In the early summer of 2017, basketball life was really really good for Canadian Taevaunn Prince who was coming off a spectacular rookie season in Germany with the ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen. The then 25 year old 191cm guard who split time at South Dakota(NCAA) and Missouri Southern(NCAA2) before going pro was as upbeat as an American teenager would be leaving the school grounds on the last day of summer as he was very confident and was excited about where his basketball journey would go. Now it´s the summer of 2019 and he is very happy about his basketball life, but in between, his basketball life and luck took a 180 degree turn in the other direction and now he is very blessed and thankful that he is still playing ball and has a bright future, but it could have been totally different. Let´s rewind back to the summer of 2017. In my season ending interview with the athletic beast who averaged 17.1ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 83.4% as a rookie with German Pro B team ScanPlus Baskets, he was so excited about his future, but at the same time knew that he still was far away from being the player that he wanted to be. “I had a very strong rookie season for me. I have improved as the season went on but I still have a lot of work to do in the off season and I am excited and obsessed with the process of getting better and adding to my game. I have not even scratched the surface, my goal is to maximize my potential and looking back I made plenty of mistakes and can be so much better as a player”, stressed Taevaunn Prince. The exciting guard who help pound FC Schalke with 29 points in a nail bitter 76-74 win had goals for his sophomore campaign wherever that would be and was just focused about making the next step. “The next step for me is getting back in the gym and perfecting my craft, I feel this year was decent and ok but I know I can do more and this was just the first step for bigger and better things. Pro B was a test to see if I can hang professional and I displayed that, I think I can play at the Pro A level and prove myself once again. My goal is always to play at the highest level so I will continue to push myself until I get there”, warned Taevaunn Prince. But instead of continuing to ride that high of continuing his basketball journey and signing with a new team for the 2017-2018 season, he would sit at home and be wondering if he would ever continue his professional career.
It was a rainy and unseasonably cool afternoon at the start of May as there was a horde of anxious autograph collectors milling around outside a luxury Boston hotel and a number of young kids hanging on to basketball balls while the older autograph hounds had countless pictures of a certain very athletic big man player. The Milwaukee Bucks were in town facing the Boston Celtics in the playoffs and the cute little 8 year old girl and her 10 year old brother were waiting for the Greek freak Giannis Antetokounmpo while the older gents where some have been around since the 80´s and still hanging around hotels all day long were there for Spanish legend Pau Gasol and also for Antetokounmpo while I was waiting for somebody totally different by the name of Charles Lee. I had only known a few weeks earlier that Lee was an assistant coach as I had checked the Bucks roster to see what ex NBA players were coaches as I was in town for a family visit and wanted to relive my joys of autograph hunting as a kid and experience it now with a new generation of players. Covering basketball in Germany since 15 years has brought me in contact with many many players and I have had the pleasure of interviewing 1200 plus players in Germany, but for a strange reason never had had a chat with Charles Lee in the two years when he played in Germany from 2008-2010 with BG Goettingen and the Artland Dragons. Now I was in Boston and in town was Charles Lee. Now was my chance to be able to finally interview him. So there I was squashed among little kids and grey haired gents who had books filled with basketball cards and photos and I was anxiously waiting to see if I would recognize him. With some players Like Eric Bledsoe and Kris Middleton coming out of the lobby and ignoring the autograph collectors and getting on the bus, I saw a well built gentleman that looked like him and I yelled Charles, Charles. An experienced autograph collector next to me muttered “That’s nobody but a coach or trainer”. I countered with “That´s Charles Lee”. The autograph collector ignored my comeback, but Lee didn´t. He stopped on the second step of the bus and looked back and gave me a signal that he would come back. Shortly later he came to me with the autograph collectors staring at me wondering what the hell was happening. I said hi Charles and his first response was. “Your face looks familiar”. I then introduced myself and gave him my business cards and then his whole Germany experience came back to him. The American smiled and seemed interested and an interview was scheduled for the next day at 3.00pm after their practice. As we sat in the hotel restaurant Pau Gasol stepped into the room bringing a special aura and was accompanied by two other Spanish men. Gasol said hello to Lee and then glanced at me probably wondering how an autograph collecter would be at the same table with an assistant coach. He looked at me and gave a friendly hello and was on his way to munch on some scrumptious food a few tables away. As we were chatting away, Lee reflected on this chance encounter and trying to place my face with the seemingly 1000 others he has seen in his basketball life. “Whenever I hear my name, I never think that they are really talking to me. I usually get mistaken for someone else. I have gotten George Hill, Kris Middleton and Sterling Brown. Your face looked familiar and when you said your name it came back to me. I remember seeing your face on the eurobasket website and at games when I was playing in Germany. Your face caught my eye. I don´t forget faces”, smiled Charles Lee. Charles Lee is only 34 years old age, but has already experienced so much in the NCAA and overseas as a player and in the NCAA and NBA as a coach that it was time for a Miles where are they now player feature.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing current Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee on an off day in Boston between game 3 and game 4 of the 2019 NBA playoffs
Over the years one thing that the Frankfurt Skyliners have never had a shortage of was talented and strong guards. It really didn´t matter how successful the club was in whatever season, there were mostly always good guards on boards, but as is the case always it depends how well the club chemistry is built and how well they can mesh together. After the unforgettable 2006-2007 season where Frankfurt missed the playoffs and had one of their worst seasons ever, there was a lot of assurance going into the next season that the club would find back to old glory since Turk Murat Didin was brought back to save the ship. The club had two strong guards with Skyliner legend Pascal Roller and American Jimmy McKinney who had had a stellar rookie season. The club also had young German Dominik Bahiense De Mello and young Swede Rudy Mbemba, but another scoring combo guard was still missing and over the summer the club signed American Jimmie Hunt who had had two years of professional experience in Slovenia and the season before had caught fire leading the league in scoring and assists and seemed to be a huge steal. Nine months later that scoring genius that had set the Slovenian league on fire was never lit in Frankfurt as the season was a struggle for the jovial American. He not only didn´t get the ample amount of minutes that he would have liked and was used to having in school and Slovenia, but he just couldn´t compete with the minutes race with the other guards on the squad. There might also have been another huge factor why his play was affected, but due to courtesy to the player won´t be mentioned. Through the whole one year experience in Frankfurt Jimmie Hunt always remained 100% professional and was always a guy you could talk to as a journalist and was positive and upbeat. Jimmie Hunt is presented this time in the Miles where are they now player feature.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Jimmie Hunt in Frankfurt in the 2008-2009 season after a game.
Jimmie Hunt was born on September 14, 1982 in Utica, New York and most guys that were born in that time and were professional players are mostly retired, well almost everyone except for his ex teammate from Frankfurt Derrick Allen who is a living basketball dinosaur who might still be playing in his 40´s if he continues to stay healthy and have that drive to go to extremes to stay in shape. Hunt is only two years younger than Allen and turned 37 today and he is still active as he is suiting up with Luxuris Celje (Slovenia-2SKL) this season. He has been a basketball globetrotter all his life and as a professional has played in Slovenia, Germany, Bulgaria, Italy and the Czech Republic.
Even though I have hardly any free time with my seemingly endless basketball work, one day I decided to organize my player photos a bit better considering that with my new book concerning my basketball life in Germany will be released soon, I will want to add some of my memories with players to spice it up. I may not be totally accurate, but I believe my first picture that I ever took with a player in Europe dates back to the summer of 2004 and the BBL final series between the Opel Skyliners and Bamberg where I had to fight my way past security to shyly ask Tyrone Ellis if he could pose with me as nobody knew me then whereas today when I´m in the Fraport arena, I perform small talk with a majority of the security personal as that place has become like a second home to me. Over the years I have continued to take photos with players simply because I´m one of those guys that enjoys to have those memories for a lifetime. My fascination and craving of photos actually dates back to my childhood when I began to collect autographes and take photos with players as back then I just loved sports, played it after school with my friends and like so many other young kids was dreaming to be like a Larry Bird, Jim Rice, Peter Mcnab or Stanley Morgan all great Boston sports figures when I was growing up. My most cherished basketball photo from my childhood is with the great Bernard king who didn´t hesitate to pose for with a kid right after suffering a brutal seven game series loss to the Boston Celtics in 1984 where he almost single-handely disposed the green machine averaging 34,6ppg in the exciting series. Since basketball became a big part of my life in 2003 in Germany and I have been reporting about German basketball since then, I continued to take photos all through the years and just as I have recorded over 1000 player interviews in my 15 year career, I also have taken probably just as many photos or even more and have a very nice collection. The quality also has very much improved over the years as I have always been old school and probably was one of the last guys on earth that moved from a normal camera that only produced print photos to a digital camera not too long ago, so there are numerous photos that have very bad quality, while others are of better quality as they were made after I made the switch. With this vast collection of fine basketball player photos that I have, I decided it would be a neat idea to share those prints and add a little story about the career of the player with the heading “The Miles Where Are They Now Player Feature”. This is a feature that I will bring regularly and not necessarily every week, but moreover when I have some time to be able to invest some good spent time to looking back on a players career. It will most likely always appear on a Thursday in conjunction with the famous throw back Thursday term. Some guys that will be portrayed here, I had no personal relationship with except taking a photo, while other guys I had a personal relationship
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber posing with New York Knick Bernard King outside the legendary Boston Garden after he and the New York Knicks lost a tough 7 game series to the Boston Celtics in 1984 averaging 34,6ppg in the seven game series