It’s hard to believe how time flies as it seems like Covid occurred yesterday, but in reality it’s been almost 3 years while remembering the world wide craze of Linsanity is already more than 10 years ago. Who can forget a 191 cm Taiwanese-American come on the scene in 2012 with the New York Knicks and turn a struggling team into a winning team as he led them instantly on a 7 game winning streak and into the playoffs. That incredible run led to the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time and one can say the rest is history. After being doubted in high school, he went from Harvard to being an NBA champion in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors and along the way always put up consistent stats in the NBA. In the last years he has made a few more big bucks in China for his retirement life. Imagine what it is like for a guy who played in the NCAA 2 to come into the G-League and have a guy like Jeremy Linn as a teammate. 10 years ago one saw many more older guys in the G-League, but in 2022, the NBA has gotten so young and older guys are dying out. In his rookie season American Selom Mawugbe (208-C-1998, college: Azusa Pacific) had the privilege to play 11 G-League games with the first Asian American to ever win a NBA championship Jeremy Lin. It is only logical that Jeremy Lin was number #1 on his list of most influential guys he played with in the G-League. ‘Santa Cruz is a great organization along with Golden state also so I was able to make quite a few meaningful relationships while there. While in the bubble Jeremy Lin really helped me understand how to be a better pro with how to approach different things and forms of adversity. Shared a couple dinners and got to chop it up quite a bit so very grateful for that. Also Jordan Bell my second season. We played the same position and yet he still was always very encouraging and helpful in terms of advice and pointers. I wish we got to share the court more in Santa Cruz. We played in the Drew league together last season and very few teams could hang with us’, remembered Selom Mawugbe.
Selom Mawugbe who lists Montrezl Harrell as the toughest player that he has ever faced was born on July 20, 1998 in Lancaster, California. His parents are from Ghana and moved to Santa Clarita, California when he was 8 years old. He grew up playing soccer and first began to play basketball at age 14 at Canyon high school. He attended Azusa Pacific University (NCAA2) and studied biochemistry. He wasn’t much of an offensive player in his first two NCAA 2 seasons as he averaged 1.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.5bpg as a freshman and 6.0ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.8bpg, FGP: 62.6%, FT: 63.3% as a sophomore, but he quickly made a name for himself displaying his defensive abilities. He already swiped away 40 shots as a freshman and set a school block average in his second season blocking almost 3 balls per contest. That season he finished 5th in blocks in the nation with 89. Here and there he showed signs of breaking through with his offense as he hit Fresno Pacific with 15 points while staying true to his defensive colors blocking 4 shots and getting 3 steals. That season he had a wild triple double of 10 points, 13 boards and 11 blocks in a tough loss to Chaminade? ‘I truly forgot about that stat line but, I’ll always remember the losing aspect. While definitely something cool to achieve, I play to win’, stated Selom Mawugbe. He continued to grow as a defender as in his junior year he made another step leading the Pac West again in blocks with 107 and finished second in the nation with 3,45 per game. He was named Pac West defender of the year and also made another step in his offensive game averaging 11.8ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.0spg, 3.5bpg, FGP: 63.1%, FT: 66.1%.He hit the Academy of Art for 25 points and Hawaii-Hilo for 21 points. Everything came together on the court his senior year as he exploded as a player averaging 16.9ppg, 10.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, 3.1bpg, FGP: 71.8%, FT: 69.8%. He led the nation in shooting percentage and was second in blocks with 3,1 per game. As a result of his excellent performance, he was named Pac West player of the year. ‘I think my game grew very well there. It’s a testament to work ethic and coaches who enjoy helping to aid players in what they need to be successful and improve. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Lots of individual film sessions and court work’, remembered Selom Mawugbe. He scored in double figures of 28 of 29 games and registered 16 double doubles. He had monster games against Dominican with 22 points and 18 boards and hit Biola with 20 points and 19 boards. He could never have achieved his success in the NCAA 2 without the guidance of 2 special men. ‘Coaches Peter Bond and Justin Leslie helped me improve being able to contest and change shots without fouling as well as my overall offensive acumen. Like I said before lots of extra reps, film and honest communication between us helped me get there. I think they still might say I passed too much when I got it in the post’, remembered Selom Mawugbe who will never forget one of his best friends teammate Gerrit Beetsra who he beat at 1-1 games but will always remember him as a phenomenal shooter and a great person also.
The California native who has Kobe, MJ, Shaq, and Lebron on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore began his professional basketball career in 2020 with the Santa Cruz Warriors (NBA G League) playing 13 games and averaging 5.1ppg, 4.3rpg, Blocks-3 (2.5bpg), FGP-1 (83.3%), FT: 50.0%. Usually guys will have a wake up call when they go from school to the G-League, but he had already experienced so much in his young career that he could deal with anything that was thrown his way. ‘I have had the benefit of getting to play against NBA players and NBA talent since I was in college both through the Drew league but also open runs. While admittedly those arenas are different than the more organized and tactic basketball in the association and even overseas it allowed me to have those experiences of ooo and awe early so by the time I was in the G it was regular. I knew I could hang with these guys and help my team win so it was just about being ready for my opportunity and making the most of the time I got’, commented Selom Mawugbe. He scored 12 points against Erie and 10 points against Austin. In his second season in the G-League with Santa Cruz, he averaged 6.8ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.7bpg, FGP: 65.4%, FT: 60.9%. Despite coming onto the scene, he was able to adjust well to the Covid drama and was simply well prepared having seen it already prior to being a professional. ‘I’ll say total of 3 seasons because my senior year in college was stopped short due to covid. Before stoppage my college team was ranked 6th in the nation and preparing to start playoff tournament play. My first two pro seasons were a unique experience but I was mostly just grateful to be able to play in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Swab tests and quarantine are two things I’ll never forget that will always connect me to covid. The swab tests that go 6 inches into your nose never got easier and the quarantine was challenging mentally’, expressed Selom Mawugbe. In this time, he also played NBA Summer League with the Golden State Warriors in 2021 and 2022 and hardly played a role, but in 2021 was the second best shot blocker. Sometimes special players get a NBA shot just being able to do one thing really well. He knows what is missing for him to get a shot one day. ‘I think in the past it was simply a matter of timing and health. I was injured our second to last game in the G league bubble and then I was injured again in the middle of the season my second year in the G. The best ability is availability. Consistent rebounding, defending without fouling and better overall shooting ability are things I think will get me there’, warned Selom Mawugbe. In his second G-League season he had some fine games against South Bay having 19 points, 17 points against Birmingham and hit Salt Lake City and Agua Caliente with 14 points a piece. He also remembered what was the best example for him why the NBA will always be a business first before anything else. ‘The player addition and waiving process was the best example of that. When the team isn’t doing what we need to in terms of wins then something usually changes and that’s the nature of the business’, added Selom Mawugbe.
The Shot block monster who likes the J’s as first names in his top 5 favorite teammates of all-time with Jeremy Lin, Jordan Poole, Jordan Bell, Jerome Robinson, and Jeff Dowtin made the trek overseas this season and is playing with new easyCredit BBL team Rostock SeaWolves and embracing the new experience. A very important aspect for being a professional player for him is also taking full advantage to the off court life. ‘It’s been a fun experience and also challenging. Every season has its share of ups and downs and so my constant challenge to myself is to learn from them and improve. I have cherished most getting to form new relationships with my teammates and getting to know them more on a personal level.’ Said Selom Mawugbe. He also has seen firsthand what kind of an incredible atmosphere there is the Stadthalle. There is a reason why their fans belong to the most passionate in the league. ‘The passion and excitement from the fans is definitely something that I appreciate and makes the experience that much more fun. I’ve played in big arenas and packed out stadiums before but the amazing thing is in Germany the gym could be half filled and you wouldn’t be able to audibly tell a difference between sold out because they are so loud and engaged’, stressed Selom Mawugbe. There was instant excitement in the season as the team surprised everyone with a lightening 4 -0 start, but then lost 5 games in a row and came back down to earth. They finally halted the losing streak with a massive win against Eurocup team Hamburg and win in Crailsheim. It would be unfair to say that their winning streak was a fluke. ‘The team and I really don’t pay attention to what people say about us or what their opinion is because it typically serves as a distraction. We know the level of effort, competitiveness and preparation we bring to every practice and game. We know the players we have and what we are capable of. Our goal is to perform that capability and be consistent in how we approach the game while striving to be better every day. When we do that, we’ll look back and be happy with the results of our season looking back’, warned Selom Mawugbe. He has high level American teammates on the squad like Tyler Nelson who hit the shot of the century last season helping the team move up to the BBL, or other talented guards like Jordan Roland and Jequan Lewis or forward Nijal Pearson, but one guy who he has a very special relationship with is inspiring NBA player want to be Derrick Alston who he played against in the G-League and was teammates with in the NBA Summer League. ‘It’s always great to play with high level players and DA is undoubtedly one of them. We have quite a few on our team I must say. I think the biggest thing about DA and I is we both understand the G league struggle in a sense, sometimes having to fight for reps and looks on the court and just other aspects that can make it difficult. Similarly we both made the choice to head overseas not giving up on NBA hoop aspirations but simply a different approach to progress in our game’s and career. He’s a player who shoot’s extremely well while also having the ability to create his own shot and get to the rack or get great looks in the midrange’, said Selom Mawugbe. Not to forget the ultimate teammate Chris Carter who recently acquired the German citizenship and is one of the few guys in Germany that has the distinction of having help lead 3 different organizations from the Pro A to easyCredit BBL. He was huge in helping him adjust to overseas ball. ‘It’s something that truly is invaluable and makes players like that extremely important for the success and cohesiveness of the team. He’s a genuine and stand up guy who always offers help and has your back. He’s been a pro in Germany for many years and has a lot of experience he’s willing to share. I as well as the other guys are very grateful to have him here’, added Selom Mawugbe.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Selom Mawugbe in Frankfurt, Germany on December 26th, 2022
The ex NCAA 2 player who doesn’t take sides in the famous who’s the goat between Jordan and Lebron compares his game to NBA player Clint Capela. Shot blocking is obviously a massive strength, but he has other facets to his game. ‘I think my work ethic is my biggest strength, and something I try my best to model after Kobe. Every time I step on the court I compete and play hard. It may not always show on the stats but the film doesn’t lie. I also think I’m a great teammate and I strive to be a better one everyday’, stressed Selom Mawugbe. Currently he is averaging 8,8ppg and 6,5rpg while shooting a potent 74% from the field and is leading the league in blocks with 1,9. The question now is what does he still need to do to become a top notch defender overseas in higher leagues? ‘I need to be able to decrease my fouling. It sometimes limits my aggressiveness and also defensive strategies but I think that is the main thing I can improve on’, stated Selom Mawugbe. But he is also working on other area’s of his game to become even more versatile. ‘Shooting is something I’m always working on. This year I haven’t been shooting well at the free throw line so that’s my immediate priority. But being able to stretch the floor and keep defenders honest is something that will always be incredibly valuable as well as being able to handle the rock in driving situations whether for my own buckets or to force a rotation and get someone open’, warned Selom Mawugbe. His senior year is always on his mind because he put up huge stats of 16/10. He hasn’t reached that plateau since playing at Azusa. The question now is who will give him that chance to be that ultimate work horse? ‘I’m very confident I can produce stats similar in a high league as a professional. It’s largely a matter of continuing to work on and improve my game while also being in the right situation. A coach that trusts you and places and emphasis on what you being to the table and the need to use that’, stressed Selom Mawugbe. It will be interesting to see where his game will take him in the next years as well as that of Derrick Alston. Both guys are great players and have immaculate characters. Who knows maybe one will see them back in the States one day, but not in the G-League, but a step above. One thing is for sure, if that ever happens, there will be no one more proud of him then his number one J on his all-time favorite teammates of all-time list with Jeremy Lin.