Brody Clarke is a 24 year old 2105cm forward from Toronto Canada that will play his first season overseas in Germany with the ROMERSTROM Gladiators Trier (Germany-ProA). He began his basketball career at Oakwood Collegiate Institute and then played at the The University of Alberta (U Sports) from 2014-2020 playing a total of 115 games. His best season wa sin 2018-2019 when he averaged 26 games: 18.6ppg, Reb-3 (10.4rpg), 2.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 34.1%, FT: 75.4%. He also gained extra experience the last 2 summers playing with the Edmonton Stingers (CEBL). He spoke to germanhoops.com during the summer of 2020 about basketball.
Brody thanks for talking to germnhoops.com Where are you and how have you spent your summer in 2020 with COVID-19?
I am currently in Trier, Germany preparing to start my first European Pro season with the Roemerstrom Gladiators Trier in the Germany ProA League. Before this I was spending my summer in Northern Ontario in my mom’s hometown of Sault Ste Marie at our family cabin working out and trying to stay in shape as best I could. From July 12 – August 9 I spent time in St. Catharines, Ontario playing for the Edmonton Stingers in the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s ‘Summer Series’ which took place in a bubble down there due to the virus. We won the championship, and it was an overall great first pro experience.
You finished your college career on March 8th but unlike most were able to get your foot in the professional level playing for the Edmonton Stingers this past summer. Did you have a strange feeling being one of the few in the world besides the NBA and a few leagues in Europe to have played during COVID-19?
It was definitely a strange feeling getting to play sports amidst the global pandemic, but I found myself really excited to be back on a court doing what I love. I had great teammates and coaching staff which made the experience all the more enjoyable. I was initially quite skeptical of the situation however as the days went by and the league staff as well as the public health authorities continued to guarantee our safety, it become much easier to just focus on basketball and have fun competing at a high level again.
Congrats on winning the CEBL title recently. How important was it getting this professional experience twice the last 2 summers. Do you feel like this chip will give you added self-confidence and have a positive effect on your teammates ?
Thank you! I definitely feel like the experience will help me adjust to the pro level in Europe because it gave me the confidence that I belonged. I think that the added confidence will constitute a positive effect on my teammates and coaches as I no longer feel like a total rookie. I think that the small experience I have puts me ahead of the players coming in who have no professional experience to draw from.
How did you experience the whole COVID-19 crisis in Canada? Was it difficult keeping in shape and working on basketball skills? Did you spend a lot of time with Jordan Baker working on your game?
It was a tough adjustment at first. However I ended up being able to work out as much as I wanted to back home in Ontario which made me feel lucky considering that it was not my job to remain in shape to play pro ball. It wasn’t too difficult because we had some weights at home and a hoop so I was always able to stay familiar with the game. I actually did not spend that much time with Jordan because we were in completely different parts of the country for most of the pandemic. However I was back in Edmonton to take care of a personal matter for an odd weekend and we were in the gym as much as we could in that small stint for sure.
What did you learn from COVID-19 that has made you stronger as a man?
I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is to be patient and to find new ways to manage my stress levels when the situation is completely out of my hands. I think this will help me in my professional career and my adult life in general.
Congrats on signing with the Romerstrom Gladiators. Was the Trier basketball culture and fitting words from Marco Van Den Berg that made it easier for you to pick Trier as your new home in Germany?
The culture and the conversations with Coach Marco were definitely major factors in my choosing to sign here. However the biggest factor was actually fellow Canadian Jermaine Bucknor who has been on the team for a number of years. He gave me the confidence that I would not only fit in well with the style of play, but also that I wouldn’t be alone in a foreign country to start off my career.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? You have played against guys in the past that later went to play in Germany.
I don’t know a whole lot, but I know that Germany is a very highly developed country with a strong sports culture They always do well in the Olympic games in lots of sports. I also know that the the top league (Bundesliga) is one of the best in the world, so if that’s any kind of representation of the level of play in their second league, then I’m in for some really good basketball.
You got your first professional experience with the Edmonton Stingers (CEBL) playing 6 games averaging 10.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP-1 (70.0%), 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 78.6%. You didn’t have the massive stats like in school and played less minutes. What kind of experience was this for you and how did this short period help you as a player progress as you prepare for the German season?
For me this opportunity was mostly used as a transition to get acclimated to the pro level and recognize where my game already fit in to that level, and learn where I needed to improve. I didn’t get massive stats, but I definitely wasn’t satisfied with my own output either. For example I think it showed me that since I’m no longer the biggest guy out there, I have to work a lot harder on the glass to keep up, and I plan to use that knowledge to be more effective in Germany.
How vital was it seeing guys like Jordan Baker and Adika Peter-Mcneilly play? Did you ask some advice about Germany where they had balled before in the past?
This was very important. I spent a lot of time asking them questions and picking their brains about what I should prepare for in my experience here. They both enjoyed it a lot and had significant advice that I think I will keep with me for the whole year.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re an athletic 205cm forward. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I’ve always struggled to answer this question because I don’t really like comparing myself to NBA guys, they’re just so outrageously high-level. If I HAD to choose, I would say Wendell Carter, because that’s what my friend Zale from UofA (who cares a lot more about that stuff) always tells me.
You can score and get rebounds, but also have a three pointer and very keen basketball IQ. Would it be fair to say you are a modern day forward?
I definitely think I’m a modern-day forward. I think the game is moving further and further away from solid positions, and I think I’m versatile given my size and skillset. I try to be as positionless as possible, and I think I can continue to get better at shooting the ball which will open up my game in a whole new way with today’s game.
Your averaged 2 assists in a season at the The University of Alberta. How confident are you that you can be a very good passer at the professional level once your game continues to develop?
I was an effective passer at UofA because I drew a lot of attention in the post and had to make the right decision to find open shooters and cutters. I think a lot of my ability to rack up assists will depend on how effective I can be scoring the ball. Once I start to draw more defenders, the rest of the floor will open up for my teammates which is where I think I can be effective distributing.
You have an unbelievable work ethic and dedication to the game. How vital has the support of your parents been who both were basketball champions?
I think that my work ethic is something that was instilled in me and my siblings from a very young age by both of our parents. It’s something I try to apply to all areas of my life, not just basketball. Both of them were basketball champions and stars in their own right, but they’re also both so tenacious away from sports. Growing up in that household molded us into being very hard working all around. My mom started her own law firm in the 90s and my dad has run an inner-city youth basketball club in Toronto since the early 2000s and they both just work their butts off in every aspect of their lives. The fact that they can juggle everything they do, accomplish all that they have, and still be very much present in our lives every step along the way is extremely encouraging. I always try to make them proud in everything that I do, so if I’m not trying my hardest to succeed in my pro career, I may as well go do something else that I can dedicate myself more to. That’s why I work as hard as I do.
You became more of a shot blocker as time went by at the The University of Alberta. How much pride do you take on the defensive end and what are you working on in that area most now as you approach your professional debut?
I’ve always believed that defense wins basketball games, not scoring. I think that as the years went by I started to come into my own athletically and became just overall more able to block shots and stay in front of people on the defensive side of the ball. It’s something that’s hard to work on, but I’m always trying to get quicker and improve my reaction time so I can be a better on-ball defender at the pro level.
How vital was it the hours and hours of footwork that you did with your dad in the gym the last years to make you the player that you are today?
Maybe the most important part of my development. I remember thinking it was boring but then when I started to apply some of the stuff, I was baffled at how well it worked. Even to this day when I go home and get in the gym with him he still drills me on what I’m doing with my feet, it’s clearly a big advantage to have that great of a basketball mind behind the scenes.
You have had many big achievements, but how big was it winning the West Tournament in 2017? What memories do you still have of that?
That will go down as one of the most exciting moments of my University career. I had two more chances at it and dropped both of them, which really showed me how big of an achievement that was. I always try to look back at that year to understand what it takes to win championships and try to channel that feeling in every game, practice and workout.
You had Brandon’s number at the University of Alberta scoring 35 points and 30 points, but hit UBC with 40 points. Was that 40 point game one of your most memorable and did you know early on that you would have a big game?
The 40pt game was definitely one of my most memorable games of my life. I didn’t know going in I would have such a big game, but once I started hitting shots in the first half I had a feeling it would be a good night for me. I just didn’t know how good. As the second half started I realized I was really on fire and my teammates just kept feeding me the ball. It was a very important game to clinch second in the conference, and I was determined to win so I kept letting it fly and the basket felt really big that day. I always get mad at myself when I miss free throws and I was determined to make all of them that day, so when I got to seal a win and achieve the 40pt mark on a freethrow I knew I was going to make it. It was a great night and I’ll remember it forever.
How did head coach Barnaby Craddock groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Barnaby held me to a very high standard every day in practice and in the off season and treated me like a pro. I made it clear to him early what my goals were, so he always made sure to hold me to a higher standard than my teammates and make sure I felt responsible for our team’s success as well as my own. He helped me with my confidence a lot and we were constantly in talking about all things basketball. We have a really good relationship and I credit him with a lot of my ability to overcome a lot of the mental roadblocks I had made for myself on the court. He instilled a lot of confidence in me over the years.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Cole Knudsen?
Cole and I have definitely had our battles. I’ll give him a few wins for sure. I think I won most of the time though haha. The dude is so strong though he really made me improve, probably more than he realizes.
In 2011 you played at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Cancun (MEX) winning the Bronze medal. You
Bowed out to USA 113-70. In that game you played against future NBA players like Aaron Gordon, Jahil Okafor, Jabari Parker, Tyus Jones, and Theo Pinson Jr. Which guy on that roster stuck out the most at that young age?
Jabari Parker. I remember thinking ‘this guy’s the next LeBron’. He was basically the same player he is now, but at age 16. Maybe not as polished but, he was unbelievably good.
You played at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championships in 2013. What memories do you have of that and what did you enjoy most about that competition game wise that you can’t necessarily do in regular 5-5?
I have a lot of good memories from 3×3 competition, mostly the travel and the style of the tournament stood out to me. But I can honestly say that there is nothing I like more about the 3×3 game than I do about the 5on5 game. The pace was fun and interesting, but I wouldn’t do it again if I had to choose between it and 5on5.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced on the court that went to the NBA?
Jamal Murray. Played against him growing up in club basketball in Canada and he always played a year up. He is to this day, the best player I’ve ever played against. Deepest skillset I’ve ever seen in person.
Please list your NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present NBA players?
MJ, LeBron, Kobe, Wilt
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
1.D’Wan Williams – Highschool and UofA
2.Calvin Epistola – Highschool
4.Jonah Weyessa – UofA
5.Chris Egi – Team Canada U19
6.Those are the 5 best TEAMMATES regardless of bball skill that I’ve ever had
What is your opinion on the debate of who is better Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Michael Jordan. I don’t like the argument though, the times are so different, we’ll never know for sure so I don’t really care. That’s just my opinion.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I watched ‘The Best of Us’ with my Girlfriend a few days before I left Canada. I can’t turn down a good romance.
Thanks brody for the chat.