Kellon Thomas is a 25 year old 180cm point guard from Indianapolis, Indiana playing his rookie season in Germany with EVL Baskets Limburg (Germany-2.Regionalliga). Currently at the mid season mark, he has led the team to a 8-3 record averaging 32,0ppg, 6,0rpg and 5,0apg. He began his basketball career at Southport High School and in his senior year averaged 21.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.3apg and also played quarterback on Southport’s football team. He began his NCAA career in 2012 and played four years there playing 106 games. His best season was his last season where he played 32 games averaging 12.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 72.6%. He played on emore year of ball at IUPUI (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 9.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 35.1%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 90.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball before the start of the season.
Hi Kellon thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
Hey Miles, I am in Limburg Germany at the moment.
Congrats on signing with German Regionalliga 2 team EVL Limburg. You could have been a rookie last season but wasn’t. What were the reasons for not being a rookie? Did you need time to find yourself or didn’t the right offers come?
Last year I sat out and didn’t play because of issues with my previous agent. It was a misunderstanding.
There are so many players in the world and also a lot of teams, but still many more players. Do you feel after looking back at your NCAA career where you averaged 12,3ppg at a very good basketball institution and Kent State that teams in general didn’t see your true abilities until now with EVL Limburg head coach Danny Stahlbohm? When I played at Kent State, I had my best year stats wise and I think some people or coaches do not understand the sacrifices some players have to make for their teams. Just because a player doesn’t average big numbers, doesn’t mean he isn’t capable. It just means he did what the coach told him to do or whatever was needed for the team to win.
Connor Wood is a 25 year old 193cm guard from Guelph, Ontario playing his second professional season and first in Germany with the Uni Baskets Paderborn. Currently through 15 games he is averaging 12,2ppg, 2,3rpg and 2,7apg while shooting an astronomical 47,1% from outside. He played his rookie season with Niagara River Lions (NBL Canada) playing 44 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 74.2%. He played at Carleton University (CIS) from 2012-2017 playing a total of 124 CIS games. In his senior season he played 23 games averaging 17.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 48.3%, FT: 79.5%. He won 5 CIS titles and 2 OUA titles. He spoke to germanhoops.com before his arrival in Paderborn.
Hi Connor thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how was your summer? Currently I’m in Paderborn doing preseason with the team. My summer was good got some time to travel and continue training.
Before we get into the heart of the interview, I have to ask you what is the secret of becoming an amazing shooter at Carleton (CIS)? So many guys have done it in the past not to mention your ex teammate Philip Scrubb?
I think it’s all about reps just making sure you are shooting the ball enough. It’s different for everybody but if you get enough shoots up anybody can become a great shooter.
After playing your rookie season in Canada last season with the Niagara River Lions (NBL), you will be making your debut in Europe in Germany with the Uni Baskets Paderborn. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Did you talk to the Scrubb brothers or Tyson Hinz about their experiences in Germany to help make your decision easier? Yea I talked to them and heard good things mostly talking about the cities and experience. Tyson told me to make sure I’m comfortable with the coaching staff and how they’re running things which I think I’ve found a good spot here in Paderborn for that. I enjoy the ball movement and pushing to get the best looks on offence since that was what I was used to at Carleton.
How did you personally experience your second summer transfer period? After a solid rookie season in Canada with what expectations did you go into this summer and did you get many offers and how thankful are you of Matt Slan’s work of getting you the Paderborn gig? It was a much more detailed experience last summer I was just training not sure what was going to happen where this summer with Matt I knew we were going to work hard to find a good opportunity overseas. I was getting some looks and got a good offer by Paderborn welcoming me to their team. I’m very thankfully for Matt’s work! Last year I was waiting till fall without much interest so it was a nice change to have interest a lot earlier and actually get an offer overseas. Which is thanks to the effort Matt put in.
Kassius Robertson is a 24 year old 191cm guard that was born in Toronto, Canada and is playing his rookie season overseas with medi Bayreuth. He began his basketballcareer at Thornlea Secondary School and then played at Canisius (NCAA) from 2014-2017 playing a total of 99 NCAA games. He played his senior season at Missouri (NCAA) playing 33 games averaging 16.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 40.5%, 3PT: 43.2%,FT: 79.5%. Currently medi Bayreuth is celebrating a 8 game winning streak and belongs to the hottest teams in the easyCredit BBL. The Canadian is averaging 11,3ppg,1,7rpg and 2,6apg while shooting 43,3% from outside in the BBL. In the Basketball Champions League he is averaging 10,3ppg, 1,7rpg and 1,9apg and shooting a blistering 51,3% from outside. A few days ago he hit Turkish powerhouse Besiktas with 31 points in a huge 91-74 victory. He spoke to germanhoops.com two weeks ago about his basketball career.
Kassius thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Welcome to Germany. You have been in Germany a few months now. What has impressed you most about the German culture?
I´m not really sure. Nothing has really impressed me. Everything is 100% different from home. The biggest difference here is that everything is strict. Everybody follows rules in Germany. You have to make appointments here and there are no walk ins. They go by book.
I have a extraordinary name with Miles and so do you with Kassius. Muhammed Ali´s first name was also Cassius, but was spelled with a C. How did you get this special name and how did you do in school with the other kids concerning it´s variety?
My mom named me after Ali, but changed the C to a K. I was never bullied in school by the other kids. Not many knew that Clay became Ali. Now everyone calls me Kass.
You are playing your rookie season with medi Bayreuth. What kind of experience has it been for you in the early going and what has been the most difficult transition for you coming from the NCAA?
It has been a transition for me playing with a new team. Playing the pro game is a lot different from the NCAA. It just takes time adjusting to a new team and system. The mindset of the players and coach is a lot different here. Obviously guys that have been here longer are more accustomed to everything. I had a slow start, but I never got down on myself. I knew it would be a process. Last season I was playing around 35 minutes a game and this season it´s around 20-25 minutes. I have a different role.
You had a big leadership role last season with Missouri(NCAA), but with medi Bayreuth are a rookie with many veterans. What kind of role do you have this season and do you see yourself being able to become an impact player already as a rookie?
My role with medi Bayreuth is to be a team player as much as possible and being able to contribute as much as possible. I´m a good outside shooter and a pretty good defender. I feel that I´m an improved passer. I understand that as a rookie I´m allowed to make mistakes. I need to be patient with my game and just take it game by game. I see myself being an impact player in the BBL. I just need to be patient. If it happens in the next three games or at the end of the season, I will be happy whenever it happens.
Medi Bayreuth have already had their ups and downs and have found themselves. There was talk that coach Kroner might release players, but he stuck with his gut feeling. What happened in the last weeks where the team finally started winning and being consistent?
We haven´t changed anything in the winning streak, but did what we have been doing from the start of the season. We just needed time to find ourselves and not continue to make the same mistakes and just improve. We started getting contributions from multiple guys.
A big strength of medi Bayreuth the last two seasons under head coach Raoul Korner has been their team chemistry and the players doing one role very good. What kind of team can medi Bayreuth become this season on the court?
We can stand up withanyone in the league. I think that we can become a very good team. The onlyteam that really beat us bad this season was Alba Berlin. We showed against therest that we were the better team or could of beat them. We had collapses insome games that cost us. I think that if we can continue to keep the defensiveidentity that we have now, we can be a very good team. I honestly think that wecan be up with the four best teams in the BBL.
A big time player for medi Bayreuth is ex NBA player Adonis Thomas. Is he one of those guys where you have picked his brain about basketball and life? He seems like one of those players where when he speaks, you listen?
Adonis is a cool dude. I´m very close with him. We understand each other well. He has been overseas for a few years now. He has been through a lot and drops some gems every now and then and I listen when he talks about his experiences here. We really will need him to be at his best for us to be at our best.
One of the big energy guys in the turn around has been Hassan Martin who had an amazing 8 blocks in Frankfurt. Do you ever remember seeing such a great defensive performance in your career?
I have played with many very good players, but he is probably the best shot blocker that I have ever played with. He is young and super talented as has played really well for us. Hassan has been our rock. He has been our most consistent player because he is so athletically dominant. I haven´t seen anyone as athletic as him here. He times his blocks so well and even when he has to stay out of foul trouble, he can still impact a game at both ends of the court. As soon as he has a little space, he will dunk it. He has great intangibles down low. If your man gets a step on you, he will always be there to protect you. He will have a great career.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You’re a 191cm shooting guard that is known as a very good shooter, but also have many other fine attributes to your game. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit that description?
There are a few. My favorite player now is Steph Curry. But when I was growing up surprisingly my favorite player was Austin Rivers. When I was in high school, the hype around him was crazy. I watched his mix tapes for hours and hours. I loved his hesitation crosses and tried to copy him. He didn´t turn out to be as good of an NBA player like I thought he would. I feel that I´m a better shooter than him. I would compare my catch and shooting to a Klay Thompson.
You’re a very good shooter, but what other strengths does your game encompass where nobody would ever get the idea that you’re a one dimensional player?
I think that I have a good package of finishing. I haven´t showed it too much yet, but it will come. I think that I have a good floater. I think my ball screen game is good with getting the shot off, making the pass and reading the defense
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet with ease, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away in your game?
My passing for sure. I think that they count assists more easy in the BBL than in the NCAA. I feel like I could get a double double with 10 assists. I think that when my shot isn´t dropping that my passing then is very underrated.
You eclipsed the 40% mark from outside your last two seasons in the NCAA. What are the basic things that you are working on daily so that you can continue to be a very good shooter at the professional level?
It is the same thing now as it was in collegeand high school. Just making sure that my shooting fundamentals are in check. Ithink that the best way for me to get my shots off is understanding the offenseand teammates. Knowing where and when I can shoot is key
You have a lot more scoring weapons now than you had at Missouri. Has shot selection and patience been tough getting used to at the professional level coupled with the different style compared to the NCAA?
I was the number one scoring option there and everybody found me. This season it is different. My teammates do a good job finding me for the open shot, but when we need a basket, then they don´t go to me. It has been an adjustment this season with being patient and not forcing anything. There have been some games this season where I only got 2-3 shots. Last season at Missouri I averaged something like 11 shots per game.
You started your NCAA career at Canisius (NCAA) playing 99 NCAA games form 2014-2017 and improved your scoring, rebounding and assists each season. How do you feel did your game develop best here from day one until the day you left after your junior season?
I became a better shooter each season because I worked on my shot very much. I became an overall better shooter at Canisius. My role as a freshman is similar to my role this season in terms of shooting. Having a new team and role. I think that I will be that impact player when I get the minutes and added experience.
In your junior season at Canisius(NCAA) you lost 93-69 to top NCAA powerhouse Kentucky(NCAA). What kind of experience was it playing against future NBA players Fox, Briscoe and Monk?
Playing against Kentucky and those guys was awesome. I loved it. That was the reason why I wanted to transfer to a school like Missouri. I wanted to play in that type of environment and against the best players every night. I never played against guys considered for the NBA in the MAC conference.
What kind of experience was it playing for legendary coach Jim Baron. Do you remember hearing stories about their sons who are professional players in Europe?
I played a season with his son Billy Baron. He is playing in Croatia this season and has had a good career overseas. I have worked out with Billy the last summers in Buffalo. I have to thank coach Baron for everything, because he was the first guy that gave me a chance at the division one level. I will always appreciate him for that. He was a very tough coach. He gave me the right impression about how hard I have to work. He taught me that I need to be tough to get to the next level. He just let me play my game as long as I played defense.
You held your own against those future NBA players netting 16 points against Kentucky. When you look back at that game and where your play was and compare it to where it is now after your season with Missouri(NCAA) would you say that there is so much difference between those guys and you in terms of skill level?
At first yes. I might have scored 16 points, but I also took 16 shots. I missed a lot that night. You really get hyped up in your mind when playing against a top team like Kentucky. But when I was at Missouri and played against Kentucky again, I didn´t feel that there was any difference in skill level between me and those guys. Athletically they were at a different level than me, but skill wise I was either at their level or superior.
After making the jump from Canisius to Missouri you need no adjustment period. How tough was the situation having to jump in for Michael Porter Jr right away and have to be a leader?
It was very tough at first. He was a cool dude.We bonded very well in the early going. I was so excited to play with him. Wehad been playing together a few months that summer. He was an amazing playerlike a baby Kevin Durant. He beat me at 1-1 every time. He was our number oneoffensive option and every play would go through him. But then he was injured.What now? I was the oldest on the team and I naturally stepped up. I think thatmy teammates really respected my work ethic. When I spoke, they listened. Myskill spoke for it´s self and I tried to be the guy in crunch-time. After awhile we had success and our team chemistry was good. Everybody felt thateverybody wanted to win and all went along.
Did you feel a bit disappointed that despite taking over the leadership role from Porter JR and having very good stats as a senior that there wasn´t more interest from NBA teams?
I was disappointed at first. I felt like even if there had been more interest from the NBA, I still didn´t feel ready. I feel like I need 1-2 more years at playing at the professional level. I need to get my body right and learn the pro game. I feel like I need to become a combo guard, better passer and become a better shooter off the dribble. My goal is the NBA, but my real goal is becoming the best player I can be
How great was it beating Kentucky once with Missouri where you steered home 16 times. You scored 26 points in the second game despite the loss. Was the win your most memorable in the NCAA?
No it wasn´t. I had other games that were more memorable. Winning at Alabama was one of my most memorable wins in the NCAA: Another memorable win was in my junior year at Canisius where we won at St Bonaventure in OT. That win was huge. Another big game was my freshman year where we beat Quinnipiac. I hit a game winner. I hadn´t been playing well that season, but I came up big in that game.
How did head coach Cuonzo Martin give you that last touch in helping groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Martin goes down as my favorite coach of all-time. He was a good person off the court. He is wise and very knowledgeable and has been through a lot. He was a very tough coach. He was defensive minded and instilled me in being a defensive leader on the court. I already had a good work ethic coming to Missouri, but he helped it become even better. He taught to be a good player on the court and person off the court.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jordan Geist?
Me. Jordan was a tough player, but I´m winning that battle.
You played against so many incredible players in the NCAA, but who was the toughest player you battled that is in the NBA now?
There are a few. Deaaron Fox was incredibly quick and when he was going full court was almost impossible to stop. The second would be fellow Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who plays for the Clippers. He isn´t the best shooter, but an amazing passer and can always get to the rim with his hesitation. He is really hard to guard
If you had to pick your all-time best starting five of teammates who would you pick?
Billy Baron at the 1. Me at the 2. Michael Porter Jr at the 3. Jontay Porter at the 4 and Hassan Martin at the 5.
When you were at Vaughn secondary school you played together with freak athlete Andrew Wiggins. What do you remember from his game and how good was he already as a kid?
I remember a lot about him. He was so athleticand just super gifted. His moves and spins around the rim was crazy for a tenthgrader. He dominated at that level to the point where it was too easy for him.I remember him dunking over 3 guys. His shot then wasn´t nearly as good as itis now. I played only a year with him, but we went something like 41-1 and won30 in a row. He was a special talent.
If you had to pick your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry and Lebron James.
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
That debate is terrible. You can´t exclude Kobe Bryant. If I had to choose then Michael Jordan 100%.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Operation Finale on Netflix.
Adam Klie is a 23 year old 193cm guard that was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Anchorage and is playing his second professional season and first in Germany with the Giessen Rackelos. Currently he is averaging 11,5ppg, 5,4rpg and3,5apg. He is shooting a respectable 44,4% from outside. Last season he playedhis rookie season with the Niagara River Lions (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 44 games averaging 6.1ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 31.3%,FT: 48.4%. He began his basketball career with Service High School and played at Cal-San Diego (NCAA2) from 2013-2017. In his senior season he played 30 games averaging 15.2ppg, 6.1rpg, 4.5apg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 45.7%,FT: 58.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball late in the summer.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Adam Klie after a game in Frankfurt
Adam thanks for talkingto germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
I just arrived in Giessen, Germany on Wednesday. My summer was great, a lot of work put in the gym while enjoying the San Diego weather and people.
Before we talk about your passion of basketball, I have to ask you about your favorite soccer player Robert Lewondowski. Have you checked schedules of Frankfurt or Dortmund when FC Bayern Munich plays there so you could possibly go and see him Live? Frankfurt is probably your better bet since Dortmund tickets are real tough to get.
I haven’t looked at the schedule yet, but I am planning on going to some Bundesliga games while I am here. It would be even more special if I could see Bayern and Lewa play so I plan on seeing if I can make that happen!
After playing your rookie season in Canada, with what kind of feelings were you going into your second summer of looking for a new team? Was Europe early in your thoughts about attempting to make the next step in your career?
I liked being out in Canada a lot, but I think a large part of me wanted to experience basketball and life on another continent. There are many good leagues and teams in Europe so it was a place that came to mind immediately when I was looking for a club.
Corey Raley-Rossis a 27 year old 193cm guard from Charlotte, North Carolina playing his thirdprofessional season and first with C.B. Aridane (Spain-EBA).Last season he played with CB Virgen de la Concha Innova Chef(Spain-EBA) playing 28 games averaging 18.3ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 57.0%, 3PT: 41.4%,FT: 64.8%. As a rookie he played for TTU Korvpalliklubi Tallinn(Estonia-Alexela KML) playing 28 games averaging 6.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 30.4%,FT: 63.6%; and played 9 Baltic League games averaging 8.7ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 11.1%, FT: 76.0%. He played atBuffalo(NCAA) from 2010-2014 playing 59 games. He spoke to germanhoops.com duringhis brief time in Germany as he was set to play for Stahnsdorf, but then movedto C.B.Aridane (Spain-EBA). Currently he is averaging 17,4ppg, 5,6rpg, 38apg and1,3spg.
Corey thanks fortalking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how has your summerbeen?
I’m currently in Berlin, Germany. And my summer was great. Busy! But that’s the way I like them to be.
Before we get to your career please explain to me why so many good basketball players come from the state of North Carolina? You must be able to give a good list of well known players you could meet any day of the summer in the gym´s in Charlotte?
North Carolina has a rich basketball tradition…that’s no secret. There is Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest and many other universities that have benefited from instate talent. Also, there are basketball legends like Jordan, James Worthy, David Thompson, Steph Curry and Chris Paul who have paved the way for the generation now. During the summer guys are always playing. I wouldn’t know where to start on a list…there’s just so many. My brother Brandis and I work independently, he’s more less who I’m meeting at the gym day to day.
You have experience in Estonia and Spain. What was your goal going into your third professional season when looking for that perfect fit? After a solid season in Estonia, you followed it up with a great season in the Spanish EBA. Will it be tough to follow that up this season?
I don’t believe in a perfect fit. I believe in the best fit. Germany seemed to be just that. And my goal is to win WIN, WIN, WIN. I had a strong season in Spain yes. Will it be tough to follow? Let’s wait and see. Though, I can assure you all that I’m a much improved player.
Nick Hornsby is a 23 year old 201cm forward that was born in Irvine, California that is playing his second professional season in Germany and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He has been an instrumental part in the big 10-0 start averaging 12,7ppg, 8,7rpg and 3,1apg. Lastseason as a rookie he played with Giessen 46ers II (Germany-ProB) playing 23games averaging 13.9ppg, 7.6rpg, 2.9apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 70.3% He also played 2BBL games for Giessen. He won two high school titles with Tustin and then played at Sacramento State from 2013-2017 playing a total of 123 NCAA games and was able to improve his scoring and rebounding each season. As a senior he played 31 games averaging 11.3ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 71.2%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his season with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen.
Nick thanks for talking to germanhoops.com! Where are you at the moment and how isbasketball life treating you at the moment?
Right now I’m just at home with my fiancé enjoying some downtime on our off day.
Congrats on the amazing quick start as your 10-0 with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. If somebody had told you in pre season that the team would have begun at 10-0 what would you have said?
Basketball life wise I’m great. Our team is 10-0 and I have no complaints. We have been playing great basketball. If someone would have told me we would be 10-0 I’m not sure if I would have believed it. I think we all knew when we first came together as a team we were very capable of having a good season.
Have you ever registered a start like this in your career? How does it feel reeling off so many wins in a row?
I’ve had a year like that when I was in high school I was lucky enough to have a great team then. It feels great I think the most exciting time we have in the week is after the game. During the week, we are just fully focused on the next game.
Alexander Blessig is a 25 year old 188cm guard from Berlin playing his third professional season with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen(ProB). Currently he has been a vital part in the 10-0 start of the team averaging 10,1ppg, 2,4rpg and 2,4apg while shooting a massive 60% from outside. He began his basketball career with FC Bayern Muenchen (ProA) and also played with Alba Berlin 2. He then played a season with Florida Gulf Coast(NCAA) helping the team win the A-Sun tournament and reaching the NCAA Sweet16. He then moved to Rollins (NCAA2) and played three seasons totaling 66 games. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Alex thanks for talkingto germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
HeyMiles, thank you for interviewing me. I currently live in Cologne, finishing up my Master’s degree, working part time as a working student in Venture Capital and of course, playing ball in Leverkusen. I am just enjoying every second I can be on the court with my team – it’s a blessing every single day!
Congrats on the amazing quick start as your10-0 with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. If somebody had told you in pre-season that the team would have begun at 10-0 what would you have said?
I knew from the start that we had a special group of guys together, but I did not expect this kind of a run. If somebody had told me we would go 10-0, I surely would not have believed them.
Have you ever registered a start like this inyour career? How does it feel reeling off so many wins in a row?
I never had a start like this in my career – it feels great. However, the games that really count are still to come (Play-Offs). We appreciate the wins but at the same time we know that we have not achieved anything yet. We have to stay humble and keep improving to play our best basketball at the end of the season. Next up, we play Elchingen twice, which will be two really tough games for us!