Jermale Jones is a 33 year old 186cm guard from Birmingham, Alabama is playing his 10th professional season and first in Switzerland playing for Swiss Central Basket Luzern (Switzerland-NLB) currently averaging 21,3ppg, 3,3rpg and 4,7apg. He can look back at a long career having played 6 seasons in Germany with 5 in Lich and 1 in Bernau while also getting experience in Luxemburg with Black Star Mersch (Luxembourg-N2) and played two seasons with CS Politehnica Unirea Iasi (Romania-Liga Nationala). He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career during the last summer..
Jermale thanks for talking togermanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been despite the COVID-19 crisis?
I’m currently in Luzern Switzerland. This summer has been a very difficult one but it gave me a chance to learn more about myself and allowed me to spend more time with my family.
How did you experience COVID_19 before coming back to the States when you were in Lich, Germany. Did you get home early or did you see a bit more with how well Germany was coping with it?
When Covid started I had to leave right away. Germany took Covid very seriously immediately. After the season I had plans to go to different places but with things happening the way they did I couldn’t.
How did you experience the whole COVID-19 crisis back home in the States. Did life change drastically for you?
Life back home in the states was so different because of Covid. Being without the gym and able to go places made it very hard. Felt like I was really locked down.
Was it a big challenge being able to stay in shape during COVID-19? Did you find any special ways how you could be able to get your workouts in with and without the ball?
During Covid it wasn’t hard to stay in shape because we were able to go outside and run and do other things. I was doing Garage workouts and drive way workouts while everything was closed.
With all the experiences that you made in the last months during COVID-19 how do you feel did you get stronger as a man?
Honestly I got mentally stronger & i gained more confidence in everything as time past by.
Congrats on signing with Swiss Central Basket Luzern (Switzerland-NLB) at age 33. Do you ever wonder why you didn’t get more kind of breaks like this earlier in your career?
Yes I used to wonder all the time why I didn’t get certain opportunities. I had seen many players that I was better than but I had to grow and realize everyone’s path is different .Sometimes it takes longer than others.
You played the last two seasons for Lich Basketball (Germany-2.Regionalliga) and now will play in the second Swiss League. How did this transfer come about? Often guys from lower leagues get totally overlooked by top league teams. What do you believe sold Swiss Central on signing you?
I think what sold Swiss Central was me being an experienced player and me being able to be a leader to the young players.
What do you know in general about the Swiss league? I imagine the skill level is somewhere between German Pro A and Pro B.
I know Swiss has a pretty solid basketball league and no matter what skill level it’s compared to in Germany I’ll be ready when the lights shine bright.
Your going from Lich to Luzern. How excited are you to be living in such a beautiful city like Luzern? Is it like a late basketball dream come true in your career?
I heard a lot about the city of Luzern and I’m excited to see what all the hype is about. Every year is different and I’m just thankful to continue to do what I love each year. Make the best out of every opportunity.
How excited are you to be able to be competing each week against top competition? Do you feel like you will be able to take your game to a new level in the Swiss league?
Yes I feel I can take my game to another level. It’s all about opportunity. When given the opportunity you take advantage of it & that’s what I plan on doing.
Does making the roster of a second division team at age 33 give you a new type of motivation? Could this job actually help you prolong your career even further now knowing you can still compete at a high level at your age?
Every year is motivation for me to continue to do what I love. At the age 33 I still feel amazing. I will play long as I can long as the situation is good.
You didn’t have to prove anything more in the German Regionalliga and now most likely won’t be putting up massive stats again like the last 2 seasons. You may have a totally different role. How will you help this team most besides giving your experience?
I will help this team mostly by being a leader and holding myself & others accountable. I will give a lot a knowledge to the young players to help them grow to become not only better basketball players but to become a great human outside of basketball.
How thankful are you for Lich Basketball for the last 2 seasons and how do you feel were you able to let your game grow another notch in your 30’s?
I’m really thankful for Lich in every way. I love that club and my heart will always be there. They took me in at my lowest when I didn’t have any where to go because of what happened in Romania. They took me in right away and let me get back to doing what I do and being in Lich helped me gain all my confidence back because they believed in me 100%.
You didn’t have such a long trip form Lich to Frankfurt to watch your buddy Quantez Robertson, but he will have a long trek from Frankfurt to Luzern. How confident are you that he will be bale to come and see one of your games this season?
I’m pretty sure Tez will come see me play and come here just to be here when he gets some off time. Just like when I have some free time I will be at the Frankfurt games like always.
Having you been watching the NBA in Orlando? What has been your impression and who will win it all?
My biggest impression is the fact the players are still going out competing everyday getting themselves ready for games knowing it’s no fans their and it’s just them. I know it has to be weird feeling everyday playing. It’s going to be tough who wins it all but I have to go with the Bucks.
The date was November 11th, 2012 just another normal game for the Fraport Skyliners as they welcomed the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig. It was an exciting game where in the end the Fraport Skyliners grinded out a 61-59 win that had some memorable plays There was one play that for some reason I have never forgotten as it was extremely spectacular and showed the strength of the Fraport Skyliners at both ends. Braunschweig came down on transition and the freak athlete Quantez Robertson who was only in his 4th season with the Skyliners made an incredible block from behind as if he was climbing stairs up to the back board. The block landed in American guard Jonathan Jones´s hands and he led the fast break the other way and fed American ex Giessen forward Zach Peackock for the poster dunk over Eric Boateng. Quantez Robertson would go on to become a Fraport Skyliner lifer legend currently in his 12th season with Frankfurt and become the leagues identity figure and win one title with the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup. But there were 2 other players on the court on this day who scored only a combined 3 points, but like Robertson went on to amazing careers. The one is German Dennis Schroeder who reached the NBA in 2013 and has been a very good point guard in the league for years while the other is American Thaddus Mcfadden. He had a brief stay in Brauinschweig playing only 15 games averaging 5.4ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.2apg, 2FGP: 39.4%, 3FGP: 39.5%. He had to depart in January 2013, but landed in an old stomping ground the Czech Republic where he quickly found his scoring touch again. Braunschweig didn´t turn out the way he wanted to, but he didn´t freak out over the experience. At least he can say today that he was teammates with Dennis Schroeder. “I felt like the club knew I was a good player but just wanted to go a different way in the style of play. I felt like I could of been very successful there, but that’s the business, you have to do what you have to do, no hard feelings and still have respect for the club, firm believer of everything happens for a reason. Dennis and I were cool and with us being the younger guys on the squad we connected well and we still do, I actually went to him play in the eastern conference finals, but I remember thinking man he’s good for his age and have a good chance at the NBA, and telling people that. He’s playing good ball in the NBA right now and has had a good start to his career. I’m proud of him well deserved”, stressed Thaddus Mcfadden in 2016 He also never forgot Quantaz Robertson who he battled against him in the 2015-2016 Fiba Europe season. “I remember him being athletic, a good defender, and being the leader of the team, from what I see from watching film on them in fiba cup now, I still see him as one of the key players to their success”, said Thaddus Mcfadden in 2016.He may have been the recipient of a monster in your face block from Robertson, but since his brief stay in Braunschweig has come a very long way having played in many leagues, including the best in Europe with the ACB, won a scoring title in Greece and also won 4 titles along the way with most recently the 2020 Basketball Champions League.
But before reliving his newest title the 2020 Basketball Champions League, one has to back track some years just to understand how much the guy has developed and continued to improve over the years. The 33 year old 187cm guard from Flint, Michigan who was a scoring ace at Fairmont State University (NCAA2) didn´t move around as much in his first 7 professional seasons. He played parts of 4 seasons in the Czech Republic and then won 3 league titles in Cyprus. But in the last 5 seasons, he has become somewhat of a basketball globetrotter having played for 9 organizations and in 5 countries. After gaining added new experience in France for Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-ProA) and playing for 2 teams in Greece with PAOK Thessaloniki and winning the Greek scoring title with GS Kymis, he made a totally new experience playing in China. He would have 2 tour of duties there with Chongqing Sanhai Lanling (China-NBL) averaging 38.7ppg), 7.1rpg, Assists-2(5.6apg), Steals-1(2.9spg), FGP: 56.7%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 80.6% and also played with Wuhan Dangdai (China-NBL) averaging 36.1ppg), 6.3rpg, Assists-3(7.7apg), 1.9spg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 76.3%. “China was a fun experience. I remember my first game I shot the ball 15 times now I thought this was a lot because in Europe this is a lot so after the game my agent called me and said the team said if you shoot 15 times again your fired because 15 is not enough. So I said ok I can definitely shoot more lol but china was fun I enjoyed it”, remembered Thaddus Mcfadden. In 31 games, the American scored 40 points or more 14 times. He will never forget his massive 61 point explosion against Beijing where he netted 14 three´s. “I remember thinking wow I took 30 shots, but importantly getting the win. We needed to win that game to get closer to the playoffs and we were short-handed we fell short but we still made the playoffs so honestly winning is everything so just trying to win nothing matter if you don’t”, warned Thaddus Mcfaaden. Two seasons ago he made the jump to the ACB with Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (ACB) averaging 12.4ppg, 1.5rpg, 2.3apg, and also played with Divina Seguros Juventut Badalona (ACB) averaging 9.3ppg, 1.1rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 38.5%, 3PT-2(50.0%), FT: 73.3%.. Here he was able to show any haters once again that he belongs on any court in the world. “It was a huge step in my career playing in the ACB best league in Europe and just the mental part of my game grew a lot, reading situations, picking and choosing your spot, it´s never a night off so you have to bring your A game every night every team has to or you will lose. You have to do your homework in the ACB. There is so much talent and great players here, but sometimes a team can be 10 times more talented but lose because you weren´t focused mentally. Playing in Spain really helped my game a lot both physically but more so mentally and playing the game the right way”, warned Thaddus Mcfadden. He also helped lead Burgos to an exciting 87-83 victory over top Euroleague team Real Madrid scoring 18 points, a game that also will be forever be in his mind. “Winning against a great team like Real Madrid is always big. We all know the great players and coaches they have. I have great respect for them, but your chip should never get lighter and still go for more, but of course winning a game like this is big”. Said Thaddus Mcfadden.
The stats of the American who lists his personal NBA Mount Rushmore with Lebron, Jordan, Kobe, Magic, Kareem are incredible since leaving Southwestern Academy and arriving at St. Clair County Community College in 2006. He has averaged double figures in scoring everywhere he has played except 2 times being in Germany and in Spain in the Basketball Champions League in the 2018-2019 season. He averaged over 20 points in the NCAA 2, Czech Republic and China. Especially since leaving Cyprus in 2016, his game has continued to be consistent and dominant despite playing in so many new countries and leagues. But what many people don´t always see is that guys who don´t perform as well or are as consistent usually weren´t used the correct way or put in the right situation and that is a common occurrence in every league in the world. “I’ve got better and yes my game has developed since then, but I think I got the opportunity actually to show what I can do. I feel like there are a lot of players that can play at the highest level but don’t have a opportunity to show or don’t have the right representation to get them these opportunities. I was blessed but for the most part I think I´m the same player that was in Cyprus yes a little better”, warned Thaddus Mcfadden. Another big strength of his is his humbleness. You can laud the guy a million times about his consistency, but in the end, he is very respectful to how his basketball journey has moved along. “I work very hard and you get what you put into the game. I never cheat the game and I’ve had good coaches to put me in spots to be successful, Just God will and hard work put in”, stressed Thaddus Mcfadden. The guard has always had a chip on his shoulder and it didn´t get any lighter in the 4 years where he had a title drought until his recent Basketball Champions League win. In 2016, he stated an unforgettable quote. ““I feed off having the underrated label and it makes me even more motivated because I know my abilities”. Some guys flourish with the chip while other don´t, but the American has and also has enjoyed it. “Yes I feed off this underdog label and every year it´s something new and it´s actually fun to me to prove people wrong until this day people always say he can’t do this he can’t do that, but the only person that can tell you you can’t do something is yourself, I had lots of people telling me Cyprus is the highest you will go. You know many times every single person on this earth has been wrong so I just said ok we will see. Like Omar Cook would say bet on yourself, but I’ve learned to listen don’t take things personal because only you can change the outcome of your life. Yes I’m human and I see the comments and sometimes I think wow like I’ve played against the best, did good against the best, most importantly won against the best and people still say but he is to small, he can’t do this he can’t do that. It´s so funny to me like winning is everything right honestly make me question a lot of people´s basketball knowledge, but its a part of the game”, understands Thaddus Mcfadden.
So let us fast forward to October 2020. While most clubs are preparing for the new season and Euroleague teams have already played season games, there was still one competition to be decided with the 2019-2020 Basketball Champions League title. Burgos had to knock off Jerusalem to reach the final 4 and did. In the semi´s, they met Dijon and got by them 81-67 as ex BBL player Ken Horton led the way for the winners with 19 points. In the final they had a very tough date with the Euroleague powerhouse team AEK Athens as they won 85-74. It was his 4th professional title and it was possibility his most favorite in a very difficult time with COVID-19. “It feels great anytime you win a title especially when you win a title with a very special team and group. Winning the basketball champion league was definitely top basketball feeling in my whole career. Everything has been different because of the Covid 19. I pray things will get back to normal soon. All teams had a different roster and I think what helped us is we have group of great guys on and off the court, and really good veteran players so I have to give our coaches and management huge credit for putting together a championship team”, stressed Thaddus Mcfadden. Hereda San Pablo Burgos won the final 85-74 and were able to use their strength on the boards, but were lucky to pull it out not being able to take care of the ball well. “rebounding was key and we shot the ball very well. I felt like for the most part we took care of the ball at the end. We had most of the turnovers and they took advantage of them but for the most part we did good in all phases of the game. They are a very good team so you have to play great to beat them”, expressed Thaddus Mcfadden. AEK Athens was packed with great ex Euroleague players like Slaughter, Langford, Zisis, Lojeski and Rice, but Mcfadden didn´t feel like the Greek side underestimated them. “AEK always have a very good team and I think they were hungry to win just like us. They have a great coach that I respect a lot, and I know he had them well prepared in the best way possible. I don’t think they over looked us and we have guys on our team that’s known all over as well. So to me being over confident is a good thing. I think I’m the best combo guard in Europe and I said this many years ago. I put in to much work to not think so, so over confidence is what helped me grow and grow every year, but I think that our coaches came out with a very good game plan We have one of the best young coaches in all of Europe I really mean this you will hear Joan Penarroya a lot for many years to come. He told us to go have fun, play together and just take advantage of the moment and at the end we did that made more plays and executed in key moments of the game. That’s why I say everything can happen in basketball just go compete. We really have a good team and we know we have a great chance at great things but we also know it won’t be easy and we have to work very hard to have a great season”, warned Thaddus Mcfadden. The American who was also named 2020 Basketball Champions League MVP adding18 points feels that the fans were a big part of the success. “This title means a lot for the players and coaches but especially for the management and fans. They put this team together five years ago to win a basketball champions league in your fifth year is amazing. This fan base is one of the best in Europe win lose or draw the fan is always the same very supportive and the games will still have 10000 people. I know teams that if you start to lose the fans and management will panic and fans will not come. But this does not happen in Burgos. 10000 fans will always be there and the management will always be behind you so this is special they deserve this championship”, warned Thaddus Mcfadden.
An amazing thing about the title win for Thaddus Mcfadden and co was that they did it with players from last season and new players. Two guys that really stood out were Americans Omar Cook and Alex Renfroe, but there were also others as they demonstrated how lethal early season chemistry can be. “The new players Omar, Alex, Dejan, Ken and Xavi are veteran players and Jordan is a young player with great potential. So the chemistry was picked up faster because these guys have played in big games, big teams, so nothing is new for them. That’s another advantage this team has chemistry, but we still have a lot to do. It won’t be easy but we are very confident in each other and team so we all expecting a big season this year”, stressed Thaddus Mcfadden. But will the Spanish club still be hungry for new titles this season? I´m very confident. We know we have a good roster so why not take advantage. I’m a huge believer of taking advantage of the moment and we are all on the same page”, stressed Thaddus Mcfadden. The 2020 Basketball Champions League title also put the German easyCredit BBL league a bit in the spotlight as 2 ex players with Mcfadden and Ken Horton were instrumental pieces in the success. “The BBL is a good league; very respected league, and a very professional league. When I was there I had no problems. I’ve seen players play good in Germany and really benefit from that in the years to come so I have great respect for the Germany league”, said Thaddus Mcfadden.
The American who´s last movie that he saw was Escape Room turned 33 in May and is still going strong. His amazing play and consistency stands out and the question is how much longer will he still want to play? The answer may be long since he is teammates with 38 year old ex NBA player Omar Cook who gives forever young a new meaning as he is still playing very strong at his age. There have been some guys in the BBL that I thought would play into their 40´s but didn´t, but Thaddus Mcfadden believes that Omar Cook could be one of those candidates. “Omar Cook is a legend. He makes the game so easy for us all. He is a true winner whatever it takes he does it. In that final he got us going. He’s best known for his great passing, defense, but a very underrated offensive player. In the final he hit 5 huge three pointer all 3 were in huge moments for us. I bet before the game if you tell him to give us 5 blocks, I´ll bet everything he will do it. Even before the game he would send motivational speeches. He definitely is a true leader and I wouldn’t mind playing with him for many many years I want to play until I’m 40. I think he will play until he’s 45 and let´s not forget about Alex Renfroe. It was a pleasure playing with him too, a winner another guy that’s huge for our success as well they are different in style but both styles are good for the team.. So it´s a pleasure playing with both”, added Thaddus Mcfadden. Obviously the chances of being able to play a long career gets more realistic when you stay healthy and can soak up as much as possible from an Omar Cook on a daily basis. “Omar´s work ethic is amazing and I’m learning. He takes care of his body and is just a true professional I’m playing until I’m 40 or 41 so learning from him is very useful”, stressed Thaddus Mcfadden. The American is on a high now in Burgos Spain and is hungry to add on to his 4 titles with some more this season. The guy has had so much success and demonstrated over and over everywhere he has played that he can be a top player there. 8 years ago in the Fraport arena, Thaddus Mcfadden had already had great seasons in the Czech Republic, but was still unproven in top leagues in Europe, but today he is not only at another level, but a lot better player that has deserved the recognition he has gotten and all of his success. You don´t even have to wonder what could have been 8 years ago had he came to Braunschweig with no Dennis Schroeder. “I don’t think Dennis not being there would of made a difference I think the team already had in mind what they wanted to do with me and use me more in the second year because I signed for two years. Years later this is what I was told. I wish I would of known this then, but man I’m so proud of Dennis. He deserve it all and he’s still a good friend of mine”, stated Thaddus Mcfadden. 8 years later Thaddus Mcfadden is on top the world and is hungry for a lot more. He definitely has done everything right in his career since leaving Braunschweig.
DJ Woodmore is a 28 year old 190cm point guard that is playing his first season with the EPG Baskets Koblenz. Last season with Morgenstern BIS Basket Speyer (Germany-ProB) he played 21 games averaging 15.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT-2 (50.0%), FT: 87.3%. In 2018-2019 13.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 2.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 60.2%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 71.6% in the Regionalliga. In his first two seasons with Speyer he averaged 14.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 40.1%, FT: 72.1% and 17.5ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 76.4%. he played at Virginia Wesleyan College (NCAA3): from 2010-2014 and as a senior played 31 games averaging 20.1ppg, 5.9rpg, 2.4apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.3% (219/435), 3Pts: 46.0% (91/198), FT: 76.9% (93/121). Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and DJ Woodmore will team up each week to talk basketball. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the exciting grind out victory over Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer
Congrats DJ on a huge 72-68 win at home against the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer. What kind of feelings do you have in general playing against your ex team where your career began?
Thank you! I thought it was a much needed win for us. Not the prettiest offensive game we’ve played, but really solid defensively. It was a pretty emotional week leading up to the game. Of course I wanted to play well individually, but the win was the most important thing.
What kind of a relationship do you have in general with your ex head coach Carl Mbassa? How vital was he for your game early in your career?
Coach and I still have a really good relationship. I talked to him a little this summer and thanked him for the great years we’ve had in Speyer. He did a lot for my growth as a playmaker in the 5 seasons I was there. Can never thank him and the rest of the club enough for giving me my first and second chance to play professional ball!
You guys grinded out a tough 72-68 win over the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer. How big was this win in general? You guys survived a scare in the fourth quarter. Was this the biggest win of the season?
I thought it was a big win just to get back on track. We definitely didn’t want to have a bad taste in our mouth going into the Ulm and Giessen game. The fourth quarter was pretty rough for us but I thought Speyer did a good job of mixing up the defenses and keeping us on our toes the entire time. They made shots difficult for us and put a lot of pressure on us late in the game. Luckily we were able to make plays when we needed.
It is very hard to believe that Speyer kept Koblenz without a field goal in 9,32 minutes. What made it so tough to get a field goal in the last quarter?
I had no idea we went so long without scoring. Great job on their part. Like I said, they kept mixing up the defenses and kept us guessing at all times. It felt like the basket had a lid on it. But we were able to knock down some key free throws and got a huge basket by Chaed when the game was on the line.
Chad Wellian made a huge jumper with less than a minute to go. How important is this guy for the team? It seems like he is a second Brian Butler in terms of his fierce athleticism?
He is very important for us. I think he adds another dimension to our team. Versatile on offense and defense. Adds athleticism and energy to the lineup right away. Plus his ability to get hot from the 3 point line will make it easier for us to go on longer runs.
After a tough loss at Oberaching a week ago, what new steps do you feel did the club make on the defensive end against Speyer?
I thought we were a lot more focused against Speyer compared to Oberhaching. We knew how dangerous Speyer can be when their shooters are making shots, so going into the game, we made sure to keep that in mind. Holding a shooting team like that to under 70 points was a big improvement for us. Just have to keep it going.
Head coach carl Mbassa gave a lot of credit to his young German Valentin Rappold on defense especially in the way he defended you. What was your impression of the young player?
Val played extremely well. I played with him a lot last year and always knew he could compete at the Pro B level if he wanted to. Seeing him out there in the crunch time is just testament to patience and hard work. Think it was a huge step for him this weekend.
You led all scorers with 18 points. You shot very well 6/9. It continues to be very refreshing how unselfish you are. Ok so you have been told often to shoot more, but still how vital is your unselfishness in general help you take the absolute best shot selection which you continue to do?
I think it’s been working for us. I know the spots where I feel the most comfortable on the court, and when I get those opportunities, I won’t hesitate. But There’s so much offensive talent on this team that it makes it easy to be unselfish. I probably could be a bit more aggressive scoring the ball but getting my teammates involved earlier, usually opens the game up for me later.
Koblenz is playing very good basketball. One saw in the fourth quarter that turnovers was a big problem. Coach Rodriguez said in the press conference that one is able to practice minimizing mental mistakes. How confident are you that this will get better as the season moves on?
I think it’ll get much better as the season goes on. For us, we’re still all pretty new to each other. Basically a completely new roster from last year, so the chemistry isn’t going to be perfect this early in the season. But I don’t doubt that we’ll find our rhythm soon and play even better down the stretch!
The EPG Baskets Koblenz have a tough game next week in Ulm. They have a very strong record like you. What will be key to coming out with a win?
Yes, they’re a really talented young team that is extremely disciplined. I think the key for us is to focus on our defense again. Taking away some of their strengths, and REBOUNDING the ball. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves the best chance. But we know it won’t be easy.
What was your first thought when you heard that Nate Robinson went into the boxing ring with Jake Paul?
Lol! I didn’t know anything about it until Saturday at midnight. But of course I thought Nate would win easily. Currently waiting for the rematch date. Lol
How did you spend your Thanksgiving. How have you learned to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving as best as possible overseas?
Didn’t do anything for thanksgiving this year. I’ve adjusted to not really celebrating it when I’m over here in Germany. But I’ll spend a lot of day just talking to friends and FaceTiming with my family. It’s definitely not the same as being home but I’ll take what I can get. Sometimes I’ll even go to McDonald’s just to get a taste of the American culture again.
Winning streaks always come to an end and the EPG Baskets Koblenz saw their great season start of 4-0 end with a loss in Bavaria against the TSV Oberaching Tropics 90-84. As usual the EPG Baskets Koblenz were able to display a solid offensive fire power placing 5 players in double figures, but if you can´t defend in a proper manner and cough up the ball 19 times, it will be difficult to win the game. Plus it also didn´t help that ex BBL German Peter Zeis exploded for 30 points. Sometimes a loss can be a positive experience in disguise as now the club has that undefeated record off their chest and know that they aren´t invincible. The club quickly wiped the loss out of their memory and came back to battle against the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer a team that came to Koblenz riding a 1-2 record. They had had a whole month off as their last game was an unsatisfying 114-80 loss against BBC Coburg. Allowing 16 three´s and losing the rebound battle in Coburg gave the club many weeks to ponder and wanted to give a better defensive effort in Koblenz and did playing pick up basketball the whole night, but allowed only 10 points in the last quarter fighting back to gain their first lead with 57 seconds to play, but didn´t get rewarded losing 72-68. At the press conference a dejected and very somber looking head coach Carl Mbassa stood ready for any questions fired at him and had to digest the tough loss. “We were unable to find our rhythm in the first quarter. We couldn´t handle the athleticism from Koblenz. Our record may be 1-3, but we know what we are capable of doing. Still I´m proud of how the team came back and always fought and played with discipline. I thought that we sold ourselves well. We have a good character and will come back”, warned Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer head coach Carl Mbassa. EPG Baskets Koblenz head coach Danny Rodriguez had his usual game face look during the press conference questions and one could tell that he was relieved that his team could eke out a real classic nail bitter. “We wanted to start out well and did. Our energy let up in the second quarter. In the third quarter we were able to lead by 10 points again. Overal there were simply too many up and downs with our energy today”, said EPG Baskets head coach Danny Rodriguez.
Both teams had key players missing as the EPG Baskets Koblenz were without ex wiha Panthers big man Edin Alispahic while the AHORN Camp BIS Baskets Speyer were without American guard Jordan Rezendes. “I have an adductor problem that is hard to heal. I wish that I could have been out there for my teammates, especially in a close game”, said American Jordan Rezendes. The home team Koblenz wasted absolute no time jumping all over Speyer the way You Tuber Jake Paul did all over ex NBA Nate Robinson knocking him out last night taking a quick 8-0 lead. In the run it was ex Ehingen forward Brian Butler that dominated scoring 3 buckets as his overall aggressiveness and incredible anticipation for rebounds and finding the open spot and knowing where the basket is couldn´t be handled by the opponent. “Everything Brian does is great. Everything is so automatic for him. The reason he is able to make so many plays is because of how hard he works”, commented ex Leverkusen forward CJ Oldham. Dutch forward Chaed Wellian also showed that he can compete with the athleticism of Buter making a hard slam dunk on transition. Koblenz did a good job getting out on transition as Koblenz defended aggressively, got in passing lanes and played good pick and roll defense not allowing Speyer into their offensive sets. Koblenz suffered a little lull on defense allowing Speyer to go on a 5-0 run to cut the Koblenz lead down to 8-5 as ex BBL player Tim Schwartz nailed a trey and ex Bosnian Concord University (NCAA2) forward Simun Kovac made a lay in. But it didn´t take the EPG Baskets Koblenz long to get their offense going again as they stormed back going on a 5-0 run as ex FC Schalke guard Marley Jean-Louis scored inside and CJ Oldham scored on transition executing on a acrobatic lay in and giving his team the 12-5 advantage. Oldham had another very impressive game showing his excellent versatility filling the stat sheet finishing with 8 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. “My role with every team has been different. I just always try to make plays to help my team win”, warned CJ Oldham. Ex BBL player Marc Liyanage nailed a trey cutting the Koblenz lead down to 12-8. But the Koblenz offense was too strong for Speyer as they came back with a rapid 7-0 run to lead 19-8 getting buckets from Ex Speyer guard DJ Woodmore, Oldham and Buter all in the zone. Speyer showed no physicality inside and Koblenz played fine team basketball taking advantage of the lax Speyer physicality resulting in easy baskets. In the last few minutes, the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer got some much needed energy from their athletic 199cm small forward Darian Cardenas who began his basketball career with USC Heidelberg and had 43 Pro A games with Jena and Rostock scored 5 points hitting a pretty fade away jumper and nailing a trey. After 10 minutes the EPG Baskets Koblenz had the comfortable 22-14 lead.
The EPG Baskets Koblenz kept the lead in the second quarter, but the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer stepped up their game to another level and showed that they weren´t about to back away from the home team on this night. Once again the EPG Baskets Koblenz began well taking going on a fast 10-4 run to extend their lead to 32-18. In the run, the troops of head coach Danny Rodriguez got vital support from ex Giessen guard Lukas Meyer who drilled home a three pointer, Wellian who also connected from downtown andgot lay in´s from Woodmore and Butler. Koblenz was displaying a fine combination of inside out basketball while Speyer continued to lose many 1-1 battles on defense. Speyer got 2 baskets from Liyanage and Cardenas, but Koblenz was defending hard and only giving Speyer very tough shots. Speyer went on a 6-2 run as at times, Koblenz was unable to keep their consistent offensive flow. Speyer got key baskets from Cardenas who makes his fade away jumper look like a work of art, ex Heidelberg forward David Aichele made a 10 footer and ex BG Karlsruhe guard Eric Curth made a smart offensive rebound and put back that enraged Danny Rodriguez to call a time out despite the comfortable 34-24 advantage. Despite no fans and loud music during the time out, one could hear the anger of Rodriguez on the sidelines as he was barking new commands to his players. Speyer was showing better energy on offense, but Koblenz continued to defend very well making every shot tough for Speyer. Despite the time out by Koblenz, Speyer closed out the second quarter in fine fashion going on a 8-4 run to trail only 38-32 at half-time. In their run, they got important help from Cardenas who was their work horse on offense tallying 5 points including a nice hook shot while Eric Curth dropped a key trey. Koblenz got buckets from Woodmore and ex BBL player Jacob Mampuya. “We went to a zone in the second quarter to try to get Koblenz out of rhythm. We just tried to change things around and it helped us. We did a good job switching ball screens and that brought Koblenz more into isolation ball”, stressed Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer head coach Carl Mbassa.
In the third quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz were able to hold the lead despite many attempts by the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer to almost get over the hump, but when ever they tried, it was huge three pointers that kept Koblenz ahead. The Koblenz offense continued to work very well in the first few minutes as Louis, Woodmore and Wellian all scored, but Speyer also was playing a lot better on offense as Kovac brought some important intensity inside getting 2 baskets and Kovac then when double teamed found a cutting Schwarz into the lane for an easy basket, but Koblenz still led 45-38. Speyer then went on a 4-0 run as Cardenas made free throws and Schwartz scored inside cutting the Koblenz lead to 45-42. Speyer did a good job taking advantage of early Koblenz foul trouble. Speyer was threatening, but Koblenz relied on their three point shooting as Woodmore connected to give Koblenz the 48-42 lead. Kovac made an offensive rebound and put back as Speyer threatened again trailing 49-44, but then came the next trey from Mampuya to keep the Koblenz lead at 52-44. Woodmore and Mampuya again then drilled home the next 2three pointer for the 58-48 Koblenz advantage as Speyer just couldn´t get closer and get consistent stops while exerting more energy in the comeback. Koblenz showed just how deep they were as Butler was no factor, but could easily compensate that with their raining of three´s. Schwartz made a trey late and Koblenz also got Butler going again as he scored 4 points in the last minute scoring on transition and also making another big offensive rebound with his incredible anticipation and put back as Koblenz led 62-53. “Even if we were down 10 points we always felt like we could come back. Of course if the deficit goes down to 15-20 points then it becomes even tougher to come back”, stated Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer head coach Carl Mbassa. “It is great to have the three point shooting, but we also have to play more inside. If we play more inside it also helps our shooters get open”, added Chaed Wellian.
The fourth quarter proved to be the best defensive quarter that the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer have played this season. They stepped up their defense like never before allowing only 10 points and held Koblenz to no field goals for 9.32 minutes. Speyer didn´t play their best offense, but it was enough to get back into the game. In the early minutes, Speyer got some key baskets from Schwartz and Liyanage who did a great job muscling inside for an offensive rebound and put back cutting the Koblenz lead down to 63-57. On the defensive end, they were playing their most aggressive defense of the game forcing turnovers left and right as Brian Butler coughed up the ball a few times and finished with 4. “Mistakes happen and they are mental. We have to learn to minimize them and grow together more as a team. We have to grow to play well for 40 minutes”, warned Koblenz head coach Danny Rodriguez. Speyer continued to chip away and got 2 baskets from Kovac inside to cut the Koblenz lead down to 63-61. Every now and then Koblenz got to the free throw line, but twice only got 1 of 2 shots from Louis and Woodmore giving Koblenz the 65-61 lead. Speyer continued to get stronger and stronger as they began to feel they could win the game. Schwartz hit a massive trey to cut the Koblenz lead down to 65-64 with 3,29 to play. Speyer continued getting stops and Schwartz then gave Speyer their first lead of the contest with a jumper 67-65 with 1,38 to play. Oldham then continued the Koblenz free throw drought hitting only one as Speyer held the 67-66 lead with 57 seconds to play. Young 19 year old German Valentin Rappold who began his career with the TSV Crailsheim Merlins 2nd team (2.Regionalliga) played a huge role at the end. He made some big defensive rebounds and made a huge offensive rebound with under a minute to go. He got the ultimate compliment from head coach Carl Mbassa after the loss.“”Valentin was key for our comeback. He made us better. He is without a doubt our best defender. He has a great IQ and played excellent against DJ Woodmore”, stressed Carl Mbassa. After a Kovac turnover came the turning point of the game as Koblenz finally hit their first field goal of the game with 28 seconds to go. Wellian made a 20 footer that carried his team to the victory. “”The original play was to get some one open on the post. We didn´t get that so we had to find a solution and my team found me and I made the shot. I just try to keep everybody together when we hit a slump”, warned Chad Wellian. Koblenz then closed out the win with Woodmore and Oldham free throws. “Speyer played very passive and switched everything. We didn´t attack enough and were too slow to get out on transition”, said Koblenz head coach Danny Rodriguez. “I felt like we really could of changed the game in the last 2 minutes. There were 2 crucial mistakes at the end that changed the game and Wellian´s shot was one of them”, said Speyer head coach Carl Mbassa. The EPG baskets Koblenz were led by DJ Woodmore with 18 points. Brian Butler added 15 points and Chaed Wellian contributed 11 points while the Ahorn camp BIS Baskets Speyer were led by Tim Schwartz with 20 points. Darian Cardenas added 17 points and Simun Kovac had 14 points and 15 rebounds including 8 offensive rebounds. The EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 47% from the field and 29% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 14 turnovers while the Ahorn Camp BIS Baskets Speyer shot 45% form the field and 32% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 20 turnovers.
It was March 7th, 2013, and the site was Conway, South Carolina, an old historical town that sits only 15 minutes form the Atlantic Ocean and gave all game show fans around the world Vanna White where on this night a quarterfinal game in the Big South Conference quarterfinals was taking place. There were no future NBA players on the court, but some players that would later play in Germany in the easyCredit BBL with DJ Covington who suited up for Virginia Military Institution and current Fraport Skyliner Michael Kessens who was only a freshman at Longwood another school in Virginia. Not only did this NCAA game have an exciting finish, but it would be a game that Michael Kessens would never forget. Virginia Military Institution had a 17 point lead, but Longwood conducted a fierce comeback in the last 11,51 minutes to cut the lead down to 2 points. However Longwood couldn´t finish their comeback as Virginia Military Institution point guard Rodney Glasgow who has put up a stellar professional career in Europe winning titles in Slovakia and England and will ball for UMFN Njardvik (Iceland-Dominos League) this season made a steal and free throws to seal the 90-86 victory. Stan Okoye who has played 3 years in the Italian Serie A and for the 2019 Boston Celtics NBA Summer League team finished with 31 points, but was held to only 6 points in the second half, but his slack was picked up by ex Phoenix Hagen forward DJ Covington who finished with 26 points and Rodney Glasgow who chipped in with 22 points. Even though Kessens lost the game, he exploded for a tournament record 36 points and 16 boards and was put safely on the NCAA map after this game. It’s been a really long time since that game, but I do remember some of that game, he was playing for Longwood and they were a very talented team that was trying to get their chemistry together that year. For us, our season was up and down and we needed the win to advance further in the conference tournament. Play by play, I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do remember after Michael’s performance I left the game very impressed by his game. He was a freshman that season, so it was nice to see a young player out there with so much confidence”, stressed Stan Okoye( Herbalife Gran Canaria) This game is still remembered by Kessens today. “It was the conference tournament and the previous game we had eliminated the defending champs who were NC Asheville. We played VMI a couple times (led by Stan Okoye) during conference play but they outplayed us every time. I just wanted to play better than I had against Asheville and help my team win. Didn’t really follow the stats during game. It was a big game for me, yes, but the win would’ve been more important. Especially because winning the game would’ve probably saved my coach’s job (Mike Gillian) and I wouldn’t have transferred. Therefore this game really was a career defining moment but not because of the stat line”, remembered Michael Kessens. Kessens was only a freshman, but would go onto have a productive NCAA career playing with a number of other NCAA schools and now has established himself as an easyCredit BBL player in Germany and recently joined the Fraport Skyliners. It was time for another edition of the Miles Basketball Minute ex teammate scouting report with his ex Vechta teammate Chris Carter.
Michael Kessens was born on February 16th, 1991 in Geneva, Switzerland and possesses the German/Swiss citizenship. He has a German mother and father from Somalia, Africa. He didn´t find his love right away to basketball, but began playing soccer. Hs first basketball club that he played for as a youth was with BBC Nyon. He then played for the French club Cholet Basket youth team´s from 2009-2012. :He led Lycee Europe Robert Schumann in Cholet, France, to the French High School championship as a senior and played in the French Under-21 Championship in 2009 and 2010. He played his freshman year at Longwood(NCAA), but wasn´t your typical 17 or 18 year freshman, but was 21 years old bringing European experience to Longwood.He played 33 games as a freshman averaging 13.7ppg, 8.8rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 22.2%, FT: 69.9%. He scored in double figures in 25 games and achieved 11 double doubles. Besides his massive game against Virginia Military Institution where he put up 36/16 numbers, he also hit Campbell and High Points for 22 points apiece and nailed Gardner-Webb for 21 points and Cornell for 20 points. He pIcked up many accolades, including selection to the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Freshmen All-America Team and Big South Freshman of the Year. He also was voted the Virginia Sports Information Directors Association (VaSID) Rookie of the Year, encompassing all Division I schools in the state of Virginia, also being named to the Big South Conference All-Freshman Team numbers,.
After a season at Longwood, he attempted a new challenge and played at Alabama from 2014-206 having to redshirt the 2013-2014 season. He played 65 NCAA games for Alabama, but wasn´t able to achieve the kind of numbers that he had at Longwood averaging 5.9ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 65.6% and in his senior year averaged 3.7ppg, 3.5rpg. In his sophomore season, he was able to lead the team in rebounds and was second in field goal percentage. He scored in double figures in 5 games amassing 18 points and 12 rebounds against North Florida and 17 points and 10 rebounds against Appalachian State. In his last season at Alabama he scored in double figures in one game hitting Mississippi for 10 points and 7 boards. After achieving some growing pains at Alabama(NCAA), he still had a year of eligibility left and decided to play at Florida International University (NCAA). The decision to play another season proved right as he was able to have another stellar productive season like he did at Longwood playing 30 games averaging 12.9ppg, 9.0rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 23.5%, FT: 68.9%. He led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring. He scored in double figures in 23 of 30 games and registered 9 double doubles sixth best in the league. He had some massive games like his 17 points and 23 rebounds against Elon, and 21 points apiece against Florida Atlantic and Youngstown.
He turned professional in 2017-2018 and played for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven (Germany-BBL) playing 32 games averaging 6.6ppg, 4.2rpg, FGP: 61.5%, FT: 60.0%. He scored in double figures in 6 games including scoring 12 points against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and had 11 points against Gotha and Bayreuth. He held his own averaging 15 minutes per game, but had a lot of competition at his position and from other German players. He decided to take a new challenge with Rasta Vechta and like with his decision to add on a NCAA season at Florida International University, this change of scenery was golden as he played his first season for Cinderella team Rasta Vechta and was able to learn from up and coming head coach Pedro Calles.. He would play with Rasta Vechta from 2018-2020. Last season American point guard Chris Carter helped the Niners Chemnitz move up to the easyCredit BBL, but 2 seasons ago he had the pleasure of being teammates with Michael Kessens. There have been many Germans over the years that have had NCAA experience and they return home to Germany speaking fluent English. But not every German that returns has mastered the English language as well as Kessens did and he can communicate in 3 languages today. “I thought he was American when I met him. That is how good I thought his english was. I´m sure he had no troubles at his 3 schools”, stressed Rostock Wolves guard Chris Carter. Carter has had many teammates in his career, but he is a guy that is always able to find the perfect words that fit that teammate and despite it being over a year where they last shared the court, he was crisp and to the point concerning what comes to mind when he hears the name Michael Kessens. “He is a work horse/leader”, stressed Chris Carter. Kessens played 55 BBL games for Rasta Vechta and couldn´t match the stats from the Cinderella season of 7.3ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 62.3%, FT: 72.0% last season as he averaged only 4.6ppg, 4.2rpg. But the Swiss/German has demonstrated in Bremerhaven and Vechta that he can be an important team contributor. He never got any basketball schooling in Germany, but profited from the NCAA experience. “I think it helped him seeing the world and getting cultured with the American way of play”, warned Chris Carter.
The 206cm big man can score and rebound, but he also has other attributes that will help his new team Fraport Skyliners as they seek the road back to the playoffs after missing them 2 years in a row. “He is a great pick and roll player, sets hard screens, and his footwork is really good. But his defense is where he excels at”, stressed Chris Carter. But it isn´t only his offensive and defensive skills that standout, but he is also a great role model that will pay dividends for the young Skyliner players. “He is an excellent leader and worked hard daily doing the little things outside of practice. He was consistently in the weight room working on his body and great man off the court”, warned Chris Carter.. Kessens arrived to Vechta lacking the needed self-confidence at times, but was helped by one of the best BBL mentors in Pedro Calles. “Coach Pedro gave him a lot of confidence that season and you can tell it has made him a better player moving forward”, added Chris Carter. Carter definitely has many fond memories, but the most memorable was the amazing Vechta win over Bamberg in the 2019 playoffs. Vechta was severely undermanned due to injuries and Kessens suddenly had to play extended minutes and excelled scoring 18 points in the unforgettable 90-86 win. It was a no brianer that the series against Bamberg remained in Carter´s mind. “On the court, the playoffs during Bamberg when I was moved to the 4 position and he was at the 5. That was fun. Off the court was when we hung out in South Beach last summer. I´m sure that was a game that he will never forget”, warned Chris Carter. In his 2 seasons at Vechta, he scored in double figures in 22 games. He had some very strong games like his 15 points against the EWE Baskets and Wurzburg and 14 points apiece against Giessen, Bayreuth and Oldenburg. Now Kessens will attempt to make another step in his development with the Fraport Skyliners. With the departure of big man Leon Kratzer, he now builds a big man rotation with Kamari Murphy and Marco Voeller. In 3 games he is averaging 13 minutes per game and averaging 3,3ppg and 4,3rpg. Carter is more than confident that Kessens will be to help the Frankfurt game. Carter saw Kessens on a daily basis and knows how Kessens will enrich a part of Frankfurt´s game that has suffered the last 2 years.. “Frankfurt’s defense definitely just got better”, warned Chris Carter. That should put a big smile on the minister of defense Quantaez Robertson´s face.
J J Cratit is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Miami, Florida That is playing his second professional season with TSV 1861 Noerdlingen (Germany-2.Regionalliga) In his rookie season with TSV 1861 Noerdlingen (Germany-2.Regionalliga), he averaged 23,0ppg. He played at 3 schools from 2014-2017 with Lewis and Clark Community College (JUCO) playing 24 games averaging 14.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 75.4%, Central Connecticut State University (NCAA) playing 18 games averaging 7.4ppg, 1.4rpg, FGP: 29.8%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 61.9% and Missouri Southern State University (NCAA2) playing 27 games averaging 14.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 79.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com late in the summer about his basketball career.
Thanks JJ for your time. Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
I’m currently in Noerdlingen, Germany getting ready for the season. My summer was pretty good actually, spent a lot of time with family and friends, thank you.
Talk a little how tough the last 9 months were. COVID-19 hit in March and changed the world forever. How did experience the day to day back home?
It definitely was rough, I was working at the time and was let go due to the pandemic so I was stuck at home with nothing to do, nowhere to go.
What was the most challenging thing about life and and finding ways to work on your fitness and game?
The most challenging thing was finding a gym to consistently workout in. All indoor gyms were closed as well as outdoor courts, so I only worked out at the house for a good amount of time, but it was better than doing nothing.
How do you feel did you benefit from COVID-19 and how did it make you stronger as a man in general?
I honestly never paid attention to all the news on the t.v, newspapers, Internet, etc. I just kept faith and put my trust in god and kept moving forward with my life, realized sooner or later everything would be okay.
Your last season was in 2017-2018 with the giants Nordlingen and didn’t play in Europe in the last 2 seasons. Did you play semi-pro in the States and how did you earn a living in this time?
I didn’t play semi-pro but I played in a pro league that we have back home and it’s every summer, great league, great competition, it’s getting bigger & better every year.
Congrats on resigning with the Nordlingen Giants. How glad are you to be back in Nordlingen and what did you miss the most from the city?
Thank you! I’m really glad to be back in Noerdlingen, never knew I would be back so soon. I would say that I definitely missed the fans and people of Noerdlingen, they treated me well and welcomed me with open arms.
The club already wanted to get you back last season, but failed. What were the main reasons for having to wait another year to come back?
I just wanted to make sure that I was stepping into a good situation without any problems, and I also wanted to make sure everything was okay with my family back home before I took off.
Let’s talk a little about your game. You proved to have been a consistent scorer in various leagues. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?
This is a tough one but I would say Paul George, just from the simple fact that we both can create our shot offensively, can score in the post, mid range, and from the three. I just need to tighten up my handles more, always room for improvement.
You can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is your biggest asset on the floor?
Just being a vocal leader and being the best teammate I can be. We have a lot of young guys on the team so it’s important for me to be that leader and to help them in any way possible.
How do you feel are you a different player now then in 2018? What kind of a player will we see with you this time around?
Not much of a difference, my game is still the same somewhat, it’s more seasoned. Added on some more muscle to my body to keep up with the physicality of overseas ball.
On what things did you work on this summer so you will make an even greater impact in your second season in Germany?
Really just finding and picking my spots on the offensive end. I dealt with a lot of teams doubling me when I last played in Germany so that’s the main thing I worked on.
In your first season with the Giants Nordlingen you averaged 23,0ppg. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Germany where you knew that you were far away from home?
Not much of a wake up call, I’m used to being on my own due to playing at different colleges back in the states, I just had to adjust to the different culture in Germany, it was very new to me, something I’ve never experienced before.
What was your fondest memory from your rookie season with Nordlingen? You played a big role in the club staying in the second Regionalliga.
Just seeing the great support from our fans at every home game, even though we didn’t have the season we wanted, they still showed up to our games no matter what our record was.
You began your college career at Lewis and Clark Community College (JUCO) playing 24 games averaging 14.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 75.4%. How do you feel did you profit most from playing JUCO? Players continue to tell me you get tough in JUCO.
Juco was definitely a great experience that I needed, it taught me a lot. We played in a tough conference with great players that went on to play at big division 1 schools. It makes you tough because everyone you’re playing against is fighting for the same D1 dream, it was a battle every time I stepped on that court but I enjoyed it, went up against D1 prospects pretty much every game.
You then made it to the NCAA with Central Connecticut State University (NCAA) playing 18 games averaging 7.4ppg, 1.4rpg, FGP: 29.8%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 61.9%. After playing JUCO did your competition level continue to grow as the hunger to prove all wrong continued to grow?
Not really, the competition level wasn’t anything I’ve never seen before, I would say my juco conference had better competition compared to when I was at Central Connecticut State.
It was a tough year, because you didn’t win much. How do you feel did your game make most strides in the NCAA?
Very tough year, I honestly didn’t make any strides that year, which is the main reason why I transferred, in the end it just didn’t work out, I had to do what was best for my career.
You had one of your best NCAA games against Boston College scoring 20 points. What memories do you have from that game?
I just remember I had it going early during that game, my confidence was through the roof, didn’t care who I was going against. I just love playing under the bright lights, big stages, it just brings something out of me. I like being the underdog.
Do you remember battling Eli Carter who averaged 16,00ppg in the NCAA. He didn’t have a easy professional route and has been out of basketball since 2017. Does the fact that his career showing just how difficult it can be to make it as a pro despite having a strong senior year help easen your situation a bit seeing that even established NCAA guys won’t make it?
Yes I remember watching him when he was playing at Florida, very talented point guard. Making it overseas professionally can be tough at times, everyone’s path is different but if it’s something that you truly want to pursue you just got to continue to work and be patient, that’s a huge key to being in this business.
What kind of experience was it playing for ex NBA player Donyell Marshall. How do you remember your relationship with him and how did you learn best from him?
Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to play for Donyell, I already made the decision to transfer when he was hired. I did get the chance to have a meeting with him before I left, very down to earth guy, great attitude, played with Lebron James so he knows the game very well. I’m sure guys enjoy playing for him.
You finished at Missouri Southern State University (NCAA2) playing 27 game averaging 14.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 79.6%. How do you feel did your game mature in your last year?
My game definitely took a huge step my senior year, best year of my college career. I wished I could’ve played all four years at Missouri Southern State, that’s how great of a program they have going on in Joplin. Loved every minute of it.
You had some tough loses like against Central Oklahoma 83-82 where you scored 21 points but also had super games. What was your fondest moment on the court there?
My greatest moment from that year was when we beat Northwest Missouri on our home floor, they were the number 1 team in the country. They were tough but we came up with the perfect game plan to beat them that night, I’ll never forget that game.
How did head coach Jeff Boschee help groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Coach Boschee helped me a lot with my game, especially on the defensive end. He’s also a great offensive minded coach and knows the game from top to bottom, he played for Coach Roy Williams at the University of Kansas and started all four years. I really enjoyed taking pointers and learning from him, all around great coach.
What was it like having 173cm guard CJ Carr as a teammate? He also hasn’t had an easy road, but continues to grind and find pro teams? How big was the competitive level between you two?
Having CJ as a teammate was great. We both had transferred in from our division 1 schools that year so we connected instantly. CJ is a gym rat, constantly working on his game to get better, I don’t see him having any problems finding pro teams the rest of his career, he’s never satisfied and wants to continue to prove doubters wrong. Me and CJ battled all year long during the season, it just made us better individually, I enjoyed having him as my point guard.
Who won a one on one in practice you or CJ Carr who is 20cm shorter than you?
Me and CJ never really had one on ones during practice, we were always matched up with teammates our size, but sometimes during scrimmages he would score on me and I would score on him.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA or anywhere that went to the NBA?
I played against Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen at a couple AAU travel ball tournaments, they were tough.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Antravious Simmons CJ Carr Elyjah Clark Burak Eslik Lawrence Brown
Please construct your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players?
Lebron James Kevin Durant Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant Dwyane Wade
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 try to avoid this debate between Jordan and Lebron, but to me Lebron James is an all around better player than Jordan in points, rebounds, assists, blocks. Jordan has the rings and he definitely had that killer instinct that Lebron can’t match. Lebron still has a lot of years left to play and it looks like he won’t be slowing down anytime soon, so I’m not sure who’s the greatest of all time.
Thanksgiving is one of the finest moments in the year for Americans to come together and be thankful. It is probably the second biggest holiday after Christmas for Americans. It is never easy for American professional basketball players overseas to celebrate Thanksgiving, because it falls during their season. But over the years certain places in Europe have become more Americanized and one is able to celebrate it nicely. For example in Germany you can visit cool sports Bars and get the total Thanksgiving feast in terms of a yummy buffet. While talking with friends, you can also watch NFL football as there are numerous Tv´s in the restaurant. Teams often come together and have a Thanksgiving feast or a teammate will spare their Apartment for a huge get together. I thought it would be interesting to sample American players overseas and what experiences they have had with Thanksgiving at home and abroad.players families and friends. I love the holidays because I like to get everyone together
Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
I’m currently in Luxembourg and basketball is on hold here. Hopefully we can continue the season in January. But while basketball is on hold I’m training hard and staying and shape as well as enjoying the off time by going to visit some of the beautiful castles in Europe
Where are you going to celebrate Thanksgiving 2020 and what part of the day are you most looking forward to?
I’m not exactly sure where I will be celebrating thanksgiving yet because we’re just waiting to see how the committee votes on continuing our season but if I’m in Europe I will make a thanksgiving dinner and try to recreate some of the memories from my childhood. I’m looking forward to eating some good food!
What kind of a meaning does thanksgiving to you and how important is the holiday for you?
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it means that family gets together and enjoys each other’s company. You get to realize how blessed you are when you actually sit around family and think about how all of you are healthy and happy.
What memories do you have from Thanksgiving as a kid and how has it changed over the years?
Thanksgiving for me has always meant that all my family gathers at one house and we share laughs and great food. It’s always a good time with family and especially when all the family are together. I always remember not eating at all the night before or the day of thanksgiving until the big meal is done so I can eat all night. My idea has changed just a little because I haven’t been home for thanksgiving in about 5 or 6 years so where ever I am in the world I try to be thankful and remember how blessed I am to do what I love for a living. I’ve also learned that cooking thanksgiving dinner is not as easy as I thought haha
What is your favorite NFL Thanksgiving moment?
I don’t have a specific memory but just family getting together and watching the games no matter who is playing and just enjoying each other’s company!
KJ Sherril(EVL Limburg)
I am currently playing for EVL Baskets Limburg 1st Regio. Even though this is my first season with them, they have welcomed me with open arms and I’ve grown to bond with them very well, on and off the court. We have a really good team, but obviously now we can’t display our talents due to the postponement of the season. Hopefully things will be better by December so we can continue playing and show the league how talented we are.
I will spend Thanksgiving in North Germany (Bremerhaven) along with my girlfriend and her family as I’ve done for the thanksgiving since I’ve been playing in Germany. I would say the best part of the day is of course when we eat as a family and celebrate and give thanks to one another. I’ve gotten use to the German style thanksgiving and I absolutely love it!
Thanksgivings to me means nothing but family time. It’s a time where my family as a whole come together and fellowship with each other while stuffing our faces with delicious foods. Nothing can get better than that!
I think the best memory is me always being super excited seeing everyone walk in the house with their special dishes they’ve prepared because I know I’m about to eat good! Still to this day my family prepares the same dishes they’ve always made and it still taste amazing as it always has!
I don’t have a favorite moment particularly, but I do always enjoy watching the games with all the men in my family on the big screen and watching everyone get excited about the game. Now that I have buddies playing in the NFL today, it’s even more grateful to watch the games.
CJ Carr(Fjolnhttps://youtu.be/rGkBykwwXEgir Reykjavik (Iceland-Dominos League)
At this moment, I am in my apartment. Just got done with a workout and we’re not allowed in the gym because of Covid. Basketball life is great! Just waiting for the league to open back up.
I think some of the import players are going to get together for Thanksgiving and enjoy a nice meal. I’m looking forward to getting to hang out and chill while eating good food.
For me, Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company.
When I was a kid my family would always meet up at my Grandmas house for a nice meal and good laughs. That’s changed over the years for me because I haven’t been able have a thanksgiving with my family because of college and playing professionally.
I don’t have a favorite NFL Thanksgiving moment. It was a always a tradition to get together and watch games and I enjoyed that!
Joe Asberry(Former professional player/ currently coach, motivational speaker, podcastPlan B founder)
Thank´s for checking in with me Miles during these tough times,and I look forward to having you on our podcast with my guy Rene Wiemann.Life is treating me very well,I can´t tell you where i´m at because I snuck into a gym,and i´m practicing my trick shots in horse for my next basketball camp with kids! LOL!
I´m going to celebrate Thanksgiving in lockdown,and I look forward to my facetime session with my bro Mike,and talking crazy about the crazy times
Thanksgiving is just another holiday for me to eat a lot to tell you the truth, I do like watching the NFL hits though for sure
My best memories of Thanksgiving as a kid was all of us balling out in front of our house on William Way in California. My big brothers and their friends would beat the hell out of me,m but it prepared me for the physical play I would later endure playing vs some of the best players in the world, and of course the physical play I dealt with as an American in Europe and biased refs LOL! The food my mother cooked was amazing. I always wondered how she fed so many people and how long those meals took to cook.
I don´t have a favorite NFL Thanksgiving moment, but a shout out to all of the NFL Players that have gone out there and given their fans those special moments. It´s easy to sit at home with a beer in your hand, and talk crazy about NFL players from your couch running plays, but when a guy,6 foot 7,260 pounds, is running a 4.5 forty yard dash is coming to tear your head off to get to the pigskin, people will find out quick that FANTASY FOOTBALL is much safer LOL!
Chris Oliver(former player and 2010 Euroichallenge winner with BG Goettingen)
I’m Currently living outside of Charlotte NC. I retired 3 years ago and haven’t done much basketball wise. When I hung them up I really hung them up lol.
I think my family and I will go to south Florida and visit my dad for Thanksgiving. I’m just looking forward to the food and fun with my family.
What kind of a meaning does thanksgiving to you and how important is the holiday for you?
The holiday means nothing to me because of what the holiday is actually celebrating. But the tradition of spending time with family and enjoying good food is special.
What memories do you have from Thanksgiving as a kid and how has it changed over the years?
I’m still doing the same things I did as a kid lol. Only thing that has changed is I’m married with a daughter.
What is your favorite NFL Thanksgiving moment? It’s always enjoyable to watch the terrible Cowboys lose on Thanksgiving.
I’m home in Charleston SC. Basketball has been a major tool in my life and I’m sure I’ll be somewhere around the game even when I´m done playing.
I mostly look forward to being together with my family telling jokes and having some good moments with the people I love. This holiday is one my family looks forward to.
It’s important to me because of my family coming together and having a joyous day with one another. We’ve already created some great moments on Thanksgiving day. I’m sure we will have more moments this thanks giving.
As a kids it’s about the same. Seeing all my family, playing with cousins, meeting members of my family and sharing the day having fun with loved ones.
Calvin Johnson destroying my Philadelphia Eagles with 3 touchdowns. Then after going out to play in a community game called the turkey bowl and receiving the MVP. Then watching Dallas Cowboys lose the same day.
David Teague(former player 2010 BBL scoring leader/Purdue(NCAA)
Right now I live in Avon, Indiana right outside of my hometown of Indianapolis. I currently am the head basketball coach for Purdue Polytechnic High School, a derivative of my alma mater Purdue University. This is my second year coaching the team and we have all of our players back from last year, so it should be a fun season.
This year I’m going to celebrate Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. She recently moved into a new house and will be alone this year so me and my family decided to all get together and have Thanksgiving at her house.
Thanksgiving to me is a holiday for family getting together, having fun, and creating memories for the younger generations to hold onto.
The memories I have as a kid, is what I try to emulate as an adult to make it all about family and ensuring that my kids have great memories to hold onto and to follow once they are of age!!
I don’t watch NFL at all anymore for the past 5 or 6 years maybe. But I would have to say anything Barry Sanders from when I was little. I remember the Detroit Lions games seemed to always be on during the holidays, when they had Barry Sanders. He’s my favorite running back of all time!!
Diante Watkins(Gemlik Basketbol Bursa (Turkey-TBL)
I’m actually in Chicago right now. I will be heading back to Turkey soon. Chose to stay home a few extra months to be with my family during these unusual times.
I will more than likely celebrate it in Turkey alone. I will make a big dinner at home. The best part is calling my family and talking to them.
The holiday isn’t that big to me because I’m usually away from my family and that’s usually my favorite thing about the holiday. Just laughing and enjoying time with them.
The main memory is just sitting at my grannies house watching football, laughing and eating with the entire family. It’s changed because I started playing ball overseas. I’m always away.
I was a kid, I watched Randy Moss destroy the Lions.
Marcus Smallwood(former player)
Right now I’m living in Miami Florida and it definitely has been a different adjustment to life after basketball. I just started my own personal training company that I’ll be launching the website for in a few days elite body design.
I’m going to be celebrating it in Miami and I’ll probably just take the day to relax and just reflect on what’s happening this year and what I’m grateful for.
Since I was always playing during the holidays some of them lost specialness to me. I’m always thankful to have these days to reflect on the friends and family that I’m grateful to have in my life and just the steps I’d like to improve in myself going forward
Oh the biggest memories will just be my mom making this huge spread that would last at least a few days and watching football. Most importantly being passed out and asleep by 9 o’clock because of the turkey.
I don’t have one in particular but I seem to remember a lot of games involved with the Cowboys beating the Redskins,haha
Terry Black(former player)
At the moment I reside in Dallas Texas, basketball life is treating me well as it’s coming full circle, my son AB is a highly recruited junior in Highschool and is on target to have his pick at schools he wants to further his education and athletics
Celebrating 2020 will be kind of tricky we’re usually with a group of extended family but with everything going on we will probably cook and watch sports, most looking forward to eating the turkey & dressing, dressing is the bomb, not to be confused with stove top stuffing
Thanksgiving is a time of reflection to look back on the people’s struggles that has come before us and to ex knowledge the progress and growth the world has experienced
As a kid thanksgiving was always a day to break bread and give thanks it’s also been a holiday in which family comes together to celebrate life, it’s changed over the years Because now we’re the ones giving the celebration and cooking while hosting family and friends
Anytime the Green Bay Packers are playing Detroit and the turkey leg is presented to a player at the end of a game
Javontae Hawkins(MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg)
Basketball from the sidelines has been treating me well watching and cheering my teammates on as I am currently in the rehab process of a knee injury I suffered during a preseason game in October. 2.
I’m going to celebrate thanksgiving here in Ludwigsburg with my wife. The part I’m looking forward to besides the food is just reflecting on all the blessings God has given me and being thankful for life and the special people that’s apart of it.
I’m not really much of a holiday guy but during holidays my wife and I try to find a special bond/moment to make that specific day special. For example instead of thanksgiving we call it “Thankful Thursday” as we reflect and show gratitude towards one another, our families and friends. We like to celebrate the right meaning and not always the “ritual” of the holiday.
I have a lot of memories as a kid celebrating thanksgiving from going around the room with family telling what we were thankful for, going to church, eating delicious food and desserts, and having a great time with family and friends.
To be honest I don’t really have a favorite NFL moment.
Jermel Kenendy(Toulouse Basket Club (France-NM1)
I’m currently playing in Toulouse,France and unfortunately our league is postponed due to covid so I’m just trying to stay positive despite the situation
I’m Canadian so my Thanksgiving was in October but I didn’t celebrate it or anything actually
I believe it’s important to be thankful and grateful for what you have because there are many people less fortunate than you so it’s important to be aware of what you have and appreciate it with humilty
My favorite memory is probably being at the dinner table with all my siblings and family members and just enjoying each others company and having an assortment of different dishes I think back of that a lot because it won’t ever happen like that again
I don’t watch football sorry miles
Darryl Middleton(ex FC Barcelona/now assistant coach CSKA Moscow)
I am in Moscow at the moment. I have been overseas for 30 years. Basketball has been great to me. I have seen pretty much all of Europe, Russia and so many other countries,I,,heard so many different languages, learned Spanish, Russian which is a very complicated language, and I have tried different foods from different countries. If it wasn´t for basketball, I may not have traveled across the water and experience so many things.
I will be here in Moscow for Thanksgiving. I haven´t been in the states for thanksgiving in 25 years but normally I would cook for my since I can´t be with my family. All the players who are here and can´t celebrate in the states I would have dinner at my house. I tried to make everyone feel at home because I know how important this day is for Americans. I haven´t done it in Moscow but as a player I did. I would cook every Thanksgiving. It was great to get everyone together, it´s sad sometimes that I can´t celebrate with my family in the states but it´s okay.
My best memory as a kid for Thanksgiving was when we all got at the table and saw all the food and the big turkey, we had so much food, we would eat it for 3-4 days.
Tucker Haymond(Ex Western Michigan(NCAA)Rist Wedel)
Right now I’m currently back home in Seattle, Washington. The basketball life is going great. I’m training daily and am ready for wherever it takes me next! Excited to see where that will be.
As of now, I have no idea where I’ll be celebrating. It could be that I end up going to a team, and I’ll be celebrating there, however if I’m still at home, I’ll be able to celebrate with my family for the first time in 8 years.
Thanksgiving for me just means spending time with family and being thankful for what we have. Taking time to think of the things we may take for granted that life is great and we have many things to be thankful for.
Thanksgiving as a child was always fun and still is! I love getting together as a family and eating good food ! I love pumpkin pie, it’s my favorite dish.
My favorite NFL moments are always me ending up falling asleep, I can almost never make it through an NFL game after eating all of the food !
Ken Horton(San Pablo Inmobiliaria Miraflores Burgos)
At the moment I’m in Burgos, Spain. Basketball is going okay for the moment having a tough time with playing games regularly due to Covid.
I’m not completely sure what I will be doing for thanksgiving. My family is in the states right now so I think I might be at a teammates house for the holiday but I’m not completely sure still up in the air.
I most look forward just to seeing all of my family together.
As a kid I just remember eating as a family and then making my rounds from house to house to hang with family and eat up everyone s food. It’s always a good feeling being surrounded by family. Over the years it changed for sure because I’m here majority of the year.
I really don’t have a NFL Thanksgiving moment. Too busy eating haha
Chris Carter(Rostock SEAWOLVES)
I am in Rostock Germany and so far basketball is treating me well. I can’t complain.
I will celebrate it at home maybe with a couple teammates. I am looking forward to making some good food.
It is a holiday usually spent with family and reconnecting with one another over good food. It is more important the older you get because you realize everyone is just getting older so you have to cherish the moments.
Just going over to my grandmas house because she always had the whole family over there and it was always fun to see my family all together.
Hello Miles, at the moment, I am in Luxembourg playing for Bascharage. Basketball for myself is treating me very well. After rupturing my patella tendon last season playing in Leverkusen, I bounced back really well, and playing good basketball like before. As of now though, the season is on hold because of Covid-
To be honest, I don’t know. Usually the teams do something for us Americans, or someone would organize something. Because of Covid-19, I’m unsure if this would happen.
The best part for me is obviously all of the great food, but I also just love being around the good energy and having great conversations. Oh and of course the games that’s on TV.
The meaning of Thanksgiving to me is just being thankful of being alive, thankful for all of the special blessings the man above gave me and just thankful for the family and friends. The most important part of the holiday for me, is just the bonding with family or the friends and just being around positive energy.
My most memories is just getting together at both my grandparents house with all of my family and just feasting, having great talks and laughs, and enjoying all of the games. The thing that has changed is that I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since 2009. So it’s been years that I have got to enjoy this day with family and create those memories again.
? I really don’t have a favorite one. I’m more of the NBA on Thanksgiving. I just enjoy watching the good basketball.
Jon Murry(NEW Elephants Grevenbroich)
I’m currently in Grevenbrioch, Germany right now and basketball is going very well. Just blessed to be able to be here and be playing during these tough times.
I’ll probably prepare myself a huge thanksgiving dinner, I love getting busy in the kitchen especially during holidays. It keeps me rolling.
Thanksgiving means a lot especially where I’m from, just mainly family getting together eating good and then talking about good times and bad times. It’s just fun being with family on the holidays.
I just remember being around all the food and laughs. You’d be surprised how happy people get when they have good food to eat. Lol
I Remember watching Randy Moss from the Vikings just catch Hail Mary’s all game long. He had 3 touchdowns alone, it was crazy. He used to make some pretty amazing plays.
Kam Taylor(Hamburg Towers)
Currently in Hamburg preparing for the season. And with our current situation cherishing every moment I get to play the game I love.
Probably just here in Hamburg. Might get the team together and do something special for the night but we haven’t spoke about it yet.
All the family bonding and good food.
Unfortunately I haven’t been home for thanksgiving for like 7 or 8 years but every year I celebrate with some new friends/teammates.
I can’t really think of one because I usually can’t catch the games here overseas but most of the time I´m sleep after I eat anyway.
Philip Jenkins(VFL Bensheim)
At the Moment I am at VFL Bensheim, where we are undefeated and in 1st place. Basketball life here has been really good on the court success and off the court team chemistry events.
I will celebrate thanksgiving on FaceTime with my family back in the states as I cook for myself. The best part of the day is always when it’s time to eat because it’s typical that we wait the entire day to eat without breakfast or lunch until it’s time for thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving to me means family. A holiday we get together and share what all we are thankful for. It used to be more important before I started playing and living overseas , where it’s not a holiday or celebrated, in which was a useful growing experience to see how others view life in a different perspective.
As a kid thanksgiving was about seeing the entire family and getting a chance to all play games together and finally be around each other after a while. Now as an adult thanksgiving is more about the time spent with the ones in your life you hold dear .
Anytime the COWBOYS LOSE! My entire family are cowboy fans and I’m not so I don’t want hear “ HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS” all through thanksgiving. Haha
Keith Hornsby(EWE Baskets)
I’m in Oldenburg currently preparing this week for a match against Alba Berlin on Sunday. We won our first league game last weekend so we’re happy about that, especially coming off of a disappointing cup performance. I’ve been playing well.
Wherever we celebrate thanksgiving in 2020, I’m sure it will be in the comfort of someone’s home. We won’t be able to go out anywhere special in the town. We have no plans set in stone yet, but I’m sure we’ll whip up something. Thanksgiving dinner is where it’s at! The best food you can think of!
Thanksgiving has always been a holiday about family and simply a time to sit back and reflect on what you have in your life to be thankful. Overseas, thanksgiving is a little different. It’s tough to be away from family for so long. It’s a difficult holiday to miss out on away from the states. Hopefully some of my American teammates and their families (and any German player too) can get together and have a nice thanksgiving dinner this year
As a kid, I always remember getting together with my grandparents, and enjoying some delicious turkey. I would always have to dress up a little bit, which as a kid I never enjoyed haha. Over the years it has changed tremendously. For the last eleven years, I’m always in season during thanksgiving. I haven’t been a part of a large family thanksgiving gathering for a long time. That’s a big change, and an unfortunate one in my opinion
My family is not big on NFL, so we never had any games on. I know, it may sound crazy.
Corey Raley-Ross(Crn Dream Struga, North Macedonia)
Thanks Miles for another interview! At the moment I’m residing in Struga, Macedonia. A beautiful coastal city surrounded by mountains and lakes. Basketball is of course well. Doing my best to improve daily.
I’ll be spending thanksgiving 2020 here in Macedonia . I’m most looking forward to the feast. I’m thinking going along with an untraditional meal this season with seafood!
Thanksgiving will always be special to me. I have countless memories from my past that I’ll forever hold with me. It’s as important as it’s always been.
Most of my memories are with family! We would all come together for holidays. Over the years it’s changed greatly. Going to college away from home enabled me to spend it with family and since becoming a professional the scenario has been the same. I’m thankful for innovation. Family is always a call away. However, I can’t express how much I’ve missed the food.
I honestly can’t recall. By that time the thanksgiving would’ve put me to sleep.
Elias Desport(KFUM Fryshuset Basket Basketligan)
I’m playing in Sweden this year. I decided to stay here and play this year because of the current pandemic. Season started about 2 weeks ago and the schedule is pretty intense.
I’ll be celebrating it with my family here in Sweden. However, since it’s not a national holiday here, we won’t celebrate it until the weekend. Obviously, I’m looking forward to the actual Thanksgiving meal.
For me, Thanksgiving is the time for reflection and appreciation. Reflect on the life that you have and the journey that you’ve made and appreciate the things and people that you have in your life. Outside of Christmas, it’s probably my most favorite holiday because it brings family and friends together.
Honestly, growing up, we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving that often. As I mentioned earlier, since it’s not a holiday here in Sweden, we didn’t celebrate it that often. As I got older, we started celebrating it more often.
Well, I can tell you my least favorite NFL Thanksgiving moment. I’m a Jets fan so obviously, the “Butt fumble” by Mark Sanchez is probably one of my worst memories in sports period.
Trent Weaver(Professional player)
Currently I am back home in Columbus, Ohio. I just returned from pre season in Switzerland due to certain circumstances, so basketball is on a short pause for me.
I am planning on spending Thanksgiving at home for the first time since college, which is really exciting. Spending time with family is nice and all, but the endless homemade food is what I’m most looking forward to!
Thanksgiving has always had a special way of bringing family and friends together, which unfortunately doesn’t happen enough for most.
As a child, it’s always exciting to get together with cousins and play outside, whether it be (American) football, tag, hide and seek, etc. Then of course the delicious pies were always something to look forward to.
I don’t personally hold any special Thanksgiving NFL memories, but games are always on the TV from start to finish.
Skyler Bowlin(GS Iraklis Thessaloniki)
At the moment I’m in Thessaloniki, Greece! It’s a beautiful city and has been a lot of fun living here until the recent lockdown began. Basketball is going well. At the moment we are 2-1. 2.
That’s a great question. Normally we get our team together and celebrate, but with the lockdown restrictions it may be difficult to do this year.
For me, Thanksgiving is always about being around family and friends if possible. I love when everyone comes together and talks about what is really important in life. We are all lucky to be able to play a game for our job.
As a kid, I just remember always being around family the entire day and eating non stop. I miss being able to celebrate it back home. Since 2007 I think I’ve only been able to be home for one thanksgiving because of basketball.
As a professional I think my favorite thanksgiving moment was celebrating it with our entire team in Giessen in November 2016. We had a special group and were really close that year.
Stanley Whittaker(UBSC Raiifeisen Graz)
Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you? – I’m currently in Graz, Austria playing for UBSC Graz. Basketball is going pretty well, getting ready to hit this
I will be celebrating thanksgiving here in Graz. Although I wish to be celebrating with family and loved ones, unfortunately I am not. However, the part of the day I am mostly looking forward to is virtually seeing my family have a good time and enjoy one another, and I’m also looking to be a part of the “what are you thankful for moment” with my family!
Thanksgiving is a special day for my family and I. We value this day and understand how important it is to us. We always get together on Thanksgiving and share so many great moments. What thanksgiving mean to me is understanding where our blessings come from. And with that, be thankful for everything that you have and be extremely appreciative for the blessings we receive.
All the memories I have from thanksgiving from a kid to now is just them exceptional unconditional moments with the family and loved ones. Thanksgiving are times where we all get together and just enjoy each other’s company. So much joy, laughter and sincere happiness. Fortunately, throughout the years my family has been able to maintain these significant moments, so nothing really has changed, we just age some but the entirety of the day remains special. That is something my family and I is truly thankful for, we love that!
If I’m being honest, I really can’t think of a favorite NFL Thanksgiving moment. Although, I do enjoy the games and watch them. But I do miss the heated conversions/debates with my father, uncle and cousins about the matchups on Thanksgiving. Those are memorable moments for myself!
It was the beginning of November in the 2017-2018 season as the 6-1 EN Baskets Schwelm traveled to Rhondorf to meet the 5-2 Dragons showcasing a massive guard battle between Kameron Taylor and Chris Hortman. Taylor who would become the Pro B player of the year that season led the Dragons to a huge satisfying 95-72 victory while Chris Hortman gave a fine performance with 22 points, but one could sense from his down state in the post game interview that the loss was eating at him. But it wasn´t only the loss, but something else was bothering him. Something that would haunt him that season. “Days before the game I got hurt in practice. Just had the strangest pain in my leg, so I asked to see a doctor. I was given an x-ray and was told that I was okay to play in the game, but during this game it was clear I no longer had the same explosion or lateral movement. I personally knew something was wrong. I asked for a MRI after the game and the next day I learned I tore my meniscus”, stressed Chris Hortman. He began to rehab and the club continued to lose. Instead of finishing his rehab, he came back to early and got hurt again which was his ultimate downfall which led to his release which was a real bad down period in his life. The club tarnished his reputation by questioning his charachter “ The team had begun to lose several games in a row. The management became very needy to get back to the winning side. The situation turned from me waiting until I was 100% healthy to play, to me playing and not being 100% healed. This is where me and the club had difference of opinion. They made false statements pertaining to me. It came to a point where I no longer felt welcomed, very simple things became complicated and I knew I had to do what was best for me. The main thing I’ve learned is to care for your body. Don’t expect others to care, but to take matters into your own hands and ensure you’re doing everything to protect your future”, warned Chris Hortman. More than 2 years later, the American from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin remembers his Schwelm experience very well, but at that difficult time had the continued right self confidence not to give up and hide his head in the sand like a stressed ostrich, trying to flee from a hungry Lion, but knew with his experience of beating adversary his whole life that better times would come. “This was a very difficult time , but I know what I was capable of. I started that season off great averaging 20 and 10 then bam, injury , I knew there was more to be let out , just had to figure out how”, stressed Chris Hortman. The guard has seen adversary his whole career from achieving that chip early having to pay his dues at Milwaukee Area Technical College (JUCO), Missouri Valley (NAIA) and the University of Wisconsin at Stout (NCAA3) As a rookie he had to prove himself again a lower league called SBL in Australia and also in the German Regionalliga with Ibbenburen. After facing more adversary in his second season with the EN Baskets Schwelm and in the German Pro A in his third season where he wasn´t given a fair chance with FC Schalke, he finally rebounded in his fourth season in Croatia having an incredible stellar season. Even if the COVID-19 shortened his amazing season, he finally made his break out season in Croatia after having to suffer countless adversary and paying his dues and now can sing a song with the famous line “better late than never.
After the tough season with the EN Baskets Schwelm, the American decided that he needed a change of scenery after playing his first 2 seasons in Germany. He could have been fed up with Germany after seeing so much misfortune in Schwelm, but going to a new country was a new challenge. The American who names NBA pro´s Wes Matthews and Jimmy Butler as the toughest guys he ever battled on the court found a new employer with KK Pula 1981 (Croatia-Prva Liga). He took apart the league quickly as through 4 games he was averaging 23.5ppg, 7.3rpg, 3.0apg, 4.0spg. Even if he lost his first game in Croatia against Jazine 88-74, he exploded with 37 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals .It would have been interesting to observe if his strong play would have continued or gotten even more potent, but instead he was back on his way to Germany for an unexpected new challenge. “The experience in Croatia was amazing and that´s why to this day I live in the same city. My time was so short there because I was told that I would have the opportunity to prove myself in the Pro A in Germany”, warned Chris Hortman. The American had proven that he can be a top player in the German Regionalliga and Pro B and now it was time to try to prove himself again, but in the second division Pro A that he never played in before. Instead of proving himself once again with success, he had to sit mostly on the bench and watch as the club was well fortified with strong guards. His FC Schalke odyssey lasted only 5 games in which he averaged only 6 minutes per game. This time he was healthy, but like with his former club Schwelm seemed not to have any support from management for his situation. “I remember asking god why, when I was there , I wasn’t on that team to prove myself or even given an opportunity, still to this day I don’t understand that but its ok because even that wasn’t enough to make me stop believing in myself”, warned Chris Hortman. Once again the American was let down facing more adversary, but he never forgot his short time in Croatia before he arrived in Gelsenkirchen and returned back to Croatia. If successful once why not again?
He returned back to Croatia and this time suited up for KK Dubrava Zagreb (Croatia-Premijer Liga). He had more than just a good season, but a great season. He didn´t score 20 plus points like he did in Germany in lower leagues, but more importantly showed his extreme versatility in the first division in Croatia. He averaged 14.8ppg, Reb-2(7.7rpg), 3.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 78.4% He received a huge honor being named to the Eurobasket.com Croatian Premijer Liga All-Imports Team. There was no secret to his success, but just overwhelming confidence and trust from his coach. “The Coach let me play , when a player like me comes and puts up big stats , some people get offended , even the Coach , so he tried to restrict the player , something as simple as little playing time or continual mental abuse , in the case we’re talking about both”, warned Chris Hortman. He showed tremendous strength once again in overcoming adversary with FC Schalke as he was focused in Croatia and believed in himself and just continued to do work on the court. “I worked for it and my mama prayed , that’s it. My mind set was simple. I’ve come this far to not do what I said”, stressed Chris Hortman. He scored in double figures in 11 games and registered 3 double doubles. His best games included a 33 point explosion against top team Zadar, 22 points, 14 boards and 5 dimes against Split and 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists against Ostijek. The only major downer to the season was that the team wasn´t successful. The team had a record of 4-12 while Hortman wore their jersey. “As a team we were not able to be successful , but one person can only do so much , for me I will cherish this season a lot , first top league job, not only did I show I belong , I showed I was one if not best”, warned Chris Hortman.
He may not have been convincing in his first Pro A attempt in Germany, but he still has gotten some added satisfaction with his overpowering season in Croatia in terms of the skill and competitive level when comparing it to other leagues that he has balled in. “The experience in Croatia was great. They were very cultured people. It’s basically the same as Pro A Germany besides two other teams that are very advanced”, stressed Chris Hortman. He also had the chance to play against some top teams that have played international club tournaments with Zadar and Cibona. He played Zadar twice and Cibona once losing by a combined total of 101 points, but just getting a shot to present himself against top competition was something that he will never forget. “It was just amazing to see how organized and together they were. No one there had a 40 inch vertical , but had the ability to play as a team , which outweighed everything. I’m just happy to have played in the arena with all its history”, expressed Chris Hortman. He also faced two very talented players with ex Sacred Heart(NCAA) stand out Shane Gibson and ex George Mason(NCAA) stand out Bryon Allen. Both played in the German BBL and have played in other top leagues around the world. He not only held his own against them, but was on triple double course against Gibson and hit Allen´s team with 33 points. “For me it was very important to play well against them , Starting off my pro career in the 4th division in Germany , I had a long road to playing in a top league, and with me finally being there and going through all the things I’ve went through, I not only wanted to but had to show that I can not only play with these guys but also put up big performances against them”, warned Chris Hortman. He may be 31 years of age, but he knows that he can´t get lazy or loose focus for just one second, but continue to visit the lab and keep grinding to not only stay at the level he is at now, but possibly continuie to climb the basketball ladder. “For me , I have been able to be successful in a majority of the statistical categories , but there’s always room for improvement , at this point I feel high efficiency is something I can add, maybe hit something like the 50/40/90 club , until I can make 100% I will work on my shooting regardless of my age”, added Chris Hortman.
COVID-19 has been a shock for so many people especially those that lost loved ones and has been a totally new experience. It has been some months since COVID-19 hit Europe by lightening, but instead of returning home, he has remained in Pula, Croatia. Like so many other people worldwide, he only thought that it would be a fad and leave as quickly as it came. He went with the norm and started to really be careful in public concerning sanitary measures and that was a huge adjustment. It was tough having the season end as abruptly as it was, but you have to love life more than basketball even if it may be tough for even the biggest competitors on the court. “I love the game , but the safety of the world is a little more important”, warned Chris Hortman. He has so much free time now to not only work on his game, but also to be contemplative about certain basketball issues like the “games with no spectators”. This could really come into play in the 2020-2021 season should a vaccine not be on the market yet. “Without out fans it is tough The name of the sport is entertainment , so without fans I´m sure it´s a completely different game being played”, stated Chris Hortman. COVID-19 hasn´t only affected the present, but will also affect the future in so many things in life. It won´t be any different for basketball players who might come back to Europe after the summer seeing less teams as some have folded and witnessing salaries making an extreme dip as well as other major factors. He is in the same boat as many other players not knowing what to expect. He knows that how hard he grinds this summer will separate him from others when battling for the next job. “The virus doesn’t kill everyone who gets it. Some people who get it don´t even get sick , this is not the end of the world , but there will be a major adjustment we all will have to make , at this point we don’t know what those adjustments are. I play train basketball because I love it , so until we know what’s going on i’ll keep doing that for my happiness”, commented Chris Hortman. His season may have ended months ago, but he has already got an early jump on training and preparing for the next challenge. “Honestly the only thing this virus has stopped in my normal day life is going to the gym , besides that I´m still doing the exact same training for the ball , now instead of weights I do body weights and instead of an indoor gym I´m outside “, said Chris Hortman. It hasn´t been an easy time for basketball players during COVID-19 being isolated, having so many restrictions cast on you and having to train alone, but you just have to make the best of it to move ahead. “In these times , I realized that you really have a choice , the world has shut down , all movement has stopped , it´s very easy to get depressed , but in the same thought , the world has shut down , all movement has stopped , and now we really have time to do whatever we want , sure your creativity level has to go up , but if you wanted to work on your game , you have all the time in the world to do it now , just got to make that choice”, warned Chris Hortman
Back in May 2020 there were a few leagues left in Europe looking to finish their season while other clubs were looking to survive and look ahead to next season. It wasn´t any different for Hortman who would be entering his fifth season as a professional. If one looked at his vita, then one could see him going back to Germany to prove all doubters wrong and play in the Pro A or remain in Croatia that has become a new stomping ground for him. Or he could attempt a total new experience as the only countries he has ever balled in are Germany and Croatia. “, This summer I’ll do all I can to improve my game , and when it’s time to make a choice on which team, I’ll choose whoever can help me the most to continue in my growing process. for me personally the country doesn’t matter”, stressed Chris Hortman. It seems like it has been ages since that depressing post game interview in Rhondorf in 2017 as the American has gone through so much, but one thing that he has lost track of is the player that he is. And one thing is sure, Chris Hortman isn´t the same player that he was when he was under contract with German Pro B team EN Baskets Schwelm. “Besides the obvious , of stronger , faster , smarter , but now I’m tougher mentally, since then I’ve battled a lot , season ending injury , making a Pro A roster , but then not given the opportunity to play and then being cut , a lot of people would have folded and called it quits. I was able to fight those obstacles and eventually break through to get to where I am today”, warned Chris Hortman. Basketball life is finally really really good for Chris Hortman in 2020 even with COVID-19 having affected the world, he is really really content having taken the challenge in Croatia and being successful and proving he can ball in a first division. “I feel too blessed. A lot of people say never quit on your dreams , but when faced with so many lows it’s easy to hang it up. I had a choice , I stayed true , now things are looking a lot better”, warned Chris Hortman. The basketball journey for Chris Hortman has continued as despite COVID-19 found a new basketball job with Vellaznimi Gjakove (Kosova-Superliga). So far it has been an interesting ride for the American. “Its been crazy good, but has been a huge adjustment rorm other countires like Germany in terms of development, but the people here have been great , and the food is amazing”, said Chris Hortman. The club is off to a slow start, but the American has put up crazy stats averaging 22,0ppg, 11,8rpg, 4,6apg and 2,6spg. He scored 30 points twice, registered 3 double doubles, had a19 rebound game and is shooting a strong 36% from down town. “The league is very similar to Croatia , and in terms of Germany, I would compare it to a Pro B low Pro A level, stressed Chris Hortman. He is a role model for every American balling in lower leagues in Europe, because he proved that he is a talented player that could make it from 4th division Germany to the first division Croatia. “Im just happy and blessed to continue to do what I love to do. Each league brings a different experience. This year has been good so far. I´m xcited to see what the basketball gods brings to me next”, stressed Chris Hortman. Now he is in the first division Kosovo as his basketball journey continues and he is far from done as he is finally really enjoying basketball life after having experienced so much displeasure earlier in his career.
Seeing what ex NBA players enter the easyCredit BBL, Euroleague or Eurocup is always an interesting thing to follow as each season you see new guys coming overseas to hopefully put up big stats and return back to the big show. But for me probably the most enjoyable thing I like to observe and cover very much more today then 6-7 years ago, is exploring the magical and at times Cinderella story like careers of Americans who start at the bottom, but with focus, a brush of Black Mamba work ethic, luck and passion find a way to move up the basketball ladder. In the German Regionalliga you will find enchanting and moving stories like this on almost every team. On great example has been Tyseem Lyles who last season tore up the Regionalliga with Eimsbuetteler TV Hamburg averaging 25.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 4.4apg, Steals-3(3.1spg), FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 75.8%. There have been so many guys put up numbers like this like Mr Regionalliuga Ricky Easterling who needed many years of grooming before getting a shot in the Pro B. Lyles on the other hand received some luck and moved up 2 leagues higher to Pro A team PS Karlsruhe. He didn´t average the type of numbers he did in the Regionallliga, but had to deal with a totally new role and is developing further up the basketball ladder. Another one of these players is Orlando Parker. He is a player that had to pay his basketball dues in his first 2 professional seasons, but since then proved to have become a very good German Pro A player. Paying dues and experiencing that basketball struggle is nothing new for him. “I’ve been having to prove myself since I was in high school. I still consider myself the underdog in every team I play for and it allows me to work even harder to prove that I’m capable of playing at this level, and regardless of what the critics say I’m never going to stop doing my best”warned Orlando Parker. Parker has received a huge break and is playing his 7th professional season in England with the London Lions this season. But one can be sure that he won´t get a year pass for the London Eye or for the Natural Gallery in London, because he will continue to grind in the gym to get better and have that underdog mentality and something to prove mentality.
Parker is a 29 year old 203cm forward from Orlando, Florida who has carved out a solid 7 year professional career. His path was a bit different in that he actually didn´t begin in the JUCO or NAIA, but had enough talent for a 4 year NCAA career where he played under ex NBA player Bobby Hurley. He didn´t get those jobs in higher leagues something one can expect after a good NCAA career. Ok so he never averaged more than 7,5ppg in the NCAA, but it definitely should have given him a better rookie opportunity than having to play in Ireland for the UL Eagles Limerick. He then came to Germany and the rest is history. His good rookie season in Ireland where he averaged 19.9ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.1spg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 78.5% didn´t give him a better deal than landing with the Baskets Vilsbiburg (Germany-Regionalliga) However he had an explosive season averaging 22.6ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.5apg, 1.3spg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 79.3%. That strong season allowed him to go to PS Karlsruhe where he played 4 seasons. He helped the club move up to the Pro A in his first season and stayed in the Pro A the last three years. After a strong personal first season in the Pro B where he averaged 13.2ppg, 5.7rpg, he needed no adjustment period as he nearly averaged in double figures in each season. In his 3 year Pro A career, he averaged 11,8ppg and 5,1rpg while eclipsing the 40% mark in 2 of 3 seasons. The American is a very versatile player that can guard the position 1-5 and demonstrates that great defense doesn´t always have to show up on the stat sheet and is simply a team player. He is one of those guys where each season there will be at least one teammate that will say he is the best teammate that player has played with like Bryan Coleman did. “ OP is a great guy and teammate. He was definitely one of my best teammates this season”, stressed Bryan Coleman. I´m sure when his time is over with the London Lions, there will be guys uttering the same kind of words.
Parker´s last game with PS Karlsruhe was on March 11 where he suffered a tough 98-91 loss to FC Schalke. Overall it was a difficult season for PS Karlsruhe. “‘We definitely had an up and down season since the beginning. We had a lot of roster changes and a coaching change as well. For the most part we had a lot of close games’ We started off really good and of course we came across some obstacles that we couldn’t overcome. But that group showed a lot of character and hunger to get better everyday despite the challenges”, warned Orlando Parker. But at least he still finished the season strong netting 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. He also ended the season well shooing 7/15. Overall it wasn´t one of his best season´s from his perspective. He played 27 contests averaging 11.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 77.4%. He scored in double figures in 16 games and exploded with 29 points in the very exciting 84-83 victory against Phoenix Hagen and registered 24 points in a loss against Nurnberg and had 21 points in a win over the Artland Dragons. It was his outside shooting at a clip of 32% that really bothered him. Many guys would still be totally happy about those kind of stats, but not Parker. “I honestly just wanted another run in the playoffs and hopefully be a part of something special again. After coming up from the 4th league and winning Pro B, I was addicted to success and I wanted to have that feeling again. It was definitely a down year for me but also a big learning experience. The best is yet to come”, warned Orlando Parker. He must have been feeling something extra special , because yes indeed the best was yet to come”, but not right away. His patience and experience of the transfer market in COVID-19 times proved to be exact on the money.
It was a long, hard and demanding summer for so many professional basketball players in the world and it wasn´t any different for Parker. The American wasn´t able to return home right away, but actually remained in Germany until June and just tried to live as normal a life as possible. Obviously being at home for a very long extended amount of time and being able to spend more time with families and friends was a huge plus, but getting into that normal summer routine with work outs and improving one´s craft was very strenuous for any player. Especially a guy like Parker who really invests extra time on his game during the summer months. He is a player that relies on this extra time to work on his craft, because it is this work that helps shape his game for each new season. “The summers are the most important time of the year for any basketball player doesn’t matter the level I wish there was a secret but every player already knows that it comes down to hard work. The off-seasons are huge for me and my development. Each year I try to add something new to my game and overall appearance”, warned Orlando Parker. There are most likely guys out there that would never have trained outside on courts where you can´t always control your shot due to weather and wind, but for Parker, any rim and court will do. ““It was very tough. Most gyms had very strict restrictions on allowing access to the public. But luckily I found an outside court that still had rims that I could use”, remembered Orlando Parker. Of course COVID-19 was also a time where he could continue to develop his near flawless character with experiences off the court. ““I learned to be patient and to control what I can control” warned Orlando Parker. He also knew that the summer transfer period would be one that nobody had ever seen before. There would be more guys around than the last year as new rookies were ready to swarm to Europe, so he definitely went into this uncertain time with the right mentality and an open mind. “Definitely staying positive about the situation but honestly this Is tough because we are all unemployed right now until who knows when. So it’s a big wake up call to start thinking about life after basketball”, warned Orlando Parker in the spring of 2020. You didn´t find Orlando Parker on a roster at the beginning of the 20-21 season in Germany. I was never worried when I didn´t see his name pop up with a team. I figured he would resign with PS Karlsruhe, but also wondered if now may be the right moment to leave Germany and play in another country? ““For me it was all about finding the right fit. I had some offers but nothing that got me excited to play again. I was very patient during this process, although the market was slow and tougher than any other season. I was okay with waiting for the right opportunity to come up”, stressed Orlando Parker.
It was a Saturday November 21st when I open up the eurobasket.com page and there was Orlando Parker on the main page with the headline Orlando Parker Joins the London Lions. I had to reread it at first, because I was in a way a bit surprised. I mean he has been a good guy to me for years hooking up on 8 interviews and I always wished the best for him, but becoming a member of the London Lions wasn´t any easy feat to accomplish My second thought was of complete happiness. Here is another guy continuing to climb the basketball ladder. He had reached the first division for the first time in his career and plus living in London. You have to be kidding me. What an amazing story. Parker moves from Karlsruhe to London. I can think of 100´s of guys right now playing in Germany that would beg for that type of opportunity. Taking this offer was as much as a no brainer like it was for Dennis Schroeder to pick the Los Angeles Lakers. ““I’m extremely excited to do something special here with a very talented group. For me I always had a goal of playing for a cup team. Whether or not it was FIBA CUP, Champions League, Euroleague etc. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of playing in multiple leagues during the season. But of course the location of this deal was even better so it was almost a no brainer for me”, warned Orlando Parker. Another plus for the American is that he isn´t going somewhere where he will be thrown into cold water, but is familiar with other players battling in the UK BBL. ““I’ve heard a lot of positives about the league and of course I know some guys that are playing here. Justin Gordon, Cortez Edwards, Liam Davis, Kahron Ross and a few more guys”, said Orlando Parker.
Playing for the London Lions is an opportunity that would give many guys that kid in a candy store feeling. The club is stacked with serious talent and has something very rare. They have 2 ex NBA players with Byron Mullens that was a first round NBA pick of the Dallas Mavericks and played 5 seasons in the NBA and Deandre Liggins who won the NCAA title with Kentucky(NCAA) won a D-League title and played a season with Lebron James and the Cavs. Plus there are 2 other very talented Americans with Kevin Ware and Dirk Williams as well as very talented British players. The difference to Karlsruhe in terms of roster competition will be like day and night. With PS Karlsruhe he was a main go to guy, but with the London Lions will have a totally different role. Of course backing down and accepting a new role with possibly less minutes is something that Parker will shine at thanks to his character. He has been waiting for an opportunity like this for years and with all his unending hard work in the summers and development as a player will be 100% ready for the challenge. He is a guy that won´t go in nonchalantly, but will be in attack mode right away. His self confidence button is already turned on and at the peak of a mountain. “I´m just going to go out there and compete and the rest will take of itself”. I’m sure my role here will be vital to the team´s success. I’m confident whatever team I’m on I’ll make an impact”, warned Orlando Parker. He is also totally ready to battle guys like Mullens and Liggins on a regular basis. ““It’s fun playing with guys who’ve played at the highest level. I like the challenge to get better and pushed by those guys but also for them to know about me as well”, stressed Orlando Parker. Knowing that he is teammates with a player like Deandre Liggins who has the skill level of a player that he rarely saw in the German Pro A excites him, but in the end, it really doesn´t matter to him who the name is. ““I see everyone the same in my eyes. Of course that stuff is cool to talk about and I’m sure he has a lot of stories that will be interesting to hear about”, commented Orlando Parker. He developed very nicely with PS Karlsruhe and showed his vast versatility and efficiency on a regular basis the last years and will have to do it again this season. Being efficient playing less minutes will be a new challenge, but one he can tackle and beat. ““I’ve done it before so this will be nothing new for me”, warned Orlando Parker. He showed in his first game that he can make an impact as he scored 11 points and had 2 rebounds in the 99-79 victory over Newcastle. One of my favorite quotes from Orlando Parker is this. “I’m never content with anything in life, but one of my favorite phrases to live by is ‘You can’t rush greatness’ so my time will come for the BBL”, said Orlando Parker who currently is loving the series Shark Tank. He stated this to me not long ago and actually meant the German BBL. Even if he has reached a new peak in his basketball career, the British BBL isn´t the same. “I don’t want to take away anything from the UK BBL but in my eyes the German BBL is a bigger accomplishment, only because I came from the bottom”, warned Orlando Parker. This quote proves once again that despite being almost 30 years old, Orlando Parker isn´t satisfied yet and never will be.. “I’m never content with anything in life. I believe there is so much room for improvement on my game and I can get better. I’m not going to stop climbing the ladder until I reach the highest level”, warned Orlando Parker. The London Lions is a great new challenge and a great resume boost. But for the moment the American will do all he can to help his new team win in any way possible and continue to work on his craft, because even at his age sky is still the limit.
Phil Steffens is a 24 year 206cm forward that was born in Gladbeck Germany and will play for BSV Wulfen (Germany-Regionalliga) this season. He began his basketball career with Metropol Baskets Ruhr (NBBL) and then stayed in the States from 2014-2020 playing at Evelyn Mack Academy, Charlotte, NC nad Combine Prep Academy. He then played at Southeastern University (NAIA) from 2016-2020 playing a total of 40 games. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Phil thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been despite the whole COVID-19 effecting the world? Have you been in the States or returned back to Germany?
I’m back in Germany now after completing my senior year in Florida. My summer still was very productive, I got a lot of workouts done and had some time to relax. Luckily everybody around me stayed healthy.
How have you experienced the whole COVID-19 crisis in the States? How much did the last 6 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?
Luckily I left in the beginning of April, during that time Corona was not spread as much as it is now in the US. But the first month in Germany was tough, too. No gyms were open so I ran a lot in the mornings to stay in shape, but that gets boring quick so I worked out on outside courts.
How do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man?
Maybe it taught me to take some things more serious but I don’t think Covid affected me as a man.
After 6 years in the United States you have returned back to Germany to begin your professional basketball career with BSV Wulfen (Germany-Regionalliga). You lived there under Barack Obama and Donald Trump. How did you experience life there and how americanized have you become? I know Florida is a place that can be very addicting?
My experience in the States was great to be honest. It made me grow as a man. And yes Florida can be very addicting, always good weather, nice beaches, beautiful women. But I’m happy to have closed that chapter and returned home.
Congrats on signing with BSV Wulfen (Germany-Regionalliga). How excited are you to be back in Germany and beginning your professional basketball career?
I’m very excited especially to play in front of family and friends for the first time in many years.
Choosing BSV Wulfen wasn’t difficult as you played there in your youth and know the coach. What makes BSV Wulfen such a special team?
It’s a special team because we are very young and everybody is still hungry to make the jump to the next level as a team and individually. Also coach G is a great coach, who puts in a 100% effort every day.
After being in the States for 6 years, what are your expectations of yourself in the Regionalliga? What kind of player in Phil Steffens will we see?
My expectations are pretty high for myself, because I know what I can do. Also I am trying to be a leader for the younger guys, because I know how hard it is to sit on the bench a lot.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 206cm forward. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I think Porzingis is a pretty good comparison to my game, he can shoot the ball but also has a good drive to the basket.
Describe your game a bit and what your biggest assets are. Is it fair to say you try to be like a modern day forward because you like to step out and take the three?
Yes definitely, I love to work from the perimeter and shoot the open 3 and drive to the basket to score or look for open team mates. I think my biggest asset is that I’m a player who can play multiple positions.
How would you describe your play on the defensive end? Are you a type of rim protector or how would you describe your game best?
I’m a great communicator on the defensive end and I’m trying to be a smart defender, who doesn’t get into foul trouble a lot.
Before playing at Southeastern (NCAA) you played 2 years at 2 different schools Evelyn Mack Academy, and Combine Prep Academy. What kind of experience was this and how did it get you prepared for college in the States?
Combine Academy was the best option for me, despite my 3 month injury Combines staff never gave up on me and continued to work with me to get me ready again when the call from universities came.
You played at Southeastern (NAIA) from 2016-2020, but played only 40 games and never averaged more than 0,8ppg and 4,0 minutes per game. How tough was it sitting a lot more than playing?
It was tough especially in my last year and a coaching change happened, which did not do me any good. But I can say that it stressed me a lot and I had to prove myself over and over again and at the end it only made me stronger mentally.
Despite not playing much, you were a part of 2 championship teams winning the TSC tournament in 2018 and 2020. Which title was the sweetest?
The title in 2018 was very special, our team consisted of a lot of 2nd chance guys, and our team spirit was of the charts. That was definitely one of the funniest years.
Despite not playing much how is Phil Steffens a different player in 2020 than he was in 2016 when you first stepped on campus at Southeastern?
A lot has changed. My mentally, my mindset has grown by all the struggles a lot. Also my game got way more physical, my shot more consistent and my athletic ability continued growing from year to year.
How did head coaches R-Jay Barsh/ Kevin Lubbers help groom and prepare you for a professional basketball career?
R-Jay was probably my biggest impact in my 4 years. He coached me for 3 years and that man does not only teach basketball , he also teaches life and I’m very appreciative. When I came there I only wanted to play the wing position, but he made me learn how to play the center, which made me the player I am today.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Dylan Causwell?
Great question, DC and me guarded each other almost every practice, but never actually never played a real one on one. Guess that would’ve been a tie game
What did you learn to enjoy the most about the American culture that you will never see in Germany?
Probably the crazy amount of unhealthy food haha
You were named to the NABC honors court on account of your very good grades. What did you enjoy most about the academics in the United States? The best part of my academics were the professors who were able to bond with me and support me during the years.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NAIA or anywhere that went to the NBA?
I think the toughest player I played against was Dwayne Bacon, he’s a beast.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Harrison Hebert CJ Reese Isaac Barsh Jmack Isaiah Moody
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 usually never take part on this discussion because I think you can’t compare today’s NBA with the NBA where MJ competed, but if I had to decide I’d definitively say LeBron is the goat, he’s the most complete basketball player ever and is still dominating in year 17