It’s 7:30 on a Saturday morning and I’m up, but not because I want to. I still feel like I climbed a lot of hills yesterday, which I actually did in my daily run and wouldn’t mind sleeping 2 more hours. Not even the notion of knowing that in 4 hours I would get my 3rd booster shot and possible side effects fazed me. Instead basketball thoughts continue to race through my mind. I know at that point that my short night is over. Why can’t certain players just let me sleep and not rob me of my precious rest? In a way I’m mad, but at the other hand, I’m actually happy, because I have another opportunity of writing a unique kind of article about an out of the ordinary player called Parker Jackson-Cartwright (176-PG-95, college: Arizona). I got off the phone with him 7 hours ago after another interesting post game interview after he successfully led his team past another inspiring and pesky club named the MLP Academics 87-70. This guy is really special something I don’t have to tell his mother, because all mothers think that their kids are the best, but this guy truly is one of a kind. I know his teammate Skyler Bowlin could probably give an early season tribute about his thoughts about the playmaker of the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Jackson-Cartwright is a great player as he is one if not best point guards in the league so far if not the best as Crailsheim diminutive point guard TJ Shorts could raise his hand like he would have back in first grade and surely debate my opinion. Both Jackson-Cartwright and Shorts have been so valuable for their team’s success, but the ex Arizona great Parker probably has the nod as better right now simply because Bonn have a better record than Crailsheim in the easyCredit BBL at 8-2 and continue to be in attack mode in the standings. But Parker isn’t only a great player but also an incredible basketball talker off the court when he is in an interview. I should know, my player interviews are at 1500 + since 2005 and still rising and this guy is just a pleasure to talk to when he is dissecting the game of basketball. He does it in such a cool and relaxed way and is so well spoken. Just listening to him is a pleasure even if it is late and I would rather be sleeping as was the case last night. After only 4 interviews, this guy is already in a special category of my all-time best interviews. The guy has an unstoppable motor on the court, but off the court already has Kobe like appeal for me with his choice words.
26 year old Jackson-Cartwright who is a Lakers fan and feels that Anthony Davis has to stop holding back and flip the switch and be more aggressive for them to have future success is a special breed of player simply because if he were 10 cm’s taller, he would probably be a Euroleague player if not NBA player. At 176cm, he is very talented, but his height gives him that unfair label of being a player that might not be able to compete at the highest level. Last season he led the France second division in assists with 7,1 showing his worth, but could he make the next step in the more competitive easyCredit BBL? So far he has done so much more than exceed expectations with his play, but more important has given hope and joy back to the Telekom Baskets Bonn fans who have been seeking success again after a few years of mediocracy. It is 0,04 on Saturday morning December 11th when Parker Jackson-Cartwright reaches me. My eyes have that feeling when you want to jump into the nearest bed and just get some rest and sleep, but there was no way I wasn’t going to do this interview and digest another massive BBL win with him and his Telekom Baskets Bonn. The last time I spoke to him was about 2 months ago after a big home win over the Fraport Skjyliners and then It had also been late close to midnight in the Telekom Dome and I was very tired. It wasn’t any different now either. I answer the phone and ask him how he is and he does the same in his soft and appealing voice. Then I tell him that I’m dead tired and am sure so is he and let’s get through this interview. Dead tired is a phrase I rarely use and one I remember as one of my favorite comedic lines from Arnold Schwarzenegger from the classic 80’s movie Commando. As always the California native was in a relaxed mood as I have never seen how he was after a loss. He began the interview not with the usual bla bla of how the feeling is after a big win, but had the whole big picture in his mind. ‘Any win in this league feels good, but it wasn’t in any way easy. The next step for us is to continue to get better. Other teams get better and scout us and want to get us out of rhythm. We are happy, but we don’t want to get complacent’, warned Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The Telekom Baskets didn’t have a great start to the game as they were trailing early on as Heidelberg contained Jackson-Cartwright well. The L.A native finished the first quarter with 2 dimes as Bonn had regained the lead again. It is refreshing to know that when a Jackson-Cartwright can’t find his game in certain moments, there are other guys that can give an instant lift. ‘We have a deep team and show strength in numbers. We have shown it this season against Bamberg and other good team wins. I give good punch, but overall guys like Bowlin and Tadda always come up big when we need it. We show that anyone can step up on any night. We rally for each other. That is a good trait to have when a team is rolling’, stressed Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Bonn had the good 46-38 advantage at the break as Parker Jackson-Cartwright found his groove for good. ‘I had lost my aggressiveness and coach was in my ear. He told me to remain aggressive and continue to create for myself and my teammates. When that happens good things usually happen. You play different teams and each game is different. Key also is knowing how to read the defense. Being able to adjust quickly is a very good trait of ours’, stated Parker Jackson-Cartwright.
In the second half the Telekom Baskets Bonn continued to control the game and never allowed the MLP Academics to get over the hump. Ex N Iowa (NCAA) stand out Jeremy Morgan put a seal on the coffin with two late three’s to ice the game. ‘He makes big shots all the time. He is hands down our best shooter. We need guys like him to take shots when he is open. He has struggled mildly, but he has the confidence to be able to make big shots. That gives our team another dimension. This is just the start. We will continue to count on him to make big shots’, expressed Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The top scorer of the game was ex Missouri Southern State (NCAA2 ( great Skyler Bowlin who dropped 24 points and as always his infectious play helped his team to greater heights during the game. Bowlin is a guy that every teammate loves and every opponent hates. ‘Skyler is one of the best teammates that I have ever had. He is the same every day. He never has a bad day. He is always positive. It is really important that he is a veteran. I always look to him for advice. He leads by example and also is in my ear. I’m sure every team hates him. He hit the game winner against Oldenburg and is as tough as nails. It has been a real joy being his teammate’, added Skyler Bowlin. Bonn’s game lives with their incredible guards and shooters and at times their inside game gets lost, but the duo of Kessens/Kratzer are a key part of the team success. Kessens was massive in the win contributing 19 points on 8/10 shooting. ‘We really appreciate them. They are our anchors. Michael was hurt earlier in the season and you can see him getting his rhythm now. He is a tough player and does the little things. He kept us a float with his scoring and second chance opportunities. He knows how much we appreciate him. When he talks we listen’, warned Parker Jackson-Cartwright. It was also a joy seeing ex Citadel (NCAA) guard Matt Frierson make his BBL debut. This guy has been paying his dues the last few years since turning professional and currently plays in the German 4th division with the Bonn farm team. You just have to be excited when a player that is totally off the radar makes strides in his career. ‘Matt is one of my favorite teammates. He is such a joy to be around. He is always positive and special. When he caught the ball, the crowd went crazy. I was shocked he missed his shots, because he always makes them in practice. He deserves to be on the court in the BBL’, expressed Parker Jackson-Cartwright. After a great start the season winning 4 of their first 5 games, the MLP Academics Heidelberg currently have a dry spell riding an unfortunate 6 game losing streak and continue to tumble down the standings. ‘They are a talented team and will catch some teams by surprise. They are at a point in their season where they have to clean some things up. Some guys are coming back from knick knack injuries. They have a good back court and have guys that can score. They will be ok. I think that they can rally off 4-5 wins at anytime. They do special things on defense and have good firepower. They can beat anyone on any given night’, warned Parker Jackson-Cartwright.
The 70 points that the Telekom Baskets Bonn gave up against Heidelberg was the second least this season after the Chemnitz game. The team had a solid defensive effort, but also knows that it isn’t where it wants to be yet. ‘I think being able to defend all has to do with effort. Playing good defense has to do with will. We make second and third efforts on defense. We aren’t perfect and need to clean things up. We gave up easy lay ups and protection in the paint was a problem. I think that we do a good job staying connected when we get beat. We want to continue to lock in on teams and focusing on what we can take away. It is a big challenge and we don’t want to get complacent’, expressed Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The club has been in almost every game this season and achieved some massive crunch-time wins, but also lost a few they could have won. When your 8-2 the feeling can be that you have it all figured out, but that is exactly what the club can’t think about. ‘The momentary 8-2 record is great for the fans after the last few tough years. The start was great, but we know that we can be even better. It is never about how you start, but how you get better in the middle and in the end. We want to catch our stride at the end and play our best basketball then. You know that you have the make up of a good team when you need and want to improve more’, warned Parker Jackson-Cartwright. If the Bonn fans take a glance now between Christmas market visits and wrapping presents of the schedule their mouths may really water, because the next 6 opponents leading up to mid January are all winnable games. It will be interesting to see how the Telekom Baskets Bonn perform under great coach Tuomas Iisalo when they have a top record and everyone is chasing them. ‘We are a team now that don’t look at the grand scheme. We look at each day and our identity is to win the day. We only focus on the next opponent. Once you look ahead you can lose to anyone. It you look ahead it promotes complacency. Our biggest challenge is to stay focused. We have to stay neutral and not too high or too low. We focus one day at a time’, warned Parker Jackson-Cartwright.
He had his lowest scoring game of the season with 12 points, but still dished out 7 assists. It wasn’t one of his top games with Bonn, but he still made crucial plays during the game. After tearing up the league from the start, BBL clubs are starting to notice more and needing to find ways to slow him down. ‘We do the same. When we scout, we also want to take away the other team’s strength. Teams understand that I’m a focus now. I think there are more schemes against me, but it is still early. It is all two fold. It is all about how I can adjust with team’s throwing their best at me. It will definitely get harder when we play teams a second time. We will see how I continue to attack and how I can kill opponent’s coverages in the best way’, stressed Parker Jackson-Cartwright. One thing that must be gnawing in his mind is his 4 turnovers per game that he averages. When talking about taking care of the ball, he remains calm and knows how to confront the problem best with his decision making. ‘I can’t overthink. I need to simply things more on certain reads. I have the ball in my hands so much that I believe that at times I’m getting lazy. They played physical on me and had Lowery on me who is a tough defender. I will watch film and see where I can minimize mistakes’, added Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Currently he is third in scoring, third in assists and third in steals. He would be a MVP candidate now if the season ended tomorrow. With every new win and stellar game, his self-confidence has to be going through the roof? ‘I just try to keep the confidence that is given to me. My teammates and coaches give me ultra-confidence. They expect me to be a leader and make my team better. I love responsibility and deep down know that I’m built for it. I love the challenge and just focus on one day at a time and try to do as much as possible to help my team win’, warned Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Christmas is just around the corner and if playing against BBL legend Rickey Paulding isn’t necessary a Christmas gift for any opponent as the 39 year old player still gives you headaches with his play, but being able to see the ex Missouri (NCAA) great celebrate his last season has been special to Jackson-Cartwright. ‘It is amazing that he is still out there at age 39. He looks so fit and younger than 30. He is such a professional especially the way he almost was able to will his team to the win against us. He is never to big, but always the same. He hit so many big shots. It is encouraging to see him out there and special to be able to watch him in his last season’, stated Parker Jackson-Cartwright. His eyes gleam when he speaks about how his mother will be with him in Germany for Christmas. He also will never forget his fondest memory with brother Miles at Christmas as kids. ‘We were up the whole night. Then we would fall asleep and I remember getting up and walking down the stairs and seeing the tree with all the beautiful presents and being so happy. We would go crazy. I remember finding gifts early and Miles telling me to keep quiet and not tell mom and dad. But then I did tell them. But Christmas was so special’, remembered Parker Jackson-Cartwright. One thing is for sure when I meet Parker Jackson Cartwright again, it will be in April 2021 after a Sunday afternoon matinee in Frankfurt against the Skyliners. If the game doesn’t go into overtime, I will most likely chat with him around 5.00pm. This is a perfect time of day where my dead tired symptoms are still as far away as Rajon Rondo is to becoming that player again with the Lakers the way he was with the Celtics. But then again, I probably will talk with Parker again before that. Just hearing him speak and break down basketball is always a pleasure and one I don’t want to miss. His Kobe like appeal with his words is already plastered in my head.