Troy Caupain is a 25 year old 193cm guard from Midlothian, Virginia playing his fourth professional season and first with ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he split time with the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), Hapoel Unet Holon (Israel-Winner League) and Filou Oostende (Belgium-Euromillions League). In the 2018-2019 season he reached the NBA with the Orlando Magic playing 4 games and also played with the akeland Magic (NBA G League) playing 51 games averaging 16.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 4.9apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 78.3%. In his rookie season he played with theLakeland Magic (NBA G League) playing 51 games averaging 15.8ppg, 7.5rpg, 5.7apg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 48.8%, 3FGP: 34.3%, FT: 83.8%, in Apr.’18 moved to GSA Amici Pallacanestro Udine (Italy-Serie A2) playing 10 games averaging 14.1ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 75.6%. He played at the University of Cincinnati(NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 137 NCAA games. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career before the easyCredit BBL game against the EWE Baskets
Troy thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Your playing your first season in Germany for ratiopharm Ulm. After playing in Italy, Israel and Belgium, how does the easyCredit BBL compare to the other leagues that you have played in?
I thought that the players in Italy A-2 were better than the players in Germany. All the leagues have been good, but the German BBL has been the best that I have played in with the competition level top to bottom.
Before we get to your basketball game and career, I have to ask you about COVID-19. How have you experienced the whole drama in the last year and what was the biggest challenge for you?
It has been a tough year with COVID. Everything was going good. I was in Belgium and in the BCL playoffs. We were tied with Tenerife 1-1 and then everything suddenly stopped. Everyone was sent home. I flew back home to my dad in New York city. New York was already at that time in bad shape. I wanted to go home and visit my mom in Virginia, but I didn’t want to take that risk with COVID. At first when I was in New York, I was isolated in a room until I took a test. The whole situation with COVID was an awakening for me since I couldn’t do normal every day life things. I had to figure out how to do things by myself. But that wasn’t too tough because I was an only child. On the basketball side it was tough because not everything was open and I didn’t do anything for a month and a half. Plus I had no idea when basketball would start up again. Not knowing what was ahead and staying motivated wasn’t easy.
With everything that you have seen in the last year, how do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man?
I changed up my diet and cut down on sugars. My immune system grew through that. I think COVID really helped me realize that I really didn’t need much. I saved money and was there for my family.
Ratiopharm Ulm have a very talented and deep roster and want to make some noise in the playoffs. You guys can put up a lot of points on the board, but also give up a lot. On what area’s on the defensive end does the team need to get better if they want to make a run in the playoffs?
I think that most key for us is finishing games down the stretch. It is the little things at the end that we have to do better like getting that one stop, box outs or offensive rebounds. We can score well and know how to get stops, but it’s just getting those one or two stops at the end to put it all together.
You were 13 years old when ratiopharm Ulm legend Per Gunther arrived in Ulm. What has it been like playing with him and have you been able to soak up vital things on the court from him?
A big shoutout to P. One of the great guards in the league. He is a forever legend. He has been very helpful in my first season in Germany on how to attack certain things like on the pick and roll. I watched his film before I arrived. He is a great shooter and is great on transition. Even if I’m in a bad mood, he picks me up. When I first got here I remember we hyped each other up to see how we can do this together.
Dylan Ostekowski is a very talented player with a special character. What has been the best example this season where he showed that he is a very extraordinary person?
He is a cool guy and is a smooth sailor. He is a Cali guy and doesn’t get out of his comfort zone. He is a good shooter for his size. As a point guard it’s always good to play with a guy that can stretch the floor as well as he can.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 193cm guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?
I would compare myself to Chauncey Billups.
You’re a player that can really fill the stat sheet well. Would you say that your biggest strength is your versatility?
Yes that’s true. I try to do a lot on the floor. Posting up, rebounding, guarding 1-5 or just running the floor. I’m a pass first guard that can guard bigger players.
In the G-League you had very high scoring, rebounds and assists averages. It is obviously a lot more difficult to put up stats like that in Europe. Do you feel you could raise your rebounding and assists overseas with more experience?
Yes for sure. In the G-League there was a lot more space and weren’t many point guards that would crash the boards. It is tougher to rebound in Europe because the bigs are sitting in the paint, but I feel like I could raise my averages.
How much pride do you take on the defensive end? At Cincinnati as a freshman you were already introduced to a special way to defend. Talk a little about that time and how your game has grown?
They really preached defense at Cincinnati. I think that my one on one defense and help defense is good. The main thing that I’m working on in Germany is running off on those massive down screens. My big downfall at the moment are the stagger screens. I often get caught looking. I’m really trying to work on that to improve.
On what area’s of your game do you continue to work on so that you can continue to climb the basketball ladder?
The main area that I’m working on most now besides defense and the stagger screens is coming off screens and shooting. My problem is that I hesitate too much and let the defense get back to the area where I can’t shoot. I try to watch Per as much as possible. He does a great job coming off screens and letting the ball fly. I’m confident that over time that I will be able to take shots off the screen and be more successful. I have to also work more on my foot work. I also want to get better on the pick and roll. I’m watching a lot of Euroleague like Madrid-Efes at the moment.
Last season you began with the Portland Trailblazers. What was it like sharing the court with Damian Lillard and CJ McCullum? When you see their games does it motivate you to grind even more?
Those two guys always stayed late and put up massive amounts of shots each day. It helped me being able to watch them play for two weeks every day. They put in a lot of work and it makes sense how far they have come as players. After seeing them put in the work and be successful gave me a lot of confidence that I could do that. They have no highlights in their stories. They both came from mid major schools and look where they are now. That all came with the work they put in. I will continue to put in the work and get better.
You had had a good NBA Summer League in 2019. What were the main reasons for coming overseas? Did you lose some faith in the NBA?
No I didn’t lose faith in the NBA. My main goal is to get back to the NBA. I had played in the G-League for two years. I was 24 and told myself if I’m not in the NBA now, it is time to put something on the table for my family. I had to make big boy decisions. I didn’t want that G-league salary, but wanted to go overseas and earn some money. I didn’t want to waste good money that I could earn in Europe and that is why I came overseas last season. I didn’t want to waste money just for a dream. The NBA always knows where to find you.
You played with Hapoel Unet Holon (Israel-Winner League) playing 12 games averaging 10.0ppg, 4.1rpg, 3.6apg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3FGP: 37.0%, FT: 68.0%, and played 11 Basketball Champions League: games averaging 8.7ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.2apg, 2FGP: 48.1%, 3FGP: 32.3%, FT: 60.9%. I have never talked to an American that didn’t love Israel. What did you like most about the country besides it’s warm weather and food?
It was a great experience to see a new culture. I loved the fan base in Israel. They came to every game.
You played twice against Euroleague Powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv. In one game you played against ex Florida (NCAA) great Scottie Wilbekin. Is he another one of those great examples why their aren’t enough guard spots in the NBA?
Yes for sure. His work that he puts in matches his game. He gets the job done. His team wins and you could see his leadership qualities on the court.
You began your professional career with the Orlando Magic (NBA), but then got cut. What memories do you have of that first NBA training camp and what do you remember being your wake up call to being in the NBA?
I always felt like I should be in the NBA. I really didn’t have a wake up call. For me it was all about seeing the guy in front of me and knowing that we did the same thing. Important for me was watching the guys in the NBA and seeing how they operated. Seeing all the magnificent cars in the parking lot and all the great food really impressed me.
You then played with the Lakeland Magic (NBA G League) playing 51 games averaging 15.8ppg, 7.5rpg, 5.7apg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 48.8%, 3FGP: 34.3%, FT: 83.8%. Did you ever feel like you were close to getting a NBA call up?
I thought that I was close. My ex agent kept telling me that their was interest and that I just had to keep doing what I was doing. That really motivated to keep working hard. Of course then when it didn’t happen, I was very disappointed. I had some long nights. It is what it is.
You finished your rookie season with to GSA Amici Pallacanestro Udine (Italy-Serie A2) playing 10 games averaging 14.1ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 75.6%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being overseas where you knew that you were far away from home?
The language barrier was a wake up call as well as the traveling rule. I remember in my first games I had something like 2 or 3 back to back traveling calls called against me. The positive side were the fans. I remember the fans having blow horns when we played against Trieste. The food also was really good.
You made your NBA debut on new years eve against Charlotte. What memories do you have of your first minutes?
I remember thanking the man upstairs when I checked in. I wanted to make my family proud when I stepped on the court. I remember thinking that I had to score a bucket. I remember that Amile Jefferson and I executed for the bucket. I made a floater. When I scored I was throwing a party inside of me. Of course I couldn’t show my emotions on the court. I had to act as if I had been there before.
What Orlando Magic do you remember having the biggest impact on you?
DJ Augustine had he biggest impact on me. He always gave me good knowledge about the game. He always told me not to get frustrated. He was a big help on the pick and roll. He was a small guard and knew how to get to the rim. I took notes and took that to the G-League which really helped me
What do you remember being the best example that you saw in your two years in the NBA/G-League where you saw that the NBA will always be a business before anything else?
I remember seeing a guy that I thought was a great fit for the team, but he was traded the next day. I don’t remember his name, but I remember thinking that he was a good piece for the team, but the team got rid of him.
You also played with the Lakeland Magic (NBA G League) again playing 51 games averaging 16.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 4.9apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 78.3%. You were teammates with Alan Anderson who would retire after the season. How much hope does his path give you knowing he began in the NBA then played some years in Europe and then went back to the NBA?
The dream is never over. You can get back to the NBA. If the NBA wants you then they will find you. Alan is a primary example of a guy who made it back to the NBA and stayed. Every path is different. You have to stay the course and when the time is right it could happen. Alan was always confident. He always told me that no matter who is front of me on the court kill him
You had a fine career at Cincinnati (NCAA) reaching the ACC tournament in 2017 and reached the NCAA tournament as a senior. What were your fondest basketball moments there?
I had many fond moments. Like scoring my 1000th point against Iowa State, or becoming the school’s all-time assist leader or hitting a shot against Purdue to reach OT. Of course going to the tournament each year was also huge.
You had many great games at Cincinnati like tearing up UConn for 37 points, but was your 23 points in the NCAA tournament win against Kansas State one of your most memorable?
Yes that was my best game as a senior. No one thought that we would win that game. It was exciting because we were underdogs.
How did head coach Mick Cronin groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He taught me how to stay mentally locked in. He always stressed that you can’t get frustrated on the court. The game has to be won so put negativity behind you
Who won a one on one back in the day you or Sean Killpatrick?
We never played. His resume speaks for it’s self. He was sort of a mentor for me. He told me how to win games. He always told me don’t let the crowd get to you. We have to win the game. As a freshman you tend to get nervous at times, but he always calmed me down. He was a winner. He always wanted to win.
Who is the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that made it to the NBA?
Shabazz Napier of UConn.
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?
Greg Donlan, John Petrocelli, Kevin Johnson, Gary Clark, Justin Jackson.
Please construct your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Durant, Shaq
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Two different era’s. I feel like Jordan would be successful in this era, but Lebron would have been more successful than Jordan in his era.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Troy for the chat.