Haywood Highsmith is a 24 year old 198cm forward playing his first season with the HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim (Germany-BBL). Last season he played with the Delaware Blue Coats (NBA G League) playing 43 games averaging 10.4ppg, 6.7rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 70.2%. As a rookie the ex Wheeling Jesuit University (NCAA2) standout played with the Delaware Blue Coats (NBA G League) playing 45 games averaging 12.3ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 66.7%. He also played 5 nBA games for the Philadelphia 76ers. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the Merlins 76-64 win where he contributed 5 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal in 29 minutes.
Congrats Haywood on the satisfying 76-64 win over the Fraport Skyliners. Your 7-1 at the moment. How good does basketball life feel at the moment?
Basketball life is really good now. Anytime you win is good. We played well against Frankfurt. I hope that we can keep up the streak and keep improving.
This was a hard fought win. How taxing were the ups and downs for the HAKRO Merlins?
We knew coming in that it would be a dog fight. Frankfurt was a very good team at both ends of the court. We knew that we wouldn’t run away with the game. We knew that we had to keep fighting. At half time we talked about how we had to come out in the second half and gut it out and do the little things necessary to win.
Quantez Robertson said before the game that they couldn’t allow Crailsheim to play their game. How content were you with how well you were able to perform the game plan?
We struggled a bit at the beginning. We scored only 34 points at half time which isn’t a lot for us. We fixed a few things at the break and then came out and played our style. We had better ball movement, controlled the pace and played great defense.
After creaming medi Bayreuth last weekend and dishing out 31 assists, how challenging was it coming out and holding Frankfurt to only 64 points?
Frankfurt is a good offensive team. We had to lock in more on Mobley and Gudmundsson. Our defense is similar to Bayreuth’s. We knew that we had to step it up. We did a good job communicating and limiting their transition. We also did a good job not letting their shooters get hot and were physical on defense.
Crailsheim went on a huge run in the fourth to seal the win. How much do you appreciate the sniper qualities of Maurice Stuckey?
Mo is one of the best shooters in the BBL. He has been around for a while and knows how the game is played. We always believe that every shot he takes will go in. He is a dead eye sniper.
The team rebounded great and had only 8 turnovers. What part of the Merlins game were you most proud of tonight?
I liked the way we fought. We were down by 8 points in the third quarter, but we kept fighting and pushing. We then performed the final knock out punch in the fourth quarter. I was most proud of our willingness to fight, toughness and grit.
What kind of an experience was it playing against top BBL defender Quantez Robertson? What impressed you most about his game?
He is an older guy and knows everything. He knows what space he has to be and knows the type of plays teams run. He gets in passing lanes well. He is definitely one of the best defenders that I have seen in the BBL.
Trae Bell Haynes is a big MVP candidate. His organization skills are excellent. How has he continued to get better in last weeks?
He is a great point guard that is quick. I think that he has improved his shot a lot. I get up shots with him before and after practice and I have noticed that his shot is more fluid and that he is more comfortable. We totally believe in him and he proves each night that he belongs to the best in the league.
How content were you with your game of 5 points and 5 rebounds. You seem to be coming into your own as a guy that will do anything to help his team?
I’m not having the greatest statistical season, but I’m just glad were winning. I just try to do my best to help the team keep winning. I think that I’m doing my thing on the defensive end well which is good for me. I know that my shots will start to fall. I just have to keep pushing and never get too high or too low.
Christmas is around the corner. What is your fondest X-mas memory as a kid?
I had older siblings, but I felt like an only child. I got a lot of gifts. I just remember waking up in the morning seeing the presents under the tree. That was a special moment. For me it’s important to give back to people and keep the Christmas spirit going.
What is your favorite X-mas movie.
Thanks Haywood for the chat.