Robert Marberry (201-C-96, college: Lipscomb) is a 25 year old 201cm forward/center from Nashville that is in his second professional season and first with the Artland Dragons (Germany-ProA). His stay was short as he left the club at the end of January 2021 citing personal reasons. In his time with the Dragons, he averaged 5,3ppg and 2,0rpg and 1,2apg. Last season as a rookie he played with Parnu Sadam (Estonia-KML) playing 6 games averaging 8.0ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 74.1%, FT: 66.7%, in Nov.’19 moved to Team FOG Naestved (Denmark-BasketLigaen) playing 16 games averaging 15.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 66.0%. He began his basketball career at Franklin Road Academy averaging 16ppg, 8rpg, 3bpg; and finished his high school career with over 1,500 points and 850 rebounds. He played his freshman year at Western Kentucky University (NCAA) playing 12 games averaging 2.0ppg, 1.1rpg. He then played at Lipscomb University (NCAA) from 2016-2019 playing a total of 99 NCAA games averaging 12.7ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 61.0%, FT: 74.3% as a sophomore,15.8ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 61.2%, FT: 74.4% as a junior and as a senior averaged 14.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 63.2%, FT: 67.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career during his time with the Artland Dragons.
Thanks Rob for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Thank you for letting me do this interview. I am currently in Quakenbrueck, Germany playing for the Artland Dragons. Life here is pretty slow due to the corona virus but other than that, it is nice.
Like so many other players your season was cut short in March 2020. How did you experience the whole COVID-19 the last 7-8 months. What was most challenging for you in terms of staying in shape and being able to continue to work on your game?
It was tough trying to stay healthy and get in the gym as much as possible this off-season. I luckily found a great gym in Nashville, Tennessee that was very organized and had great trainers (All Around Game). The most challenging part was just finding a gym to get in initially. Colleges were on a pretty strict lockdown so it was impossible to get into my old school, Lipscomb.
Were you able to work out with other players or did you focus more on your own individual workouts?
I worked out with other players most of the time. It was a good mix of international players and some NBA guys that were in their offseason too. I like working with others because there is still so much I need to learn and I can do so by watching and talking with some older guys that have already been playing a while.
With everything that you experienced off the court how do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man in general?
I think its all just made me more resilient to change and sudden events that occur. No one saw this type situation coming so we all had to be resilient try to make the best of the situation at hand.
Congrats on signing with the Artland Dragons. After playing your rookie season in Estonia and Denmark, what convinced you most on coming to the Dragons?
I knew that the Dragons had a well managed organization and great facilities to train at so I would feel at home here. After my rookie season, I wanted to play on a team that was well balanced and had a good culture and I found it here with the Artland Dragons.
What has been the most special thing about playing for the Artland Dragons? Did you hear that new Denver Nuggets Isaiah Hartenstein played for the youth teams there?
The most special thing about playing here for the Dragons is the relationships I’ve already developed with my teammates and coaching staff. The whole team is very close to each other despite age and background and I find that very cool. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Isaiah’s father and sister and they are great people. He’s a very good player and I think he could be successful with the Nuggets.
The club has started off very well. Where do you see the journey of this team going this season?
We started well so far and I think we still have so much more in the tank. We are a special team with many weapons so if we get into a rhythm at the right time, there aren’t too many teams that can stop us.
Let’s talk about your teammates. The club is stacked with 2 other talented big men with German veteran Robert Oehle and athletic high flyer Quadir Welton. How do you feel do you fit in best into the rotation and what have you appreciated most about their games?
They’re two great players that bring different assets to our team. I think we are a scouting nightmare due to the different type players we have at each position. Robert is a veteran in this league that many teams had had fits with due to his size and strength and Quadir is extremely hard to stop once he gets going. He has great reach and touch around the rim that many can’t guard. I think I fit best in the rotation by being the energy guy when the team needs it and even stretching the court to the perimeter when someone slower or bigger is guarding me.
What have you appreciated most about team leader Chase Griffin. How valuable have his leadership skills been for the early going?
Chase is a great leader. I’ve learned so much already from him. Having a guy that has played so many years professionally is a necessity on a team. He’s been a great help with our younger guys.
How impressed have you been with young point guard Zach Ensminger? His father is a basketball legend in Germany. He seems like he hasn’t been overburdened with having such a big responsibility at such a young age?
Zach has been off to a great start in ProA. He’s young and has a lot of energy and that carries over to the games which we need a lot of the time. Coach has put a lot of faith into our young guards and Zach definitely hasn’t let us down when we need him to hit a big shot or carry out a play correctly.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 201cm forward/center that can do a lot of things on the court. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I’m working on expanding my game each day and coach has been great helping me with that. I know that if I want to continue playing in good leagues like ProA, I need to become a 4 so I am working on my ball handling and a variation of pick and pops and shooting. I would like to become a player that resembles Kevin Love. He plays a lot of the game with his back to the basket but also moves outside and plays the perimeter and knocks down open shots through motion and pick and pops.
It is easy to see that you can score and rebound the ball. What other strengths does your game incorporate that will continue to help you move up the basketball ladder?
I like to get my teammates involved as much as possible so when I have the ball in the low post or at the top of the key, I try to make plays for them by passing in the right spots. Post players have a different perspective when low and can make reads that others can’t through the game.
You were a solid defender in the NCAA. What steps are you taking most now in continuing to become a good defender? What kind of defender do you want to continue to develop into to?
I’ve been working on becoming a 4 man mostly so with that, it comes with a lot of switching onto guards that are smaller and quicker so I have been working on staying in front of smaller players and containing them to one side of the court. I want to be a guy that can defend all positions throughout a game if needed so that’s what I’m working on right now.
You shot only 3 three’s in the NCAA? Last season you took 15 three’s and this season 3. Do you see yourself developing your three pointer more to become more versatile or will you continue not to take many?
Yes, in college I played only the 5 and had very few opportunities to stretch outside because we had so many good shooters already. Last season was really my first season ever working on my outside shot so I am getting more confident each day with shooting. I’ve been fortunate to have two coaches, professionally, that have confidence in my shooting ability.
Last season as a rookie you split time with Parnu Sadam (Estonia-KML) averaging 8.0ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 74.1%, FT: 66.7%, in Nov.’19 moved to Team FOG Naestved (Denmark-BasketLigaen) averaging games: 15.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 66.0%. What was your wake up call where you knew that you were very far away from home?
The first day I arrived in Parnu. I am very family oriented and love spending time with them so when I arrived in Estonia, it hit me that I wouldn’t be able to see them everyday like I usually did. I luckily had my girlfriend and parents come over in Denmark during the holiday’s which was awesome.
You played for 2 teams as a rookie. How tough was it starting in Estonia, but then coming back and having a strong end to the season in Denmark, What did you learn in general about the business as a rookie?
It was a tough start to my professional career for sure. I honestly was not ready for the physicality and speed of the game. It’s not like college where you have multiple coaches telling you what to do every day and patting you on the back after a good game. If you do not do your job, you get fired. It’s that simple. I needed that experience in Estonia to become the type player that I am now. I quickly realized in Denmark what I needed to do to be successful and tried to execute that every day.
In Denmark you had 2 monster games scoring 34 and 28 points but lost. Was your 21 points and 17 boards in the win over Copenhagen one of your most memorable moments in Denmark?
Yeah, those two games were extremely fun for me. I’ll never forget those great times with my teammates in Denmark. We had a great group of guys that loved playing with each other.
After a stellar career at Franklin Road Academy you began your NCAA career at Western Kentucky University (NCAA). You only played 12 NCAA games and left after 1 season. What memories do you have from your freshman season and what positives did you get out of your 1 year there?
I’d have to say just getting my first taste of college basketball and playing in Madison Square Garden my freshman season for a Thanksgiving tournament was pretty awesome. The biggest takeaway from my freshman season was that I knew that I needed a lot of work and practice to become better and I don’t think I would have trained as hard as I did after that season if I didn’t have those hard times at WKU.
You then finished at Lipscomb from 2015-2018. How tough and important was the season you sat out? Did you become more mature which allowed you put up 3 consistent seasons?
If I had to do college all over again, I would 100% red shirt and sit out again. It taught me a lot of things that playing wouldn’t. It also gave me a whole year to work on my game and understand Lipscomb’s system. It was hard on game nights to sit and watch, knowing I could contribute, but once I was allowed to play the following season, I was ready.
You had a stellar career at Lipscomb. You won the A-Sun tournament in 2018 and reached the NIT final in 2019. What was your fondest memories from your 3 years at Lipscomb?
I loved my experience at Lipscomb. It’s an incredible school with great people and staff. My favorite memory was going down to Florida Gulf Coast University during the 2017-2018 season and winning the A-SUN championship. It’s what every kid wishes for when they attend college and we accomplished something that no other Lipscomb basketball player or team has ever done. That will always be my favorite memory for basketball.
You put up very consistent stats at Lipscomb. How do you feel did your game grow at Lipscomb in your 3 years?
I knew my job at Lipscomb and didn’t try to do anything else other than my job. We all had different jobs and assignments that helped the collective goal of winning and no one had a problem with that. My game grew more as becoming a leader than a player. After my first season playing at Lipscomb, my teammates and coaches voted me captain of the team for my last two seasons.
How much fun was it being teammates with Garrison Mathews? Did you know that he would reach the NBA and what was your fondest moment with him?
He’s the best player that I have played with on a team. Every night, you knew he was going to give his full effort and put on a show for everyone. He had really good chemistry on the court and was hard for other teams to stop. He actually wanted to become a Navy Seal after college was over but as time went on, we all knew he had a shot at the NBA. I’m really happy he’s living out this dream and working hard at it.
Talk a little about your memories of the 83-66 loss against NCAA powerhouse North Carolina. You held your own against future NBA players like Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Cameron Johnson. How aware were you after the game that you could play with the absolute best?
That was a really fun game. We knew we had a shot before the game just because we were so good offensively. We held it pretty close up until the last couple minutes of the game and I think their experience in the tournament took over and they stayed collected and ended up pulling away from us. I went back and watched film and saw that I could play and hold my own and that was a lot of the reason why I wanted to become a pro.
You had many huge games at Lipscomb like your 38 point explosion against USC Upstate. What do you feel was your best game in the NCAA?
I would have to say that my best game was against North Florida in conference play. I had 39 points on 75% shooting against a team that always gave us a good game.
How did head coach Casey Alexander groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Coach Alexander is a great coach and an even better friend. He would tell it how it is and never sugar coat what was on his mind. That’s what players need, someone to tell them the correct thing at the correct time and he always did even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. He taught me how to play within an offense and still be effective almost every play.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Eli Pepper?
We didn’t play too many times but I think I had him beat in one on one. He definitely beats me in a dunk contest though.
Who was your toughest opponent in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Grant Williams was a tough assignment in college. He was extremely strong and athletic and played so well in Tennessee’s system. He ended up being super successful in the SEC and March Madness and is now with the Celtics.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Garrison Mathews, Braxton Beverly, Ahsan Asadullah, Kenny Cooper, and Dillon Glenn.
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore from past and present players?
Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant.
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the best of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I honestly think its Lebron. They have both done so much for the game and created so many different positives for the game but I think Lebron is better and has uplifted the game more than any player in history.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I am a big Marvel movie guy so I just got finished watching “Black Panther’ and “Avengers End Game” for the third or fourth time. I highly recommend those movies.
Thanks Rob for the chat.