Sometimes expectations of a player can be so massive especially when they begin to talk about themselves. Ego’s are everywhere and not only in the NBA. That Dirty Harry aka Clint Eastwood was very confident in his abilities was a given, but supposedly also captain Briggs played by versatile actor Bradford Dillman liked talking about himself as Eastwood calls him a legend in his own mind. But let me stick to basketball players. That NBA players have ego’s is a common thing and the higher you go on up the totem pole to the greatest of all-time the more inflated Ego’s go. Back in 2012 Bleacher report came up with a list of the most egotistical NBA players of all-time and I was surprised to see which guys were named at both ends of the list. First of all at #10 Shaq who I would of thought would be near the top of the list while at #1 was the great Rick Barry. As a kid in 1980, the only thing I can remember about him was being an almost flawless free throw shooter. Other guys on that list are legends like Jordan, Lebron, Wilt and Oscar Robertson. It is no secret that NBA players in general think very highly of themselves. It is simply a component that is needed for them to be successful on the court. But it isn’t only NBA players, but also guys who never made the NBA. It is often even those guys with chips larger than Mount Everest that think the world of themselves simply because they have been doubted their whole careers. Guys that did well in the NCAA and have to begin in some town in Germany with a meager population of 15,000 that play in the third or the fourth division. There have been many guys I have covered over the years that never had an ego problem. One guy that comes to mind is ex St Johns forward Ron Mvouika who played for the legendary Chris Mullin. This dude had a lot of talent, but never reached high levels in Europe. I can remember him telling me this in an interview. ‘A lot of people see some Paul George in my game. I take it as a compliment since he is one of my favorite players in the game actually but there are similarities in my game and his game. I don’t jump as high as him though and can’t absolutely not dunk the ball the way he does but outside of that, we have similarities. I probably pass the ball better than him though so Paul if you ever read this interview one day, know that’, said Ron Mvouika. Another guy who has sprouted big words has been rookie Isiah Small (202-SF-1998, college: Texas St.), but he even went a step further in mentioning an even more greater NBA player and a guy who is stated often in NBA Mount Rushmores With Magic Johnson. ‘My passing ability is way better than Magic Johnson, I believe I’m one of the best passers in the world The type of defender I am now is one of a kind, probably one of the best one on one defenders out in Europe & over the next years during my professional career I want to be known as one but yet the best defender that came across Europe’, warned Isiah Small who never saw the classic movie Coming To America.. Those are some gigantic words, but so far he has had a very potent rookie season in Germany with Pro B team Lok Bernau. It was only common that my expectations were huge when I saw Isiah Small play for first time in Rhondorf. He finished the game with 14 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block. I didn’t see the total Magic Johnson passing package, but he did unleash one no look pass that was sweet. I was very impressed by his versatile play as he made a big impact for his team at both ends of the floor.
Isiah Small who lists Quentin Grimes of the New York Knicks as his toughest cover in school was born on September 15th, 1998 in Jersey City, New Jersey and attended Henry Snyder High School. He then had to pay his dues and played at Seward County Community college and showed there what consistency is all about averaging 14.8ppg, 6.9rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 59.2%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 61.0% as a freshman and 15.0ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.2apg, 1.3spg, 1.8bpg, FGP: 62.5%, 3PT: 23.7%, FT: 56.7%in his second season. JUCO is for most guys a blessing in disguise, because it can be a torture for some, a roller coaster ride for others or a brutal time, but after it, players will never argue that is was a bad experience despite the growing pains. ‘For me it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. Because one that was my only offer and school that I had, they took a chance on me and I ran with it and never looked back. Basketball made the journey more fun because juco is a struggle mentally and physically even emotionally, you’ll go nights without eating or barely eating but with the teammates I had, we made sure we found a way that we all eat, being all alone away from your family sleepless nights. If you made it out of JUCO you’ll make it through anything in life! LITERALLY’, warned Isiah Small. He was an instrumental factor in helping the school reach the Sweet 16 and they definitely could have gone further had certain factors gone their way. ‘Nevertheless if we were fully healthy I truly believed that we would’ve won that whole thing, throughout the whole year we knew that we would be in that position but in our heads the outcome was different from what happened. I would never forget just being down at halftime and we all looking at each other knowing we were not at our full best but we didn’t come this far to lose by so much, so just try not to look at the clock and just cut each run short. From the start we weren’t playing at our best but in the second half we gave it all we got even though we lost, we created a bond that’s gone land will last forever, and how I went viral from stealing the ball off an inbound play and dunking on dude man. That was the best part of the game’, remembered Isiah Small. He then transferred to Texas State at San Marcos and played 3 years there playing a total of 84 NCAA games. In his last 2 years he averaged 10.9ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 58.8%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 70.7% and as a senior 10.8ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 70.0% Despite putting up consistent stats in his last 2 years, he remembered his stay there as an up and down period. ‘My three years playing at Texas Sate, each year was a learning process for myself and my game, from my first year was just learning and trying to see where I can fit in at and try not to do much because we had one of the best players in the sunbelt with Nijal Pearson, everything ran through him. So I just stood back and watched the type of player he became and tried to install that into my second year, where things were kind of tricky and tough because of the coaching change, but we figured things out. I believe that was my breakout year & my final year was probably my toughest year, because everything just felt like things were falling apart, I wasn’t myself anymore, dealing with school, basketball and my mental health. I just had a love and hate relationship with myself and basketball that year but overall we won back to back conferences and went to the NIT. I believe each year put me in a position to understand that there’s different ways to develop your game, from watching and studying film, never losing confidence in yourself and just staying consistent and being fully committed’, stressed Isiah Small. He scored in double figures in 35 of 84 games including 24 points against La-Lafayette and 21 points against UT Arlington. Head coach Terrence Johnson played an important role for him becoming the player that he is today. ‘He prepared me to be mentally tough for any obstacle that can be thrown my way, from being on me every day in practice, not caring if I had a great or terrible game, he wouldn’t let me get too high or low. He always stayed consistent with being who he is and installed that confidence and consistency will get you through everything in life. He knew the type of player that I can be, always told me to turn the corner. He installed quotes in my head that I’ll never forget, but most importantly he made me embrace everything that’s difficult and not run from it. The things he used to say to me, I pass it along to my teammates and keep it with me forever’, warned Isiah Small who beat teammate Nighael Ceasar on a regular basis at 1-1 in practice.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Isiah Small in Rhondorf, Germany after he dropped 14/8/4/2/1stats in a 77-69 win with his team Lok Bernau
The New Jersey native who lists Devin Bentley, Reggie Miller, Caleb Asberry, Nighael Ceasar and Tyrique Gordon as his 5 best teammates of all-time began his rookie season in Germany with Pro B team Lok Bernau that is also the farm team of Euroleague team Alba Berlin. One thing definitely hasn’t changed for him coming from Texas where eating steak belongs to the norm is that the food overseas and game continues to tickle his fancy. ‘The coolest thing about this experience on the court is that I get to play with lots of freedom and off the court experience is just enjoying my time being across the water. Eating different kinds of foods and visiting different restaurants’, expressed Isiah Small. He is playing on a very young squad that has some of Germany’s biggest talents with guys like Ellias Rapique, Rikus Schulte and Nils Machowski. He doesn’t take the opportunity for granted being able to challenge himself every day with highly talented guys. ‘ I just cherish everyday as a blessings to be a part of this program and just try my best to turn it around. I would say I have profited most becoming more of a vocal leader’, warned Isiah Small. It isn’t always easy for guys coming from the NCAA to get adjusted to European ball, but so far the American has shown that he can adapt quickly averaging 16,6ppg, 7,2rpg, 1,8apg and 1,3spg. Having had that NCAA experience also has helped the Swiss Army knife get the respect form the young Germans. ‘The skill level overall is completely different from playing with German’s & NCAA players. NCAA players are more one on one style of play and with Lok Bernau Germans are more team playing style. I believe that overall they all accepted the type of person I am. I won’t say role model but some players had questioned on what was college basketball like and the atmosphere’, warned Isiah Small. The 203cm forward who compares his game to NBA player Jerami Grant is a player that is flashy and that can do so much. He is sneaky, but at times also position-less, can hit the three, create for others and play great defense. ‘Put me on the court and no matter what position it is, I will find a way to make nothing turn into something’, warned Isiah Small. Even if he has a very healthy self-confidence, he is realistic enough to know that he still needs more work to do to get better. ‘I believe I’m still trying to adjust to overseas basketball, just with the footwork and pace being so different, I still don’t believe I’m playing to my best ability just yet. But once everything clicks it’s going to get scary, but my secret is telling myself everyday that I belong and to never take this opportunity for granted’, warned Isiah Small who has Kobe, Jordan, Lebron and Kevin Durant on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore. It will be interesting to watch where his journey will continue to go. He definitely has the skill level to compete against higher level players at higher levels. But the physicality gets even tougher the higher you go, so getting stronger should be a focus of his in the years to come. I definitely will be on the watch for some future fancy Magic like passes. But one thing I don’t understand is how you put a Kevin Durant over Magic Johnson on the NBA Mount Rushmore?.
Tags : ISIAH SMALL, SSV LOKOMOTIVE BERNAU, GERMAN BASKETBALL