Isaiah Crawley (201-PF-98, college: Georgia South) is a 22 year old 201cm forward from Ripley, Tennessee that is playing his rookie season with the Tigers Tuebingen (Germany-ProA) currently averaging 16,9ppg, 5,2rpg and 2,3apg. He has scored in double figures in 13 games including 31 points against Ehingen and 29 points against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He began his basketball career at Ripley High School. He played at Columbia State Community College (JUCO) from 2016-2018 and then moved to Georgia Southern University (NCAA) averaging 11.6ppg, 5.5rpg, FGP: 63.5%, 3PT: 28.3%, FT: 61.7% as a junior and as a senior averaged 13.2ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 61.8%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 67.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Thanks Isaiah for talking to germanhoops.com. How have you experienced the whole COVID-19 crisis in the last year? You played your last NCAA game on March 11th against Georgia State with a massive win and 15/16 explosion. How tough was it ending your season like that never finding a winner in the Sun Belt tournament and was that game in your thoughts a lot this summer as it was your last?
I’ve been just trying to keep my mindset on the bigger picture really. That game definitely had an impact on us all because we were on a roll and really clicking. It is what it is though
How much did the last months change your life and how much of a challenge was it finding the time and places to be able to stay in shape and be able to work on your game?
I really focused on my diet during the pandemic and basketball wise I didn’t have a gym until the last few weeks before I left to get here so I was using the time to run and stay in shape that way.
How do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man?
Maybe not physically but definitely mentally. Knowing that I didn’t have anywhere to play ball at was tough but I got through it. Everything was just at a stand still for a while which was mind blowing
Congrats on signing with German Pro A club Tigers Tuebingen. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?
I didn’t know much. I looked up a couple of the players and googled the place and I really liked it.
Do you remember hearing any stories at Georgia Southern about Julius Jenkins who played at your school in the early 2000’s? He was a legend in the German BBL league.
No sir. I’ve never heard of him.
Have you had any friends, ex teammates or ex opponents play in Germany?
No sir. Couple of teammates that played elsewhere
What was your first impression of head coach Danny Jansson? What really impressed you most about him in talks?
He was a cool guy and really understood what he wanted from me and what kind of team he wanted this year and that caught my attention
The Tigers Tuebingen are really impressed with your abilities. What was the deciding factor that influenced you most to joining the Tigers?
Mainly because it was a good offer and I felt like I didn’t need to turn it down
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a very versatile forward that can really do it all. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I would say Michael Beasley or Blake Griffin
You like many players that go overseas had to began in JUCO before showing your abilities in the NCAA. Did you have a chip on your shoulder early on and how is it resting on your shoulders now after a strong NCAA career?
Juco sculpted me when it came to becoming mentally and physically because juco was a dogfight because everybody was fighting for the same spots. I just want to grind and to the best version of myself
You can shoot, rebound, play the pick and roll, pick and pop and are a defender with a lot of potential. Would it be fair to say that you are a modern day 2020 player?
Yea but I have mindset of an old player. Most players nowadays like playing one on one and I’m not really a fan of it
With so many abilities on the court that you possess, what do you believe is your absolute biggest asset on your court besides your versatility?
I would say being a team player. I believe in everybody having a part and doing their job instead one or two guys
On what things were you working most on this summer on your game so that you will be best prepared for your rookie season overseas?
Mainly my jumper. I can shoot but I know I would have to shoot more because of player differences compared to college
With so many strengths in your game, what do you honestly believe is a hidden strength in your game that still gets overlooked today?
My jumper definitely. A lot of people think I can’t but it’s more of me not shooting. I like driving ball and I have more success when I drive and don’t settle. I can definitely shoot though
You began your career at Columbia State Community College (JUCO). How vital were these 2 years there and how did your game benefit most from it?
Cstate made me into a more versatile player. I began shooting more developed a better handle and came out of the paint unlike I was in high school. I became a 3 4 instead of a 5. Juco basketball is not for the weak.
You then played at Georgia Southern (NCAA) from 2018-2020 reaching the Sun Belt tournament semi-finals and in 2020 the quarterfinals winning but then COVID-19 ending your season. What was your fondest moment at this school on and off the court?
I would say just being with the guys. Those two years were 2 great years and I’ve made friendships that’ll last a lifetime and I’m more than grateful.
You had your best scoring game against N Florida with 31 points the most of a player at your school since 2001 but lost 80-77. Is this one of those games that you will never forget?
I wish had our whole team that game but we only had 7 but that game was crazy. We came back towards the end but they held us off. It’s definitely a memory that’ll last
You beat UL-Monroe twice as a junior and had talented forward Travis Munnings number in each win. What memories do you have battling him and are you surprised that he hasn’t reached high levels in Europe yet?
I didn’t really know but he’s a good player. It wasn’t like a rivalry or anything but I don’t really remember what he did vs us.
How did head coach Mark Byington groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
He pushed me to be the best player I could be and the best leader I could be. The way he wanted me to lead that team really made me learn ways to lead which opened my eyes a lot and prepared me.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Trey Dawkins?
Me. Every time lol
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NAIA or anywhere that went to the NBA?
I haven’t played against anyone that’s in the NBA.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Ike Smith Montae Glenn Tavon King Tookie Brown Adrian Hicks
Please construct your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players?
Kobe Mj Lebron KD
What is your personal opinion between the never ending debate between Michael Jordan and Lebron James concerning who is the greatest of all-time?
I think Jordan’s is the greatest to play from his era and Bron statistically is the greatest of this era. Durant is the best pure player to me
Terrell Harris (191-G-93, college: Georgia Coll., agency: Players Group) is a 27 year old 190cm guard from Indiantown, Florida that is playing his fifth professional season and second with the NINERS Chemnitz (Germany-ProA) averaging 11,6ppg, 3,1rpg and 3,9apg. Last season in the Pro A with the Ninners he averaged 14,1ppg, 2,6rpg and 5,0apg. In 2018-2019 he played with the Rostock Seawolves (Germany-ProA) averaging 13.6ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 37.3%, FT: 66.3%. Three seasons ago he played with the Svendborg Rabbits (Denmark-Ligaen) playing 24 games averaging 17.0ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 57.3%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 71.6%. In his rookie season he played with the Iserlohn Kangaroos (Germany-ProB) averaging 18,1ppg, 4,3rpg and 1,8apg. He started his basketball career at Mars Hill (NCAA2) in 2011 and then moved to Georgia College in 2012. As a senior he played 29 games averaging 24.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 4.0apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 76.8%. He concluded his college basketball career winning the All-PeachBelt Player of the Year 2016. Harris spoke to germanhoops.com after the massive 86-84 win in Weissenfels against MBC.
Thanks Terrell for talking to germanhoops.com. Easter has come and gone. What have you learned to appreciate the most about Easter in Germany?
My family isn’t here unfortunately. When I see all the people in Germany with their families makes me appreciate the time when I’m with my family. When I’m back home with my family, I try to spend as much time with them. My favorite time is Christmas and Easter. You definitely feel the family atmosphere in Germany. Congrats on the massive 85-83 win in Wesisenfels. It was only the fourth away win this season. How good does it feel to have won two road games in a row?
We have struggled on the road this season. I wish we would have won more road games. Now we just have to take as many wins as we can. It is hard to win in the BBL and this season has been tough with COVID and injuries. We still have eight games left and will try to win as many on the road and build on it.
The Niners Chemnitz led 46-35 at the break. The offense has really been clicking the last four games. Is it at a stage now where the team’s self-confidence will be able show consistency until the end?
I think so. We had four guys out with COVID during the national team break in February. These guys are now just now finding their form again. We want to build on our success and build on it in the next weeks.
MBC stormed back in the third quarter to score 28 points to trail only 64-63. What were the most significant break downs that you had on defense?
We didn’t come out of half-time locked in and they capitalized on it. We turned over the ball too many times and they hit shots. Anytime you start hitting two or three shots then shots start to fall like snowfall. They did a good job executing on offense and picking up their presence on defense.
The fourth quarter was very tight and exciting. Half way through MBC led by five points, but the NIners got huge buckets from George King. What was key in crunch-time for getting the win?
Just staying consistent was huge. We did a good job keeping our comradery up when it got tough. We kept saying let’s get three more stops. We had guys get buckets when we needed to. George King got big baskets and Isaiah Mike had an all around good game.
A big key was winning the rebound duel 48-30. What was another area of the team play that was crucial for the win?
We began moving the ball well and then got away from it. We then got back to it when we needed to. When we get multiple touches then good things happen. Rebounding was also big . We rebounded really well in the first quarter. It felt like we dominated the boards.
Five Niners Chemnitz players were in double figures. How much fun is it playing offense under head coach Rodrigo Pastore?
It is really enjoyable playing in our system where there is equal opportunity to score the ball. We showed this last year and have been doing it this year. Our system is designed to give you open shots and lanes to drive. We showed this season that when we move the ball well, we can beat the best teams in the league.
MBC would be a totally different team without Michal Michalak as he scored 29 points. What makes this guy so hard to control? He isn’t fast, but just very fundamentally sound and very smart. He knows how to shoot and how to draw fouls. He knows how to play the game the right way. He was really into it tonight.
The next game is against Rasta Vechta. You won the first home game against them. How confident are you that you will win your third road game in a row and what will be key in getting the win?
We are confident against any team we play. We know that when we execute and get stops that we can beat any team in the league. Moving the ball well and locking in on defense is a good recipe for winning. We have to continue to follow and believe in it.
What kind of an experience has it been being teammates with fellow ex Pro B player Virgil Matthews. Do you get more excited on the bench when he makes a big play than when an established ex NBA player like George King? We have a special connection. He took me under his wing when I arrived last season. We always break down film together after games. He is so patient and let’s the game come to him. He has a big basketball IQ. He will be a great coach one day. He leads by example and is a great teammate.
You had another solid game with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. How much were the 4 turnovers in your mind on the drive back and what do you work on most the next day in practice?
Turnovers have been the story of my season. I definitely want to cut down on turnovers. My turnovers haven’t even been really forced, but more me playing too fast. I know that I can cut down on them. I always cut down film with Virgil and try to get better. Important for me is when I can help move the ball and help team play better than we are at our best. I have to remain aggressive and not be afraid to make plays.
You really have picked up your game since February. What has personally been the biggest challenge for you on the court coming from the Pro B? Last season I was the leading scorer and also led the team in assists. This season is a lot different, because I’m playing with very good players. It is the first time in my life that I’m playing with guys like ex NBA players George King and Marcus Thornton. It has definitely been an adjustment, but it has made me a better player. I’m more a facilitator, but have shown that I can erupt at times as a scorer. I know when to pick my spots and when to get my teammates involved.
Dino Radja recently said that he couldn’t imagine Russell Westbrook having success with a European team. Do you agree? Yes I saw that comment. Russ is very special. He can get triple doubles at ease in the NBA. I know that he could adjust to anywhere. It would be hard, but we would be ok.
Draymond Greene recently said he is the greatest defender of all-time. Do you agree? There have been so many great defenders like Kobe, Scottie Pippen, Gary Payton or Dennis Rodman. I like his confidence though. I would pick all these players over Draymond Greene.
The 2021 NCAA Final is set. Gonzaga will battle. Who will win it all? It’s about time Gonzaga wins. I have Gonzaga by 6.
Did you see Coming to America 2 yet? Should they not have left the classic untouched? I can see why people would say that. It had a lot of the stars from the original in it, but it was different. I liked it and would recommend it.
The Fraport Skyliners woes continue as their path to the easyCredit BBL playoffs get more distant and distant with every new loss. They began the Easter weekend with a poor 89-76 loss against New league club Niners Chemnitz where their inconsistency continued to shine. Their Easter Sunday task didn´t get any easier as they faced off against the Crailsheim Merlins. The Club already showed their talent last season as they were on course of reaching the BBL playoffs until COVID-19 wiped out their season. They had no sophomore blues this season as they recovered after losing their first two games, but then racked up a very impressive 15-2 record beating FC Bayern Munich. Their game has stumbled in the last month as they have lost four of their last five games. Crailsheim won the first meeting over Frankfurt 76-64 as ex Skyliner Trae Bell-Haynes led his team to the win with 21 points. The 18-7 guests met the 10-15 Fraport Skyliners who were three games away from the last playoffs spot, but were unable to sweep the season series as the Mobley and Gudmundsson show dismantled them 92-84. The Hakro Merlins Crailsheim controlled the first half, but in the second half the Fraport Skyliners upped their pressure on defense and started to nail three pointers and the guests were unable to come to terms to Frankfurt´s physicality. “Both teams started off well and Crailsheim was more physical, but we became more physical in the second half and were more aggressive on the defensive end. It also helped that we began to hit our three pointers more as well”, commented Fraport Skyliner guard Bruno Vrcic. Crailsheim continue to struggle in the last month as teams have figured them out and their up and down game continues. “Frankfurt had a lot more energy than against Chemnitz. Key today was to win the possession game and we couldn´t do that. We had a chance to extend lead at the end of the second quarter, but couldn´t. We also cut down their lead at the end to two points, but then Mobley and Gudmundsson showed their qualities. It was also disappointing that we weren´t physical enough rebounding”, commented Hakro Merlins Crailsheim head coach Tuomas Iisalo.
In the first quarter both teams had a run as the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim led 18-10, but then allowed Frankfurt to come back and trail only 22-21 after 10 minutes. Crailsheim stormed out on a rapid 7-3 lead as ex FC Bayern Munich center Bogdan Radosavljevic was aggressive and scored his team´s first 7 points with four free throws and a trey. Frankfurt quickly tied the game at 7-7 as they were more active on the offensive glass as ex Rasta Vechta center Michael Kessens and ex wiha Panther Rasheed Moore made offensive rebounds and put backs. Crailsheim didn´t leave it at a tie long as they sped out on a 13-3 run to lead 20-10. They got a lot of support from many players as they surprisingly didn´t get many outside looks except for Belgium guard Elias Lasisi who hit a trey. The rest of the buckets were free throws and points near the basket. Canadian national player Trae Bell-Haynes made a steal and two handed stuff on transition, German forward Fabian Bleck made a put back, ex Gonzaga(NCAA) guard Jeremy Jones retrieved his own miss and made a put back and ex West Virginia(NCAA) guard and ex FC Bayern Munich forward Dejan Kovacevic hit free throws. Frankfurt had their up and down phase on offense and on the defensive end were too lax on the boards and had bad communication on defense. But Frankfurt got out of their funk closing out the first half with a 12-2 run to trail only 22-21 after one quarter. In the run, Frankfurt got a three pointer from ex St Bonaventure(NCAA) guard Matt Mobley, a pretty floater from ex Davidson(NCAA) guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson and 5 points from Bruno Vrcic who has given the team a lot of key energy this season from the bench. Gudmundsson had been relieved of his point guard duties against Chemnitz where he had problems and in this game was allowed to concentrate on his shooting. “They had too many second chances and easy baskets, but we did a good job not losing focus and coming back”, stated ex FC Bayern Munich guard Bruno Vrcic.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners were up and down again and after having a short lead, allowed Crailsheim to retake the lead and control of the game. Bruno Vrcic gave Frankfurt the lead back with a clutch trey 24-23. Crailsheim then got some baskets from Radosavljevic and Bleck, but Frankfurt stayed with them as 2017 JBBL finalist Len Schoorman dropped a trey to dead lock the game at 27-27. Crailsheim then could break away a bit going on a 9-1 run to lead 36-28 as Frankfurt was covering the three point line well so they had to execute more inside. The Crailsheim guards provided instant offense as Bell-Haynes, ex Wurzburg German Maurice Stuckey and ex North Carolina Central University (NCAA) guard Nimrod Hilliard all scored in the paint. Crailsheim got easy baskets and Bell-Haynes was able to play his offensive game better as Frankfurt had limited him better in the first quarter. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t panic, but allowed Matt Mobley to play his lethal offense as he scored 7 unanswered points in a few minutes to get Frankfurt back to 38-36. In this phase he made such a crazy trey as he was in the corner and had a hand in his face, but made the shoot look easier than a Steph Curry shot. “He makes unbelievable shots. Sometimes they seem physically impossible. His play gives us all an extra push”, stressed Bruno Vrcic. Crailsheim kept the 43-36 lead thanks to a Stuckey three and Hillard free throws, but got sloppy at the end. Crailsheim fouled Jon Axel Gudmundsson behind the three point line with 0,7 left on the clock and the Iceland native punished them with three free throws as they trailed only 44-42 at the break. “We came together better as a team. We moved the ball better and got open looks. We came back and didn´t allow Crailsheim to get a big lead. Gudmundsson was key with his last second free throws”, stated Bruno Vrcic.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners stepped up their defensive pressure and gave the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim a hard battle as there were 5 lead changes, but they kept the 63-59 lead after 30 minutes. Frankfurt was able to stop Crailsheim on their first five possessions, but couldn´t lead by more than 48-45. Frankfurt´s pressure and communication was good and they clogged the lane well. Kessens and Mobley baskets helped Frankfurt regain the lead. Frankfurt continued to defend well and Vrcic came up big with another big three pointer for the 51-46 advantage. Vrcic had a huge game scoring 16 points and shooting 71% from the field. “For me it was important to have a good game again. My last games weren´t that good in terms of my shooting. Coach keeps telling me not to hesitate and just shoot”, said Bruno Vrcic. Crailsheim is always able to produce instant offense and rallied with a 8-2 run to get the lead back with 54-53.They had had problems getting open looks from outside, but in this run got vital three´s from Jones and Hilliard and Stuckey made a nice spin move and lay in. The leads then changed twice as Gudmundsson and Jones exchanged trey´s as Crailsheim led 57-56. Frankfurt then closed out the third quarter strong with a 6-3 run to lead 63-59. In the run, Frankfurt got free throws from Vrcic and a lay in and free throws from Gudmundsson. “Coach Gleim had told us at half time to continue to play like we did at the end of the second quarter while upping our aggressiveness”, said Bruno Vrcic. “We were unable to have control of the game. We were sloppy and they were more prepared and aggressive”, expressed Trae Bell-Haynes.
In the fourth quarter the Mobley and Gudmundsson show took over as they led the Fraport Skyliners to their first win against a top 8 team this season. A rapid 5-0 run by Frankfurt set the tone as Kessens made free throws and Mobley connected on a three for the 68-59 Frankfurt advantage. Crailsheim received some instant offense from Bell-Haynes and Radosavjlevic who hit three´s, but so did Frankfurt who countered with Gudmundsson and Quantez Robertson trey´s and then 74-65 advantage. Frankfurt continued to execute very well on offense and were more relaxed in their sets. Gudmundsson continued to play a strong offensive game finding Kamari Murphy for the perfect alley-oop dunk feed and then nailed a trey for the 79-67 advantage. The contest didn´t seem like Frankfurt could lose their momentum, but then as if lightening had struck in the Fraport arena, the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim showed what they are capable of as they unleashed three consecutive three´s as Jones scored twice and Bell-Haynes once to suddenly trail only 76-74. But Frankfurt proved that they could play Crailsheim´s run game and struck back with a lethal 8-0 run to lead 87-77. In the run they got a Vrcic lay in, and three´s from Mobley and Gudmundsson. Crailsheim still had some energy in their gas tank as Lasisi hit a trey and Bell Haynes a lay in to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 87-82. But Mobley then slammed the door shut on the Merlins with another three pointer and iced the win with free throws. “Our biggest strength today was that everybody was on the same page on offense and defense”, added Bruno Vrcic. “Frankfurt found a way to make plays and tough shots. We have to dig deeper to make plays”, warned Trae Bell_Haynes. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Matt Mobley with 26 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists while Jon Axel Gudmundsson had 22 points and 5 assists. The Hakro Merlins Crailsheim were led by Trae Bell-Haynes with 26 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals and Jeremy Jones added 16 points and Bogdan Radosavljevic had 15 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 45% from the field and 47% form outside and had 37 rebounds and 18 turnovers while the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim shot 42% form the field and 41% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 18 turnovers.
Donte Nicholas (196-G/F-87, college: FPU) is a 34 year old 195cm forward from Washington Dc that is playing with the Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos 2nd team (Germany-ProB) averaging 18,1ppg, 7,5rpg, 5,6apg and 1,9spg. Last season he played with the Rostock Seawolves (Germany-ProA) playing 27 games averaging 10.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.8apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 73.8%. In 2018-2019 he played with the Plymouth University Raiders (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 36 games: Score-5 (18.2ppg), Reb-2 (10.2rpg), Assists-3 (7.2apg), Steals-1 (2.4spg), FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 25.3%, FT: 81.5%. In 2017-2018 he played with the Iserlohn Kangaroos (Germany-ProB). He belonged to the top players in the league averaging 17,6ppg, 8,0rpg, 4,1apg and 3,3spg while shooting 41,8% from outside. He has gained experience down under playing with the Albury Wodonga Bandits (Australia-SEABL) and with the Rockville Victors (APBL) as a rookie in the States. Last season he played with the Plymouth University Raiders (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 33 games averaging 15.3ppg, 6.7rpg, 3.4apg, Steals-5 (2.1spg), FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 75.8%. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the 92-79 win over the EPG Baskets Koblenz.
Donte thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Congrats on the huge 92-79 playoff win over the EPG Baskets Koblenz. How vital was it having had played Koblenz recently in the last regular season game?
Thanks, appreciate you reaching out. I think it was pretty vital because we knew what to expect and we could make changes facing them again in the playoffs.
The first half was a real back and forth battle with many lead changes. Giessen had the 43-38 advantage at the break. Was this close game what playoff basketball is all about? Our mindset coming into any game, is controlling the tempo of the game; now that we’re in the playoffs the mindset stays the same.
Giessen led 66-61 after 30 minutes. How vital was it staying calm after Koblenz showed their offensive arsenal hitting you with a 10-0 run out of the gate? We knew they had a lot of firepower, so we just knew we had to weather the storm and stick to the gameplay and we would be fine down the stretch and that’s what happened.
Giessen sealed the win in the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run. Instrumental were Germans Tim Uhlemann and Tim Koeepple. How much has their BBL experience helped give the Pro B team a lift this season? Just from what I’ve seen, its a tremendous boost to their confidence when making plays that may not be there if they didn’t have that experience to fall back on.
Giessen shot the ball very well and took care of the ball well. What other strength of Giessen was vital for getting the win? Like I mentioned earlier our biggest focus is trying to control the pace of the game. We believe if you do this, then it makes everything else a little easier. So now we just look better on the floor as a whole, easier shots, fast breaks, getting easy post touches, etc.
How much easier is it to play defense when only 6 guys score? Is the depth on paper that Koblenz have a bit overrated? Butler and Canty are always good for 20 plus points, but it just seems that the depth was lacking on this day for Koblenz.
I wouldn’t say its necessarily easier, but they are a deep team we just had to make some adjustments which benefited us in the end and not them so much. I wouldn’t say their depth was lacking, I would say we just played a good game defensively.
Johannes Lischka scored an untypical 11 points. In what other area’s is a Lischka always brutally important when he isn’t scoring 30 points?
Everything Jo does for us is important, this just shows that even when he isn’t rolling on offense (which is rare) he still is a major factor. Defensively, he was big for us rebounding, guarding their best player, even had a few monster blocks.
You next face Itzehoe and have a long road trip up north. How exciting is it in general to play a team that you didn’t see before during the season? They lost to Schwelm. What will be key in getting the win? For me personally, I don’t care if it’s a new team or old team we play I just like to compete. I’m going to keep saying it because that’s how important it is, but if we control the pace of the game we can put ourselves in position to beat any team in this league.
How excited are to be battling top Pro B player Chris Hooper? Slowing him down should be part of the Giessen game plan. We know he’s a major part of their offensive game plan, so of course he’s one of our main focuses coming in defensively, but if we do what we need to do we don’t really need to worry about any other player.
You had a fantastic game of 21/10/10 stats. When you play 39 minutes does a guy of your calibur almost expect to have the chance of making a triple double? I wouldn’t say I expect to have triple doubles because a lot of things have to go right for this to happen. But you’ve been following my career a little, you know even though I may not actually get there every game, I’m in the neighborhood a lot.
You had a triple double against Bernau a few years ago and had 2 in the UK. Your putting up great stats this season. Are you getting better with age? I look at it as more of being consistent every year, every year regardless of age you know what you’re going to get from me.
You watch a lot of the BBL Giessen games in the gym. What do you look for most to soak up from these guys? You can always improve in some aspect of your game, so when I watch I pay attention to a lot of situational things. What players do in this situation or that situation, maybe it’s something I want to add to my game at some point.
European basketball legend Dino Radja stated that he couldn’t imagine Russell Westbrook being able to lead a European team to success. Do you agree?
Russ is my guy but I also understand he’s an acquired taste, some players could deal with that kind’ve player some can’t. Russ is also one of the fiercest competitors in the game so that alone will always give any team he’s on a chance to win.
Draymond Greene named himself the greatest defender of all-time. Do you agree?
I personally don’t agree, but I can understand why he said it. You should always believe you’re the best at what you do, if you don’t think that or aren’t working towards that then why are you doing it in the first place.
The 2021 NCAA Final 4 is set. Gonzaga-UCLA and Baylor-Houston. Who will reach the final and win it all? Is there any stopping Gonzaga?
Haven’t been following March Madness too much this year, but I know a lot of crazy things have happened already so it’ll probably be some upsets. I’ll take Gonzaga vs. Houston in the final, Houston with the upset by 2.
Have you seen the Coming To America sequel? The reviews have been mixed. Shouldn’t they just have left the original alone?
I watched it as soon as it dropped. They definitely should’ve just left it alone.
Derek Pardon (203-C-96, college: Northwestern) is a 24 year old 203cm center from Cleveland, Ohio that is playing his second professional season and first in Germany with easyCredit BBL team medi Bayreuth. Last season he played his rookie season with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (Italy-Serie A) averaging 6.1ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 54.3%, FT: 74.4%. he played his NCAA career at Northwestern (NCAA) playing 112 games. In his senior year he played 32 games averaging 14.0ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 60.7%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 68.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the massive 95-79 victory over Rasta Vechta.
Dererk congrats on the massive 95-79 win over Rasta Vechta. How big is the belief that the easyCredit BBL playoffs can still become reality? I think that it’s a possibility. I think that in order to reach the playoffs, we have to take our time and take it game by game
March was a very good month for medi Bayreuth. Despite losing to Ludwigsburg 97-92, you played them very tough. Do you feel like the club brought some of that energy from that game into the Vechta game?
Most definitely. We played a hard tough game against Ludwigsburg and just came up a bit short. We knew that we had to bounce back. We brought that energy from the Ludwigsburg game into the Vechta game.
Medi Bayreuth had a real hot first half scoring 58 points. What did you like most of how the team was able to execute in the first 20 minutes. We moved the ball and ran our sets well. We also did a good job not letting the Vechta pressure get to us. We just took our time and played our game.
It was a high scoring affair in the first quarter as you allowed 24 points, but only 11 points in the second quarter. What adjustments did the team make on the defensive end?
We realized that they had gotten way too many open shots in the first quarter. We knew that we had to stop that. We tried a few different defensive switches and disrupted their pick and pop game with their big man.
Having the big 58-35 lead at the break helped. Medi Bayreuth cooled down on offense in the second half. How vital was it being able to close out the game strong in the second half and not losing focus? We did cool down in the second half offensively so we had to rely on our defense. We did a good job getting stops and made sure that they didn’t go on a big run.
A big strength on the night was the rebounding and you shot very well as a team. What other qualities was key for the team pulling out the win? Those were our two goals for the game. We did a good job rebounding and limiting them to one shot. We let our defense create our offense which also led to many fast break points
You and Andreas Seiferth combined for 32/15. Nobody talks about it, but you guys are a very potent duo. Do you feel you two guys are a bit off the radar? This can be a plus the closer you get to the playoffs. Yes I think so. We have a lot of talent on the team. Guys like Bartley, Walker and Jones can score. Andreas and I hold down the fort and are the anchors at both ends of the court. We just try to bring what the team needs most that night if it means scoring more or making an impact on the defensive end.
Medi Bayreuth was 4-1 in March and keep winning. What changed in the teams game after the four game losing streak in February?
We had injury problems then and Basti Dorth was out. We also needed some time to integrate Lazeric Jones. This has been the first time where we really have had a full roster. We have found our rhythm now. Now I feel like we are clicking on all cylinders. We hope to make a big push up to May
You had a strong game netting 20 points and getting 9 rebounds. How motivated were you tonight after getting only 2 points against Ludwigsburg?
I was very motivated. Anytime you have a down game, you always want to come back the next night and play better. At the end of the day I always want to give my best. If that means scoring 20 points or only 2 points. If I know that I gave my best then I’m happy.
You have always been a great shot blocker. In the BBL your averaging 1,2bpg. What has been the most challenging thing about mastering the paint area?
The biggest thing has been timing. In Europe there are very crafty veterans that know how to play the angles and the refs. I think that I have learned when to go for the ball and when to keep my hands up.
How confident are you that you will have a strong end to the regular season with consistent play? I feel like I’m playing better every game. I think that I will always find a way to score. My biggest priority is giving energy and defense. If I can turn that into offense then great.
Dino Radja recently said that he couldn’t imagine Russell Westbrook having success with a European team. Do you agree?
I don’t know him personally. But all players that I have spoken with have said he was one of the beat teammates that they ever had. I don’t think that it’s about public perception, but what he brings to the team. If the team thinks that he is a great leader then I feel he can do that for any team.
Draymond Greene recently said he is the greatest defender of all-time. Do you agree?
I wouldn’t agree. He is entitled to his opinion. He is a great defender. He was crucial in those warrior titles. There are too many great defenders that have played the game. But he is definitely one of them.
The 2021 NCAA Final 4 is set. Gonzaga will battle UCLA and Baylor will play Houston. Who will reach the final and win it all? Gonzaga is really good and have great talent. I think they will play Baylor and win it all. Baylor has been good the last two years. I thought that they would make a deep run last year.
Did you see Coming to America 2 yet? Should they not have left the classic untouched? . I think that not every classic needs a sequel. It is all about timing. They should of left it alone.
There are so many players that are balling overseas that will return home after a long career and have no chips to show for. Winning a title isn´t a simple endeavor at any level so when one does win, one should never take it for granted. Some guys have the fortune to win titles quickly and one of those guys has been Josh Hagins. After playing briefly in Bosnia and in the G-League in his first two professional seasons, he came back overseas in 2018 and played with Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-Division A) winning three titles in his two year span. It is no secret that a big key for being able to win titles has to do with the type of teammates that one has. That was never more evident with the type of supporting cast that Hagins had including talented veterans like Amaad Rorie, Keaton Grant and Willie Kemp. Having been able to have the right kind of veterans was instrumental in his development as a player in Cyprus. “You can get veterans that are at end of career and don´t care or get vets that do it the right way. I was lucky to have been teammates with vets that cared. There were guys there that were past their peak, but were still doing it the right way. I was really thankful for the situation that I could soak up so much from the, Those two years in Cyprus helped me get to where I am today”, stressed Josh Hagins. But the list doesn´t end there as he also had another guy with big man With Anthony King who learned his trade at Miami(NCAA) and at age 36 is still playing today. When he played in Germany, he came over as a quiet guy, but he has another side where any player can benefit from him. “He is quiet if you don´t know him. He didn´t always say so much, but when he did he did at the right time. I remember whenever I was frustrated with something, he would pull me to the side and say that it is part of the grind. His experience helped me a lot and he helped me get hunger for the game. For him to still be playing at his age and still have the energy to help the younger guys is something where you can´t ask for more”, stressed Josh Hagins. Hagins is a player that still has many more years in front of him that wants to excel in every environment that he is confronted with.
Josh Hagins was born on March 17th, 1994 in Washington DC.He began his basketball career at Airline High School in Louisiana helping the school to 3 district titles and was an All-State selection during his time there. He led the Vikings to a 24-9 record being a two time distract champion. He then enrolled at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (NCAA) where he played a total of 124 NCAA games from 2012-2016. IN his freshman season he played 31 games averaging 8.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 77.0%. He scored in double figures in 13 games and had LA Lafayette numbers twice scoring 14 points a piece. He started 12 games, was third in scoring and first in assists. In his sophomore season he played 28 games averaging 12.1ppg, 4.1rpg, 3.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 43.0%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 79.7%. He led the team in assists again, was second in scoring and third in rebounds. He also was a All-Sun Belt 3rd Team selection. In his junior season he played 31 games averaging 12.0ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.0apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 47.3%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 82.4%. He led the team in scoring and assists and scored in double figures in 20 games including 28 points against Alabama State and had 23 points against S Alabama. In his senior year he played 34 games averaging 13.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 4.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 84.0%. Once again he led the club in points and assists and also was Sun Belt Regular Season Champion, Sun Belt Tournament Winner, All-Sun Belt 1st Team, Sun Belt All-Tournament Team -16 and NABC All-District 24 1st Team.he scored in double figures in 25 games. On paper he put up solid stats including averaging double figures in scoring in his last three years, but the whole basketball experience was a huge challenge at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “I didn´t need validation from others to be Josh Hagins. I took a lot of criticism, because I didn´t do things a certain way. At the end of the day I was able to be myself. I learned that having self-confidence was key for success. Great coaches help you win, but it´s the players that have to make the plays in the clutch. In my first three years, I didn´t understand that I had to do something different to help the team win. I learned that there were times where I had to do things that I necessarily wouldn´t have agreed with, but it was necessary to do for the team to be successful”, remembered Josh Hagins.
His most memorable experience at Little Rock was helping beat Purdue at the big dance in 2016 with a sizzling 31 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals in the 85-83 double OT win. Even today he can´t refrain from watching his heroics as he tied the game to send it into overtime. “I typically watch that game two to three times a year I like to sit back and enjoy that moment. It was huge for our school winning that game”, said Josh Hagins. In that game he also set a record as he is only the third player to score 30 plus points in the NCAA tournament against Purdue as in incredible company with NBA legends Isiah Thomas and Kareen Abdul Jabbar. “It is very humbling to be mentioned with guys like that. It is a specific stat and you don´t really know how many teams have played Purdue, but I appreciate being mentioned in the same sentence with those guys”, expressed Josh Hagins. It wasn´t always easy for him to do exactly what he wanted to on the court, but he still was able to profit from the coaching staff. Head coach Steve Shields and assistant coach Joe Klein who had a long NBA career were instrumental in his development. “Coach Shields help me be confident. We didn´t always see eye to eye, but at the end of the day, I was willing to take a chance and didn´t play it safe. I had to take risks while staying confident. You always profit when a guy like Joe Kleine played with Michael Jordan. I will always remember his energy. Every time he said something, it always hit home. He helped me with little things like how to feed the big man in the post, pocket passes and hand offs”, stated Josh Hagins.
The American who remembers battling his Little Rock teammate Marcus Johnson´s heart and fierce competitiveness on a consistent basis in practice had his first brush of being a professional in the summer of 2016 where he had numerous NBA Draft Workouts with the Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, and Boston Celtics.He then played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Sacramento Kings) playing 4 games averaging 3.0ppg, 2.0rpg. Getting that early experience with NBA clubs was priceless as well as the advice he got from ex Los Angeles Laker Vlade Divac. “I did well during the Kings work out. He told me that getting to the NBA has a lot to do with timing and luck. He also said that no matter what happens, there can be many different type of scenario´s where a player can reach the NBA. He said just keep grinding and enjoy the process”, added Josh Hagins. The American began his professional career overseas with KK Bosna-Royal Sarajevo (Bosnia-Division I) playing 9 games averaging 11.3ppg, 3.8rpg, 3.7apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 45.0%, 3FGP: 25.7%, FT: 77.8%. Coming overseas isn´t always easy for an American especially when you had hardly ever seen snow. “I remember my first day in Bosnia. I had just arrived and was walking to the gym with my coach. I had maybe seen snow 2-3 times in my then 22 years. In Bosnia it was snowing and there was something like 5-6 inches on the ground. I had a light jacket on and wasn´t prepared for snow. Then when I got to the gym, there were two courts inside with something like seven sports teams using the courts. There was something like 80 people in the gym and everybody was staring at me. Then I remember going back to the apartment and it took me 10 minutes to open the door. That was my wake up call to being overseas for the first time”, stressed Josh Hagins. He had some good games in Bosnia including hitting Kakanj for 22 points and scored 16 points against Siroki Primorka. But his first stop as a rookie was short as he returned back to the States around Christmas and then finished the season in the G-League with Maine playing 21 games averaging 4,4ppg, 2,5rpg and 2,5apg. Coming to a new team during mid season is never an easy task. “Maine was a humbling experience. It was the first time in my life where I didn´t play so much and it was frustrating. It was my first time in the G-League and I had no idea how it worked. It is tough to come in and expect to paly 25 minutes right away. The whole experience just taught me to always be ready and to understand that there are a lot of players in the world. I just knew that my time would come”, remembered Josh Hagins. He had some fine games in his first G-League tour of duty hitting Delaware for 18 points, 7 boards and 7 dimes and had 17 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists against Westchester.
In his second professional season, the American who lists NBA player Elfrid Payton of the New York Knicks as his most difficult opponent in the NCAA who was an unbelievable driver to the rim, but could also defend remained home and played with the Reno Bighorns (NBA G League) playing 41 games averaging 8.4ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 88.1%. His minutes increased only from 14 to 19, but he was very efficient with the amount of time that he got. Of course every guy that balls in the G-League has that NBA dream and it isn´t any different for the American. Having that great team feeling isn´t so prevalent in the G-League, but Hagins had real joy playing with reno. “This was one of my favorite teams. For many guys in the G-League, team success isn´t on the forefront. Many guys just want to score 15-20 points. I was on a team where every guy wanted to win”, stated Josh Hagins. You have to wonder what his stats would have looked like had he played something like 32-33 minutes a game? Would an NBA call up been more realistic? “There is a lot of NBA talent in the G-League, but there only so many spots. You can only control what you can control. Who knows if I would have had a better shot at the NBA if I had averaged 33 minutes. I want to reach the NBA, but I can´t wonder about it. I enjoy the game, but have to remain in the now. I want to be successful with Bonn and get them to the playoffs”, warned Josh Hagins. He had some solid games scoring 20 points against Iowa and had 18 points a piece against N Arizona and Santa Cruz. He was lucky that he could call reno his home, because often guys will live in many places during one season. “There is so much player movement. I saw some guys play in one place one week and then were somewhere else the next week. Some guys played for 3-4 teams in the season. It´s all about finding the right solution and it´s not about being loyal”, warned Josh Hagins. Another aspect that made his one season stay with Reno so memorable was being able to be teammates with ex UConn great and 2004 NCAA champion and ex NBA player Marcus Williams. “He is one of my favorite teammates. He wasn´t just a great player, but was just a funny dude. I tried to soak up as much as possible each day. In practice I would pick him up full court and just see what he would do in pressure situations. He always answered my questions. He didn´t say too much, but when he did, it always held weight”, said Josh Hagins.
He played his third and fourth professional seasons in Cyprus winning three titles with Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-Division A). In his first season he played 30 games averaging 12.7ppg, 4.4rpg, Assists-3(5.2apg), Steals-5(1.5spg), FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT:79,9 and in his second season played 21 games averaging 14.0ppg, 5.8rpg, Assists-1(5.6apg), 1.2spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT-2(50.0%), FT-7(90.5%). He also played 8 Fiba Europe Cup games and 4 Basketball Champions League games displaying his consistency filling up the stat sheet like no other. He played a total of 51 Cyprus- Division A games and scored in double figures in 37 games. His best games included 28 points against Apoel, 25 points against Etha and 22 points against AEK Larnaca. Not only does the American remember Anthony King with a lot of fondness, but also ex Wichita State University (NCAA)standout Darral Willis who is balling in France this season with Monacco. Hagins already saw the potential of Willis two seasons ago. “He began the game very late. I could see his rapid growth already in his rookie year. He has a motor that is hard to match. As soon as he continues picking up teams concepts with his mix of his motor, rebounding and finishing, I think he could be an NBA or Euroleague player”, warned Josh Hagins.
Now let´s fast forward to 2021. The American who last watched the movie Grown Ups began his fifth professional season with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. The club has been struggling and it has been a totally new experience for him coming from his winning ways in Cyprus. “It definitely has been an adjustment. I understand what it takes to win at the next level. It is important to be focused on every possession”, warned Josh Hagins. The club has been up and down starting the season with a five game losing streak, then winning three of four and then having another losing streak. What really has been annoying is their inability to finish games. They have lost five games by six or less points and has affected the team mentality. “It has been very frustrating. We have had games where we had the lead at the end, but that’s part of the process. We definitely have a better team then what our record shows. It´s all about finding that light that will light the fire. We will find it. With every new loss, we tend to think too much about it instead of just playing. We can´t be so hesitant at the end, but be more free”, stressed Josh Hagins. In the meantime the Telekom Baskets Bonn removed head coach Igor Jovovic and brought back American Will Voigt who had already been on board last season. “We have been doing some things different now. Our spacing is different and we have better communication. Coach Voigt has stressed that now with no fans in the arena´s. it´s all about how loud you can be. The louder teams win. We have brought the communication level up and that has translated over on to the court”, warned Josh Hagins. Every season the American is enriched with new teammates and this season has been positively affected by ex Boston Celtic Chris Babb and Telekom Baskets Bon lifer TJ DiLeo. “The way Chris carries himself has impressed me. He is a real professional and great leader. He has been places where I want to get to. I try to imitate him and add my flavor. I love TJ´s effort. He is one of those guys that knows exactly what he can control. He has worked harder than most guys to get to where he is today. He is always so positive and no matter what is happening always keeps the team together. He doesn´t let us give up”, warned Josh Hagins.
TheAmerican who list his personal NBA Mount Rushmore with guys like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson likes to compare his game to NBA player Nate Robinson. He plays with a lot of energy and is animated like Robinson is. When Hagins is playing well, he is always talking. His energy and passion brings that needed confidence to his team. He has needed no adjustment period in the easyCredit BBL as he has been able to translate his game to the higher BBL level. “Cyprus didn´t have big or athletic guys like the BBL, so I couldn´t rely on pure talent. I needed to bring that special level of energy and that has helped me in the BBL”, stressed Josh Hagins. He has always been known as being a very solid shooter, but took the next step last season to being over 40% in the Cyprus and Basketball Champions League. It is only obvious that he wants to be able to become that lethal consistent shooter. 2I work on my shot each day and don´t think about %. It´s all about preparation. I do take tough shots and know that my % will waver, but shooting is just one part of my game. I take pride in doing a little bit of all well”, stated Josh Hagins. The American continues to have big dreams, but in order to get there knows that grinding in the lab is part of the process of improving and moving up the basketball ladder. “I need to become more physical. I want to be strong on screens as well as being able to defend bigger guards in the post. I just want to get better on a daily basis and be good in every environment”, warned Josh Hagins. The American has left the Telekom Baskets Bonn for Greece to team GS Iraklis Thessaloniki. He has proven that he can survive in a new basketball environment as he is currently averaging 18,2ppg, 3,4rpg, 4,8apg, 1,0spg and is shooting a strong 50% from outside. In his last game against AEK, he produced 32 points. No matter where his basketball journey takes him, he will continue to work hard to be able to shine in every basketball environment. And if he needs some advice, he will always have guys like Marcus Williams and Anthony King there to support him as he tries to make his basketball dreams reality in the future.
The up and down roller coaster season of the Fraport Skyliners continues as they just are unable to spruce up a massive run that will help their playoffs chances more. After a three game winning streak where they beat BG Goettingen, Rasta Vechta and Giessen followed two loses in a row against Alba Berlin and last weekend against Braunschweig. The road to the playoffs doesn´t get any easter now on easter weekend as they had to tackle new club Niners Chemnitz and 72 hours later will have a date with surprise team Crailsheim Merlins. The Fraport Skyliners had won the first meeting over the Niners Chemnitz on the road winning 80-73. Back in December, Frankfurt did a good job having four players in double figures led by American explosive scorer Matt Mobley who poured in 29 points in the win. Frankfurt also won the rebound duel, hit 12 three´s and took better care of the ball. In the return date in Frankfurt they would have no such luck as they were smothered by the extra extra pass by the Niners Chemnitz 89-76. The big difference between the Niners Chemnitz and Fraport Skyliners is simply that Chemnitz play consistent ball and the Fraport Skyliners don´t. “Our big problem this season has been that we aren´t consistent at both ends of the court. We will look good winning some games and then lose a couple of games. We often were too fast on our offensive execution instead of slowing it down while on defense we were a step behind on some plays”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson. A big strength of the Niners Chemnitz is their ball movement, but on defense they also understood how to compensate for Matt Mobley´s 27 points. “We came out and brought energy and moved the ball well. We played good defense and we knew that Mobley would get hot so we controlled the rest”, stated ex NBA player George King.
The Fraport Skyliners once again were without point guards Joe Rahon and Konstantin Konga which put the severe playmaking load on the shoulders of rookie Jon Axel Gudmundsson who at times was overwhelmed by the task. But in the early going the Fraport Skyliners didn´t have any execution problems as they stormed out on a 13-5 lead. Ex St Bonaventure great Matt Mobley as usual carried the load unleashing three brutal three pointers. Fraport Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson got the Frankfurt offense going with a steal and lay up and dished out an assist to ex Rasta Vechta center Michael Kessens for the bucket. The Niners Chemnitz began slow, but soon would find themselves going on a 5-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 13-10. Canadian rookie Isaiah Mike got consecutive buckets with a lay in and massive dunk as he flew through the lane. The guests didn´t try their luck from outside, but were dominating the paint area. “That dunk from Miles was pretty cool. When you don´t slide over to help then a dunk like that can happen. We were inconsistent on defense”, stated Quantez Robertson. Frankfurt kept the 20-14 advantage getting buckets inside from Mobley and 2019 NBBL champion Bruno Vrcic, but the Niners Chemnitz had achieved an offensive groove and got key baskets from German Jonas Richter who gave the team a lot of energy. Frankfurt couldn´t hold the lead as the Niners Chemnitz unleashed a furious 10-3 lead in the last minutes to lead 24-23 after 10 minutes. In the run, Chemnitz received unbelievable production from ex Pro B player Terrell Harris who pulled a Mobley scoring all 10 points including two trey´s. The ex Rostock guard had scored 22 points in the first game against Frankfurt and was motivated again too do severe damage. “We were too late on defense and not aggressive enough. They made tough shots which got them going”, said Quantez Robertson.
Despite the Fraport Skyliners cutting the Chemnitz lead down to 6 points in the second quarter, the Niners still controlled the game and would lead by as much as 13 points before the break. Harris came out hot in the second quarter and rapidly carried his club on a 10-3 run to extend the Niners Chemnitz lead to 34-26. Harris scored the first two buckets and then was followed by two three´s from ex Pro B player Virgil Matthews and Isaiah Mike. The Niners Chemnitz fed off Terrell Harris´s energy and their aggressive defense led Frankfurt to sloppy offense. A Quantez Robertson alley-oop dunk off an inbounds pass from Gudmundsson momentarily stopped the run. Robertson isn´t the youngest anymore and gives up dunks at times for the lay up which he displayed in the first quarter on the game´s opening field goal, but on this alley-oop, he jumped again to get the dunk. “Everybody still thinks I can´t jump. I just don´t do it all the time. For an alley-oop dunk, I have to dunk”, stated Quantez Robertson. The Niners Chemnitz continued to execute with ease and went on a 7-0 run to lead 41-28. In the run the guests continued to get easy baskets inside as King made a reverse lay up and Mike scored twice. Frankfurt missed free throws and 2015 Boston Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton who reminds one a bit of Julius Jenkins with his hair and release sunk a trey for the 44-31 lead. Frankfurt didn´t allow the Niners Chemnitz to totally break away as they cut into the lead getting two three´s from Mobley and a lay in by Robertson. But Chemnitz retained the comfortable 51-40 lead at the break getting a trey from King and a three point play by Harris. “We didn´t get enough stops and let them get out on the break”, expressed Quantez Robertson.
In the third quarter the difficulty of being consistent remained with the Fraport Skyliners. They did cut down the Niners lead to six points, but couldn´t buckle down on defense and saw their deficit get back to double digits as they trailed 68-59 after three quarters. The Fraport Skyliners began the second half going on a 7-3 run to trail only 54-48. They were more calm in their offensive sets and were able to execute better. They got lay in´s from Gudmundsson and Kessens and a three pointer from Rasheed Moore who´s overall versatile game hasn´t been on display as much as in the past as he looks to be a spot up shooter. Just as quickly as Frankfurt could escape out on a run, so could the guests as they went on a 7-0 run thwarting Frankfurt´s comeback attempt. In the run the guests profited from their beautiful ball movement finding guys cutting inside as Mike and Harris scored while Thornton dropped another trey for the Niners 61-48 advantage. The NIners Chemnitz continued to supply the pressure as they got clutch three´s from King and Mike while Frankfurt got some baskets inside from Moore and Vrcic, but the Niners Chemnitz still led comfortably 68-54. “We came out strong in the first four minutes. We got stops and easy baskets. We didn´t allow them to have confidence”, stressed ex Los Angeles Laker Jonathan Williams. “We gave up too many open shots and let them get out on transition too much”, added Quantez Robertson.
The Niners Chemnitz continued to play their game in the fourth quarter and extend their lead to 20 points. The Fraport Skyliners were able to go on a run late, but it was all too late as they couldn´t get over the hump with their typical catch up basketball. The Niners Chemnitz stormed out on the court and unleashed a 8-2 run to lead 76-56. They continued to display fine outside shooting as King and Thornton hit. Thornton also was aggressive with his drive making a pretty finger tip roll in high off the glass. Frankfurt continued to have no offense except for Matt Mobley who ran around the court as if he owned it scoring all 8 points to cut the Niners lead down to 78-64. The game had run after run and now it was time for the Niners as they went on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 85-64. German Jonas Richter got going again scoring twice while Thornton didn´t loose his touch nailing another trey. Sometimes their offense looked so easy as if they were taking a Sunday stroll on the beach. They didn´t execute the extra pass to perfection but the extra extra pass. “We are a team of unselfish players. Coach always preaches to look for the better shot”, added ex NBA player Jonathan Williams. At times their ball movement reminded one of the Fraport Skyliners excellent sharing of the ball in the 2015-2016 season where they captured the Fiba Europe Cup. “When guys get beat off the dribble, they can make the right pass. For fans it´s nice to look at, but not for us. It took a lot out of us”, stated Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners closed out the game strong with a 12-4 run making the final result of 89-76 not look as bad. In the run, Frankfurt got good production from Gudmundsson who dropped two three´s, ex rasta Vechta center Kamari Murphy made an alley-oop dunk and Robertson and Moore iced free throws. “We kept pushing and kept the lead. We knew that our lead could evaporate any time so we kept scoring and getting stops”, added Jonathan Williams. “We were always a step behind and didn´t communicate well on defense”, said Quántez Robertson. The Niners Chemnitz were led by Terrell Harris with 21 points. Isaiah Mike added 18 points and Marcus Thornton 14 points while the Fraport Skyliners were led by Matt Mobley with 27 points. Jon Axel Gudmundsson contributed 13 points and Rasheed Moore 10 points. The Niners Chemnitz shot 57% from the field and 50% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 13 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 46% from the field and 38% form outside and had 26 rebounds and 13 turnovers.
One easyCredit BBL team where Quantez Robertson has had much success against over the years has been the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. This past Sunday he suffered a disappointing 80-68 loss, but 48 hours later he was already looking ahead to the Niners Chemnitz. But when a team like the Fraport Skyliners have had such a up and down season, one can always reminisce a bit about the good old days against Braunschweig. Over the years Quantez Robertson has seen some very exciting games including experiencing three one point games and played against very very talented players like Dennis Schroeder, Brandon Thomas, Kyle Visser or Kevin Hamilton. The ex Auburn(NCAA) standout has a massive wining record against the Braunschweig club and also remembers many of the games as if they were yesterday. “I remember them being a very good team my first few years as they always made the playoffs. But they haven´t been as good the last years”, stated Quantez Robertson. He didn´t remember the 73-66 loss in 2013 four months before Dennis Schroeder was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. Dennis Schroeder came off the bench and led the Phantoms on a 15-4 run for the 36-24 lead as he steered 13 points in six minutes. Schroeder showed a display of calmness and aggressiveness and showcased how lethal he can be as a scorer. He scored twice with his quick first step leaving a Gibson and Robinson in the dust. On one play he dribbled all over the court then decided to shoot and hit over Johannes Voigtmann. He also nailed two three pointers and a pull up jumper before the Skyliners even knew what had happened, they were staring at a 12 point lead by the Phantoms. “They had some easy lay ups, uncontested three pointers and good looks at the rim. They made us pay”, said Quantez Robertson after the loss. But he did remember the thrilling 81-80 win in 2012 where he got the better of 17 year old Dennis Schroeder who netted 12 points and also remembered another one point win. “I remember wining a close game where I passed the ball to Mike Morrison for the win. We beat Schroeder in Frankfurt and I remember that he wasn´t much of a shooter then. He mostly got to the basket with the drive. But he really worked on his outside shot after that”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
After wining a giant 103-98 shoot out at home this season, the Fraport Skyliners went to Braunschweig and lost 80-68. It was a typical game where the Fraport Skyliners couldn´t execute in the first half and then paid for it having to play catch up basketball in the second half and couldn´t get over the hump. “We couldn´t hit shots in the first half or rebound and they executed better on offense. Gudmundsson and I got into foul trouble early and we had to play young guys which took us out of our flow. We got it close in the second half, but we made some mistakes with live ball turnovers. That led them to finding their shooters and getting to the foul line”, stressed Quantez Robertson. A big problem on the afternoon was Frankfurt´s inability to control the boards losing the battle 39-22. “They got to the ball and beat us on many possessions. I feel like there were a few rebounds where they just wanted it more than we did”, said Quantez Robertson. Braunschweig has shown all season that they won´t back down to anyone and have had to be carried by many young German players. They have only one American player with James Robinson, but have to rely on a lot of consistent production from their German players. Karim Jallow and Gavin Schilling have been two key players that have carried the team in so many phases of the game during the season. “They have some pretty good German players that battle and shoot the ball well. It is great that they get a chance to really play. Karim Jallow is a bit taller than me. Sometimes taller guys give me problems, but that doesn´t matter because I battle against all. He really has improved his jump shot. You can´t sit back on him like before”, warned Quantez Robertson.
The last weeks haven´t been easy for the Fraport Skyliners at the point guard position. Konstantin Konga has been out for a long time and Joe Rahon also has missed some games. A lot of the weight has been on the shoulders of rookie Jon Axel Gudmundsson who has been helping out despite being a natural sniper. The ex Davidson(NCAA) guard averaged 6 assists in the games against BG Goettingen, Giessen and Alba Berlin, but in the end that all means nothing when you can´t get the chip against Alba Berlin. He played solid in wins against Vechta and Giessen, but then showed the up and down rookie tendencies against Braunschweig with 0 points,3 assists and 3 turnovers on 0/5 shooting. “I don´t see Jon as a point guard. He can bring the ball up, but he has a scorer´s mentality. I would rather see him play off the ball. I think he has handled the situation well as a rookie. We still have games and time. I have sure that he will get over the hump”, warned Quantez Robertson. Early in Robertson´s career, he told me that he would love to play point guard. Over the years he has often brought the ball up and his playmaking has improved tremendously. He obviously can help the club much more with his overall game than at the point guard position, but one could always ask coach Sebastian Gleim about the possibilities of playing point guard. “I never have asked to play the point. He let´s me know in practice when were missing a point guard that I can bring the ball up. I also let the guys know in games that if they need a break from the pressure, that I can bring the ball up”, stated Quantez Robertson. American Matt Mobley had another good effort scoring 24 points, but at times he just tries to do too much. Can a scorer understand what good shot selection is? “When you’re a scorer like Matt, it´s tough not to try to get going and take shots that you normally wouldn´t take. It is just tough to get that out of your mind set. He is used to being able to make shot after shot. After a while all looks look good”, expressed Quantez Robertson.
The Fraport Skyliners have Easter weekend double duty playing the Niners Chemnitz on Thursday and easyCredit BBL surprise squad Crailsheim Merlins on Easter Sunday. The Frapor Skyliners beat Chemnitz on the road 83-70 where they got good production from Matt Mobley and also had three other guys in double figures. Against Braunschweig, they only had two players in double figures. Keeping the scoring love spread around is something they will have to accomplish tThe Miles Basketball Minute: An Easter Basketball Sweep And Recess Peanut Butter Cups Would Suit The Fraport Skyliners And Quantez Robertson Finehis week if they want to make the Easter sweep. “We just have to stay confident and take open shots. We also have to make the extra pass and limit taking tough shots and we need to get to the free throw line”, commented Quantez Robertson. They also outrebounded Chemnitz and hit 12 three´s and took good care of the ball. “Chemnitz look a bit different now as they added some new players. They play hard and aggressive and don´t back down form anyone. They play hard against all teams and fight until the end. They just played against Goettingen while we will have had more rest”, warned Quantez Robertson. 72 hours later, Frankfurt will face off against Crailsheim where they lost 76-64 on the road. The team isn´t playing as great as in the first half as they have lost 4 of their 6 games and MVP candidate Trae Bell_Haynes also has cooled down a bit. They also lost American Tim Coleman in the huge 105-103 win over FC Bayern Munich and have been without versatile forward Haywood Highsmith in the last two games. “Losing Tim Coleman has hurt their offense. I also think that teams have figured them out better in the second half. Trae Bell-Haynes is definitely 1-2 in the MVP race. Even though he isn´t scoring like crazy like before, He is still playing at a high level and very well”, added Quantez Robertson.
When Quantez Robertson was a rookie with the then Deutsche Bank Skyliners in 2009-2010 he was more than blessed to be have able to call Mr ballerina and BBL legend Derrick Allen as a teammate. Allen played until he was 40 and Robertson is on a good way of doing the same. He may copy Allen in playing until he is 40, but what about also going the coaching route? A few days ago Derrick Allen was promoted to head coach with Rasta Vechta getting his first head coaching gig. “I just saw the news that he was named coach. I will have to call him and congratulate him. That is a big step for him. He played with Vechta and they know exactly what they have with him. He gives me motivation to go into coaching after my playing career. I have given it some thought”, stressed Quantez Robertson. On Easter Weekend, the American will unfortunately be without his family, but he remembers his early easter´s as a kid with great joy, but also knows what he will be missing in Germany. “I remember having Easter Egg hunts at home. I loved finding the Chocolate Easter Eggs that had the Reese´s Peanut Butter Cups. I still love them today”, stressed Quantez Robertson. At least he will be able to kill some Easter time with the NCAA March Madness. He is quite certain that no team will get by top unbeaten team Gonzaga. “I haven´t seen anybody this year that has played as well as Gonzaga. I think that the only team that could give them problems will be Baylor. Michigan has a good team, but they won´t have enough to beat Gonzaga”, warned Quantez Robertson. This Easter in Germany won´t be as enjoyable as past ones where he had comical ex teammate Mike Morrison by his side. This season Mike Morrison is playing in the Turkish second division. You have to wonder if the big fellow would dress up as an Easter Bunny to entertain the kids. “I am sure he would dress up as a easter Bunny, but I don´t think that he would hop around though. But if I´m not mistaken, he once did dress up as bunny. We went bowling on Halloween once and he dressed up as a bunny and I was a scarecrow”, laughed Quantez Robertson. For the kids it would probably have been a treat to watch the comical duo of Robertson and Morrison dress up as a bunny and scarecrow, but the die hard basketball fans would rather have seen the Morrison massive dunks. If Quantez Robertson will get a visit from Mike Morrison the easter Bunny this Sunday with a basket of Reese´s Peanut Butter Cups will be more than unlikely. Sorry about that Tez.
Jerrick thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Congrats on the 90-81 Basketball Champions League win over Brose Bamberg. What kind of an experience was it playing the game in Bosnia? How accommodating were the Bosnians?
The Bosnians were very accommodating. They did a good job setting everything up and took very good care of us at the hotel. It was definitely a different experience playing in Bosnia. It reminded me of my AAU days. We had to bring our own energy to be successful.
How crucial was it getting the win. A loss would of put you at 2-1, but now with the win having a very comfortable 3-0 record.
It was a big win. We started of badly. We had something like 15 or 16 turnovers in the first half. But we stood resilient and just kept grinding.
Nymburk has a lot of depth, but how proud were you of the team being able to make adjustments around not having Retin Obasohan?
I’m very proud how the team stepped up. Whenever we have an injured or sick player, it’s time for the next guy to step up. We have so many weapons and guys that can step up at any moment.
One could say this was a tale of two halves. Bamberg dominated the first half and ERA Nymburk the second half. You were down 44-32 after 20 minutes. What was key for the German side to have the double digit lead at the break? We played terrible defense in the first half. They got so many wide open shots and were more physical then us. We got the kind of shots that we wanted, but just couldn’t execute.
Two guys that were really giving Nymburk problems in the first half was David Kravish and Christian Sengfelder. Why could you keep these guys under control?
Those two guys move really well without the ball as does the whole team. They got some big back door buckets. But we defended better on their bigs in the second half and went to a zone that slowed them down.
You crawled back into the game in the third quarter winning it 24-14. What did head coach Oren Amiel tell the team to do better in the second half? Coach just told us to be ourselves. We know how to play. It was on us to come out in the second half and play better.
You totally took control of the game in the fourth quarter exploding for 35 points. The hero was Lukas Palyza who exploded for 19 of his 26 points. Is his lethal shooting something you see in practice day by day?
Oh for sure. Even before he joined us, he lit us up with his old team. He can get it going very quickly. It is a lot of fun to watch.
Palyza played in Germany 7 years ago and couldn’t find his niche. He went back to home and has had amazing seasons. Does he have the self-confidence now to be able to decide a title game? Yes I think he is capable of doing that in a big game. But he also puts in the work and is always putting up shots before and after practice. He is already a very confident guy and we have a lot of confidence in him being successful.
Despite Bamberg having some very talented bigs, Nymburk won the boards. How key was this stat at the end of the day? It was a big stat. Everybody got into it and rebounded. Coach also told us guards to help the bigs rebound. We did a good job supporting the bigs.
What was it like battling ex NBA player Devon Hall. When you see his game and see where you are, would you like to get a NBA Summer League invitation to test the NBA waters?
Yes for sure playing in the NBA Summer League has always been a goal of mine. I’m a competitor and I always compete no matter who the player is. It was fun competing against an ex NBA player and to test my game.
You had a very good game scoring 19 points, getting 5 boards and 6 assists. It was the most assists as a professional. How much of a priority is it for you keep showing your playmaking ability? It’s very important. I know that I can score, but my next step is to showcase my playmaking. I know that I can do it. I want to build on it and keep being consistent.
You shot only 1/5 from downtown. After a shooting performance, do you get back into the gym the next day and put up extra shots or do you study film? I do a little of both. My shot is affected by my foot work and balance. A bad shooting day always motivates me to get back in the gym the next day and put up shots.
Ex NBA legend Dino Radja proclaimed that he couldn’t imagine Russell Westbrook being able to lead a team in Europe to success. Do you agree? The European game is a lot different to the NBA game which is ball dominant. But Westbrook is an amazing player. I feel that he could dominate anywhere.
Draymond Greene said recently that he feels that he is the best defender of al-time. Do you agree? It is good that he thinks that. But to say that he is the greatest of all-time, I don’t know. There have been so many great defenders like a Dennis Rodman.
Will Gonzaga take the 2021 NCAA title or will another team stand in their way? Anything can happen even to an undefeated team. I like the underdog and will go with USC over Gonzaga.
Have you seen Coming To America 2? Should they just have kept the original and not made a sequel? I liked the sequel. It was pretty funny., It was obvious that the sequel wouldn’t out do the original. But it was fun to see Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall back.
Robert Marberry (201-C-96, college: Lipscomb) is a 25 year old 201cm forward/center from Nashville that is in his second professional season and first with the Artland Dragons (Germany-ProA). His stay was short as he left the club at the end of January 2021 citing personal reasons. In his time with the Dragons, he averaged 5,3ppg and 2,0rpg and 1,2apg. Last season as a rookie he played with Parnu Sadam (Estonia-KML) playing 6 games averaging 8.0ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 74.1%, FT: 66.7%, in Nov.’19 moved to Team FOG Naestved (Denmark-BasketLigaen) playing 16 games averaging 15.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 66.0%. He began his basketball career at Franklin Road Academy averaging 16ppg, 8rpg, 3bpg; and finished his high school career with over 1,500 points and 850 rebounds. He played his freshman year at Western Kentucky University (NCAA) playing 12 games averaging 2.0ppg, 1.1rpg. He then played at Lipscomb University (NCAA) from 2016-2019 playing a total of 99 NCAA games averaging 12.7ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 61.0%, FT: 74.3% as a sophomore,15.8ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 61.2%, FT: 74.4% as a junior and as a senior averaged 14.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 63.2%, FT: 67.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career during his time with the Artland Dragons.
Thanks Rob for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Thank you for letting me do this interview. I am currently in Quakenbrueck, Germany playing for the Artland Dragons. Life here is pretty slow due to the corona virus but other than that, it is nice.
Like so many other players your season was cut short in March 2020. How did you experience the whole COVID-19 the last 7-8 months. What was most challenging for you in terms of staying in shape and being able to continue to work on your game?
It was tough trying to stay healthy and get in the gym as much as possible this off-season. I luckily found a great gym in Nashville, Tennessee that was very organized and had great trainers (All Around Game). The most challenging part was just finding a gym to get in initially. Colleges were on a pretty strict lockdown so it was impossible to get into my old school, Lipscomb.
Were you able to work out with other players or did you focus more on your own individual workouts?
I worked out with other players most of the time. It was a good mix of international players and some NBA guys that were in their offseason too. I like working with others because there is still so much I need to learn and I can do so by watching and talking with some older guys that have already been playing a while.
With everything that you experienced off the court how do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man in general?
I think its all just made me more resilient to change and sudden events that occur. No one saw this type situation coming so we all had to be resilient try to make the best of the situation at hand.
Congrats on signing with the Artland Dragons. After playing your rookie season in Estonia and Denmark, what convinced you most on coming to the Dragons?
I knew that the Dragons had a well managed organization and great facilities to train at so I would feel at home here. After my rookie season, I wanted to play on a team that was well balanced and had a good culture and I found it here with the Artland Dragons.
What has been the most special thing about playing for the Artland Dragons? Did you hear that new Denver Nuggets Isaiah Hartenstein played for the youth teams there?
The most special thing about playing here for the Dragons is the relationships I’ve already developed with my teammates and coaching staff. The whole team is very close to each other despite age and background and I find that very cool. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Isaiah’s father and sister and they are great people. He’s a very good player and I think he could be successful with the Nuggets.
The club has started off very well. Where do you see the journey of this team going this season?
We started well so far and I think we still have so much more in the tank. We are a special team with many weapons so if we get into a rhythm at the right time, there aren’t too many teams that can stop us.
Let’s talk about your teammates. The club is stacked with 2 other talented big men with German veteran Robert Oehle and athletic high flyer Quadir Welton. How do you feel do you fit in best into the rotation and what have you appreciated most about their games?
They’re two great players that bring different assets to our team. I think we are a scouting nightmare due to the different type players we have at each position. Robert is a veteran in this league that many teams had had fits with due to his size and strength and Quadir is extremely hard to stop once he gets going. He has great reach and touch around the rim that many can’t guard. I think I fit best in the rotation by being the energy guy when the team needs it and even stretching the court to the perimeter when someone slower or bigger is guarding me.
What have you appreciated most about team leader Chase Griffin. How valuable have his leadership skills been for the early going?
Chase is a great leader. I’ve learned so much already from him. Having a guy that has played so many years professionally is a necessity on a team. He’s been a great help with our younger guys.
How impressed have you been with young point guard Zach Ensminger? His father is a basketball legend in Germany. He seems like he hasn’t been overburdened with having such a big responsibility at such a young age?
Zach has been off to a great start in ProA. He’s young and has a lot of energy and that carries over to the games which we need a lot of the time. Coach has put a lot of faith into our young guards and Zach definitely hasn’t let us down when we need him to hit a big shot or carry out a play correctly.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 201cm forward/center that can do a lot of things on the court. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I’m working on expanding my game each day and coach has been great helping me with that. I know that if I want to continue playing in good leagues like ProA, I need to become a 4 so I am working on my ball handling and a variation of pick and pops and shooting. I would like to become a player that resembles Kevin Love. He plays a lot of the game with his back to the basket but also moves outside and plays the perimeter and knocks down open shots through motion and pick and pops.
It is easy to see that you can score and rebound the ball. What other strengths does your game incorporate that will continue to help you move up the basketball ladder?
I like to get my teammates involved as much as possible so when I have the ball in the low post or at the top of the key, I try to make plays for them by passing in the right spots. Post players have a different perspective when low and can make reads that others can’t through the game.
You were a solid defender in the NCAA. What steps are you taking most now in continuing to become a good defender? What kind of defender do you want to continue to develop into to?
I’ve been working on becoming a 4 man mostly so with that, it comes with a lot of switching onto guards that are smaller and quicker so I have been working on staying in front of smaller players and containing them to one side of the court. I want to be a guy that can defend all positions throughout a game if needed so that’s what I’m working on right now.
You shot only 3 three’s in the NCAA? Last season you took 15 three’s and this season 3. Do you see yourself developing your three pointer more to become more versatile or will you continue not to take many?
Yes, in college I played only the 5 and had very few opportunities to stretch outside because we had so many good shooters already. Last season was really my first season ever working on my outside shot so I am getting more confident each day with shooting. I’ve been fortunate to have two coaches, professionally, that have confidence in my shooting ability.
Last season as a rookie you split time with Parnu Sadam (Estonia-KML) averaging 8.0ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 74.1%, FT: 66.7%, in Nov.’19 moved to Team FOG Naestved (Denmark-BasketLigaen) averaging games: 15.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 66.0%. What was your wake up call where you knew that you were very far away from home?
The first day I arrived in Parnu. I am very family oriented and love spending time with them so when I arrived in Estonia, it hit me that I wouldn’t be able to see them everyday like I usually did. I luckily had my girlfriend and parents come over in Denmark during the holiday’s which was awesome.
You played for 2 teams as a rookie. How tough was it starting in Estonia, but then coming back and having a strong end to the season in Denmark, What did you learn in general about the business as a rookie?
It was a tough start to my professional career for sure. I honestly was not ready for the physicality and speed of the game. It’s not like college where you have multiple coaches telling you what to do every day and patting you on the back after a good game. If you do not do your job, you get fired. It’s that simple. I needed that experience in Estonia to become the type player that I am now. I quickly realized in Denmark what I needed to do to be successful and tried to execute that every day.
In Denmark you had 2 monster games scoring 34 and 28 points but lost. Was your 21 points and 17 boards in the win over Copenhagen one of your most memorable moments in Denmark?
Yeah, those two games were extremely fun for me. I’ll never forget those great times with my teammates in Denmark. We had a great group of guys that loved playing with each other.
After a stellar career at Franklin Road Academy you began your NCAA career at Western Kentucky University (NCAA). You only played 12 NCAA games and left after 1 season. What memories do you have from your freshman season and what positives did you get out of your 1 year there?
I’d have to say just getting my first taste of college basketball and playing in Madison Square Garden my freshman season for a Thanksgiving tournament was pretty awesome. The biggest takeaway from my freshman season was that I knew that I needed a lot of work and practice to become better and I don’t think I would have trained as hard as I did after that season if I didn’t have those hard times at WKU.
You then finished at Lipscomb from 2015-2018. How tough and important was the season you sat out? Did you become more mature which allowed you put up 3 consistent seasons?
If I had to do college all over again, I would 100% red shirt and sit out again. It taught me a lot of things that playing wouldn’t. It also gave me a whole year to work on my game and understand Lipscomb’s system. It was hard on game nights to sit and watch, knowing I could contribute, but once I was allowed to play the following season, I was ready.
You had a stellar career at Lipscomb. You won the A-Sun tournament in 2018 and reached the NIT final in 2019. What was your fondest memories from your 3 years at Lipscomb?
I loved my experience at Lipscomb. It’s an incredible school with great people and staff. My favorite memory was going down to Florida Gulf Coast University during the 2017-2018 season and winning the A-SUN championship. It’s what every kid wishes for when they attend college and we accomplished something that no other Lipscomb basketball player or team has ever done. That will always be my favorite memory for basketball.
You put up very consistent stats at Lipscomb. How do you feel did your game grow at Lipscomb in your 3 years?
I knew my job at Lipscomb and didn’t try to do anything else other than my job. We all had different jobs and assignments that helped the collective goal of winning and no one had a problem with that. My game grew more as becoming a leader than a player. After my first season playing at Lipscomb, my teammates and coaches voted me captain of the team for my last two seasons.
How much fun was it being teammates with Garrison Mathews? Did you know that he would reach the NBA and what was your fondest moment with him?
He’s the best player that I have played with on a team. Every night, you knew he was going to give his full effort and put on a show for everyone. He had really good chemistry on the court and was hard for other teams to stop. He actually wanted to become a Navy Seal after college was over but as time went on, we all knew he had a shot at the NBA. I’m really happy he’s living out this dream and working hard at it.
Talk a little about your memories of the 83-66 loss against NCAA powerhouse North Carolina. You held your own against future NBA players like Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Cameron Johnson. How aware were you after the game that you could play with the absolute best?
That was a really fun game. We knew we had a shot before the game just because we were so good offensively. We held it pretty close up until the last couple minutes of the game and I think their experience in the tournament took over and they stayed collected and ended up pulling away from us. I went back and watched film and saw that I could play and hold my own and that was a lot of the reason why I wanted to become a pro.
You had many huge games at Lipscomb like your 38 point explosion against USC Upstate. What do you feel was your best game in the NCAA?
I would have to say that my best game was against North Florida in conference play. I had 39 points on 75% shooting against a team that always gave us a good game.
How did head coach Casey Alexander groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Coach Alexander is a great coach and an even better friend. He would tell it how it is and never sugar coat what was on his mind. That’s what players need, someone to tell them the correct thing at the correct time and he always did even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. He taught me how to play within an offense and still be effective almost every play.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Eli Pepper?
We didn’t play too many times but I think I had him beat in one on one. He definitely beats me in a dunk contest though.
Who was your toughest opponent in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Grant Williams was a tough assignment in college. He was extremely strong and athletic and played so well in Tennessee’s system. He ended up being super successful in the SEC and March Madness and is now with the Celtics.
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore from past and present players?
Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant.
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the best of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I honestly think its Lebron. They have both done so much for the game and created so many different positives for the game but I think Lebron is better and has uplifted the game more than any player in history.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I am a big Marvel movie guy so I just got finished watching “Black Panther’ and “Avengers End Game” for the third or fourth time. I highly recommend those movies.