Alba Berlin has belonged to the top basketball addresses for more than 25 years and their success was built and groomed by the incredible influx of talent that team brain Marco Baldi was able to drag to Berlin. The team was never short of big men talents and one could really construct a list that could easily go a few blocks down Schutzen street where their training facility is. The NBA presented some of the tallest living big men of all-time with legends like Manute Bol, and Gheorghe Muresan who were an incredible 231cm or Rockets legend Yao Ming and German Shawn Bradley who stood at 229cm and some other less known centers were Sim Bhullar at 227cm and guys like ,Slavko Vranes 226cm Pavel Podkolsin 226cm, and Chuck Nevitt 226 who measured in at 226cm Alba Berlin also was never short of having really really tall players. Some of the tallest big men that they ever had were Patrick Femerling, and Sasha Hupmann who both were 216cm or guys like Miro Raduljica, Dennis Clifford and Cemal Nalga who are 213cm each. But the guy who took the cake and recognition of being the tallest ever player in the organization and BBL was Gunther Behnke who was 221cm and played with Alba Berlin from 1994-1996. It has been a while since the club had a real green jolly giant, but guess what 26 years later a new colossal player has arrived in Berlin with Jean Marc “Christ Koumadje who also is 221cm. He is only in his second professional season after being a rooke in the G_league last season and this season Alba Berlin is already his third destination after playing in Spain and Russia. As a rookie he was teammates with current ex NBA player Haywood Highsmith of the Crailsheim Merlins. Koumadje has the fortune to meet his ex teammate Highsmith this Sunday in Berlin for a BBL clash. Where ever Koumadje goes in the next days, he will get the typical stares, but that is usual when your a towering 221cm. It was no different when Haywood Highsmith met him for the first time in the summer of 2019 when they both played at the NBA Summer League with the Philadelphia 76ers. “I remember the first time I met him, he was so tall that you just had to look. He is like a mini Rudy Gobert, but just taller”, expressed Haywood Highsmith. It was time for a new ex Teammates scouting report Haywood Highsmith Vs Christ Koumadje.
Jean Marc Koumadje who goes by the name Christ was born on July 7th, 1996 in N’Djamena in Chad, Africa. He has only been playing for 8 years as he was introduced to the game at the Basket Ball without Boarders camp in Nigeria in 2013. He then came state side and played at Montverde Academy from 2013-2015 that has produced NBA players like Joel Embiid, RJ Barrett, DÁngello Russell, and Precious Achiuwa just to name a few and he was teammates with future NBA star Ben Simmons. He helped the school win two national championships. He was a 5-star recruit by Florida Hoop, a 4-star recruit and the No. 25 ranked center by ESPN.com and the No. 28 prep prospect at the center position by scout.com. He then proceeded to play at Florida State University from 2015-2019 under the guidance of head coach Leonard Hamilton where he played a total of 117 NCAA games. In his first two seasons he averaged only 1,3ppg and 3,3ppg, but his minutes increased a bit from 6 to 10 minutes. In his last two seasons his minutes were 16 and 15 as he averaged 6,5ppg, 4,1rpg and 1,5bpg and as a senior he averaged 6,6ppg, 5,6rpg and 1,4bpg. On the one hand, he didn´t log big minutes during his Florida State tenure, but he had the rare luxury of playing with amazing talent. It wasn´t just two or three future NBA players that he saw on a daily basis, but in his four years he played with eight future NBA players with Dwayne Bacon Jonathan Isaac, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Terance Mann Trent Forest Malik Beasley, Mfiondu Kabengele and Devin Vassil. Some of his best games in school were 23 points against Syracuse in a 101-90 win, and 20 points and 12 boards against Wake Forest in a 88-66 victory. He reached the NIT Sweet 16 in 2016 and reached the big dance reaching the NCAA Elite 8 in 2018 bowing out to Michigan 58-54.
He began his professional basketball career in 2019 and played NBA Summer League together with Haywood Highsmith with the Philadelphia 76ers playing 4 games averaging 6.3ppg, 5.8rpg, Blocks-4(2.8bpg), FGP: 62.5%, FT: 83.3%. He had some eye opening games with 11 points, 7 boards and 5 blocks in a 107-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks and 10 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in a 84-81 loss against the Oklahoma Thunder. He then played his rookie season with the Delaware Blue Coats (NBA G League) playing 33 games averaging 11.3ppg, 11.1rpg, Blocks-1(4.1bpg), FGP: 63.5%, FT: 67.9%. Here once again he teamed up with Haywood Highsmith. Highsmith did reach the NBA that season with the Sixers, but spent a majority of his season with Delaware. All in all, it was a good experience for Haywood Highsmith being teammates with a talented defender. “He helped me a lot on defense especially with his ability to protect the paint so well. Knowing that he was protecting the rim helped everyone to take more chances on defense to get steals and get in passing lanes. His domination in the paint was huge”, remembered Haywood Highsmith. He is most known for his rebounding and defensive qualities, but he also showed his ability to score in the G-League. He scored in double figures in 24 games and had 17 double doubles. But what was even more impressive was his two triple doubles. He hit Long Island for 12 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks in a 11-88 win and scored 18 points, hauled down 20 rebounds and swatted away 12 balls in a 111-103 win against Eire. “These kind of games brought Bill Russell memories. “I witnessed those triple doubles. It did remind a bit of how Bill Russell played”, added Haywood Highsmith.
The youngster Koumadje has a high skill level as he can do so many other things beside get rebounds and block shots as he runs the floor like a young deer and can finish strong at the rim while also having this special arsenal of physical tools that will only get better as he gets stronger and gains more experience. But Haywood Highsmith also saw some other great attributes to his game. “He is a very good communicator that talks a lot on defense and in timeouts. He helps putting guys in the right position and calling out screens, he also has a great basketball IQ”, warned Haywood Highsmith. At Florida State he was known as having a mean streak, but it was something that he fueled into positive vibes. “I never saw a mean streak in him. He got fired up on the court, but that is something that any player does”, remembered Haywood Highsmith. On top of his good basketball qualities, the Chad big man also is known as being a good character guy that knows how to spread that positive vibe on and off the court. “He was always cool with all. He was always chilled out and laid back. He wasn´t really quiet, but stood out with his personality. He was a good locker room guy and always kept smiling”, said Haywood Highsmith. “He is a really good person and has a good work ethic”, stressed ex Alba Berlin head coach Gordon Herbert. But no player is totally perfect with his skills already at his age of 24, but Haywood Highsmith really couldn´t find many flaws in his game. “He definitely needs to get stronger. But to be honest the guy is 7,2 and can do so much. He just needs to keep doing what he has been doing”, warned Haywood Highsmith.
Let´s fast forward to 2021. His second professional season and first overseas hasn´t been a cake walk as he has suffered some basketball blues. He began the season with Movistar Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-Liga) playing 6 games averaging 1.2ppg, 1.0rpg, later that month moved to Avtodor Saratov (Russia-VTB) playing 6 VTB United League games averaging 1.2ppg, 1.2rpg. Now he has signed with Euroleague team Alba Berlin and could make his Euroleague debut tonight against Panathinaikos Athens. After two disappointing experiences in Spain and Russia, three could be a charm with Alba Berlin. I mean how can he not get a chance and develop further under legendary head coach Aito? This situation is a great great opportunity for him. When Highsmith learned that his ex teammate had signed with Alba Berlin he was all thumbs up. “Alba Berlin is a great team. He is a great big man and defender. He will fit in very well with them”, stressed Haywood Highsmith. The question now is can he translate his game to the European level better with Alba Berlin? Are his 11/11 stats in the G-League misleading in terms of how successful he can be overseas where the game is played a lot differently? “No they aren´t misleading. That was a pretty good stat line in the G-League. He shot the ball well and what many don´t know is that he is a pretty good free throw shooter for his size. I believe that he can fit in anywhere. He is a player that knows what to do and that is very important”, expressed Haywood Highsmith. It will be interesting to see if Koumadje will crack the Alba Berlin roster and be able to be more of an impact player and simply just get a chance. He definitely is still very raw. “His potential is at the ceiling. If he continues to get stronger, he will only get stronger as a player. He is still young and he has a lot going for him. His future is very bright”, warned Haywood Highsmith. “He can become a good piece in Europe. He just needs time to develop”, warned ex Alba Berlin head coach Gordon Herbert. When Haywood Highsmith steps on the bus in Crailsheim on Saturday to travel to Berlin, he may reminisce back to last season and his time with Christ Koumadje. “One of my fondest moments was watching him at the airport and seeing him interact with kids and signing autographes. The guy is just so nice and approachable”, stated Haywood Highsmith. It will be interesting to observe top easyCredit player and MVP candidate Trae Bell-Haynes stat line after the game The Canadian´s biggest strength is his quickness and drive to the rim. Will Christ Koumadje make his mark in his first easyCredit BBL game and slow him down as well as making an impact on the defensive end?