaller. I am not really worried about the future though, because I know everyone loves sports. Everyone is constantly talking about sports starting again and being broadcasted. Although, I am anxious to see how things will turn out next year.
How have you experienced the day to day life back home in the States? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls.
It is difficult being at home and not being able to do some things. I was so excited to come home and go eat at my favorite restaurants and go shopping at my favorite stores. When I got home, everything was almost already closed or closing soon, and I did not get to enjoy those things. I wanted to go on vacation also, but unfortunately that will probably not happen either.
If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
Let’s talk about your rookie season in Germany with Baskets Vilsbiburg. The club finished in 6th place with a 11-9 record. How would you summarize the team season?
I would not say it was the best season, but it was pretty solid. A few factors contributed to our season not going as successful as it could. One factor was injuries and the other factor was team chemistry. Like I said in a previous question, I believe we would’ve finished higher if we were able to complete our season. We were just figuring each other out and we were becoming unstoppable
The club began the season 6-8, but played their best basketball in 2020 winning 5 of their last 6 games. Why do you feel did it take so long to finally get some team consistency?
We had a coach change in the middle of our season and I believe getting to know the new coach’s style was an adjustment that took time for us. We also had a few injuries that changed the lineup and we had to get used to that as well.
The club scored 88 points per game, but also allowed 86 points per game. What kind of an adjustment was it for you coming from the NCAA and experiencing how defense is played overseas?
There was not really an adjustment.
You and experienced American Kenny Fluellen averaged 40 pointscombined per game. Do you feel like the club at times relied too much on you 2 guys for the scoring?
No, every person on a team has a role. It just happened that Kenny and mine role was to score and we were fine with that if it meant our team would win.
Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure was it playing with Kenny Fluellen? Was he like a mentor for you and was that NCAA 2 connection a big benefit as you both knew where the other came from
A big pleasure, he was a great player and friend. Our games really complemented each other’s.
What was it like being teammates with Czech republic big man Lubos Novy. He got injured just as the team started rolling. How was his game most valuable for the team?
He was fully of energy and we needed that. He was unstoppable offensively and defensively. We really need his inside threat for our offense.
Let’s talk about you game. You averaged 21.3ppg, 9.8rpg, 3.2apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 56.6%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 61.7% as a rookie. How content were you with your game?
I was not content at all. Every day and every game I worked to be a better player than the day before. I will continue to work to get better. I will never get complacent.
If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
Lebron James because I am a versatile player just like him. I am just a little bit less athletic and explosive.
You are an amazing and lethal rebounder for 193cm. You made huge strides from JUCO to the NCAA in terms of rebounds and continued into the pro ranks. How do you explain your huge surge in being able to rebound the ball?
All of my coaches told me I had it in me to get all rebounds, I believe them and I went for it. To this day I still do. Plus, getting rebounds leads to easy points.
You have been an ok three point shooter in your last 2 seasons in the NCAA and pro’s, but shot an overwhelming 45% in your junior season. What is your strategy in continuing to improve your outside shooting?
I will keep getting up as many shots as I can in my free time. I will also continue working on my confidence, when I am confident I see my shot is a lot better.
On what other aspects of your game will you continue to work on as you attempt to climb the basketball ladder?
Ball handling is something I also need to work on.
You had 2 amazing games as a rookie scoring 40 points against Troester Breitengussbach and a fascinating 28 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 steals. What game was more memorable?
28, 17, 7, & 7. I had a good overall game and I also had my teammates involved. The win was just a good one for all of us.
Against Regnitzal you were on a quadruple double path. Was that the best game in your career and what did you learn about your game after 40 minutes on this night?
I do believe it was the biggest game of my career. I realized that I can be a versatile player, and I have what it takes offensively and defensively. It showed me that when I am locked in and focused, it is really hard to stop me.
Who was the toughest guy that you faced in the Regionalliga this season?
You showed as a senior at University of North Alabama (NCAA, that you can be a very good NCAA player, but had to pay your dues in JUCO and did it this season in the German Regionalliga. Talk a little about how huge the chip on your shoulder is and how you deal with it mentally. It must be very high at the moment after a strong rookie season overseas.
I do have a chip on my shoulder, because I know that I can play on a high level. Although, I humble myself enough to know that I am not where I want to be and I have a lot of work to do to get there.
How important were your two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College (JUCO). What was key for your game in these 2 years that helped you make the jump to the NCAA?
Northeast prepared me for what it took at UNA to be the player I was. I was formally a guard coming to NE, but ended up playing multiple positions. It helped me become the well-rounded player I am today.
You played at the University of North Alabama playing NCAA 2 in your junior year and NCAA in your senior year. How cool was being able to move up and how do you feel did your game develop best I these 2 years?
It was cool because I got to play against a variety of different talents and environments. I feel that my game developed best in the Division 1 & 2 level because the talent I played was good. My basketball IQ and efficiency was changed the most these two years. With my IQ increasing, my efficiency increased as well because I was seeing things better and taking better shots.
You lost 96-51 against powerhouse basketball school Gonzaga. How did it feel standing on the floor against this school and future NBA players after having played in JUCO only 2 years earlier. What will you remember most from this game?
It was a great experience being in front of such a big crowd and being on that stage with great players. When you are presented an opportunity like this you have to give it your all. You never know when you will get another opportunity to be on a stage that big to showcase yourself and what you have to offer to someone else.
How did head coach Tony Pujol groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach P was one of the coaches that pushed me to be the rebounder I am today. He also molded me into a leader my last year at UNA. I tried to bring my leadership role to BasketsVilsbiburg and I believe that it helped our team.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jamari Blackmon?
Never got the chance, but if we did it would be a good game!
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced that reached the NBA?
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Please produce your own personal NBA Mount Rushmore with 4 heads past or present?
Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Paul Pierce, and Carmelo Anthony
What is your general opinion with the debate between who is greater Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Michael Jordan is the best basketball player and competitor. Although, Lebron is the best ‘ALL-AROUND’ player.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Angels in the Outfield
Thanks Kendall for the chat.