Henry Van Herk Had To Learn To Become Selfish To Be Able To Make The Next Step At Queens

Henry Van Herk (6’9”-C-1998, college: Queen’s) is a 206cm Canadian forward that played his rookie season in Germany with Pro B team Iserlohn averaging 9.4ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.0apg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3FGP: 30.0%, FT: 85.7%, in Nov.’22 moved to BG 2000 Berlin (Germany-Regionalliga) averaging 10.3ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, and in Jan.’23 signed at Gzira Athleta Birkirkara (Malta-BOV League D1. He played in Canada at Queens (U-Sports) In his senior year he averaged 8.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 86.4%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.

Thanks Henry for talking to germanhoops.com. You began your professional career with German Pro B team Iserlohn. You began following them in 2020 when your ex teammate Tanner Graham played there. What do you believe is the most important thing that you know about the organization?

Thank you, I’m very excited for this next step in my career! I think the most important thing I know about the Kangaroos since following them in 2020 is that they have a team first mentality. Tanner has said great things about how close knit the guys and the coaching staff are, and watching the live streams of the games have shown how much they treat each other like family. I also think this idea comes across really well in their branding too, with the ‘win as one’, ‘love as one’, ‘care as one’, ‘cheer as one’, and ‘fight as one’ seen on their t-shirts.

What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Do you know that currently there are 6 players in the NBA from Germany

The first thing that comes to mind is Dirk. Also, having followed ProA and ProB for a few years now I can also say that Germany has great basketball fans. It’s nice to see how packed the gyms can get and how enthusiastic the crowds are! I knew that Moe and Franz Wagner along with Dennis Schroeder were Germans currently playing in the NBA, but I was unaware of the others.

When did the first contact come to Iserlohn and was this your first option from the start?

My first contact with Iserlohn was in June when I first talked with head coach Dennis Shirvan. Having known the team through Tanner, this was definitely my first option, so I’m super happy that I was able to sign with them.

How were the talks with head coach Dennis Shirvan? What was your first impression and what stood out about his basketball philosophy?

The talks with Dennis were great. He’s extremely genuine, and seems like a real player’s coach. I’m excited to hear that he’s looking to push the ball more in transition this season, and I can’t wait to see what else he has planned for the team.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 206cm forward that can fill up the stat sheet. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

I like to think that I’m comparable to Nikola Vuevi. He runs the floor, plays well out of the pick and roll, can step out and hit the three, has a great set of post moves, and makes the occasional highlight pass.

You can score and rebound the ball well. What other strengths does your game incorporate?

I would say that outside of scoring and rebounding that I can make some great passes, and also run the floor well for my size. However, my former teammates would say that I’m maybe the best player when it comes to intercepting passes with kickballs, which I have my soccer skills from childhood to thank for.

You don’t put up so many three’s, but have upped your amount in the last years. How much of a priority is it for you to continue to get your three more involved?

I think these past few seasons have shown that I’m a capable three point shooter, and while it might not be something that I am actively looking for in my offense, it’s a great option to go to if in a game I’m not having much success in the paint.

Your also a very good defender. Would it be fair to say that your defense has been a bit off the radar? What kind of defensive player are you now and what kind do you want to become?

I think that’s fair, it can be hard to judge on paper how many shots you contest that make your opponent miss, or how well you can guard a ball screen, so in that sense I don’t think my defensive ability is something that many people see initially. At the moment I think I’m a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions, and I want to become someone who’s able to guard 1 through 5.

On what area’s of your game are you working on most as you continue to improve your game and move up the basketball ladder?

I’m working on becoming a knock down shooter from the three point line, and beating defenders off the dribble from the perimeter.

You played at Queens (CIS) from 2016-2022. Was reaching the OUA final in 2022 your biggest achievement there?

I think getting to go to nationals in 2022 was my biggest achievement there. We finished fourth in our first-ever appearance at a national championship, and it was a great way to finish off the most successful year in Queen’s Men’s Basketball history.

You hardly played your first 2 seasons and missed many more games after that. You played only 41 minutes in your first 2 seasons. How did this effect you mentally?

It was definitely tough mentally. Practicing everyday, sometimes multiple times with lifts and individual sessions, on top of watching game film, to only get in at the last few minutes of a game if at all, was really difficult. Once I was able to focus on just trusting the process, and that eventually my time would come, I was able to really break through and earn my sport on the court.

Despite all the games missed, you made another step as a senior averaging 8/5 stats. How did your game grow in your time at Queens?

As mean as it sounds, over my time at Queen’s I had to learn to be more selfish. I would often pass up open shots to try and get someone else a better shot, and it was hurting the team more than I thought. Once I started looking to create my own offensive opportunities, I began to have more games with 14, 15, or 16 points, instead of the usual 4 or 5, and it forced teams to have to worry about more than our primary scorers, getting them more open looks in the process.

You had many great games at Queens like your 17/12 game against Nipissing. What was your most memorable game at Queens?

My most memorable game at Queen’s is when we beat the Carlton Ravens this past season to make it to the OUA finals, and earn a spot at nationals. In my five years, I had never beaten them before, and earlier that season we had lost twice to them, 86-46, and 94-75. Walking into that game, no one expected us to win, they were undefeated that season and have won 16 of the last 19 national championships. It was a close game, finishing 86-80, but finally being able to beat them, and celebrate with my teammates, coaches, and friends is definitely my most memorable game at Queen’s.

Tanner Graham said this about Steph Barrie. ‘Steph was an amazing coach over my career at Queen’s and he will continue to be a role model in my life as I move forward. I owe a lot of my development as a player to Steph. I started my career at Queen’s strictly as a shooter. Steph was able to mentor and motivate me to expand my game into a well-rounded player. He also worked with me on my mental state while playing which may have been just as important as the skill development. Without Steph I don’t think I’d be in the position I am as a basketball player. However, more importantly than my development as a basketball player, Steph fostered my development as a man. Throughout my career Steph always used basketball to teach life lessons such as being grateful and the importance of GRIT in achieving your goals. Steph was not only vital in preparing me for a professional basketball career, he was vital in preparing me for everything as these lessons are applicable to all aspects of life. These aspects of Steph’s mentoring are more important to me than my development as a basketball player only’. How did head coach Steph Barrie groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

The best thing Steph Barrie did to prepare me for a professional career is to help me with my basketball IQ. Before playing at university, I didn’t have much experience playing with very skilled teams. I had so much to learn in terms of just basketball fundamentals, such as proper ball screen coverages, how to properly close out on a shooter depending on where they are on the court, but also higher IQ concepts like different reads for pick and rolls based on your defender and your teammates defender. I really struggled with learning all the various different offensive sets and sideline and baseline inbounds, but Steph was able to really help me through the extensive amount of film we would do as a team, and in individual sessions before practice on the court so I could walk through the plays. Over the course of my 6 years at Queen’s, Steph was able to help me go from someone who couldn’t run a simple action at the 5, to now being able to learn new sets with ease, and also be able to know where everyone on the court, 1 through 5, should go. Thanks to him, I believe I will be able to transition well into the mental aspect of my career as a professional.

Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Connor Keefe?

I think a lot of people in the CIS would agree that Connor Keefe is one of the last guys you want guarding you. If we played 1-1 from the post, I would give it to Connor, he is a tremendous post player, but if we played from the three point line I would take it. If he develops a three point shot for the upcoming season teams are going to have a tough time trying to stop him.

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

The only player I can think of that reached the NBA is RJ Barrett. I had the opportunity to play against him at a team Ontario tryout when I was in high school. He was playing two years up and still scoring with ease. Really made my practice squad struggle, having to try and double or even triple team him at times.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-Time?

My 5 best teammates of all time are Landon Brickenden, Jacob Yager, Quinton Gray, and Jesse and Tanner Graham. Some of these guys were the first people I met at university, and all have become some of my closest friends. I’ve learned so much about the game of basketball from playing with my older teammates Jesse and Tanner, and shared a great four seasons with Landon, and five seasons with Jacob and Quinton. From supporting each other during tough practices or workouts, to being able to celebrate our accomplishments at provincials and nationals, these are truly the greatest teammates I could ask for.

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

Present heads, Luka Doni, Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam, and Nikola Joki.

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?

Definitely Jordan. What sways my decision is that Jordan is 6-0 in NBA finals, without needing a game seven to win any of his rings, while LeBron is 4-6, one of which being the NBA bubble, and two of which required a game seven

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

I never saw the sequel, but looking at the IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes reviews I’m not missing out on much, it definitely should have been left as just the original.

Thanks Henry for the chat.


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