Billy Wampler is a 198cm forward from Eau Claire, Wisconsin that signed withTeam Ehingen Urspring (Germany-ProA) in the summer of 2020, but then returned home because of personal reasons. He began his basketball career with Regis High School. He then played at Drake (NCAA) from 2015-2017 playing 59 NCAA games. He then finished his NCAA career at Wright State University (NCAA) averaging 14.9ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 81.1% as a junior and as a senior averaged 15.6ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 78.3%. germanhoops.com spoke with him prior to him coming to Germany last summer
Thanks Billy for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
Currently I am in the Schipohl airport on my way to Germany. Summer was interesting, was completely different, but got some needed rest.
You played your last NCAA game on March 9th losing against UIC scoring 14 points. How tough was it to abruptly end your college career and what did you learn to appreciate most about the game during this whole COVID-19 time?
It was very tough, because we all thought we had at least one more game, but it happened and it makes you think that every time you step on the court could be your last. I learned to appreciate family time, and what I had when there was no virus, a gym open to me 24/7 and consistent opportunities to work out.
How did you experience the whole Covid-19 crisis in 2020? What was the most challenging thing about life and and finding ways to work on your fitness and game?
I experienced it just like everyone else, in the dark, not really knowing what to do. The most challenging part was keeping up with weight training, it was incredibly hard to maintain the mass I had built up because a consistent weight room was not available.
How do you feel did you benefit from COVID-19 and how did it make you stronger as a man in general?
I feel like I benefited a lot from ball handling and floaters. I didn’t always have a hoop but I could always work on ball handling. It made me stronger because I had to grow up, and try and take care of others before myself.
Congrats on signing with Pro A team Team Ehingen. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?I know the rich tradition of basketball in Germany, and I have a couple of friends who already play here, some in ProA and some in BBL. it’s executing to come to a new culture and experience everything for the first time.
When I mention names like Dashaun Wood and Vaughn Duggins. What is the first thing that pops into your mind? Did you hear a lot about their legacy at Wright State when you were there?
Honestly, we didn’t hear of their legacy a whole lot. We knew who they were and would always acknowledge them at our games, but coach Nagy was never focused on the past, but how we could get better in the future. But when I hear them, I think of great basketball players, and even better men.
What were the main reasons for joining Team Ehingen? What was your impression of head coach Domenik Reinboth in your talks with him?
The main reason was the opportunity, I’ll be one of the oldest guys on the team and that can give me the opportunity to help grow young guys into better players. He was very open and honest with me the whole time, and we had a chemistry from our first phone call, it was exciting to talk to him, and he was excited about bringing me to Ehingen.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 196cm forward that can score. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
Hm, that is a tough one, I feel like my game would be comparable to a guy like Matt Thomas (Toronto Raptors), or Gordon Hayward.
Your outside shooting, energy and effort really stand out in your game. What do you honestly believe is your biggest asset on the court?
I believe my biggest asset is my ability to score, not just shooting, shooting helps me get to the spots I need to to be able to score.
You eclipsed the 40% mark from downtown in your senior year. What is your main goal now as a rookie in terms of how you want to continue to develop as a shooter at the pro ranks?
Just want to be more consistent, I feel like I am a better shooter to just shoot 40%, but that was also my first year with the FIBA three point line.
How would you describe your defensive game? What do you take most pride in on the defensive end?
Just being in the right spots, I would say I am a smart defender and I compete, I may not be the best on ball defender but I can make up for it with high iq.
Your ex teammate Cole Gentry lauded your leadership and you majored in organizational leadership.? How has that developed so well and how much of a role has your connection and interest in mental health helped you?
It has helped a lot, because we learned a lot of principles of how to teach individuals in unique ways, and how to beat lead a group. I think it helped me move forward to help others in their battle with mental health.
On what area’s of your game did you work on most this summer so that you would be best prepared for your rookie professional season?
Ball handling and floaters, and just maintaining my jumper.
You began your NCAA career at Drake (NCAA) playing 59 games. You had a solid second season but opted to go. What kind of overall experience were your 2 years there and what positives did you get out of it?
It was a good experience, I learned a lot and became a better player, I got my first experience with high level players such as Fred Van Vleet, Ron Baker, and other great players. I learned how to fall in love with the process.
You then came to Wright State and had a major impact on and off the court. Especially your awareness of mental health which has been more of a topic in sports the last years. How has your whole time involved with this helped fight this problem?
I think coach Nagy really enables me to be able to speak out and help, he tries to help anyone who needs it, so I was following his lead.
Your tattoo says ‘The sun will rise and we will try again’. You have gotten a lot of feedback on your awareness efforts. Do you plan on continuing to battle this problem overseas? I know that mental health has been an issue with professional players overseas as well.
Anytime anyone really wanted to talk about mental health I do, so this will continue overseas. Mental health doesn’t stop at borders.
On the court you had 2 strong seasons at Wright State. How do you feel did your game grow at Wright State?
I feel like coach Nagy and the staff developed me tremendously, and they enabled me to have the freedom on the court which gave me ultimate confidence.
You had many great games in your 2 years at Wright State but where does the exciting 76-74 win over WKU stand with you where you scored 22 points?
The WKU game was fun, they were a very high level team with an NBA prospect, and we were without our conference player of the year, so we really had to grind that one out to win, just a gritty team win.
How did head coach Scott Nagy groom and prepare you bets for a professional career?
Everyday he shows up with the same hard work and demanded the best from you every single day, he told me that as a pro if you don’t show up one day it could be your job, so he instilled the hard work aspect of basketball.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Tanner Holden?
We never really played one on one, but I’m sure it would be a good battle. He was actually my ‘freshman buddy’ so I spent a tremendous amount of time with him, he’s a great teammate.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCCA or anywhere that went to the NBA?
Jaylon Brown, Dennis Smith Jr, Brandon Ingram, Ron Baker, Fred Vanvleet, Monte Morris. Just to name a few.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Cole Gentry Adam Giles Lou Love Aleks Dozic Aj Rutter
Please construct your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players?
Lebron, MJ, Magic, KD
What is your personal opinion between the never ending debate between Michael Jordan and Lebron James concerning who is the greatest of all-time?
I think Lebron is the greatest ever, but it’s hard to say, different style of basketball. Lebron longevity does it for me though
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Billy for the chat.