Niclas Geier (192-PG-02) is a 192cm German guard that will take part at the 2021 Howard Hoops Combine in Germany. He began his basketball career with the USC Heidelberg U19 Team (NBBL). In 2019-2020 he played 10 games averaging 12.6ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.1apg, 2.9spg, FGP: 44.4%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 55.1%. Last season with the USC Heidelberg U19 Team (NBBL) he played only 2 games averaging 15.0ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg, before COVID-19 ended his season. He also made his Pro A debut against PS Karlsruhe last season. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Niclas thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Thank you for having this interview with me. So far I am doing fine and working out every day. Besides working on my basketball skillset I enjoy lifting weights in the gym as well.
Your one of two Germans along with Adrian Worthey that is taking part at the 2021 Howard Hoops Combine. Over the years the Howard Hoops Combine has been dominated by American players. What prompted you to join the combine?
I was in contact with Japhet Mcneil who is also in the organization with Coach Howard. We talked about my current situation and about work outs in the off season. Japhet invited me to this Combine and gave me the opportunity to show my game, which I am thankful for.
Have you ever met Adrian Worthey or played against him. Are you looking forward to being his teammate?
As I can remember we played against each other in the first year of my NBBL career. We both played a great game so I think that he is a talented player, so I am excited to share the court alongside with him as well as the other American players.
You already have a huge advantage over the Americans since you have played in Germany. What advantages do you see having in taking part at the Howard Hoops combine?
Last year I was able to gain a lot of experience at the pro level in Heidelberg. I had tough competition every day in practice so I think this helped my development a lot. I think there will be good competition at the Combine as well, so my advantage would be that I was able to get used to pro players already.
Let’s talk a little about COVID-19. What were the biggest challenges for you during this time? Was it tougher keeping that normal workout routine?
To be honest the biggest challenge was not letting this Pandemic get in the way of me getting better. Of course a lot of gyms closed down during the year, but I tried to keep the same routine as I had before in the gym, which worked out fine.
How tough was it not being able to play the NBBL (U-19) league in 20-21. How disadvantageous do you believe this will be for players. Will a season of not competition severely hurt the development of young players?
Not being able to play the 20-21 season in the NBBL was tough, because I couldn’t show my game on the court this year. However I was able play a good season the year before that, even being younger than the rest. I think players who didn’t have the chance of playing or practicing in another team will notice that it was bad for their development for the upcoming years. Personaly I would say you should try to get better every time and not let this be an excuse one day.
With everything that you have experienced during COVID-19 off the court how do you feel did it make you stronger as a man?
I think it made me realize to value the time we spend with our friends and family as I couldn’t see everybody as often as usual throughout the years. I think it made me grow individually as well and made be even more mentally tough to stick with basketball.
You will be taking part at the Howard Hoops Combine in Germany in August. How excited are you to show your abilities in front of GM’s and coaches?
I am very excited and thankful for this opportunity. I thank Coach Howard and Japhet Mcneil for this invitation. I can’t wait to step on the court, show my skillset and learn new things.
How did you get in contact with CEO and founder Ronald Howard (181-PG-84, college: Mayville St.)? Did he find you or did you find him?
As I mentioned before the whole idea of me joining the Combine started through Japhet Mcneil. He talked with Ronald Howard and let me participate in this year’s Combine.
Ronald Howard is a legend. He is the voice for the unknown players wanting to get a job overseas. What kind of relationship do you have with him and what do you appreciate most about his character.
If I am being honest I have not met Ronald Howard personally yet, but all I can say is that I am excited for what this combine holds ad that he is a very supportive person.
What is your biggest goal at the Howard Hoops Combine?
My biggest goal as always is to get better every day and learn new skills. I also want to meet the other players and get to know them on and off the court. You never know if you play with one of these players in the future as there will be a lot of talent.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 192cm point guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?
My coaches always tell me that they would compare me to Damian Lillard. His leadership is off the charts and when it comes to scoring options I think the comparison fits the best. I am a good defender as well, so I think Lillard is the best comparison.
At the NBBL level you have put up solid stats. Talk a little about your game and biggest strength on the court?
I would describe my game like being an athletic point guard that can score out of many options. I like to use my speed to get to the basket or set my teammates up for an open shot. I can score from distance as well and play good on ball defense. I can read the game and use my vision to set up my team.
You’re a very talented defender. What do you believe is your biggest strength on the defensive end?
I appreciate that. Personally I think my biggest strength on the defensive end is that I can anticipate the attacker’s next step and read their game which is my advantage to press on ball, force a bad and late pass or get a steal.
On what areas of your game are you working on most so you can continue to grow as a player?
As I want to compete at the Pro level more and more I have to prepare my body for much older players. So I think working on my stability and athletic strength is an important part in my development.
You began your career with the USC Heidelberg U19 Team (NBBL) What kind of experience has it been playing there and what steps did your game take especially in the NBBL?
I started playing in Heidelberg when I was 14. So I went through almost every age group there is. With 15 I spent one year in North Carolina where I could see the American way to teach basketball. Playing in Heidelberg was always fun because I played with many friends of mine. In the NBBL I learned to be a leader especially on the Point Guard Position. Very significant at the higher level is to control the pace in the game which is not as important in the younger ages. So I think learning to control the game and the pace was a big step for my development.
How important has NBBL coach Moritz Naegele and Noschrevan Tavhelidse been in your early development? What do you believe was the most important thing that you could gain from their guidance?
Early in my first year of the NBBL both of them gave me a lot of confidence, which helped me to play the way I like. I think from Moritz I learned lot individually about how to be a better player, especially different technique approaches for the shot or ball handling were important from him. Noschrevan was a mentor for me through the last two years on and off the court. We spent a lot of time in the gym and he helped me to build my strengths on the court. So I am very thankful that I had these two coaches in my early career.
Despite COVID being a pest, could you profit by practicing with Pro A team MLP Academics? Talk a little about playing with men and how it helped your game last season
It was a very exciting experience. I learned a lot from all the older players which took me in the team better than I could imagine. The whole team chemistry was awesome and the spirit we had was perfect. I was able to play against the best guards in the league every day in practice. This helped me develop very much and was an important step for my career.
You played your first Pro A game against Karlsruhe playing two minutes. What memories do you have breathing your first Pro A minute?
It was awesome to be on the Pro court my first time. Of course I was a bit nervous when the coach called my name, but I think it was more the excitement of playing on this level. I mean this will always be a great memory to hear my name from the announcer, especially because the other players were happy for me which helped me to be ready.
Talk a little how beneficial point guards Shy Ely and Niklas Wuerzner have been for your develop? Have they been like mentors for you?
Both of them are great guys. I mean Shy the MVP taught me so much from the first minute. He talked a lot to me and gave me tips on how to do certain things different and better. I could watch his game every time and still find some new things to adopt into mine. Niklas Wuerzner was also a great guy I learned a lot from. He especially helped me to understand different parts of the game better and was a great guy off the court as well. I think both of them were mentors to me as well as the other guards like Jordan Geist and Sa’eed Nelson. Everyone taught me different things and options to help me be a better player.
Who was the best player that you ever battled that went to play in higher leagues in Germany?
From my standpoint the toughest battles I had were against Jordan Geist and Sa’eed Nelson which I faced in practice every day when I played for the MLP Academics Heidelberg.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Those would be Shy Ely, Jordan Geist, Sa’eed Nelson, Niklas Wuerzner and Shaun Willet.
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or LeBron James?
I can only say one name: Michael Jordan. End of debate.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I think the last movie I saw was ‘Snowpiercer’, which was recommended to me by my good friend Sa’eed Nelson. Go watch it!
Thanks Niclas for the chat