Jared Savage (196-G/F-97, college: WKU) is a 24 year old 196cm forward that was born in Dakar, Senegal and grew up in Bowling Green, Tennessee. He is playing his second professional season in Germany with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. Last season as a rookie he played with GS Lavrio Aegean Cargo (Greece-A1) playing 33 games averaging 5.5ppg, 2.4rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 69.7%. He began his basketball career at Warren Country Central High School. He then played at Austin Peay State University (NCAA) from 2015-2017 and then played at Western Kentucky (NCAA) from 2018-2020 playing a total of 64 NCAA games averaging 12.2ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 37.0%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 81.8% and as a senior averaged 11.7ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 83.6%. He spoke to eurobasket before the game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Jared thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment
I’m in Crailsheim, Germany and we just had a scrimmage against MBC in order to get some rhythm after the long Fiba break. It was good to get a sweat and get some wind back.
You were in the States and in Greece during the Pandemic. How have you experienced COVID and what were the most challenging things you had to cope with?
I feel with COVID having come, I still haven’t truly experienced how European basketball is. Last year we played without fans and this season with fans, but now again fans won’t be allowed to remain in the arena’s.
With everything that you witnessed during COVID off the court how do you feel did you get stronger as a man?
On a life scale, COVID has made basketball seem so small. I learned to focus on the little things. There have been guys in the BBL that got COVID and as a result have had heart problems and had difficulty walking up stairs. At the start we all took it as a joke, but now you have to take it very seriously. It is important that everyone stays safe.
Your playing your first season for the Hakro Merlins. What kind of an adjustment has it been coming from Greece to playing in the very competitive German BBL?
The BBL is more tactical and technical while in Greece basketball was more roll out the ball and play. In Greece it was more playing to your strength and like open gym. Each game in the BBL is a dog fight. You have to bring you’re a game every night especially on the road.
Crailsheim is playing a very strong season in the easyCredit BBL and Fiba Europe Cup. What has been the secret of the success? Possibly there is no real superstar with all respect going to TJ Shorts talent?
We have a very balanced team where everyone knows their roles. We have 3-4 guys that are shooting 40% or better from outside. A lot of credit goes to TJ Shorts who does a great job getting all involved. We have no selfish guys and meshed together quickly. We want to keep it rolling.
How much credit has to go to head coach Sebastian Gleim? He didn’t have great success the last 2 years in Frankfurt but seems to be making his break through this year.
Coach wants everything done perfectly. If we mess up then we keep doing it again until it’s right. This is great because in the game we know how it’s done. He has done a great job building trust. Even if we make mistakes, we know how to fix it. He is very honest and makes us pay attention to detail.
How important has TJ Shorts been for the success? Does his game and overwhelming self-confidence pull the team to greater heights?
I can’t count how many games there have been where he won it for us. He puts the team on his back and does a great job finding everyone. He scores, rebounds and makes plays. He continues to show how good he is.
What has it been like playing with veteran Terrell Harris? What have you appreciated most about his presence?
He does a great job talking to the young guys. He has a calm head about basketball. He trusts you and helps tell us what to do on and off the court. He is always even keel. He is never too high or too low. He is a very good leader.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 196cm forward. To what NBA player would you best compare your game to?
I would compare my game to a PJ Tucker. I’m a 3 and D player that can guard 1-4 and hit the open three pointer.
You’re a player that has proven that you can score and rebound the ball. What would you say is your biggest strength on the court?
I think my basketball IQ. I think people don’t realize that. I watch a lot of video.
How would you describe your role with the Merlins? What has it been like coming from the bench something you have had to get used to as a professional?
Last year in Greece, the adjustment was a lot bigger. I was used to playing 38 minutes in college. But some of the best players in Europe come off the bench. I accept the role I have with the Merlins. Being a 3 and D player and doing all I can to help my team win.
What strides do you feel have you ben making with the continued development of your three?. You were always high in the 30% before this season, but currently are at 47%.
I give a lot of credit to Jacob Hayslip who is a GA at Western Kentucky. We worked a lot last summer on my shot. I took something like 500-600 shots a day. I was in the gym a lot.
On what area’s of your game are you working on most so that you can keep climbing with your game?
I’m working most on my body. I want to gain more weight and strength at this level. I’m playing against grown men, guys that are 35 years old. I want to play a long career. I want my body to be prepared for that. I need to have strong knees and ankles. Later I want to walk away when I’m ready and not because of injury.
You played your rookie season with Lavrio in Greece. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I think that the whole year was a wake up call. I never really realized how far away I was home. I had to grow up and realize that I couldn’t just take a car and go home. I was 5000 miles away.
How important was it having a guy like Glen Cosey. Was he like a mentor for you? How did he help you most as a rookie?
When I was in Greece, he lived 2 doors down from me. He has been around for a while. This is his 9th season. He taught me how to compete. He literally jump started my competitiveness. I can’t say how often he was on guys during practice for not going hard enough.
What kind of an experience was it upsetting Panathinaikos 92-82 and beating all these world class players? What will you always remember the most from this great win?
We actually beat them twice that season. I remember coaches crying in the locker room after we beat them the first time I hadn’t understood the history then. It was very special for me being part of a small club beating a big one. Those were the two biggest wins of my career and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
You began your NCAA career at Austin Peay (NCAA). How instrumental was head coach David Loos in your early development? What did he help you with most that allowed you become the player that you are today?
He gave me a lot of freedom and confidence to be a shooter. Half way through my freshman year, he told me to go make shots and that is what I did. I still hold the record for the most three’s with 19 in a conference tournament. Shout out to him for giving me an opportunity. Austin Peay had been the only division 1 offer that I had gotten. He believed in me.
How much of a learning experience was it losing to Kansas as a freshman in the NCAA tournament? Kansas had a bunch of guys that reached the NBA. Which guy impressed you the most?
They had 5 NBA players like Devontae Graham, Perry Ellis and Frank Mason. My match up was Wayne Seldon. I was 6,4 and 185 pounds. He gave me a serious wake up call. I realized that it was serious.
You were teammates with John Murry who proved to everyone at Austin Peay that he was good enough to play at a high level as a pro. Instead he has been toiling in Germany’s 4th division for 3 years. How crazy is that?
When I signed in Germany, he hit me up right away. He is like 4 hours away. John has been killing it in Germany. You can see he is a real good player. Hard work has paid off. In high school, I had no idea what hard work was. I just went to games. He taught me to work hard on my game. In practice he was always in full sweat.
Does an example like this prove that there are simply too many great guards and to little spots?
Before I came overseas, I thought that the whole experience would be easy. I thought it would be a cake walk. You see so many talented guys overseas form D-2 or the NAIA trying to feed their families. I believe John can play at the highest level in Europe. It is only a matter of time. His work ethic will get him there.
You then finished at Western Kentucky (NCAA). How beneficial was it for your game becoming the primary scorer as a senior after future NBA player Charles Bassey went down with an injury? Is becoming that first option one you would like to have again as a pro?
When Charles got hurt, we took a big hit. I had to step up and lead the team. As a pro I’m a 3 and D player. I’m fine with this role. I don’t think that I will ever be that primary scorer. Do I want that role? Maybe. But I’m fine with just doing whatever the team needs to win.
Was your 24/16 game in the win over Texas-San Antonio your best game in the NCAA?
I believe it was in regards to points and rebounds. We needed that win because it was the last game before going to the conference tournament.
How did head coach Rick Stansburry give you that little extra push on your way to becoming a professional player?
He surrounded me with a good coaching staff. They all believed in me and helped me get better there.
Who was the toughest player that you encountered in the NCAA that would reach the NBA?
Charles Cook from Dayton. He played the 3 and was a real good guard. I will always remember him.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Tyson Carter, Taveion Hollingsworth, Alpha Diallo, Devon Davis, Charles Bassey
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads.
I will name my favorite players. Devin Booker, Jayson Taytum, Kevin Durant, Zach Levine and Lebron James
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
It is a toss up, but it is Jordan, but Lebron isn’t far behind.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I like action movies. The sequel was kind of weird for me.
Thanks Jared for the chat.