Kobe Webster (183-PG-1999, college: Nebraska) is a 23 year old 183cm guard from Indianapolis, Indiana playing his rookie season overseas for the Heroes Den Bosch (Holland-DBL). He began his basketball career with Park Tudor high school. He then played 2 seasons and 57 NCAA games for Western Illinois averaging 17.0ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 43.9%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 76,8% and 17.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 45.3%, 3PT: 33.1%, FT: 79.0%. He then moved to the University of Nebraska (NCAA) playing 57 games in total averaging 8.2ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 38.6%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 67.9% and as a senior averaged 6.2ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 39.4%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 66.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Thanks Kobe for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
I am currently playing my first year of professional basketball in The Netherlands with Heroes Den Bosch. Basketball life is treating me well. I have enjoyed adapting to the new environment and looking to continue to grow as a player and person both on and off the court.
You were born in 1999 in the summer. Kobe Bryant had already played 3 years in the NBA. Did the name Kobe have something to do with Kobe Bryant and your parents naming you that way?
I like to believe so as Kobe Bryant is my all-time favorite player. Kobe was starting to become popular at the time, so I think my parents heard the name and liked it.
You’re playing your rookie season for Den Bosch in Holland. What have you enjoyed most about the overseas grind so far?
I have enjoyed adapting to a new environment and getting to know new teammates from all over the world. This has shown me new perspectives on the game and how it is played as well as create new relationships with people that I previously may not have interacted with back home.
You have already won your first chip as a professional while other guys go a decade and career with never winning one. Can you compare it to winning 2 in high school?
The first professional championship was fun, although it was at the beginning of the season. As a team, we are of course wanting to be on top at the end of the season by winning the national championship in Holland and then advancing in the BNXT cross boarder playoffs to hopefully win that as well. As far as comparing it thus far, the high school ones were a little more special at the moment just because they were what we worked for all season. Winning the league championships at the end of season will definitely top the high school ones if we are able to do so.
Den Bosch has reached the next round in Fiba Europe Cup and play some tough teams from Germany, Estonia and Turkey. How big are the expectations in general to keep advancing?
As a team, we go into every game expecting to win. We have high standards for ourselves both individually and collectively so we want to continue to play at a level that matches those standards which will lead to us winning games in the next stage of FIBA Europe Cup.
The club got 8 new players. What has been key for team chemistry having developed so quickly and the team having success?
Coach made it a point from day one to build chemistry with one another both on and off the court. He makes sure that we are engaged during team meals and has also held team events and activities that allow us to get to know one another much better as people and basketball players.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 183cm point guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I would compare myself to someone like Tyus Jones, a guy who is solid, runs a team well but can score at many levels as well. I’m also a fan of Kemba Walker who is similar in size and has a scorer’s mentality like myself.
Is it fair to say that you’re a scoring point guard? You fill the stat sheet well. What other strengths does your offensive game have?
I would agree that I am a scoring point guard. I think I am quick and can get into the paint to make plays for my teammates. Particularly with this team, we have a lot of talent and guys that can score different ways which makes it easy to create both shots for myself and them.
You only averaged 1,0 steal per game during a season in the NCAA. Is that stat line deceiving? Obviously playing good defense is more than getting steals. What kind of a defender are you?
I would say that stat is deceiving and I’m sure my teammates would agree. Since being here, coach has really encouraged me to pressure the ball full court which has led to many more steals. I would say I am one of, if not the best on ball defender on the team.
What is a hidden strength in your game that isn’t always on the radar of people?
I would say my defense. As a guard, I play defense full court almost every possession of the game. Most times, people see a scorer and think that defense is not something that I am focused on, but I actually like to rely on my defense to get myself going offensively.
At Western Illinois you averaged 33 minutes, at Nebraska 22 and now in Holland 20. How big has it been in general for you going from heavy minutes at Western Illinois to less now?
Like I mentioned before, we have a lot of talent on this team as we did at Nebraska. It was an adjustment, but it also gives me time to observe the game more and understand what it is I need to bring to the game when I am on the court.
You’re putting up decent stats in less minutes. How more important has decision making become for you with less minutes?
Decision making is a huge part of the game for me, especially as the point guard. I have to make sure that I am bringing energy, directing traffic, getting my teammates involved, on top of staying aggressive for myself. As games get tougher throughout the season, it will be important to be smart and understand what is needed at certain points in the game so that we can continue to be successful.
You were a very good 3 point shooter in the NCAA but still searching for your touch in Europe. What has been the biggest challenge for you shooting the three overseas?
The first thing that I had to get adjusted to was the ball that we use and also the fact that in FIBA we use different basketballs each game depending on what country we are in. The physicality of the game is another thing that I’ve had to get used to which has an impact on focus, technique, and overall conditioning. This may lead to more tired legs or less balance on some shots, but I am adapting and see my percentage going up as the season progresses.
How key has other American Austin Price been for you? Has he been a type of mentor for you? What have you appreciated most about his game?
Austin has been great to have, especially in my rookie season. We workout with the same basketball and strength trainer back home so he had told me a lot leading into the season about what to expect. Austin is very level-headed and of course a great shooter which compliments my game well.
After a great high school career at Park Tudor, you played at Western Illinois from 2017-2020. You averaged 17/4/3 stats in the 2 years. Did you want a bigger challenge going to Nebraska?
Yes, I felt like playing on a bigger stage would help me improve my game and increase my opportunities of playing at higher levels professionally.
How instrumental was head coach Billy Wright in your time at Western Illinois? How did he help you most of becoming the player that you were at Western Illinois?
Coach Wright and assistant, Coach Joshua Jones, were both instrumental. Coach Wright gave me the green light to play my game from day one which allowed me to perform at the level I did while coach Jones was who I worked out with on a daily basis, watched film with, and ultimately help me with the smaller nuances of the game during my time at Western Illinois.
You had so many great games at Western Illinois but often in losing causes. Was your 40 point explosion against Omaha one you still think about despite the loss?
Of course. The 40 points in that game was my career high and was actually my last game played at Western Illinois’ arena and a record for points in a single game. I also had some special fans in attendance that game which made it special.
You then played at Nebraska (NCAA) from 2020-2022. Nebraska has had some really good players over the last 6-7 years and 2 that come to mind were Shavon Shields and Taj Webster 2 guys I saw play weekly in Frankfurt. What do their legacy mean to the school and how big are they role models for you?
I am honestly not very familiar with them as they were there years before I transferred.
You had many memorable games at Nebraska, but I can imagine your 13 points in the exciting 62-61 win over Penn State is high on your list?
Yes, that is one that I remember for sure. However, my favorite game was the one against Creighton in my second year at Nebraska. That is a huge rivalry game, and it was also after COVID when fans were allowed in the stadiums, so the arena was sold out. I was coming off of a back injury, and it was my first game that season. Even though we lost, I ended with 20 points in front of the home crowd and sort of cemented my spot in the rotation for the rest of the year.
How did head coach Fred Hoiberg groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Coach Hoiberg really helped in becoming a professional, understanding the things outside of just workouts, practice, and games. At points, I was in situations where I may not play as much as I wanted, but it taught me that I had to continue to stay positive and support my teammates. He also showed me the importance of taking care of my body and not overworking (working smarter, not harder). Lastly, Coach Hoiberg helped in making me more of a playmaker and passer rather than only a scorer. He preached simple plays and the ‘good to great’ shot concept which has stuck with me.
Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Alonso Verge?
We actually did not play a lot of one on one practice. I’m honestly not sure if we ever played one on one, but we definitely had some great battles in practice during scrimmages and other live segments of practice.
Who is the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Kelan Martin, Eugene German (China)
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Jaren Jackson Jr., CJ Wilcher, Trevon Bluiett, Dalan Ancrum, Justin Roberts
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Stephen Curry
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
Kobe Bryant is better than both, but if I have to choose, Jordan
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming to America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I agree. I was not a huge fan of the second movie
Thanks Kobe for the chat