James Fleming´s Work Ethic Staying Level Headed And Being A Good Person Helped Him Get The Uni Baskets Job Something His Resume Wouldn´t Have

James Fleming (185-G-1991, college: FHSU) is a 31 year old 185cm guard playing his fourth professional season and first in Germany with pro A team Uni Baskets Paderborn averaging 9,4ppg, 2,0rpg and 1,3apg. He has previous professional experience in Italy, Luxemburg and Georgia. He began his basketball career with Fort Scott Community College (JUCO) and then played his last 2 years with Fort Hays State University (NCAA2) avergaing 9.6ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 38.8%, 3PT: 34.1% and as a senior averaged 10.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 44.0%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 82.9%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.

Thanks James for talking to germanhoops.com. Congrats on signing with German pro A team Uni Baskets. How blessed are to be able to continue your pro career considering this will only be your 4th season in a possible 8 since you finished school?

Thank you for the congrats. Yes I’m truly blessed to be in this situation. It’s something I would’ve never thought was possible having the resume that I had coming into this situation and considering I had a gap year.

How tough has your career been for you? Have you ever lost faith in the process and what honestly has kept you going?

My career has been pretty tough to say the least. My only thing is I didn’t quit. I give huge praise to God and also my family. I’ve lost faith at times it was hard. What’s kept me going is God. I needed to grow as a person to truly appreciate the small things before he would bless me with something bigger. I needed those hard times. That’s what’s molded me into who I am today. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time. But I knew that my work ethic and me being able to stay level headed and being a good person can in most cases get me into situations that my resume probably wouldn’t. I credit my character during these times. My younger brothers have been huge for my mentality as well as my fiance. On my bad days I know I can count on them to uplift me and give me that confidence to keep pushing forward.

What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you had any guys that you have known play here?

I don’t know much about the country itself but I’m looking forward to the experience on and off the floor. And yes I know Chavares Flannigan who just played for Paderborn who now plays for Vechta. Kendale I always knew of him because we all live in the same area.

The German Pro A is the strongest league that you will have played in. How confident are you that you will pass the test and be an impact player?

I’m very confident. I know in most cases by judging my resume I’m not supposed to be here in this situation so that’s what will keep me going and will keep me motivated all season long. I believe I deserved this opportunity a while ago but you can’t rush God’s timing. I’m where I need to be at this moment in time and I’m grateful.

Top easyCredit BBl player Kendale McCullum gave you the thumbs up to coach Steven Esterkamp. What ties do you have to him? Have you played against him before?

Kendale is a great guy. We actually met for the first time in person going to an open gym together. Ties I have with him are through Chavares Flannigan because they played college together at Wisconsin Parkside before Kendale left to play for Lewis university. Yes in open gym we’ve played against each other we have respect for one another and I believe that played a huge part in coach Esterkamp’s decision to bring me in.

Steven Esterkamp must have been a big reason why you chose to play for the Uni Baskets. What impressed you mot about his basketball philosophy?

I like coach Esterkamp. He’s very honest and straightforward. Also, From what I’m hearing he’s great at developing guys. Not only in his system but also for guys to reach higher levels.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 185cm guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

Well from most guys that I play against they say I’m a combination of Damian Lillard and Lou Williams. So I’ll roll with that

The Uni Baskets love your leadership qualities. How big of a strength is this of yours?

This is a huge strength of mine because the places I’ve been my coach has always looked for me to lead in the locker room. Since I have a history of being one of older guys most guys usually gravitate towards me. I always have positive energy and I’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout my career so this is something I can bring to Paderborn to lead us to victories. As well as ups and downs throughout a season.

You can score the ball with ease but what other strengths does your game incorporate?

My leadership for sure. The ability to distribute the basketball as well as defense.

How developed is your playmaking and defense. What kind of player are you with these abilities and what type of player do you still want to become?

I would say my playmaking is pretty developed basically by playing a lot of basketball and training learning to make quicker reads in certain scenarios. My defense has improved since Georgia and I will look to pay more attention to my defense in Germany. I want to be the best I can be and reach the highest level possible.

You played last season with BC Zestaponi 2020 (Georgia-A League) averaging 16.2ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 29.1%, FT: 81.0%. How tough was losing that playoff series to Kavkasia where in one game you scored 39 points in a tough 84-81 loss. Was that one of your toughest loses in your career?

Yes that was the toughest loss of my career by far. We had that game and just lost control in the final seconds.

In 2017 you played with Black Star Mersch (Luxembourg-Nationale 2) averaging 23.4ppg, 9rpg, 3.4apg. You made a name for yourself. What kind of experience was it playing in Luxemburg?

The experience in Luxembourg was ok. The living was good. On the court was a bit tough at times because of wins and losses.

Often guys make the next step in Luxemburg. What happened after that? Did you have failed representation?

Yes I had failed representation. But I will also admit I wasn’t very mature in those years. Because Luxembourg was a rich country I felt that at this point I had arrived as a player so I wasn’t going to play for less money. When in some situations you may have to take a pay cut to get ahead in the business. And I learned that later on in my career. I didn’t have a mentor to teach me these things it was all trial and error.

Between 2017-2021, I saw nothing on your eurobasket profile. Did you not play in this time? Did you get a normal 9-5 job and how tough was this time not playing?

During this time I still played but I played over the summer in China and did tours to stay in shape. Yes I had a 9-5. I would set my alarm to 5:30 am. Would get to the gym at 6:30. And I would do this every morning and I would have to be at work at 9:45 am. After work I would go back to the gym and do it again. It was super tough not playing but like I stated above I was looking at money and not focused on the opportunity itself. Sometimes taking a pay cut can work out because you can be in a better league. You play good in that league you can move into a better league for double or triple the amount that you played for in the previous year. So it was hard but I wasn’t the best mentally because I had no mentor to tell me how it all works and the outcome that could possibly happen.

You played your rookie season with Rutigliano (Italy-Serie D) leading the league ins coring with 28.3ppg. What do you remember being your wake up call to being overseas where you knew that you were far away from home?

Italy was awesome. I loved it there despite the level. The love was unconditional there which is what I was used too back at home. But I would say when the WiFi went out and I lost my game in Madden I knew from that point on I wasn’t at home haha.

You began your basketball career at Fort Scott Community College (JUCO). Every guy I have interviewed that played JUCO have said it was a very tough experience but one that was so important for their career. How was it for you?

JUCO gave me that killer mentality. That’s grown men basketball. I trained my hardest during that time because every night you can be playing against a top player especially in the Jayhawk conference and it’s a battle. So you always wanted to play your best and most importantly win.

You then played at Fort Hays State University (NCAA2) from 2013-2015 averaging 9.6ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 38.8%, 3PT: 34.1% and 10.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 44.0%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 82.9%. How do you feel did your game grow in the 2 years there?

Fort Hays I would say I really improved my 3 point shot. I’m not sure if the style has changed there since I left but I remember mostly If guys couldn’t shoot that well they wouldn’t fit well into coach Johnson system so me improving my shooting was crucial in that time.

How did head coach Mark Johnson groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

Coach Johnson prepared me. But I would say my junior college coach Michael Cook has played a huge role in developing me as a player and as a person.

Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Achoki Moikobu?

Haha Me of course. I love Coach AC. He’s doing a tremendous job coaching and moving around. We still speak from time to time. Great guy.

Who was the toughest player that you ever battled on the court that reached the NBA?

The toughest player I would say is Frank Kaminsky. He played at Benet HS and we lost to them my senior year in high school. He was super dominant.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Josh Fleming- my brother (HS teammate). Donnell Cegers- teammate in Georgia. Duane Johnson teammate in Luxembourg. Vytautas Kamarunas- Georgia teammate. JJ Mina Italy teammate.

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Steph Curry

Bill Russell recently passed away. He won 11 NBA titles in 13 years. Why isn’t this guy the GOAT

Yes man that was terrible news. RIP to Bill Russell. Definitely an icon. But I didn’t really see him play. I grew up on most of the guys listed above.

Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming to America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?

And no I haven’t checked it out yet. That’s one thing I plan on doing in Germany is stepping up my movie game haha.

Thanks James for the chat.


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