BBL

Yassin Idbihi Explained Some Tricks To Jure Besedic And All The Stuff Big Men Must Do At A High Level

Jure Besedic is a 28 year old 207cm forward from Slovenia that completed his first season in Germany with the Dragons Rhoendorf (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 24 games averaging 10.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 65.3%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 72.2%. He scored in double figures in 13 games including a 22 point effort against Dorsten. He played 9 seasons with Helios Domzale (Telemach League). But also played in Italy with ASD Angri Pallacanestro (Italy-Serie C Silver and also played 3 seasons with KK Splosna plovba Portoroz (Telemach League). He played with the Slovenian U-16, U-18 and U-20 national teams. He spoke to Germanhoops.com during COVID-19. 

Hi Jure where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?


Hello. I’m back in Slovenia. I feel great and really bored because of all this things happening. But I’m happy because sport is coming back 

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?


I didn’t think that this would be really a big deal. But when you see all this people and politics in panic you start thinking in bad way. I really don’t think that this is big deal. It’s just a normal disease.

How did you experience the day to day life in Germany during the early Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?



I just stayed at home. All day. It was boring for real. I tried to go out for a walk or something. But I left from Germany around the 25th of March. So it was begining of all this.

Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing



I just stayed home. I didn’t have a lot of contact with people around me. But if I saw somebody outside we talked normally and shaked hands as well.

Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?



I was disappointed and in a bad mood as well. I really wanted to finish the season. And I had a feeling that we could of won the league.

Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators in Germany. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?


I don’t like it. I think basketball and all another sports play because fans want to see it. Every one like sports and its really bad that fans can’t come and support their teams.

What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?



I learned how to stay at home when I didn’t need to go outside and drank coffees and all this stuff. It will be easier for me next seasons to stay at home.

Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?


A good thing is definitely that we will practice more and have more time to prepare for next season, but bad, because there are no games. Every athlete wants to play, wants to compete, and wants to win.

The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?



I just think that all things will be coming back to a normal life.. Maybe seasons will start later as usual but I don’t think that here will be some changes.

How have you experienced the day to day life back home ? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls. 


Yes I came back home and I didn’t workout for one month. But now I practice with one great personal coach here in Slovenia. 

If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?


I don’t know. I’m in contact with our assistant coach almost every day. Julius Thomas. I’m in contact with Savo Milovic as well. And of course with guys from the team. We still have a group chat 

You played your first season in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. The club finished in 3rd place with a record of 16-8. What was your summary of the season?


I think we started the season really bad. We just did not connect as a team. After the change in the coaching position, we started to play much better and stronger. And I really think that we would be the best in playoffs.

The club was very ambitious to move back up to the Pro B and might of had they won the playoffs. Despite the record and very talented roster, is it fair to say the club underachieved?


No I don’t think so. You must win all the games in the playoffs and I really think we would do this if we had played season to the end. We will see what the organization decides, maybe Dragons Rhondorf move up in Pro B.

When Yassin Idbihi came on board it sent positive vibes to the team. How beneficial was it having Idbihi as head coach and how did he help your game, a big man who played your position?


Yes he is really a positive guy. He gave us this power on the court and off the court. He is a coach who likes to work hard, because all his career he played for Balkan coaches and he know how much you must work to win a championships. He give me really good advice for my game and I will try to use it later in my career too.

It was a lot of fun watching the team play offense as it scored 100 points or more 9 times. How much fun was it playing offense for the Dragons Rhondorf? How do you feel did your game profit from the many options?



Yes its true. But like I say before. Yassin is coach who like to base our game on defense. And I don’t think he like that we score 100 points if we get 90 or even more. I can say that he would be happier if we won 60-55. But yes, for sure it was fun playing with this young guys who like to run, dunk and all this stuff .

The biggest weakness this season was the defense that never was able to get really better. The club gave up 86 points which is a lot for wanting to win a title. What do you feel were the biggest factors for not being able to allow less points?


I think we played good offense, but really bad defense. We play as a team on offense and really selfish on defense.

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What was the team highlight of the season? Possibly the exciting 86-83 win over the RheinStars? What do you remember from what that game most?


Yes this was a great game. I remember that game. We knew that we would win this game before it started. We were so hyped and I ‘m sure nobody on the team did not think for not even one second that we can lose it.

Let s talk about your teammates. What was it like playing with Curtis Hollis? He entered the 2020 NBA Draft. Do you believe that he is talented enough to play in the NBA?



I didn’t see him play now from January. He is talented and I wish him all good luck.

What was your lasting impression of German player Killian Binapfl? How did you see him improve his game over the course of the season and what is your fondest memory with him?


Oh I like Kilian. We hang out a lot. We go out together, go eat together. He is good guy and I think he will have good career.

You had to battle big men Gabriel de Olveira and Mark Kotieno in practice on a daily basis. How did you see them grow and what will you always remember about their play and characters?



They are both great guys. I think they learned something from me as a big man and I hope they will use it in their careers. They must just work hard and they will play in good clubs. I will always remember Gabirel’s fighting mentality and Marek’s fighting on practice with me every single day.

How amazing of a player and person was 37 year old Anish Sharda? Is he a guy that a veteran like you could still learn new things?

He was the machine of the team. He is strong and an old point guard. He practices every time with 150%. All respect for him. Yes you can learn from him a lot. You can learn how you must work hard if u want to reach your goal.

Let s talk about your game. You averaged 10.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 65.3%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 72.2%. How content were you with your game?



I think I can always do better. But I had some problems with my Achillis and all this stuff.

You played many years in the Telemach and Adriatic leagues. How would you compare those leagues in skill and competition level to the German Regionalliga?



I think Telemach and ABA league is much stronger than a lot of leagues around the Europe. It’s hard to compare these two leagues with Regionalliga. But many great players play in Regionalliga and it will become a really good league too.

You have been shooting the ball very well the last 3 years shooting 40% or better from outside. Is it fair to say that your game has changed a bit over the years to you liking to be more of a shooter than scoring inside? The Dragons had enough big men, so it allowed you to focus more on your outside game.


Yes I like to shoot from outside. I like to pick and pop and I think in basketball in a new era you must have a big man who can shoot.

You’re a good shooter, great passing big man and have a good basketball IQ. In what areas of your game do you feel did you grow most with the Dragons Rhondorf?


I think I grew most in my inside game under the basket. Yassin explained me some tricks and all the stuff big men must do at a high level.

What is the next step for you? You have played most of your career in Slovenia. Do you feel like you will remain at home or continue to play in Germany or in another country?



I’m young” and I want to play outside of Slovenia. I like Germany and I want to come back.

You played 9 years with Helios Domzale (Telemach League). What are your fondest moments with this organization on the court?


We won the championship with the U19. There were so many good things that I can explain all day. I have friends for life from Helios and this club means everything to me.

You played for head coaches Rado Trifunovic and Zmagoslav Sagadin. How important were these 2 coaches for your early basketball development?



Yes Rado had me in the beginning of my career and he helped me a lot to become a professional basketball player. I came to play for Sagadin when I was 18 years old. He is one of the best coaches in Europe. And he is 200% committed on basketball. We had a meeting every day and we have practice d4-5-6 hours per day.

How proud are you of ex teammate Klemen Prepelic? You were teammates back in 2009-2011. If somebody had told you in 2011 that he would play for Real Madrid in 2018 what would you have thought then?

Yes I’m really proud of him. He is a good guy and deserved everything alone and with hard work. It was just a matter of time when he will play for one big club like Real.

You also have played with the Slovenian U-16, U-18 and U-20 national teams. Is there one game that you will never forget that will always stick out in your mind



I will never forget the game against Turkey at the European championships U-20 in Slovenia when we won by 2 pts in last second. That was my best memory from my national days.

You have stated that 2 of the toughest players that you faced have been ex NBA players Nikola Pekovic and Miro Raduljica. What memories do you have of these 2 players and how was it battling them?



I played against them when they played for Partizan Belgrade in the Adriatic league. Those are guys who are really big and strong, and both have great careers. It was pleasure to play against them.

What experience have you had with Luka Doncic? Have you ever practiced with him over the years? The way he has dominated the NBA the last 2 years do you see him being a Michael Jordan or Lebron James down the road?


No I never practiced with him or something. But I will say that he will be the next Drazen Petrovic. He is really good and all respect to him what he is doing in NBA.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?


I would say Alen Omic, Klemen Prepelic, Jure Mocnik, Saso Ozbold and Stipe Modric.

Please produce your own personal NBA Mount Rushmore with 4 heads past or present? 


Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O Neal.

What is your general opinion with the debate between who is greater Michael Jordan or Lebron James?


For me Michael Jordan is the best player ever. Lebron is great but I don’t like it. I really don’t know how people can compare Jordan with LeBron.

What was the last movie you watched?


I watched Last Dance so after that I must watch Space Jam.

Thanks Jure for the chat.

Darnell Foreman Has Learned During Corona That Tough Times Don´t Last But Tough People Do

Darnell Foreman is a 185cm guard from Pitman, New Jersey that played his second professional season with Team Ehingen (Pro A) playing 8 games averaging 6.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 27.7%, 3PT: 6.7%, FT: 71.4%. In his rookie season he played with the Uni Baskets Paderborn (Pro A) averaging 15.2ppg, 3.5rpg, 6.5apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 41.1%, 3PT: 29.8%, FT: 81.0%. He began is basketball career at Pitmann High School and played Pennsylvania (NCAA) from 2014-2018 playing a total of 118 games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 10.7ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 28.4%, FT: 73.2%.. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball during COVID-19.

Hi Darnell where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?


How is it going? I am currently in Philadelphia, PA, USA. I am well. Trying to stay positive and keep myself focused on things I can control at this moment. This outbreak has definitely been a shared experience for the whole world. My thoughts and prayers are for everyone affected by these events. We will overcome this.

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?


No, I did not initially. As more news started to come out, I realized the severity of the virus and knew it was only a matter of time before it affected the entire world.

You had begun the season with Team Ehingen, but had to leave in November after only 8 games. You didn’t finish the season elsewhere. How was it testing the job market then? You had successfully conquered it in January 2019 landing a rookie job with the German team Uni Baskets. What kind of experience was it the second time around?


The job market was a bit challenging at that point. I was eager to jump into another team and situation at that point but sometimes things do not line up the way you want it to. Also, with the spreading of the Coronavirus, it was smarter and safer to stay in the states. Regardless, I was and still am really confident in my future and my abilities to help an organization win. No question. 

How has the day to day life been now in the States with the outbreak of the Coronavirus? How have you been affected mentally by the fact that it has gotten so bad in the States now?


It has definitely been different. Most states are in some type of lockdown or isolation. The major emphasis is on social distancing. For me, most days are pretty similar. I get out of my apartment for a walk/ jog or some exercise each day. Majority of it, though, is indoors.

Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing


For sure. Just being aware of not touching things that are in common places and washing my hands as much as possible throughout the day.

Before leagues were shut down in Germany was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?

I think it is not ideal for the game, itself. Spectators play a huge factor in any sporting event. With that being said, it was the most responsible decision to keep everyone safe, players and fans.

What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?


Tough times do not last. Tough people do. Being able to pivot your focus and make the best out of any situation, has definitely helped me stay positive and productive during this down time. While it is not ideal, it is the status quo. We have to make the most of it.

What kind of an adjustment has it been coming from staying in shape in the gym the last months to not having any gym time with basketball work for weeks during the Coronavirus? Many players haven’t touched a ball in weeks. How was it with you?


It has been a challenge. I do not have the resources at home that a gym or a basketball facility would have so I have to be creative. I do a combination of push ups, squats, and core exercises everyday. I go jogging or bike riding for cardio, also. 

The whole world economy is going to be affected including German basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?


Yes. I am aware of the affect the outbreak will have on markets across the globe. It is something to prepare for, for sure. Ultimately, though, I cannot control what happens next, I can only adjust and adapt. Next season will definitely be different.

Have you been keeping in touch with former teammates in Germany or other friends overseas during this time just to exchange stories and see how they are doing?


For sure! I have been talking to friends from all over the United States and abroad. First, to check in and make sure they are well and their families are well. Then, to try to gain an account of their actions during this time. Things that they have been doing to stay busy, stay in shape, and stay engaged with other people. While the times have been very tough, this has been quite enjoyable because I get to communicate a great deal with a lot people that normally would be harder to do so.

How has your approach to family changed since the outbreak of Corona? What things have you seen yourself do that you may not have done before?


Just reaching out more. Calling, texting, those sorts of things. Being available when someone needs an ear to listen to them. 

Let’s talk about the season of Team Ehingen. It was a tough season for Team Ehingen finishing in last place with a 4-23 record. The season had 2 parts. It had a 4-10 record on December 14th, but after that didn’t win another game suffering a 13 game losing streak. You left as the team had a 2-6 record. How was the mood at that time? Did it seem like the losing would continue or did you see hope of getting on a winning track?


First off, I would like to thank Team Ehingen for the opportunity to compete for them. At the time I was there, the mood was positive. There was never a time when we felt defeated or lost hope. Each day in practice, we competed and fought hard to get better and get through obstacles. For me, that has always been the approach. In the seven games I played, we competed very hard and in almost all cases we were right there at the end of the game. While we were not able to come out victorious in some of those cases, we were getting closer to that point. Being a young team, we had to learn how to win collectively. That takes time.

A big problem for the team was cutting down on points. Why was the team unable to find a defensive identity early in the season?


I think we just needed more time. More experiences together where we saw different types of offenses. Ultimately, the best defenses have 5 guys that are on the same page. They have accountability. I thought we were getting close to that point. 

A big problem was that most of the roster were new players and there weren’t any other veterans on the team. Players also came and went. Why do you feel was finding team chemistry particular with this team so tough to accomplish in the early going as well as injuries occuring?

I think that had a major effect on team chemistry. A lot of guys were battling injuries throughout my time there, including myself. We were not able to consistently play with or against each other in training camp or practice so it left us at a bit of a disadvantage going into the first part of the season.

Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure was it playing with German Jonah Akim-Jamal? He was a rookie coming from San Diego State. What was your early impression of him who had come from San Diego State?


Akim is a good player. He has great size and can finish above the rim. Playing with him was very beneficial because he was a good rim protector and was able to catch lobs and clean up drives and offensive rebound so well. The sky is the limit for him. He is definitely one of the top young players in the league.

What was your impression of German Tim Hasbargen? He made another jump in his second Pro A season. He couldn’t find a role at Cleveland State and played for a NCAA 3 school Babson as a senior. He didn’t have a great season there, but came back to Germany and really stuck out in the Pro A.


Tim was another solid player. He could guard multiple positions and he was able to do multiple things well on the offensive side. In transition, he was very dangerous because he ran the floor well and also was able to finish above the rim. Definitely was a valuable experience playing with a player like him.

Let’s talk about your game. Usually when a guy leaves early, the standard press release will have that blab la of that it wasn’t a right fit’. Was that the same with you or were there other factors?


I think that injury had a major effect on my departure from Ehingen. I got injured early in training camp. Not only was it very early, but it would prove to last throughout my time there. Playing through injury is a very tough situation. Both physically and even more mentally. I do not regret my decisions, though. It taught me a great deal about myself, the business, and basketball, in general. Ultimately, I wish that I was able to be at my best in Ehingen. The universal did not allow it. Things would have been very different, though.

After a very satisfying rookie season with the Uni Baskets where you averaged 15.2ppg, 3.5rpg, 6.5apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 41.1%, 3PT: 29.8%, FT: 81.0%. You must of came in with a lot of self confidence after what you were able to do with the Uni Baskets. How tough was it not being able to find to your game?


For sure. I feel like every good player comes into each season with a lot of confidence. The great players maintain that confidence throughout the season. Getting hurt then having to work myself back into the mix was challenging. That prove to be an obstacle I had to overcome. A new process. I understand that now.

You averaged 6.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 27.7%, 3PT: 6.7%, FT: 71.4%. You also played 10 minutes less than with Paderborn. How tough mentally was it coming from getting minutes in the NCAA and with Paderborn to not having that central role with Ehingen. 


It was difficult. Between missing time and not being at hundred percent, I was not able to gain a rhythm; play my best. That is one of the goals when joining a new team, a new environment. How fast can you get familiar with things and start developing your rhythm on the court. My process was going to be a little longer. This is a business though, and sometimes decisions are made that you can only accept. That is understandable. It does not hang over me. I just try to focus on competing and working hard every single day.

Could you take anything positive form the Ehingen experience? Possibly having your best game with 10/5/7 against your old team Uni baskets despite suffering a close loss?


They were not all low points. Not at all. I enjoyed my time there and the people I got to know and work with/ play with. It was truly an experience. For that, I am thankful. Even not being at my best, I was still able to have production in games. Still able to make winning plays. That motivates me more than ever. It gives me confidence and makes me eager for the next opportunity. I cannot wait!

In our first interview you stated ‘Being a pro now, I consider myself back at the bottom of the totem pole. That’s what I need as motivation. All I have done in basketball means nothing to me, personally. I have to push myself to new limits in order to keep progressing in this game’. After this new learning experience with Ehingen, you are back at the end of the totem pole. How confident are you that you will rise again?

Extremely confident. Adversity reveals who you truly are. I cannot wait to show just that. It starts with, everyday, working on my game. Getting stronger. Getting better. Getting mentally and physically prepared for the next opportunity!

On what things will you be concentrating most in the lab now so you will be prepared best for the next opportunity?


Definitely want to keep working on my shooting. I also want to work on different finishes around the rim. Ultimately, just keep working on being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Pushing my limits and challenging myself everyday. This summer will be a joy.

Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?

Not top 3 just yet, but he is definitely on a fast track to being one of the top players in the NBA.

Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant.. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence? 


I was home, back in the states. It still seems unreal. My heart goes out to all the families involved and affected in that accident. As a kid, he and Allen Iverson were the two players I loved to watch. Both were serious competitors and extremely hard workers. Kobe will forever be remembered, loved, and cherished. Mamba forever!

How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now?


Extremely. The NCAA tournament is a unique and special experience. It sucks, no question about it. My advice for the seniors that missed out on this opportunity is to keep working. Opportunities come and go. That you cannot control. Stay ready. Capitalize on when you do get that next shot.

What was the last movie that you saw?


The Bone Collector starring Denzel Washington Thanks for time. All the best. 
‘Life was, is, and will be good.’ Be safe! 

Thanks Darnell for the chat.

After Many Many Years With The Fraport Skyliners Gordon Herbert Feels Reborn And Now Is Ready For The NBA

In the last few months, basketball fans around the globe have been suffering badly without basket as COVID-19 has taken command of the world and shut most leagues down. With no Live games available to go to or watch, nights and weekends have become very boring for some. One can always relive those Celtics-Lakers battles of the 80´s on youtube, but there is only so much of the relive games you can watch before getting depressed and knowing that there is absolutely no Live basketball at the moment. Of course one can pass time anytime listening to Charles Barkley talk about the good old days in the NBA or check out the numerous debates and spats that NBA players have had on social media in the last months like “why Isaiah Thomas was really left off the 1992 Dream Team. But then again there was also a very unique thing shown which definitely made the whole COVID-19 basketball free time a bit easier to digest and that was the magnificent “The Last Dance” documentary that reviews the Chicago Bulls 1997-1998 season where they would win their 6th NBA title in 8 years. The Documentary puts the GOAT Michael Jordan in the spotlight and focuses on his brilliant career. The Last Dance has been an unforgettable ride for so many basketball fans and even showed the younger generation that the real GOAT is still Michael Jordan and not Lebron James. One basketball fanatic who watched the The Last Dance documentary was ex Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert. Like everyone else on earth, he has seen so many videos of Michael Jordan, but not many people can say that Jordan dunked over him. Herbert had the pleasure of battling Jordan and team USA at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in the semi-finals with Canada. Of course USA won and went on to win the Gold Medal, but for Herbert just being able to witness the GOAT in his early stage is something he will never forget. “It was a great documentary. Jordan is the GOAT. It was interesting to see what was going on in the 90´s. I didn´t see that then, because I was in Europe. In the 80´s you had scores in the 80´s and 70´s, now in the NBA you see scores of 110 and 120 points. The NBA was so much more physical then. I texted Bill Wennington who played on those title teams in the 90´s and told him how sad I thought it was that after they had won that 6th title, they had no chance of getting that 7th title, because management wanted to rebuild. Very rarely do you see a title team broken up. In 84, I remember hitting a long jumper over Jordan and team USA head coach Bobby Knight jumped up and yelled at Jordan. Jordan then got the ball and dunked over me. It was a blur for me” stated Gordon Herbert. Even if the main focus of Gordon Herbert in the last year was team Canada in his coaching duties, he did breathe a lot of NBA air as a coaching consultant for the Brooklyn Nets. After many many years with the Fraport Skyliners Gordon Herbert feels reborn and is now ready for the NBA.

24.11.2018 / Basketball BBL / Gordon Gordie Herbert (Trainer, Headcoach) / FRAPORT SKYLINERS Copyright/Foto: Joachim Storch FON 0172-6600557 – http://www.foto-storch.de

                It is a little after 4.00 pm in the afternoon central European time on a beautiful spring day in mid May 2020 when I reach a very relaxed and content sounding Gordon Herbert who has been taking in the COVID-19 time in his homeland Finland. He came from New York in March when the NBA suspended play where he had been working as a coaching consultant for the Brooklyn Nets. Because only general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson officially talk to the media, Herbert couldn´t say anything about his time there except that the Nets are a great organization and it was a great experience working with Atkinson. Basketball hasn´t been the only thing on his mind in the last months as COVID-19 has taken over the world. But Herbert has been very fortunate that the Coronavirus didn´t have a big effect on the country as it did in other places. “There has only been 1 case in the town I live in. Finland is ahead of the curve. Helsinki closed down for 3 weeks. Life has changed for all, but the main thing is that we all stay healthy. You can´t really do anything else except respect the rules and get back to some sort of normalcy”, expressed Gordon Herbert. The basketball free time has definitely been a massive change, but players have tried to keep busy. Obviously staying fit and healthy has been a huge focus while some also have tried starting their own Podcasts, producing YOU Tube work out video´s or taking part in Zoom conferences. Coaches like Gordon Herbert also have used the time to stay active which has given them a lot more free time than usual. “I have been doing a lot of gardening, but also staying active with basketball things. I watch a lot of basketball on the internet. I also have been in contact with my coaching colleagues like Nick Nurse, Kenny Atkinson and Klaus Perwas. You have a lot of time now and you try to make the best of it. I also have been reviewing individual developmental forms from team Canada players. I reach out to the players and let them think about what their strength and weaknesses are as well as what their long and short term goals are It is basically a road map of where they want to go with their game. They send me their thoughts and I review it. It is important that our time is invested well so they can get better in ways that haven´t been used before”, commented Gordon Herbert. Currently there is so much on Herbert´s mind as well as everyone else involved with basketball as to what the future of the sport is in the next 12 months. The ex Alba Berlin coach is content that world wide basketball will come away well from COVID-19. “I think that perhaps the 20-21 season will begin with games with no fans and social distancing and possibly having arena´s only 1/3 full. The NBA can start late, but in Europe, they have to respect the FIBA qualifying tournaments in June 2021. Europe has worked hard and I hope that in 2-3 months we will see change . Everyone has to understand that it won´t be easy. Players will have to take pay cuts. The most important thing is that the leagues are running and clubs can compete”, warned Gordon Herbert. A few hours before my phone call with Herbert, the easyCredit BBL got the green light from the German government to finish the season with a 10 team tournament in Munich. The Canadian hadn´t heard of the news until I told him and was very happy that the league will be able to complete their season. “I think that economics had a big part in this. Germany has done a great job during COVID-19 and have been ahead of many countries. Germany has a great leader. The BBL will have done everything possible to have this tournament be able to be played otherwise they wouldn´t have done it. Completing the season is very good for German basketball”, stated Gordon Herbert.

26.12.2018 / Basketball BBL / Gordon Gordie Herbert (Trainer, Headcoach) / FRAPORT SKYLINERS / Copyright/Foto: Joachim Storch tel. +49 172-6600557 – http://www.foto-storch.de

                With COVID-19 all over the news, so many other things in life have taken a back seat and one of those is German basketball. There hasn´t been much new news except for a few teams like Crailsheim, Vecta and Munich signing new players for the tournament in Munich, but otherwise than that there has been little news in German basketball. But a day before the easyCredit BBL got the green light to complete the season came scorching news form the Fraport Skyliners that Gordon Herbert wasn´t returning to coach and that Sebastian Gleim would be roaming the sidelines for a second season. Officially Herbert had had a year off to coach the Canadian national team as it was his dream to coach at the Olympics. But with Canada playing so badly at the World Cup 2019, they only had one chance to advance playing at a Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, but because of COVID-19 that was postponed until 2021. On account of that the coach will continue with Canada and not Frankfurt. But Herbert also has a joker card in that he now has a foot back in the NBA. “I can´t get too much into the details. I had a contract with Skyliners for 20-21, but that was voided in March. The Canada position is a great opportunity. I want to combine the Canada job with the NBA. That is what I want to do now”, warned Gordon Herbert. Last season Herbert had duties with team Canada as associate head coach, but still had a role as a consultant with the Fraport Skyliners. But according to Herbert, he couldn´t perform that role. “I had a consultant job with the Skyliners until the end of June 2020, but I was more involved with the Brooklyn job. For the Skyliners I was available if needed, but I was never asked to do anything. I spent most of my time with team Canada and the Nets”, stated Gordon Herbet. Herbert displayed a very excited and refreshing attitude concerning the NBA, I fear that he will never be seen in Frankfurt again as a head coach. But in this case let me say, never say never. “Being able to work with Nick Nurse and Kenny Atkinson was a great experience. The NBA has changed so much. Both guys have worked up from ground zero. Both have great stories and have unbelievable positive energy. I learned a lot in both situations going forward. The last year has been so great for me mentally and physically. I feel like I´m 40 years old again. I haven´t felt this great since at least 12 or 13 years. Being around both coaches helped me so much mentally. It made me younger again”, warned Gordon Herbert. The season isn´t over yet for the Fraport Skyliners as they still could win the 2020 BBL title if very much goes right for them, but before COVID-19, the club had a very poor season winning only 6 of 21 games. Rookie BBL coach Sebastian Gleim had to pay his dues. “Sebastian had a tough year. I can´t really say too much since I only saw 2 games. He is such a hard worker and you usually learn more from a tough year than from a good year. He has the best assistant coach with Klaus Perwas. I wish nothing more than the best for him and the Fraport Skyliners”, warned Gordon Herbert. For so many years under Herbert, the Fraport Skyliners excelled on the defensive end, but the tide changed in Herbert´s last season and continued to be poor this season under Gleim. Herbert admits that he didn´t scout properly for the 2018-2019 season concerning the defensive aspect for the team. “I can´t speak on this season´s team, but my last season we recruited better offensive players like Brady Heslip. We were a good offensive team and played well in the Eurocup, but couldn´t cope with the physicality of the BBL. My mistake was not building a physical enough team. We had injuries to Akeem Vargas and were missing 2-3 tough players and that hurt our finesse players. I felt that we played well in the last 10 games, but we put ourselves too much in a hole before that stretch. Our secret to the success before that was that my teams always played as a team and we played great defense”, stressed Gordon Herbert.

                The last season has been a great ride for the 2004 BBL winner with the Opel Skyliners even if the 2019 World Championships in China were a huge disappointment for Canada as they didn´t qualify to play for a medal and it didn´t go any better for Germany who were stocked with so many NBA players, but didn´t come together as a team and also didn´t play for a medal. “We had problems in that either some of our NBA players didn´t play or were injured. We also had a very tough group. There was a reason why it was called the group of death. Germany also had a very good team, but they had one tough game against the Dominican Republic which put them out. But this can always happen in a big tournament. One bad game can end it all”, stressed Gordon Herbert. Despite Canada´s unexpected poor showing in China, he is confident that the future of Canadian basketball is good with many new players coming up with NBA players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett. Herbert´s start into becoming reborn again happened being able to work on a daily basis with Nick Nurse who only a few months before the World Championships had guided the Toronto Raptors to an incredible NBA title. For a guy like Herbert who has been coaching for almost 25 years has seen so much in his career, but to have so much new fire and ability to learn new things at age 60 is commendable. “Nurse brought such tremendous energy each day and is a great communicator with the players. He was so well prepared. He knew exactly how to play at both ends of the court. He had a completely different system to what I have ever seen in Europe. He gives players in practice tremendous self confidence. He has a good chance of being 2020 NBA coach of the year. He did a better job this season than last. It was a great learning experience for me”, stated Gordon Herbert. After the 2019 World Championships, he took on an extra job as a coaching consultant with the Brooklyn Nets. In the last year, there were 3 easyCredit BBL teams that contacted him to see what his coaching situation was. But it never got any farther than that, because he was tied to his Canada, Nets and Skyliner jobs. It is obvious after his amazing experience with the Nets that the NBA is his future now and he probably won´t be coming back to Europe for the 20-21 season. He also has been in contact with Chicago Bulls assistant coach Chris Fleming who were coaching foes in the BBL for many years. “I feel that now I have the opportunity to remain in the NBA as an assistant coach. We will have to wait and see. COVID-19 has everything on freeze. I mean I do love the BBL and if the right offer came, I would consider it. Fleming was my closest coaching colleague in the BBL. We met a few times last season. We throw a lot of questions at each other. I was an assistant with the Toronto Raptors in 2008-2009 and the NBA is totally different now than 10 years ago. Now you have all the analytics on how to play offense and defense. I have been lucky to be able to learn the new NBA with Nurse and Atkinson. Now I´m ready for the NBA”, warned Gordon Herbert.

Gordon Herbert and Quantez Robertson worked together for parts of 8 seasons together and have a special bond- http://www.foto-storch.de

                Even if the future of Gordon Herbert is in the NBA, there is absolutely no denying the fact that Frankfurt will always be like a second home for him and that the Fraport Skyliners organization have a huge place in his heart. He coached parts of 11 seasons in Frankfurt and helped guide the organization to 2 of it´s 3 team titles. Along then way he witnessed and helped guide Quantez Robertson to a brilliant professional career and coached him in 8 of his 11 seasons. It is no secret that both guys have a lot of admiration for each other. “Tez is one of the best players that I ever coached. He does so many things without scoring that helps you win. He rebounds so well, is a great passer and great defender. He grew so much as a leader. We had a great relationship. I was fortunate to have Pascal Roller early on and then had Tez. Tez does so much on the court with his toughness, determination and will. These are things that you can´t measure on the stat sheet. There are many players that can make offensive plays, but not very many players that can make defensive plays to change a game the way Tez can”, warned Gordon Herbert. Early in Herbert´s Skyliner career, he had captain Pascal Roller on his side who organized the team and led them to their first title together in 2004. “On account of our length of time we worked together and his philosophy, I feel like I was able to adapt most from him from all the coaches that I ever had. I liked his meticulous methods from the player development up to the game preparation. His success speaks for it´s self. I also respected his sense for dry humor”, stressed Pascal Roller. Herbert has helped develop so many good players that became great players that moved on like Justin Cobbs and Jordan Theodore. Another player that came to Frankfurt as a big talent and left becoming a Eurocup player was Philipp Scrubb. “Phil was our best player at the last February windows. He started well in Russia 2 years ago, but then tapered off.  This past season he was up and down in Spain. I´m not sure if this had something to do with his confidence. He has such a great basketball IQ and we all know he can shoot the ball. He has to get more physical and finish better at the rim. But he is close to being a Euroleague player. I hope he gets there. If he wants to get there, then he has to do that in the next 2 years”, warned Gordon Herbert.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex NBA player Andrew Rautins in 2013 after he dropped 32 points on 8 three´s in a 88-72 Frankfurt road win in Bremerhaven

                Another player that Gordon Herbert helped develop into an NBA player is young German Isaac Bonga. During Bonga´s 2 BBL years in Frankfurt from 2016-2018, Herbert always marveled about the German´s incredible work ethic. He feels that his current NBA gig with the Washington Wizards is the perfect fit. “I talked a couple times with Isaac before games. He is in a great situation. He didn´t play much with the Lakers, but now with Washington is in a rebuilding situation. He is a very limited role on offense, but is playing good defense and rebounding well. He is playing the right way”stressed Gordon Herbert. Herbert coached so many great players in Frankfurt and probably would have liked to have had Andrew Rautins for more than 15 games in the 2013-2014 season, but an injury ended his season shortly before 2014. A big reason why Frankfurt was able to haul in the Canadian sniper was because of Herbert´s great connection to the Rautins family. Papa Rautins Leo was teammates with Herbert on team Canada. The career of his son Andrew has been like a mystery. He was highly touted coming out of Syracuse, but his NBA career was short and lasted only 5 games. Since then he has been around Europe in Germany, Spain and Italy and spent most of his time in Turkey where he was 4 years. This season he was signed in January by Euroleague team  Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (Greece-A1) where he played 5 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 25.0%, 3PT: 52.0%, FT: 75.0%. “When Leo was a player he was the best out of Canada. Andy is a very talented player that is one of the best shooters that you will ever see and is also a good passer. He had a great year in Turkey 2 years ago. It was always Andy´s goal to play in the NBA. There were a few times where he could of made the NBA or was close. He never really was set on playing in Europe”, said Gordon Herbert. 11 years in Frankfurt was a long and mostly very successful time. When I dodged Gordie the question if one could ever see him on the sidelines in Frankfurt, he quickly skipped the question and raved on about Tez one more time. Of course Fraport Skyliner lifer Tez had to give his 2 cents about Gordon Herbert. ““I´m happy for him. Now he doesn´t have to go through those stressful practices that he had with us at times. I will always remember us winning our first championship together. I also won´t forget him having so much trust in me. What I admire most from him is that you have to live in the moment and can´t worry about the past and always be ready. I will miss him. He was my favorite coach to play for”, remembered Quantez Robertson. Herbert also had a few words about how proud he was of being able to help develop players and coaches. Three of his best moments were with his son Daniel, Jordan Theodore and Johannes Richter. “It was a dream for me to work with Daniel a year ago and see his development. It really helped him that Klaus Perwas took him under his wing. I believe that Daniel has a great future with his personality and ability to communicate with people. When he was 15, he recommended Kyle Hines to me. Kyle was A-2 in Italy. I thought he was too small. During my season in Berlin, he told me to take Marcus Slaughter, but I didn´t. He has a great eye for talent. Another great moment was the development of Jordan Theodore as a person and teammate. I believe that he really found himself with us as he came into a great culture with us. He is absolutely a great kid. Another very important player in my time was Johannes Richter. He gave 100% every day in practice. A great teammate in the locker room and off the floor. The best 9/10 man that I ever had. The coaching staff worked very hard in Frankfurt to create a great system and develop players. At one time we were the team where all young Germans wanted to come play for. I will always remember the big 3 with Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Konsti Klein. Those 3 guys worked so hard to get better and went places. I´m very grateful for the opportunity that the Fraport Skyliners gave me over the years. I want to give a big thanks to Thomas Kunz, Gunnar Wobke and Klaus Perwas. I also want to thank everyone from the office who worked so hard. I also want to thank the faithful Skyliner fans for their support over the years”, stressed Gordon Herbert. Another ex Skyliner who has a lot of admiration and thankfulness towards Gordon Herbert is ex NBA player Mario Kasun who played an instrumental part in the 2004 Skyliner title season. “Coach Herbert was my mentor, my everything. He knew how to push the right buttons to get the best out of his players. I´m so happy for him. He deserves the NBA. I´m proud to have been part of his legacy. He is the best coach that I ever had”, stressed ex Orlando Magic Mario Kasun.  I know that there are no hard feelings in Frankfurt about the departure of Gordon Herbert. He gave Frankfurt so much success and joy and now everyone is supporting him and wishing him all the best with the next step in his career in the NBA. Sometime in the future #23 of Quantez Robertson will be up sitting next to Pascal Roller´s retired #11 in the Fraport arena. It is too bad that only players can be recognized this way and not coaches. If coaches wore numbers then Gordon Herbert´s number would also be hanging up there.

Nick Neal´s Neverending Hard Work Has Paid Off As He Has Gone From The NAIA To The Croatian Premijer League MVP

Nick Neal is a 31 year old 185cm guard that recently completed his 7th professional season and first with KK Alkar Sinj (Croatia-Premijer Liga) playing 20 games: Score-2 (18.4ppg), 3.8rpg, Assists-2 (5.5apg), Steals-1 (2.1spg), FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 88.1%. In 2018-2019 he played with BC Cactus Tbilisi (Georgia-Superleague) playing 18 game averaging 16.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.4apg, Steals-4 (2.4spg), FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 79.3%. In2017-2018 he balled with DELTA (Georgia-Superleague) playing 32 games averaging 17.0ppg, 2.5rpg, Assists-2 (5.1apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 85.4%. He played his first 4 professional seasons with Sunshine BK Team Vieste (Italy-Serie C Silver) and never averaged lower than 24,4ppg. He began his basketball career at Purdue University North Central (NAIA): ScoreConf-1 (20.3ppg), 1.8spg, FT: 81%; He was the first player in school history to score over 1,000 points (1,121 in less than 2 years). He spoke with germanhoops.com during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Hi Nick where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus? 


Hi Miles, I’m back home in the US in Detroit. My mood is positive, I just want everyone to be safe. 

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world? 


Honestly no, I just thought it was only in Asia.

How did you experience the day to day life in Coratia during the early Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings? 


Well, in Croatia at that time let’s say it was safe there, it wasn’t any cases there. So we lived normally at the beginning just washing our hands , then it became worse before I left where people were wearing the masks and gloves 

Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing.


Definitely, we started to do fist bump and were told the guidelines to follow to be safe.

Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?


I was a little disappointed because we were having a good season, we were growing as a team. We were the youngest team in the league and were picked for last place in pre season, but before the season ended we were in the playoff race! And we beat Kk Zadar, a team that beat Red Star (Euroleague) this season .I was also disappointed because I was having a good season personally and I wasn’t finished proving myself!

Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators in Germany. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans? 


It’s hard to play without fans but if a team is paying me to do my job I must play, that’s what being a professional is all about. 

What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?


Just that the little things in life is what really matters, appreciate life. Don’t take life for granted, and to increase my faith in God. Never give up on your dreams Slow down and just enjoy life . 

Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?


I think it’s an advantage because you can work on small details of your basketball game . But a disadvantage is since we are on lockdown all the basketball gyms are closed. 

The whole world economy is going to be affected including basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?


Well just trying to stay positive about everything, I don’t want to stress over nothing I can’t control. I know things will change economically. Whatever happens I will be ready mentally. 

How have you experienced the day to day life back home ? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls. 


I take it day by day. I’m spending more time with my family which I’m happy for this. As far as working out , I’m doing something everyday from working with mini bands for flexibility/stability /to dribbling the ball outside/Doing yoga/watching film . Basically, doing whatever to keep my body and mind fresh and ready.

If you had to name another player besides guys from your team that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be? 


Um Me and Bryon Allen from Kk Zadar we talk sometimes, he wishes me luck and we talk about life . 

Nick I checked your eurobsket.com profile and your another one of many Americaan guards on earth that has had to pay dues for a long time. You played in the NAIA and then grinded 4 years in Italy in the 4th and 3rd leagues before finally getting more of an opportunity in higher leagues in Georgia and Croatia. When you look back at your career now can you say that all the hard work has finally paid off/and did you ever think about quiting?


Without a doubt Miles the hard work has paid off and will continue to play off ,it’s been an honor to play this game of basketball for so long. My whole life ,my whole career I have been a hard worker that’s all I know. So when you are grinding for so long and then you finally see results that’s the best feeling ever . I always felt like if you put in the work the results will come , maybe not when you want them to but they will come. Never thought about quitting. I have been frustrated many times but quitting, no. I’m a dreamer Miles . And my dreams I must chase . 

How big has that chip been on your shoulder over the last years? Especially when you played 3 years for Sunshine BK Team Vieste where you put up huge stats. Why do you think it took so long for team s to finally give you a chance to perform at a higher level? 


I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder even before I came to Europe because I knew I had to prove myself to work my way up to better leagues. I think it took so long because not a lot of people know about NAIA college division in Europe . But my chip on my shoulder has always been big. My whole career I have been the underdog. 

Just for people who don t know your game, please describe it a bit and if you had to compare your game to a NBA player who would best fit the description? 


I would say extremely dynamic complete point guard.. Extremely excellent off the Pick and Roll.experienced SUPREME QUICKNESS AND SPEED IN THE OPEN COURT. EXCELLENT COURT AWARENESS. ELITE BALL HANDLING SKILLS. ROUTINELY BEATS DEFENDERS OFF THE DRIBBLE . GREAT COURT VISION AND EXCEPTIONAL STRENGTH. I would compare myself to Chris Paul with a little Steve Nash and Derrick Rose 

You began your basketball career at Purdue University North Central (NAIA). You made the CCAC All-Tournament Team in your last 2 seasons. Talk a little about your basketball experience there. Playing in the NAIA seldom promises a player a professional career. How important was this time for you in developing that never give up mentality which you continued to have in your professional career? 


It was very important to me because I always dreamed of playing professionally. My mentality and focus has always been this. I had a great career at PNC, so many good memories. When I was playing there I was so focus locked in . I wanted to be the best in that league and I was. History was made there and I will be forever remembered there.! 

Talk a little about your time at Purdue University North Central (NAIA). What were some of your fondest memories on and off the court? 

Purdue North Central was in a small town but I met so many nice people. It was a little easier to focus on school and basketball. Our basketball team was really close like a family. Some of my best memories were on the court playing so well there. But I did have good memories off the court too. Being away from home in a small town , all you really have is your friends and basketball. And we had fun 

You are only one of 3 player and first player in school history to score over 1,000 points (1,121 in less than 2 years). Talk a bout some of your biggest games there and if you still can remember some despite it being such a long time ago? 


Wow so many memories that season. That was a great season for me . I think some of my best games was late in the season and 3 road wins and I won player of the week 3 times in a row. My career high was 32 points that season with 16/16 at the free throw line. Lifetime memories! 

In 2016 you were indicted into the Purdue University North Central (NAIA) Hall of fame. What does that accomplishment mean to you and does that give you more desire to be that role model in all that you do? 


That meant the world to me. I thank God for allowing me to have a great career there. I worked so hard in my career up until that point. So to be inducted into the hall of fame was one of the most memorable memories in my life. For someone to recognize your talents, that’s always great. I always wanted to be a role model for the kids that are underrated and must prove themselves. To show that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.

How did your head coach Chris Shultz. at Purdue University North Central (NAIA) groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career? 


He was in the military so everything we did was military style. 5am morning practices , practice 2 times a day . We were a disciplined team . Everything we did on and off the court we took very seriously. So that helped me stay disciplined and focus for the future. 

How tough was that whole process of finding that first professional team? I believe that in 2012-2013 you didn ‘t play yet. How tough was it mentally seeing just how tough it is coming from an NAIA school to go pro? 


Well, actually I played ABA league Semi Pro in America for one year after College. The team name was the Atlanta wildcats and I won MVP there also. It was a really tough process., I wrote agents every day with my profile. I would guess that I wrote about 200 agents and teams after my college career and that’s how I eventually got my first Italian agent . Also it was mentally hard because I did have a good college career in college and I thought after I would go play immediately overseas . But I didn’t get that opportunity. But it made me tougher and stronger. All these hard times were building me for now and what’s to come next .

You finally landed with Sunshine BK Team Vieste (Italy-D Regional): Score-1 (29.8ppg) where you led the league in scoring and helped the team move up to the Italy-Serie C Silver) What was your wake up call to being rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home? 


First of all seeing all the beautiful water in Italy! And when I tried to go to the supermarket at lunch time they were all closed haha. 

You would stay 3 more years with Sunshine BK Team Vieste (Italy-Serie C Silver) averaging 24.4ppg, 25.7ppgand 24.8ppg. Didn t clubs especially in Italy in the higher leagues become aware of you? Or at least give you tryouts? 


To be honest, In that time in my career I had poor management and didn’t really have anyone to help me to get a look for the bigger teams there. I think they were aware of me but nothing really happened. I was supposed to have some tryouts but it didn’t happen.. But I loved playing in Italy for Vieste some of the best times of my life. 

How do you feel did your game mature in Italy that helped you make the next step in Georgia? 


Playing in Italy helped me a lot . Coming out of college my basketball game was not very mature for the European game . I was making travel violations sometimes and thought I could just run past everyone with the ball and score . But in Italy I learned how to be a smarter playmaker and read plays before it happened. So when I arrived in Georgia I was more prepared for the European style play. 

In 2017-2018 you finally got your first real break with DELTA (Georgia-Superleague) playing 32 games averaging 17.0ppg, 2.5rpg, Assists-2 (5.1apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 85.4%. You really showed that you could perform consistently at a higher level. How did you grow as a player at a higher level there? 


Well I grew a lot in Georgia because in My first years in Italy I was asked to just score the ball. But In Georgia I had to change my game back to be an all around point guard which is easy for me. The game pace was much faster in Georgia. I also learned how to adapt to a different situation quickly.

You had many great games that season, but was your 35 point explosion against Cactus Tibilisi your most memorable? 


Yes absolutely, for one because we won that game and doing that stretch of the season I was really playing good basketball. They had 4 Americans and we had just 2 so that was a fun game . After that game , my confidence for the rest of the season was high . I worked so hard that season. And I was growing as a player . 

How vital was American Deondre Ray for your first season at a higher level? He like you also had to work himself up the basketball ladder having played JUCO and in the NCAA2? Did you guys have a special bond that season. 


That’s another player that was fun to play with . He knew where to be at the right times on the court, very talented and athletic humble player. Everything I taught him he used later after Georgia so I’m happy for him and his success . We will always have a special bond because during that season we went through a lot of adversity and stayed strong . 

In your second season with BC Cactus Tbilisi (Georgia-Superleague) you averaged 16.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.4apg, Steals-4 (2.4spg), FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 79.3% and continued to put up big stats. How vital was it remaining a second season there in your continued basketball development? 

After my first year in Georgia , I felt like I was ready to move on to a better league. But I believe everything happens for a reason . So ,going back to Georgia my second year I had to learn different ways to affect the game because everyone knew me from the year before. My second year there was when I got my opportunity to meet Coach Damir Milacic he discovered me there .

How key was it being able to play with 2 high level players like Dominique Elliot and Delano Spencer? How do you feel did your game profit from their presence? 


It was a fun time I learned from both of them. With Dominique we were good in the pick and roll game . With Delano we were basically unstoppable . We both were feeding off each other’s game. 

This season you played with KK Alkar Sinj (Croatia-Premijer Liga) being the second best scorer in the league at – (18.4ppg), 3.8rpg, Assists-2 (5.5apg), Steals-1 (2.1spg), FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 88.1%. Was the Croatian a league another step above the Georgian league in skill and talent level? 


Yes, for sure Croatia is a much stronger league. The domestic players are better. They play more of a European style basketball. Also, they pay more attention to details about the game. Very physical High intense , fast paced games . We had the best crowd in the league and in Georgia there were basically no fans . So that was a big step up too 

How do you feel did your game match up against high level American guards Byron Allen and Shane Gibson 2 guys who have played in the German BBL with EWE Baskets and Telekom Baskets? How did you play against them and do you feel like future GM s of teams will see as a worthy player of skill like they are?


Well we all have different styles of game . They’re scoring 2 guards and I’m a pass first point guard that can score. It was fun playing against them because we played hard against each other. But I feel my game matches up well with theirs. And I believe after playing against both of them that they respect my game. Allen was the tougher match-up though . I feel GMs should take in consideration that whoever I played against this past season they had much respect for me and how I approached the game . And I can play at a high level 

Were you able to transport your role model qualities and expertise to rookie Emmanauel Wembi who came from Lenoir-Rhyne College (NCAA2)? How much of a talent is this athletic player? 


loved playing with that kid . He is very talented and a smart player especially on defense pick and roll. He loves to learn , so I taught him a lot about taking care of his body , and the in and outs of the business on and off the court . One thing we had in common was that no matter how hard it was we were going to keep pushing to get better ! I wish him nothing but success . 

What is the next step for you? You have made your break through and should get good offers from the type of leagues or even higher ones. Would you like to explore playing in Germany?


The next step for me is to continue to prove myself in whichever league I play in next year and continue to trust the process. Continue to work even harder in the off season .I would love to play in Germany, I see myself doing great there. If a high level team gave me a chance they wouldn’t be disappointed.!

Who was the toughest player that you ever faced that reached the NBA? 


Chris -Douglas Roberts 

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?Giuseppe Devita, Michele Lauriola , Borna Jurela , Ivan Jurela , Darrin Williams 

Please produce your own personal NBA Mount Rushmore with 4 heads past or present? 


Jordan , LeBron , Kobe , Magic Johnson 

Where were you when you heard about the passing of Kobe Bryant? How much of an affect did he have on your basketball life? 


Actually , I was at my Coach Damir house, we were watching an ABA Liga game .. Kobe affected me tremendously because he was a hard worker and gave everything to the game of basketball! Mind ,body and soul . Just like I do, he was a role model for me . 

What is your general opinion with the debate between who is greater Michael Jordan or Lebron James? 


Jordan is the goat, the greatest ever and LeBron is the King for my generation. 

What was the last movie that you saw? 


Love and basketball Thanks Miles for the interview. Great questions , I really appreciate you reaching out to me recognizing my hard work and talents. Also , I must give thanks to my Ex coach Damir Milacic. He discovered me in Georgia and gave me the opportunity to showcase my talents in Croatia . I learned so much from him . He is one of the main reasons why I can run the Pick and roll so well . So thanks to Him and my former team KK Alkar .

Thanks Nick for the chat.

Jaren Lewis(wiha Panthers) Continued His Consistency As A Rookie And Developed Most Off The Ball

Jaren Lewis is a 23year old 198cm forward from Orlando, Florida that completed his rookie season in Germany with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen averaging 13,0ppg, 4,9rpg and 2,1apg and 2,ospg. He scored in double figures in 21 games including a 28 point effort against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and 26 point games against Artland and picked up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro A Newcomer of the Year -20, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro A 2nd Team -20 and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro A All-Defensive Team -20 .. He began his basketball career at Lake Highland Prep and played at Abil.Christian (NCAA) from 2015-2019 playing a total of 123 games. In his freshman year he played 30 games averaging 9.7ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 53.2%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 72.6%. In his second year at Abil.Christian (NCAA) he played 28 games averaging 13.5ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 71.3%. In his junior season at Abil.Christian (NCAA) he played 31 games averaging 13.4ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 79.1%. In his senior year at Abil.Christian (NCAA) he played 34 games averaging 13.8ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.8%. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the season and during the Coronavirus crisis. 

Hi Jaren where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?


Right now I’m back home in Orlando, Florida. I’d say my mood is ok. I’m just at home trying to stay healthy and hoping everyone stays safe. 

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?


At first I did not think it would have such a big effect, but as I heard more about it I knew it became more and more serious 

How have you experienced the day to day life in Schwenningen during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?


During the outbreak there were not as many people out, and you could see more and more people start to really take the virus seriously. I really stayed at home for the most part during the outbreak, but you would still hear about different places closing and how the stores were emptying out.

Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing


The virus definitely made me think about that more. I started giving out more fist bumps than handshakes, and of course started taking social distancing very seriously

Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe including the Pro A. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?

I was very disappointed at first. I really wanted to finish the season and see how we would finish, but I understand everything happens for a reason and ending the season was definitely the safest call to make.

Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?

I just imagine that was probably tough for the teams that had to do it, and it was definitely a different type of situation they had to adjust to. 

What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?


I just learned to be grateful for the things and people around me. These tough times are very testing, so I learned to be at peace with the situation hand and continue to hope for the best. 

Wil it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?


I don’t think it will be too big of an adjustment. It will definitely be weird at first, but I see it as an advantage. This just gives me more time to get stronger and to sharpen my game for the upcoming season. The big disadvantage for me is that I wish I was still in season playing with the team.

The whole world economy is going to be affected including German basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?


Not knowing what to expect is tough, but I am just going to do my part to stay ready for whatever may happen next.

If you had to name another player besides guys from the Panthers that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?


I really haven’t been in contact with many other players in the league. I stay in contact with my teammates for the most part, but other than them I would say former teammates of mine from college

Congrats on a fine season in the Pro A. For most the wiha Panthers Schwenningen were able to exceed expectations of reaching the playoffs except for maybe head coach Alen Velcic who always saw you guys as a playoff team. Did you share his optimism when the team was struggling in November?


did share this optimism. The month of November was tough for us, but I always tried to stay positive and I felt like we would definitely turn things around. 

Sometimes it is that one player that can change a whole season. When David Dennis left and Drew Brandon came aboard you started to win as he led the team to a 10-3 record. How much credit does he deserve for the success of the team?

Drew deserves a lot of credit. He did a great job for us this season. I also think the rest of the guys deserve credit too. We had a lot of talent, we just started to put it together during that 10-3 stretch. I’m proud of all of the guys though they worked hard all year and then began to reap the rewards

Obviously Drew Brandon is a very good point guard, but what else changed when he came and the team started to play a lot better?


We just started to put things together. We were ready to turn things around and our hard work and persistence started to pay off

How much did it hurt that the season ended and you never got to see how far the team would get? Is this something that will affect you in the next months just never knowing what would have happened?


It was very disappointing not seeing how far we could go. We were really playing well and were hoping to make a big run in the playoffs. I don’t think it will affect me in the next few months. I will continue to be grateful for the experience and I’ll always remember this year and this team

The club won 6 of their last 7 games. Had the team reached it’s peak in the season or did you still see enough energy with the team to make a run in the playoffs?

We definitely still had enough energy to make a run. We were ready to make a run and we felt like we could play with anyone in the league

Let’s talk about your teammates. You a guy with a lot of experience, but what kind of a role model was a guy like Drew Brandon for you who has seen so much in Europe?


Drew was a great teammate. As soon as he came in he impacted the team positively. He was a really steady guard and really stabilized the team. He came to work every day and I really enjoyed playing with him

What was it like having Bill Borekambi as a teammate. How vital was he for your rookie development? He has seen it all in Germany. What could you soak up from him on and off the court?


Bill was a really good teammate, he was a good guy and everybody really liked him. He helped us win some big games too.

How proud are you of teammate Leon Friedrici who was named most improved player by eurobasket.com. In what part of his game did he improve the most?


I was really proud of Leon. I know he is a really hard worker, so to see him get that award was really cool. Leon’s overall play just improved as the season went on. His hard work was really starting to show and pay off towards the end of the season

Congrats on a fine rookie season with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. Let’s talk about your game. You averaged 13.0ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.1apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 56.2%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 81.0%. How content were you with your first season as a professional?


I wouldn’t say I’m content with my season. I was glad to help the team win games down the stretch, but I feel like I can elevate my game and continue to build on the season I had. I still want to do better

In our first interview last summer you stated’ It is extremely important for me to be consistent and I do believe I can carry it on to the professional ranks because of my habits and my routines.The work I put in makes me feel confident that I will continue to be consistent. I feel like my preparation will continue to help me find success and consistency’. Did you have to make any extra adjustments to achieve the consistency that your used to.

Not really, I mean the pro game in another country is an adjustment unto itself, but other than that I stuck to my routines and habits for the most part

You showed your immense versatility as a rookie. In what area of your game would you say did you develop the most as a rookie?


I feel like I really developed playing off the ball. In college I had the ball a lot and I was in iso situations a lot of the time, so I feel like over the course of the year I got a lot better playing off the ball

What kind of an effect did head coach Alen Velcic have on you? He gave you a lot of freedom. How valuable was that for the growth of your self confidence and game?

Coach Velcic was really confident, he knew the talent we had and believed in us and our ability to win. But this season was very valuable for my growth because I played a different style of basketball that I was accustomed to, and coach really helped with that transition

On what things will you be working on now so you can continue to make nice strides in your second professional season?

I will continue to work on my overall game. I am going to sharpen my skills this summer while continuing to get stronger.

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro A this season?


Dominik Spohr from Hagen gave us problems both times we played them, so I would say him. That’s the first player that comes to mind, he can really shoot it

Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?

I don’t think so, but I do like his game a lot

Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence? 


He had a huge influence on me from a young age. He is my favorite player Of all time so I watched a lot of him growing up and he really inspired me to play the game at a young age 

How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now?


It was really sad to see I hate that some guys won’t get an opportunity to play in it this year. I would say just continue to work and be grateful for the time you spent in college, the good and the bad. Those experiences can help you in life in the long run 

What was the last movie that you saw?


Jumanji

Thanks Jaren for the chat.

At First Dewayne Russell(Crailsheim Merlins) Was Angry And Frustrated With The BBL Continuing And Players Having No Voice But Now Understands It´s A Business

 It was March 8th 2020 a date that Crailsheim Merlins fans won´t forget so quickly. The 2019-2020 easyCredit BBL Cinderella team Crailsheim Merlins were playing possibly their best basketball of the season as they came back home into the always boisterous arena Hohenlohe meeting 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin who had beaten them 5 weeks earlier with ease. In the big winning streak, the Crailsheim Merlins had pulled off two squeakers on the road in Frankfurt winning 83-81 and nipping the Hamburg Towers in exciting fashion 92-91.  A big strength to the success of the Crailsheim Merlins this season has been their team play and being able to get the job done night in and night out, but you have to put in the work. ““I don’t think there’s really a secret. Our team just works hard. We’re just trying to be at our best every day”, warned Dewayne Russell But another reason for their success stands only at 180cm´s tall. His name is DeWayne Russell who has had to prove himself since entering Peoria High School in 2008 and the chip he has had for years is still there, but all his hard work has payed off. He has had to pay his dues since being a standout at the little known Grand Canyon State University (NCAA) where he averaged  21.2ppg, 3.8rpg, 5.4apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 40.2%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 75.8% as a senior. I truthfully thought it was a school at the Grand Canyon, but actually it´s in Phoenix, Arizona. He had to grind in the competitive second division in France with Nancy as a rookie and arrived in Germany last season with the Crailsheim Merlins and had a very solid season averaging 11.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 4.2apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 75.0%. But this season he made another step continuing to improve his game and stats averaging 14.5ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-3(6.4apg), 1.2spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 78.9%. Last season he got crushed by Alba Berlin losing by 39 points in the first contest scoring 7 points and in the second game lost by 36 points, but still contributing well scoring 16 points. So here he was back on the main stage and staring at an 0-3 lifetime record against Alba Berlin. He also was facing top players like Luke Sikma, ex NBA player Tyler Cavanaugh and 2 time NCAA champion with Uconn Niels Giffey. Not to mention at the point guard position none other than Peyton Siva who won a NCAA title at Louisville and balled in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons. After 40 minutes the Crailsheim Merlins had accomplished seemingly the unbelievable beating Alba Berlin 92-81 and one of the best players on the floor that day was Dewayne Russell. He finished with a masterful 22 points, 12 dimes and 3 boards and was playing his best basketball of his career. In the 5 game winning streak he was averaging 23 points and 7 assists and was finally getting some respect from his peers. But then the COVID-19 crisis hit Germany shutting down basketball, but at least he had a nice memory of beating Alba Berlin the last months. He must of wondered how the season of the Merlin´s and his would of finished had COVID-19 not struck, as now as the BBL gets ready to close out the season, nothing will be the same like 2 months ago. “Honestly, the entire game has been a blur to me with everything going on. With the quarantine, it will be tough to come back playing at that level right away. It will take some time. I definitely felt like I was playing the best basketball of my career. At the same time, I do see a lot of room for improvement and I’m excited to take the next steps to get better”, warned DeWayne Russell.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Dewayne Russell in Frankfurt in 2019

            When COVID-19 hit, the Crailsheim Merlins were playing excellent basketball having a 15-6 record and were resting in third place. What has been amazing with the success of the Crailsheim Merlins this season is how they have managed to be so successful. On paper, they surely weren´t a playoff team, but that didn´t bother any of the players as some exceeded expectations something the club couldn´t do last season. The team had more talent last season and had so much more experience with 6 players above the 30 year old mark. “This years team has a lot of talent. Last years team had more experience with the older guys but this years team is much younger and just as talented”, added Dewayne Russell. But last years team just wasn´t able to gel and play together and consistently, but this year´s team is totally different. They usually had a 9 man rotation, but six players averaged double figures. That demonstrates a team that is unselfish and enjoys sharing the ball. The idea that the club needs to rely too much on the starting five to be consistent isn´t something that the club listens to or is afraid of. “We don’t look at it as a starting 5, we look at it as a collective whole. We all play together at some point during the game”, stated Dewayne Russell. Not to forget a lot of the players have no BBL experience and came from lower leagues, but that didn´t haunt head coach Tuomas Iisalo who took what he had on the court and quickly formed it into a winning culture. The coach is a candidate for coach of the year at the present moment. “He has been great for the entire club. He is more than just a good basketball coach, he is a great leader, mentor and developer”, stressed Dewayne Russell.

            Instead of having been able to take the momentum of the Alba Berlin victory and sail into the BBL playoffs with confidence, the team now will get together two months later seemingly an eternity since the magic moment of beating Alba Berlin and have to find some kind of a rhythm and also integrate 2 new players with Germans David Brembly and Marvin Ogunsipe.  Dewayne Russell never returned back to the States, but remained in Germany during the whole Coronavirús crisis. Just like so many other people in the world, he also didn´t expect COVID-19 to shut down the whole world. It hasn´t been an easy time for the American being away from home, but he just has been trying to keep a positive attitude and be aware and conscious of his surroundings. “I just stayed home and followed the rules. Crailsheim is a pretty quiet city, so I didn’t really feel like there was a big difference in daily life aside from not being able to go play basketball for a few weeks. I’ve been talking to my family every day so I keep up through them. I think my daily life is affected because I can’t go to the gym or have practice and routine. I’ve never really shut my body down like this before so the rest has been good but I’m ready for what comes my way. I started going on walks and runs so it was good to get moving”, stressed Dewayne Russell. One thing that has been preoccupying his vast amount of free time in the last months of non basketball has been the great season that the Merlins was having. He was at an all-time high beating Alba Berlin and 4 days later at an all-time low learning that the season had been postponed. “I was devastated because we were on a run and all the guys were so ready for the next stretch. We also wanted to compete and finish what we started”, expressed Dewayne Russell. The American who stayed in contact most with Bamberg guard Paris Lee during the lock down watched  a lot of news about COVID-19 and read a lot on line and had a lot of time to wonder about the future, but knows that he can´t get to wrapped up about something he can´t control. “I’m remaining positive about the situation in hopes that teams can recover or be unaffected by CO-VID. I’m just going to handle what is in front of me now and continue to be positive”, explained Dewayne Russell. He also knows that having had the COVID-.19 crisis and the season being delayed will also play into his preparations for next season. “It will be tough but I know I can do it. Mentally I’m strong, I just have to get my body there physically. The disadvantages are being away from our families, high injury risk and just the overall well being of each person included during this pandemic”, stressed Dewayne Russell. Even if the whole COVID-19 experience has been tough for Russell, he did take in something very valuable. “. I’ve learned how much I value family and friendship”, said Dewayne Russell.

            Russell along with guys like Josh Young of Rasta Vechta and Lamont Jones of the Fraport Skyliners are some of the few Americans that stayed in Germany during the COVID-19 crisis while most other Americans went home. Most leagues cancelled their seasons in Europe, but the easyCredit BBL was very adamant from the get go that they wanted to continue their season in some way despite the possible health hazards and risk of injury. “I understand the business and financial side of things and that makes the situation tough. But in a time of a pandemic, it’s hard for players to be away from their families”, added Dewayne Russell. The American wasn´t to happy at first about how the BBL handled the situation about continuing the season as the players seemed to have no say in the matter, but he let some time pass and saw that the league was doing it´s best for all. “My initial reaction was out of anger and frustration because I felt like we didn’t have a voice but the BBL has done a great job in handling this tough situation with so much uncertainty”, said Dewayne Russell. But as COVID-19 dragged on and on, one could feel that more and more players like TJ DiLeo of the Telekom Baskets Bonn or Niels Giffey of Alba Berlin were uncomfortable with the notion of playing with so much uncertainty coupled with the risk of injury, infection and being away from home” I think the majority of us all feel the same about being away from our families and risking our health. I’m not a big numbers guy but I’m pretty sure everyone I’ve talked to has had fear about the uncertainty of this situation. But we understand the business”, warned Dewayne Russell. Most clubs will have guys not returning like a Killian Hayes of ratiopharm Ulm and the Crailsheim Merlins won´t have back big man Aaron Jones who was having a magnificent season and will be missed. “I have the ultimate respect for AJ. He has two little girls and a wife to look after. I completely support his decision”, stressed Dewayne Russell. It is no secret that many basketball clubs won´t come out of COVID-.19 unscathed, so finishing the season and keeping the sponsors on the leash is a common goal for the clubs. But at the same time there is the argument from the players standpoint that the business side seems more important than common health and well being of the players. “I think that has a lot to do with it, I don’t think we should hide that fact. It’s easy for players to only see our side and the club to only see their side but we have to come to agreement”, warned Dewayne Russell.

            The BBL and 17 teams had a video conference on April 27th and came to agreement that 10 teams would finish the season in a type of tournament format. There will be two groups of 5 teams. They will play each other twice which will be followed by a best of 3 playoffs quarterfinals, semi-finals and final. The games will all be played in a neutral site Munich in a span of 3 weeks in June. The players also will feel like they are playing scrimmages, because there will be no fans in attendance. ” I understand the precautions have to take for the safety of everyone. But the crowd has a huge impact of the energy of the game and makes it much more exciting to play”, stated Dewayne Russell. He also knows that the Crailsheim Merlins will be a different teams as some guys won´t even be there as well as having to integrate two new players. The club will have to generate new magic, but that won´t be easy. “It will be hard knowing what we had but unfortunately this is the situation we are in. All players are risking injury and it will be hard to get in a rhythm. We will just have to take it on as it comes”, commented Dewayne Russell. The good news for every team is that it will be like a new season with each team having had the same amount of team preparation time and they are all in a situation that is totally new. Russell is more than optimistic that the Crailsheim Merlins will be able to shine now like they did before COVID-19. “Every time I step out on the floor my objective is to win. So I expect us to do whatever it takes to win the tournament. I understand it will be hard but it’s just something we have to do. I think for Munich it’s a big advantage. We are playing where they always play”, stressed Dewayne Russell. Another big challenge will be the living conditions for the 3 week tournament in Munich. All teams will sleep under the same roof with extreme quarantine restrictions. “It will be a tough situation. I do think that we will find a way to keep ourselves busy. I think that at a time like this players will use the time to get to know each other . Once we step on the court of course the competitive spirt will be back but off the court I think we will get to know each other better”, warned Dewayne Russell. It also will be a great opportunity for Russell and Paris Lee to get away from the usual season texting on WhatApp and meet in the hotel bar for a coke and peanuts.

Vincent Golson May Be Short But His Meat On His Bones And Quickness Will Continue To Help Him Grow With The RheinStars

Even if Vincent Golson was 12 years away into the future from being born in 1982, the term “Wow does he really live here, I thought he only flies in for games” was something the American could have classified Andrej Mangold doing in his rookie season. Back in 1982 the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High which became a cult classic 80´s movie years later gave unknown actors at the time like Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage their first roles and had numerous funny scenes that still remain timeless today. One of those was when a little kid is standing next to the high school´s star football player played by Academy Award winner Forest Whitiker and is practically drooling at his sight says “Wow does he really live here, I thought he only flies in for games. For Andrej Mangold, you could have used that same term as well as he was Golson´s teammate in Cologne this season, but rarely played games. The reason for his inconsistent team participation was that during the season he was the German reigning Bachelor from the RTL show. Even more than a half a year when the show ended, the ex easyCredit BBL player still had numerous business engagements especially on weekends that got in the way for the games. He would be jetting all around Europe and literally one could say he flew in for some of the games. Mangold who hadn´t played much the last years, but was still in pretty good basketball shape and way to good for the German fourth division called the Regionalliga. Golson and Mangold only played 4 games together and are both point guards. One can only wonder how much better the team would have been when Mangold had always been at practices and games. Despite Mangold not always being around, Vincent Golson still had a fine impression of the German basketball veteran. “Andrej´s game I liked the most since he had a tremendous background in German basketball. When you hear a background like this you assume selfishness just trying to score this or that . Especially under the circumstances. but no, his game would fit virtually anyone’s game. He seems to play hot potato with the ball passing and even his attitude. He is a really good defender. You honestly learned from him by just watching”, warned Vincent Golson. They played together one last time on March 7th beating Rhondorf 100-82 as they combined for 49 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists and 10 three´s. The RheinStars got revenge for their road loss in Rhondorf 86-83 where Mangold hadn´t played. He might have made the difference. But then the Coronavirus hit the world and ended the Regionalliga season. Luckily for Golson he resigned early in 2020 and will be back next season with the RheinStars and will be looking to continue to grow as a player as his meat on his bones and quickness will make up for his short height.

                With the Coronavirus in full swing in the United States, the American flew back to Los Angeles, before heading home to Oakland to visit his mother. It hasn´t been an easy time, but besides having more contact with his family, he also has stayed in touch with teammates like Karl Dia. Michiel Peterson and Tibor Taras and trying to stay in shape somehow with stretching core, jump rope, sprint jumps and jogging. At the moment he is cool and relaxed, but like with so many other people on earth, the way that the Coronavirus has affected the world really surprised him. “When I first heard about CoronaVirus I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was some type of sickness that would pass within a month at most. It never crossed my mind that everything minus grocery stores would be shut down”, said Vincent Golson. The American who played college ball at California State University Dominguez Hills (NCAA2) remembers how the world crisis started when he was in Germany and how he has had to deal with it back on home soil which has allowed him to find new hobbies. “When I was in Cologne it was the first week of the pandemic shut down in the United States and Germany. It left me in my apartment and one other teammate alone. Isolated. Given some of our other teammates stopped by a day or two to say goodbye to us before we left. It was a super boring experience if I may say so. It has affected my day to day lifestyle. I would usually go to a friends house, the gym, hang with a lot of different people, etc. Right now I can’t and I’ve probably been around one or two friends since being back in the states. My day to day life has been affected a lot honestly. I spend most of my days inside, no gym access as of right now but I will be able to get it soon. I also have been spending a lot of time on you tube getting used to arts and craft like making a pinata from scratch”, smiled Vincent Golson. The Coronavirus hit everyone by surprise, but when it came to being able to handle himself in public with other potential infected humans, the California native had learned how to cope from his mom. “When it comes shaking hands and being around someone coughing I think my awareness is the same. These would be considered manners by my mother. Covering your mouth when you cough or not being near a sick or possibly sick person would be measures that were already instilled in me by her. As far as shaking hands I just wave and hope others understand the situation”, warned Vincent Golson.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Vincent Golson in Rhondorf afater dropping 15 points in a 86-83 losing cause

                The Coronavirus not only shutdown the world in many ways, but also the sport he loves basketball. On account of many many leagues shutting down like the Regionalliga, he was unable to play for the title in the playoffs. In the end the RheinStars still won the title because they had the best record. He sees positives and negatives in the way the season ended. “I was very disappointed. Although it is good that I can get an extra month being home after my first pro year, I planned my next few months around going into the playoffs. This being stuff like when to start working out again or just being able to go to open gyms. As far as finishing the season we wanted to go into playoffs because that is what we were preparing for. I wanted to see if we as a team had another gear since playoffs are always different and more challenging than regular season. But given the circumstances, I’m happy and grounded that we took care of business early in the season”, stressed Vincent Golson. Some teams played with no fans shortly before the Coronvirus shut everything down. Golson wasn´t one of those players that would experience it, but if he did, it wouldn´t have affected his game “It probably would have been very different playing with no crowd. Some competitors often play for the crowd and if they can’t see that, where else would they gain their motivation from? In my most humble opinion, I do believe all competitors or at least the true competitors would have just wanted to play fans or no fans. You love the game the way you say, it would have been no difference preparing for a game with no fans”, added Vincent Golson. The whole Coronavirus crisis will have a huge effect on the world economy and basketball will also not escape it as teams may fold and salaries could go down, but the American is very positive about the future of basketball. “I’m not too worried about my future in professional basketball because there is a lot of time between now and next season to figure out this current situation. I know in the past there have been things of this nature happening, not sure how long they last, but we seem to always come out with a solution. Mentally? I’m stress free! I’m breathing, laughing, taking good measures every day, and around family”, warned Vincent Golson. He also isn´t worried about how he will return for his second campaign with more time to prepare. “It won’t be a big adjustment given college usually gives you close to four months of rest or so. The advantages is you can finally give your body time to heal and recover from a long season and no need to rush back into working out just yet. You can ease into your workouts at a good pace. The disadvantage is if you start too early in working or doing too much you may put wear and tear on your body before the season even starts”, warned Vincent Golson. The whole Coronavirus crisis also made him sentimental and he has gotten something out of it even if it wasn´t anything new, but something that justified what he already had in his thoughts. “I have learned a lot before from previous times but this time magnified my beliefs already. One of my beliefs is that a lot of people like to prepare for themselves in life which is perfectly fine but the results of those decisions you have to be mindful of them not for yourself but others”, warned Vincent Golson.

                With more time now than usual during a season he has a lot more opportunity to think back on the season and reflect on the good times and just how successful the RheinStars were. The club finished 22-2 and will move up and play in the Pro B next season. “We would have loved to finish the season the way we actually imagined which was in the playoffs of course but we were satisfied with our record of course. From my coaches point of view a lot of people didn’t expect us to do so well given that we were basing the program around weird elements such as Tibor being one year removed, me being two years removed, and other factors. But I truly believe the personality of each individual within the RheinStars program made it easy this season”, commented Vincent Golson. The club began well with a 10-2 record, but then finished with a 12 game winning streak and seemed invincible going into the playoffs. Two close nail bitter wins against BG Hagen and Leverkusen were also vital for the team having extra confidence going into the playoffs. “Coaches were telling us this how playoffs would be more than us beating teams by 20 plus majority of the time. It would show our discipline and capabilities of finishing a game the proper way with extreme focus”, stressed Vincent Golson. A big strength of the organization was it´s defense which was the best in the Regionalliga West as discipline and trust were huge factors for the success. “The secret was honestly trying to keep your man if he had that ball in front of you at all times. Pressure was another one without gambling and trying to get steals all the time and knowing our rotations for each position. The trust has to be there to know if I get beat by the ball handler or something happened the other four would help figure out in time for the other to recover”, added Vincent Golson. Another big reason for the success was a very strong team chemistry that didn´t take months to develop, but right away as guys really liked each other. “It was a bunch of guys that liked each other’s beliefs. It showed the first three days or week I was there. The players that were there invited us all to go to the park and hangout for the majority of the day. We had a lot of weekends like this that if not all but the majority of the team would attend at the same time. Given you do have some players who will always be closer than others but we all allowed each other some time of day. problems on the court remained on the court and the rest solved itself with simple text messages or reply”, explained Vincent Golson.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Vincent Golson in 2019 in Rhondorf

                The RheinStars Cologne didn´t have any real crazy American superstars averaging 28,0ppg something you often see in the league, but had a bunch of guys that understood how to play team basketball. Three guys averaged in double figures and 5 other guys 7,0ppg or more. The team´s top scorer was Tibor Taras who was one of many German talents who just couldn´t make the step to the BBL the countries top division. He tried to get to the BBL via the Bamberg organization, but there was no room for him there. He has shown in the last years that he isn´t too far behind from the BBL having solid Pro A seasons(2nd German top league) and playing in the fourth league with Cologne was a step back, but by averaging 22.0ppg, 5.3rpg, 4.4apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 82.3%, he got the needed minutes and confidence to attempt another go at playing at a higher division. He even exploded for an unbelievable 51 points against BG Hagen netting 12 three´s. Taras is definitely a teammate he will never forget. “It was definitely a pleasure playing with Tibor. That is the correct word to describe it. I have seen Tibor go for 50 points off less than 5 misses as a spectator, Seen him with a triple double as a spectator, seen him help me make better decisions as a playmaker, seen him play defense, and most of all I have seen him try to rally us as a team in tough times. He has major potential and I’m pretty the German Basketball world knew that already considering he played at the highest level in Germany. I appreciated him not getting mad at me when I made a mistake and actually helping me find better solutions in practice and games”, warned Vincent Golson. The American also had a lot of joy watching the further development of German Thomas Michel who he described as a guy that came in as a shooter, but left with much more. “Tommy became one of my favorite teammates if not favorite. I saw more than I expected from him than when I first looked at him. He is confident in finding his shot throughout the season. While doing that he eventually adjusted his game and became a glue guy. There aren’t many people that attempt to keep up with my play style in my entire life of basketball but Tommy made that happen. He adjusted his game to help my game and probably didn’t know he was helping. Seen him play the 5 position and do a great job at it given he’s a 3/4.  His energy is great and I love it. Tipping the ball for a score or rebound, diving for a loose ball, or making timely three´s was enjoyable”, added Vincent Golson.

                Golson who lists ex BBL point guard Soren Fritze of BG Hagen as his toughest cover had a solid rookie season averaging 14,3ppg, 3,7rpg, 4,8apg and 1,4spg. He was very happy that he didn´t have to come in and have the usual American guard role of needing to score 25 plus points a night. “I felt under my circumstances I didn’t have to take on so much my rookie season with just scoring. I was able to actually learn the game of being an European Point Guard not just throwing it up at the rim. More than just numbers I was satisfied with the fact I got better at reading pick and rolls a bit and actually making a proper decision after reading the defense”, stated Vincent Golson. His three pointer continues to be a work in progress as he shot only 28%. He shot in the low 30% in school and will continue to work on his shot. He made only 12 three´s including 4 in his last game in the win over Rhondorf. There was a reason for taking less three´s and he already knows how to fix it this summer. “I had confidence shooting before that game but like I said before some games didn’t require me to shoot like other games did. Some games I would hesitate. I think my team believes I can shoot and towards the end of the season going into the playoffs my coach wanted me to show teams that I could too. So it is going to be focused mainly because Euro ball requires more of that than athleticism. I can improve my shot with taking care of my body and mind. Lock in like most great players do before games, practices, and workouts. My rookie season was pretty hesitant although coaches did instill confidence in me. But now I know how the game is played so hopefully I won’t make the same mistake twice”, warned Vincent Golson. He was also content with how his playmaking and defense developed as a rookie. “My playmaking improved a lot. Since we ended with a lot of pick and roll offense it, the game gave you a lot of chances to read and react to defenses. I felt it improve slowly. I felt like it would have been slightly better if I wasn’t hurt for so long. This reminded me of the way we played as a team when I was in junior college. Play at least 10 players and each player plays around 20-25 mins for full potential on both ends. My defense always benefits from not having to play 40 minutes every night. It was more of coaching than European Style”, expressed Vincent Golson. But the biggest plus that he could take from his rookie season was being able to be successful despite his length of only 173cm. He has had a chip on his shoulder his whole life concerning his size and it has been the knock against him. Even if he is short, he has two important vital attributes that continue to weed out his length and something that will help him to continue to develop despite his stature. “I don’t think it was my size they were adjusting to but more to my speed. Some teams did pretty well if I didn’t shoot those games and others not so well I believe. teams made it tougher for me to touch the paint or get to the basket of course. I do feel my game and size will continue to develop along in Europe as long I keep confidence in shooting. I’m not a scrawny short kid. I have a lot of meat on my bones just short. In my opinion people get short confused with an automatic mismatch. That I am not”, warned Vincent Golson. The American is a true competitor that knows that greatness and improvement won´t come from dreaming, but grinding in the lab like a hungry wounded antelope. He already has this summer all lined up with continuing to improve. “I will just focus on my body this summer since I didn’t have much time last summer given the circumstances. So I have my motivation already. Pick and Roll situations, different finishes, deeper range, quicker release, and off the dribble threes. Coach got me watching different players from Europe”, added Vincent Golson. A big motivation is the work ethic of Kobe Bryant and even if he won´t be flying into games like a Mangold next season, he will continue to strive to be the best that he can so that one day he can actually fly to games instead of taking a bus as he does now in Germany.