After Some Grooming In Frankfurt And Helsinki Trae Bell Haynes(HAKRO Merlins) Has Taken Off In The easyCredit BBL

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Trae Bell Haynes in 2019 in the Fraport arena

It seems like it was yesterday when Trae Bell-Haynes was playing for the Fraport Skyliners, but at closer glance it has been 2 years. He lasted only 4 and half months in Frankfurt before finishing the season in the G-League, but he also missed a month in Frankfurt with an injury. He was playing his first time overseas and at times it was difficult trying to convince Gordon Herbert that he could play an abundance of minutes on a team that had many good players. But the Canadian showed his basketball class rue colors in many games including a game against Braunschweig in late November 2018. Frankfurt was having their problems with Braunschweig until mid way through the second quarter when they exploded on a 19-3 run. Key in the run was rookie Trae Bell-Haynes who carried the team with 10 points. He scored four buckets in the paint with his unstoppable drives that has put him in the category with ex Skyliner greats Dashaun Wood and Jordan Theodore as guys that scored the most effective using this method. “My penetration is my all. I have worked and used it all my life. I am a small guard and always have to find ways to score. My game is made a lot easier when you have to respect guys like Eric Murphy with the pick and pop and Brady Heslip with the catch and shoot”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes after the  82-77 victory. I wasn´t the only one who noticed the incredible and dominating penetration of the Canadian, but so did his head coach Gordon Herbert. I talked to the x Fraport Skyliners head coach recently who is coaching in Russia this season and he agreed with me. “Trae can get to the rim as fast as Jordan Theodore can. Theodore and Bell Haynes are the two best penetrators that I have seen”, stressed Gordon Herbert. His penetration has continued to be the bread and butter of the Canadian who is tearing up the easyCredit BBL at the moment third in the league in scoring and first in assists. He continues to not only be in attack mode at all times when going to the basket, but also in improving his biggest strength. “I feel that I will continue to become a better penetrator as soon as I continue to become a better three point shooter. When teams respect my penetration, it will also allow me to pass the ball more. And as I become a better shooter, then teams will also respect me there more and let me to do more with my game”, warned Trae Bell Haynes. The Canadian is in his third professional season and with some grooming in Frankfurt and Helsinki has taken off in the easyCredit BBL.

         Bell-Haynes was born on September 5th, 1995 in Toronto, Canada and began his basketball career at Bill Crothers secondary school and as a senior was captain and led his team to a 36-6 record and led the team in scoring and assists averaging 18,7ppg and 7,6apg and was named MVP of the Ontario Prep Championships tournament. He then played at the University of Vermont from 2014-2018 playing a total of 140 NCAA games. In his freshman season he averaged 8.4ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 60.0%, FT: 78.9% and was named to the AEC all rookie team. He scored in double figures in 10 games including a 21 point effort in a win over New Hampshire. In his second season, he took on a larger role and led the team in scoring averaging 12.2ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 79.9%. He earned All-American East Third Team honors, and also reached the All-Tournament Team . He scored in double figures in 21 games and had some massive games against Niagara pouring in 28 points in the 85-67 win and scored 27 points in the 90-72 victory over Maine. In his junior season, he averaged 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 72.7%. In his junior year he helped lead his team to a  29-6 overall record and perfect 16-0 record in conference play and had a fascinating 21 game winning streak. He was named America East player of the year and was named to the all conference team and he topped off the season winning the AEC tournament. He scored in double figures in 16 games including scoring 23 and 22 points against Vermont and had 20 points in a loss against UMBC. He remembers one strange game beating Lyndon State 79-20. “We always had that 1 game each season where we played against a lower team. It was a weird game. As a competitor, you always want to win, but really winning like that is no fun. The game was good for our younger players getting more minutes. This was definitely one of the more forgettable games”, said Trae Bell-Haynes.

 As a senior he averaged 14.6ppg, 4.2rpg, 4.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 73.7% and was named American East player of the year for a second straight year. Only 2 other Vermont players had achieved that with Taylor Coppenrath and Marqus Blakely who both also have played overseas. He scored in double figures in 26 games and had  unforgettable personal games against Dartmouth and Umass-Lowell scoring 27 points in each game. He also scored 21 points a piece in wins over Maine, Albany and Binghamton. He had a lot of good memories at Vermont, but one was most special. “Playing at March Madness was my fondest moment. We lost in the first round against Purdue by 8 points. It is every guys dream to play there. Just seeing the atmosphere there is great. We were the underdog and I remember the fans of Iowa State cheering for us who played after us. That was an amazing thing to see”, stated Trae Bell-Haynes. Another game that he won´t forget was the first of his senior year as he and Vermont took power house Kentucky to the brink, but lost 73-69. In that game, he battled against future NBA players like Kevin Knox, PJ Washington Hamidou Diallo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The American held his own dropping 16 points. “I´ll never forget the atmosphere at Kentucky. It was one of the nicest arena´s that I ever played in. I remember going into the game not expecting much. But as the game kept going, I slowly really believed that I and my team belonged on the court with them. I feel the same today when Crailsheim is on the court with an Alba Berlin or Munich, I know that I belong. Ever since that Kentucky game, I always feel like I belong and deserve to be on the court with any team I play against”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. He also won´t forget dueling against future NBA player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who was teammates with German national player Dennis Schroeder in Oklahoma City. “I remember him being the least talented of their recruits. He was a tough and solid player and a few months later when he was playing well, I wasn´t surprised at all. I am proud that I gave him a hard time on the court and he couldn´t have his way with us”, remembered Trae Bell-Haynes. The Canadian who remembers beating his old high school and college buddy Steffan Smith a lot in 1-1 games is very thankful for having been able to fine tune his game for the pro´s under head coach John Becker. “He was all about discipline and hard work. He always pushed us and really had his head on defense. He made sure we defended well. He is a big reason for my success as a professional player”, expressed Trae Bell-Haynes.

Before turning professional with the Fraport Skyliners, he was able to get a taste of the NBA Summer League with the Milwaukee Bucks playing 5 games averaging  5.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 61.5%. “It was nice to be able to work out with guys who had NBA experience. A couple of times the bucks head coach came to our practices and was able to give us advice and talk to us”, remembered Trae Bell-Haynes.  He then joined the Fraport Skyliners. There he was able to play in 2 competitions with the: Eurocup averaging 8.1ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.7apg, 2FGP: 49.1%, 3FGP: 43.8%, FT: 69.6%, and in the easyCredit BBL he averaged 6.1ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.6apg, 2FGP: 49.1%, 3FGP: 20.0%, FT: 90.3%, It isn´t always simple for a rookie coming over to make the adjustment from college to the easyCredit BBL and the Canadian had some early growing pains. “My wake up call was that the college success I had wasn´t just going to roll over into my professional career. I learned that in order to be successful, I had to work twice as hard. I had to build myself up and I realized that whatever I had done in the past wouldn´t help me in Frankfurt”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. In the EasyCredit BBL, he scored in double figures in 5 games and in Eurocup he also scored in double figures 5 times including 22 points in a loss against Unicaja. In the BBL, his best games occurred against Braunschweig with 17 points and he had 16 points in a brutal 91-90 loss against Giessen. His best play came in a 5 week period in November and December when he was a starter. “My confidence rose in those 5 weeks. Being able to work together with high level guys like Quantez Robertson and Shawn Huff and seeing their work ethic really helped my game. Ever since I played in Frankfurt, I always focus on being a hard worker the way Tez Robertson was”, stressed Trae Bell-Haynes. Coaches have always played a huge role in the career of the Canadian and it wasn´t any different with ex Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert. It helped his stay in Frankfurt that he already came in with a very high basketball IQ. “I couldn´t have come to a better situation in Frankfurt. He always kept a very high standard. He set the bar very high and it never dropped. I hadn´t been used to that kind of coaching. I had to catch up with everything very quickly, but once I did, everything worked out for the best for me”, stated Trae Bell-Haynes. After his Frankfurt gig, he then found a new challenge in the G-League with the Wisconsin Herd averaging 6.7ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 69.2%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 71.4%. “That was pretty tough. I used this time more for my rehab. I came to a team that had no chance for the playoffs. Guys were waiting for the season to end. I am grateful that I could get back on the court and get minutes, but at the same time the atmosphere was different to what I was used to”, said Trae Bell-Haynes. He scored in double figures twice scoring 12 points in loses against Long Island and Iowa. He was fortunate to have ex NBA player Xavier Munford who he calls a close friend today as one who showed him the ropes. “We were roommates. I always try to soak up as much as possible from high level players like him. We went to the gym a few times to play 1-1. I´ll never forget how competitive he was. He was always challenging guys to 1-1 games. He was very serious and was a high level competitor”, expressed Trae Bell-Haynes. He finished out the season that summer playing with the Niagara River Lions (CEBL) averaging 12.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 29.0%, FT: 78.4%. he scored in double figures in 12 games and had a 21 point and 20 point games in wins over Saskatchewan R.

Last season the Canadian who calls Caleb Swanigan of the Portland Trailblazers as his toughest opponent in the NCAA played in Finland with the Helsinki Seagulls (Korisliiga) playing 36 games averaging 12.8ppg, 3.9rpg, 4.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 34.1%, FT: 86.8%. He won his first professional title winning the 2020 cup. Being able to win that first professional chip is one that he will never forget. “I made the right decision going to Finland. I was lucky to be teammates with Shawn Huff again. I remember that cup final as being very intense. The game went to overtime and I played against my current Crailsheim teammates . Jamuni Mcnease and Tim Coleman. I still trash talk with them to this day. I keep telling them that my team was the best. We won the only title, because the playoffs were cancelled because of COVID-19”, said Trae Bell-Haynes. He also was very fortunate to have a very experienced veteran in Richard Williams who played in many leagues in Germany including the BBL. He was able to take something very important from Williams game and add to his. “His poise stood out the most. I was able to play more composed. He never got rattled and was always under control and played at his pace”, remembered Trae Bell-Haynes. In Finland he scored in double figures in 25 games including a 26 point game in a win over Kobrat, 23 points in a victory over Kauhajoki, and 22 points in a victory over KTP Basket. He finished the season in Canada during COVID-19 for Niagara River Lions (CEBL) playing 6 games: averaging 16.2ppg), 3.3rpg,4.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 60.5%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 88.2%. “Plaiyng in the CEBL helped me a lot to expand my game. I helped my team win and was able to develop further”, said Trae Bell-Haynes. He scored 23 points against Edmonton and Hamilton. He also has had the pleasure of playing for the Canadian national team back in 2018 scoring 5 points in 11 minutes in a loss against Chile and in 2020 played against the Dominican Republic registering 9 points and 6 points in 2 wins. “Playing with the national team has been a very cool experience. “Being around veterans and learning from them has been very important for my development. I was lucky to be around a guy like Phil Scrubb and try to steal as much as I can from his game. Another guy I looked up to has been Melvin Ejim who took me under his wing”, stated Trae Bell-Haynes.

2020 has been a difficult time for everyone and like so many other players, Trae Bell-Haynes who last watched the movie Troy experienced a lot during COVID-19 on and off the court. Like so many other players he was able to spend extra time with the family something that he wouldn´t have been able had corona not struck. He didn´t touch a ball in the first month and a half. It was the first time in a very long time that he didn´t play, but he used that time wisely. “I used the time to decompose from basketball. I watched a lot of film. Two months later I found a facility where I could play and my friend Kassius Robertson and I worked out there every day. I then played in the CEBL league. It was tough ending the season early in Finland, but overall it gave me time to get better as a player”, stressed Trae Bell-Haynes. He didn´t only get better on the court, but also got better as a man off the court. “I learned that with COVID-19 I had to roll with the punches and become more flexible. That helped me deal with the circumstances that I didn´t want to be in, but I used them to better myself”, said Trae Bell-Haynes. The Canadian who lists Jordan, Lebron, Kobe and Shaq on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore signed with the HAKRO Merlins for the 2020-2021 season. After a year away from the easyCredit BBL, he is overjoyed to be back and doesn´t see a big adjustment from the big city Frankfurt to the small city Crailsheim. Unfortunately he got hurt early with Frankfurt and had to go. It is different living in the big city and now in a smaller one, but at the end of the day it is the same just going to the gym and doing your job and then going home. “In Frankfurt I was focused on the job and didn´t let any of the outside distractions get in the way. Tuomas is similar to Gordie with the intensity and experience. Both wanted 100% all the time. So really there isn´t much change for me”, stressed Trae Bell Haynes. Crailsheim has started off very well in the easyCredit BBL currently at 11-2 and is a team that many teams will have to watch out for. “I think that as the year goes on, we will be known as a team that outworks other teams. We don´t have the biggest budget, but will always play hard for 40 minutes. We make up for what we lack with how hard we play”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. Head coach Tuomas Iisalo is a coach that has made a name for himself in Germany and gets the full respect from his players. “He knows how to get the best out of each player. When I arrived, he knew exactly on what skills of mine we had to focus on. He took 2-3 of my skills and it has made me more effective on offense. He makes sure we always work hard and he motivates us to always give 100%, added Trae Bell-Haynes. He has a very good bond to his teammates and expects ex NBA player Haywood Highsmith to become an impact player and has been very impressed with American Jeremy Jones. “I appreciate Haywood´s versatility. We have had some injuries and he has been able to slip into multiple roles and be effective. He didn´t score so much in the first games, but he did a very good job against Bamberg´s scorer Devon Hall. He is the type of player that will do whatever job the team needs. I had seen Coleman and McNeace last season in Finland, but never had seen Jeremy Jones. He has never played in Germany. I remember how hard the adjustment was for me in the BBL as a rookie. Jeremy came in and has done exactly what coach has said. He has stood out the most for me”, said Trae Bell-Haynes.

The Canadian who lists his 5 best teammates of all-time as Shawn Huff, Brady Heslip, Fabian Bleck, Kurt Steigel and Elijah Stewart is a pass first 188cm point guard that is currently third ins coring at 19,2ppg and first in assists with 8.2apg, but also knows when to score has tried to play like the legendary French player Tony Parker. “The way I get into the paint and use ball screens resembles Tony Parker. I would like to say I play like a Damian Lillard, but that is going a bit far. I just try to be myself. People know how I play and the hard work that I put in. I really don´t like people putting expectations on me”, stressed Trae Bell-Haynes. He has torn up the easyCredit BBL like no other player in many years and credits his current success to his Finish coach Tuomas Iisalo. “Coach has been a big reason for success. He has put me in the right situation and put a lot of confidence in me. He has given me freedom and responsibility. He has let me be myself and given me the green light. His confidence in me gives me more confidence”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. Of course having a similar system in Finland last season and just having that extra season to grow as a player has also been vital for his current success in Germany. “Having the same system has helped me. I was able to step into the offense here and already knew the reads and looks which gave me a leg up on the league and I didn´t have to learn anything new. My season in Finland helped me build added confidence. In Frankfurt I had more of a limited role and in Finland, I had a bigger role. The smaller league in Finland helped me grow to where I am now. I had a lot of confidence coming back to Germany”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. Another big strength is his ability to draw fouls. Getting to the free throw line above 10 times isn´t anything uncommon for him these days. “I think that it has to do with experience. I know better where my spots are and I´m always in attack mode. I also think that the more minutes I have and the more I have the ball will increase my trips to the foul line”, added Trae Bell-Haynes. If the HAKRO Merlins want to continue to be successful, then the leadership qualities of the Canadian will also play a giant role which he credits as being his second biggest strength after his penetration. “I feel my leadership has taken huge steps since Frankfurt. I know when my team is playing bad that I have to keep the club calm and steady the ship and just be an extension of the coach”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. He is still very young and still has a very long career ahead of him. His ex coach Gordon Herbert stressed recently that the Canadian could reach a very high level in Europe, if he continues to improve his defense, strength and three pointer. “I feel that I have taken steps on defense. I´m more locked in and am not taking plays off which is the key. I´m getting more in the gym taking shots, but I still have a ton of work to do. I´m also more in the weight room getting stronger. I spent a lot of time in the weight room during COVID-19. I feel like I have taken steps forward, but I´m never content. I still have a long way to go”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. He has come a long way in 2 years and is a lot better now than when he was with the Fraport Skyliners. “I´m better now because of the confidence I got in Frankfurt. There wasn´t much expected of me in Frankfurt, but now with Crailsheim, the expectations on myself are high. I hold a high standard and the confidence I have built over the last few years has made me better”, stressed Trae Bell-Haynes. The sky continues to be the limit for Trae Bell-Haynes and it will be interesting to see how his second season continues to develop as his high self confidence will be key for him being the possible 2021 MVP of the easyCredit BBL.

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