Jeremelle Fraser is a 33 year old former 186cm professional player that currently works as a development skills trainer and coach. As a player he played with St.Thomas Aquinas (NCAA2) and New York State University – Maritime College (NCAA3). Before ehading overseas he played semi-pro ball in the States with teams like the NYC Thunder ABA,, Jersey G-force (IBL) and Westchester Dutchmen (EBA). In Europe he played with teams like Drita Gjilan (Kosovo-SuperLeague), BK Nova Hut Ostrava (Czech Republic-NBL) and Malbas Malmo (Sweden-Superettan. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Jermelle thanks for talking to germanhoops.com where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Hi Miles and thank you. At the moment I’m in Orlando, Florida enjoying good weather. Basketball life has been up and down obviously due to Covid and I think it’s been like this for most unfortunately.
In our last interview several years ago, you were a former NCAA Division Three Point Guard and just played your rookie season in Kosovo. KB Drita Gjilan (Kosovo-SuperLeague) playing 7 games averaging 18.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.6spg, FT – 80.2%, 3FG – 28.7 %, 2FG – 48.6%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie overseas ? Also, Your story is quite different from others- taking the semi pro route and doing camps prior etc. What advice could you give to players in your shoes who may not have that attractive resume and want to pursue professional basketball ?
Yes time flies when you’re having fun ! But honestly it was a struggle and the odds we’re definitely stacked against me. I remember trying to adjust to the food and most of my teammates didn’t speak much English. There were some money problems which was frustrating but typical- I don’t know any player that played overseas who didn’t experience this . But basketball wise I learned quickly that I needed to put extra work in and study more film not only of my opponents but I’ve myself dissecting things ! My advice to players like myself is if you love the game and you’re passionate go after what you want. If you can, try to get an agent who has experience and has helped similar players with the same background successfully, get seen via exposure camps etc Hard work and some luck lol and understand the business and how things work. But most importantly BE PREPARED physically from conditioning to the Pro game itself-particularly in Europe and the style of play. As it is not the same as college.
You then played with the Idaho Stampede (Utah Jazz D-League), only pre-season in the Fall of 2014. How was that D-League experience?
I think it was a huge turning point for me Miles. I was the only division three player on the roster. However, guys like Jack Cooley (Notre Dame) and Kevin Murphy (Tennessee Tech) made me feel comfortable as they were pretty much the leaders and had that real NBA/D-league at that time. Head Coach Deane Cooper was a good coach and better person. Very transparent. Two things I remember from Coach Cooper. One day at the end of practice in the huddle – He said at this level we have to just play and don’t be indecisive. Also after our final preseason game the next day he had to sit down with the 5 players he was releasing. He told me he didn’t know who the hell I was at tryouts but I impressed him and that I was a PRO. I had a good understanding of the game and to keep playing. The season prior I believe he was an assistant with the Houston Rockets, Kevin McHale was the Head Coach. So that definitely gave me a lot of confidence to keep pushing. It also gave me insight for what deep down I know what would be next coaching, as I took a lot of mental notes during training camp !
Every spring/summer you would return to the States and work at BIG APPLE SPORTS with well known NYC scout/coach TIPPY MCTERNAN. How did you develop as a player development coach and scout there ?
Well Tippy had been like a mentor to me since college. If it wasn’t for him showing me how to workout and get ready I wouldn’t have stuck. For 20 years plus Coach Tippy has helped changed lives and sent guys to school Juco, Division 1 etc All the college coaches respect him. I didn’t realize it, but he was molding me. He would have me lead workouts and coach in tournaments he put players in etc Then for our annual exposure event which is still runnning – I would help in selecting the players, connect with over 100 college coaches, and basically coach/help run the event the day. Every year during the week of the event, myself and the rest of the staff would be in Tippy´s office until 1am or 2am preparing lol- all to give kids an opportunity.
When did you know in your life that working with players and being a coach would be your calling?
I knew this when I was a player in Europe. I would always watch the U16-20 teams of whichever club I was a part of. Then I offered to help out during the practices. Soon after, I would sign contracts to not only play but to coach the youth teams.
Your love to play again was so big that you returned to Europe in 2017 to play with Malbas in Malmo, Sweden. Your last professional playing gig. What memories do you have of this stint and what was your fondest memories playing in Sweden ?
Sweden was definitely one of my most favorite countries to have lived in. The people were very nice and it had been a fairly smooth adjustment. My fondest memory playing were the fans. The energy and atmosphere from all the clubs were great.
There you also worked with the U-16 and U-19 teams reaching the Final 4 in Swedish Championship games. What are the major differences with working with European kids opposed to American kids?
Yes it was a good season. I think we all got better. Especially for me as a coach. Those boys put the work in daily and I still feel that both teams were good enough to win it all ! But the major differences of working with European kids and American kids l feel is work ethic. They both have the same dreams and aspirations. But, for the euro kids it’s obviously much tougher logistically and I think they know they have to work that much harder. Most don’t grow up playing streetball, they enter a club/team at an early age with coaches who stress the fundamentals etc Why ? They are not as athletically gifted or talented as the Americans are, this is my opinion.
You have an amazing basketball development and coaching resume. It just grows and grows. What do you enjoy most about helping kids?
I have been blessed to come from the Mecca of basketball. I have notebooks full of so much valuable information. I’m grateful to have been around so many great coaches near and far. What I have enjoyed most is knowing that all the things I teach as a coach will have a direct correlation and impact on their players lives. When you coach for the right reasons, you know that it is more important to get to know “the person” rather than “the player” if that makes sense !
You have worked with Hall of Fame Coach Bob Hurley at Hoop Group basketball camp. What important words of wisdom did you get from him ?
Make sure the players understand what it is that your teaching and how it relates to the game and make sure they do things the correct way !
In 2019 you worked at the ZAZA PACHULIA BASKETBALL ACADEMY. What was the best experience that you could get out of this time there?
I will always appreciate ZaZa and the opportunity he gave me. ZAZA and I met believe it or not in Madison Square Garden a few days before I left to his country. He explained what was needed, expectations etc but most importantly he gave me the freedom to do things my way. In the end we won two championships (U18 and U20). We sent 2 players to top 100 camp and we got at the time the best female player in the country a full scholarship to a D1 junior college in Wyoming. I also got to work with in the summer Goga Bitadze (Pacers), Sandro Mamukelashvilli (Seton Hall) and Giorgi Bezhanishvili (Illinois)
In 2019-2020 you worked at Montverde academy in Florida as a Assistant Varsity Coach/Player Development Coach. You helped develop three McDonald’s All-Americans Plan – Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State (#3 ESPN) – Scottie Barnes, Florida State (#4 ESPN) – and Dayron Sharpe, North Carolina (#11 ESPN). What was most challenging working with these massive prospects?
For me in the beginning, it was really identifying what those guys needed from me and Coach Boyle, who I feel is a Hall of Fame Coach assisted well with that. With these players you can’t waste time and you have to know your shit. All three of them very talented and they really just needed fine tuning in certain parts of their game. The most challenging was motivating them on a daily basis to do the daily repetitive regimens which would not only prepare them for college but the Pros. They made it easy because they loved and respected the game so much !
How do you believe Cade Cunningham profited most from your basketball wisdom?
Well I was a point guard since 5th grade, it’s the only position I played lol so all of our talks and work we put in was from that standpoint. At 6’8 with handle, jumpshot and I think his biggest strength IQ, he definitely made it easier for me ! Because of his size and again IQ Cade can also play other positions and that’s what makes him so valuable !
Who do you talk to in terms of decision making and give some credit when it comes to your professional basketball journey from a coaching standpoint ?
Tim Shea. I call him “Don Shea” lol But Tim who is originally from New York but lives in Lugo, Spain. He has been a sort of mentor for me the past few years. He is a former NBA Director of International Scout with Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, Knicks. He also coached in the ACB (Spain) and was a part of the Nigerian National Team staff in 2012 that qualified for Olympics. I can’t thank him enough for his words of wisdom and not only basketball but life coaching. We talk pretty much daily.
You are truly a basketball globetrotter. Where will you be next? What are your goals in the next years as a coach?
I love the game. I love to teach. I love inspiring and motivating players. I’m truly blessed at all the relationships I’ve built throughout all these years. It looks as though what’s next for me is college or the pros. It’s just a matter of timing and the right situation. I still have a lot more to learn and I hope I remain humble and stay a lifelong learner. My goals as a coach these next few years is to contribute and win a championship at the NCAA level or NBA level and again to continue to grow until I eventually get my shot as a Head Coach at one of these levels.
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore?
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Lebron James
Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Hubie Brown, Doc Rivers
What was the last movie that you saw
Above The Rim
Thanks Jermelle for the chat.