John Murry (192-G-95, college: Austin Peay) is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Indianapolis, Indiana that is playing his third professional season in Germany with BSG Grevenbroich (Germany-Regionalliga). Before that he had experience with the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans. He played two years at Owens Community College playing 63 games and two years at Austin Peay State University (NCAA) playing 56 NCAA games and as a senior averaged 16.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 81.1%. He and Miles Schmidt-Scheuber talk weekly about basketball.
Congrats John on the huge 79-70 win over Deutzer. How good does it feel beating a 6-2 team? Thank you it was a magnificent feeling to beat one of the top teams in the league. When we play like that I feel like we are one of the top teams in the league on any given night.
This must give you and the guys an extra boost with your self-confidence. How was the mood after the game? Do you guys have that ‘we still have a lot of unfinished business in front of us’? Things are always better when your winning, guys are smiling and fans are celebrating, the goal is to build off this win and keep it rolling into next game.
Talk a little about the game. Was it as comfortable as the score shows or was it tougher to pull out than the result indicates? It was more about just being disciplined and capitalizing on our offensive positions to score and make the extra effort on defense.
Deutzer is one of those scrapy teams that play well together and stick together well. Were you happy with how the team plan went through the 40 minutes? Yes we were definitely happy with how we executed, we were also able to stay together ourselves and pull the win out.
Grevenbroich did a fantastic job on the boards. Where would the team have been without Dezemal Selimovic? He was a real work horse.
https://youtu.be/jqAjs4RCHHk Yes He is one of the best bigs in the league and works his butt off on the boards. We definitely praise his effort and performance with games like this.
How did the team compensate the 20-12 turnovers where they had 8 turnovers more? Basketball sometimes works in a strange way? Basketball is definitely a roller coaster at some points but we just managed to stay disciplined on defense which gave us more offensive opportunities in which we scored on.
What was it like playing against the two very scrappy German guards Patrick Reusch and Joachim Koschade? I know they kept you on your toes all night long? It was a challenging night that I over came by just realizing how the defense was playing me and I was able to make the right play off their defensive schemes.
You had another great game scoring 30/5/8 but 5 turnovers. I guess the 5 turnovers don’t feel quite as bad when you get the win.
Just trying to make sure I’m doing everything I can on my end to secure the win, the 8 assists was big for me because I put emphasis on myself to make sure I made the right plays in certain timing and situations.
You shot the ball very well 8/15. What else besides finding your spots helped you achieve good shooting?
Well, Like I said before just knowing when to make the right play, sometimes plays need scoring and other times the play is to distribute so I would say that’s the biggest bonus to my game, being able to control the game, score when needed, and also getting my teammates involved all at the same time.
You next battle Leverkusen 2. Another good team with a 6-3 record. What will be key for getting win? Just making sure we talk on defense, stay disciplined and make sure we make our shots on the road.
What is your take on Anthony Davis’s play at the moment. Many experts don’t see him as a top 5 NBA player now. Is he too much in shadow of Lebron? I believe the Lakers and all the players will get things together, they just need some time to gel together.
When you have been used to having Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) as head coach of the Fraport Skyliners for more than half of their existence, it isn’t easy forgetting him or reminiscing about great basketball days in Frankfurt when things weren’t going so well for the Skyliners in the last two seasons. Herbert is a figure in Fraport Skyliners history that is as loved as guys like Pascal Roller, Chris Williams or Quantez Robertson, but basketball life does go on. After a long stay with the Fraport Skyliners, he felt it was time for a new challenge and he kept very busy coaching the Canadian National team as well as being a consultant for the Brooklyn Nets and last coached in Russia for VTB team Avtodor Saratov. A guy like Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) isn’t jobless long and when I heard the news last Monday that the German national team was going to present it’s new coach, I immediately yelled Mike Taylor. I have no idea why his name popped up, but he has had success in the BBL with Ulm and Hamburg, but then I remembered oops he has been like a hero coaching the Polish national team the last years. Then I figured they were going to name a German coach, but when I heard it was Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ), I was instantly overjoyed. And why not. Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) was a great choice. He knows the easyCredit BBL, has had success with the Fraport Skyliners and one of his biggest strengths over the years was getting the most of his players with a more limited budget that was given to him. Not only I was very pleased with this announcement, but also many others especially people affiliated with the Fraport Skyliners. One ex player and Skyliner legend who was instrumental in the team winning the 2004 BBL title was Pascal Roller. He can bright up a room with his smile and crystal blue eyes and I would have loved to have seen his expression when he heard of the news. ‘I’m very happy for him. It is good that he will give a full time commitment. I always liked how well Gordie was prepared and putting the players strengths best to use. It will be exciting to see what kind of team he will be able to form in a short time. I’m confident that Gordie can do a good job’, warned Pascal Roller. Mike Taylor gave his respect over social media classifying the holy four letters GOAT to him.
I reach Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) who’s first club he coached in Germany was Wurzburg on a Friday morning in Finland four days after he was named German national team head coach. He is very relaxed and in very good spirits. I notice right away that this new challenge is very exciting for him. Sometimes going from a job were you were released to getting a new opportunity comes quicker then one may expect. He had to go in March 2021 and it took him only six months to get that new chance in Germany again. I remember him joking to me after his release that he actually lasted longer than the last coaches in the last 6-7 years. Sometimes one can be bitter for doing a pretty good job and almost reaching the playoffs and having to go, but he took it in stride knowing it’s a business and was blessed for the opportunity. ‘I had a good experience in Russia and I’m very glad that I did it. I knew coming in the history the club had had with coaches in the last 6-7 years. I have no regrets. It’s the nature of the job’, stated Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). He has sampled vast experience coaching in some very good leagues like in Germany, France and Greece, but being able to coach in the very popular, demanding and skilled VTB league where top teams like CSKA Moscow and Khmiki Moscow play was an enrichment for his basketball resume that he won’t forget so rapidly. ‘The VTB is a great league. It has tremendous teams and coaches. I think that there was only one Russan coach in the league. The VTB had coaches from countries like Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Croatia and Serbia. I really enjoyed my time there. It was a very professional league as well’, stressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
Now the ex Paris Basket Racing (France-ProA) head coach begins a new challenge in his career and for German basketball. Things moved very quickly. The German basketball Federation didn’t waste much time finding a replacement for 1993 NCAA champion with North Carolina Henrik Roedl. He signed on a Monday and had the press conference. The first phone calls and meeting occurred the Thursday and Friday the week before. Sometimes talking to some former coaches like Roedel and Dirk Bauermann help in making a decision, but he didn’t need to do that He remains very laid back in our conversation, but I continue to notice that he was 100% sure about taking this job.’ I intend to talk to Dirk Bauermann and Henrik Roedl soon. I had a great meeting with Ingo Weiss and Armin Andres. I felt very good in the talks. They were very professional. I like how they want to move forward’, said Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). The outpouring of support was huge from people and he also didn’t waste anytime quickly reaching out to his new players that he will be guiding. ‘I got about 50 text messages after press conference. It was very nice. I spoke to Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel, Isaac Bonga and Leon Kratzer. We have a list of 40 players. So far I have reached out to 80% of the players’, added Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). Even when he was bound to other jobs, the personable Canadian never loses track at what is happening in the easyCredit BBL or the German national team. Germany was the country where he enjoyed his most success and has always followed what was happening there. After an embarrassing 2019 World Cup showing where Team Germany possibly had their strongest roster ever, the 2021 team rebounded with an amazing qualifying round and reached the Olympics. Herbert is very excited about the future of German basketball. ‘I was really impressed how they played. They played very well. I really liked their spirit. Henrik Roedl did a really good job. I’m really happy for him. The team has tremendous potential and it was one of the main reasons why I took the job. I like the professionalism of the German basketball federation and the infrastructure. There are some players over 30, but there is a great core of players between 24-30. Plus there are good guys coming up. This is a great opportunity for me. I got tremendous responses from all the players that I spoke to. They are all very excited to play for their country and have success.’, warned Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
With the Fraport Skyliners he returned a few times and always had success again. In 2004 he won the easyCredit BBL title. In 2010 he returned taking over for the departed Murat Didin and reached the BBL final. After coaching Alba Berlin, he came back to Frankfurt for a third time and led the club to the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup title. He will most likely return back to the Fraport arena on occasion to scout potential German talents. He surely felt pressure at times with his tenure in Frankfurt and it isn’t any different now with the German national team. After Roedl did a super job, now German basketball fans want Herbert to take that momentum and ride with it and gain further success and take a new step. Herbert is more than ready for new pressure. ‘Sure there is pressure. But I have always said that the more pressure I have the better the job is. That is the nature of the job. But I tend to put more pressure on myself. It is success orientated. You have to understand that you are judged by how well you do’, expressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). It will be interesting to see what kind of philosophy Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) will instill into the German team. For years he was known as a defensive master with the Fraport Skyliners building top defensive teams with guys like Quantez Robertson and John Little. Last summer Roedl’s assistant Roy Rana introduced the Scram Switches which did wonders for the German team as they were one of the better defensive teams. Herbert already knows in what direction he will be going in terms of what he will be expecting from his players. ‘I will have my own philosophy and will build around the team. There are three things that I believe in. One guard your position, two rebound your position and three execute in the half court offense. Now we have to adjust the philosophy to the strengths of the players. We start with the defense and then go forward. We also have to be unified, play together and be able to have a good skill level. The first two are very important’, warned Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). Not only having success will be a challenge, but also building a roster at certain times when you don’t always have all players available. ‘It will be very challenging especially around the windows. The NBA and the Euroleague players won’t be available. That will be a great opportunity for the other players to get minutes and step up. You never know who is healthy or has contract issues at the start of the summer. So we will have to be flexible and be able to adjust. We need to form a team and find different pieces. The 12 best players don’t make the team. It is like a puzzle. You have to hit the different area’s. We will do the best job that we can to have the best team where the country will be proud of’, commented Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
Two players that he is absolutely thrilled about being able to work with again are current CSKA Moscow big man Johannes Voigtmann who most likely could have played in the NBA for the Washington Wizards, but opted to stick around in the Euroleague and Danilo Barthel who has been a Euroleague player for ages. The trio won the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup together and just harmonized very well. Now they hope to do it again. ‘They are both great people. They are both very good players, but even better people. When they were in Frankfurt, we had one of the best teams ever there. They began with us and it has been great seeing them develop further in the last years. It is hard to say now exactly what kind of role that they will have. The players tell us exactly what kind of role they will play when they are on the court. I had a great experience coaching them in Frankfurt. I’m looking forward to coaching them again. That was another reason why I took the job, because it is intriguing to coach them again’, warned Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). One very interesting issue is Joschiko Saibu. He is a guy that created a massive stir in basketball Germany concerning his political views especially with COVID. Germans fans hated him for it while the German Basketball Federation looked the other way. In the end, he was chosen to represent Germany and did a pretty good job on the court. The question now is will he get a chance under Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket )? ‘I don’t want to discuss personal issues. I had a great conversation with him. I think that he will play for Germany again, but I’m not sure. I look forward to our first eye to eye talk’, stressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). It will be interesting to see what new young players will be invited ‘We start at ground zero. I have had great conversations with many. I have been taken back by how much they are committed to want to have success. There will be variables with injuries and who is available. But we will always put together the best team possible’, said Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
It also will be very interesting to see the ex Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1) coach who hasn’t seen the sequel to the classic Coming To America but knows it’s always tough following up a classic handle players from his former team Fraport Skyliners. The Fraport Skyliners organization has been known for years to be an excellent breeding ground for young players. One very interesting player is 19 year old guard Len Schoormann who continues to develop beautifully in Frankfurt, but there are also other candidates. ‘Len is one of the 40 players on my list. He has played very well in pre-season. I will look at all the players and decide who is best. Frankfurt has many candidates. Lukas Wank is there. Unfortunately Bruno Vrcic is injured. Then there is also Richard Freudenberg who has had injury problems. There are currently a great group of players especially between 19-23 in Germany. Young players will get a chance to get experience during the next windows’, stated Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). One very interesting player he will have to observe from a far is Joshua Bonga the younger brother of Isaac who played under Herbert in Frankfurt and is currently in the NBA with Toronto. He surprisingly jumped ship from Frankfurt to go to uncharted waters in Lithuania to BC Zalgiris. It is never easy to make a risky move like that, but he does have a German coach with Martin Schiller and will have an opportunity to possibly play Euroleague. ‘I know Isaac well, but don’t know so much about Josh. I watched some games of him last season. He looked good. I have no idea why he left Frankfurt’, expressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). Herbert has been so instrumental for players developing in Frankfurt and making the next step . Two of those guys were Tyrone Ellis and Jordan Theodore. The love from them is immense. ‘I’m extremely happy and proud of him. Gordie and my college coaches were the most influential coaches in my career that made me into the coach that I am today. The reason is that he cares about the players more than he does their talent. We won a championship because we were one big family. We communicated well and always had each other’s back’, stressed Tyrone Ellis. ‘I’m extremely happy for Gordie. I’m still in contact with him today. He’s one of the few coaches I still talk to regularly. He is well known in Germany and loved. This will be a great opportunity for him. We all know that he is an outstanding coach who really gets through to his players. And I know that Danilo and big Joe are happy to be able to play for him again’, warned Jordan Theodore. It will be interesting to see how the German national team will perform under Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). The team is riding a high and Herbert is seeking new success again. His love for the players will be there again and it won’t be any different from his players. History and experience simply show that the love is mutual from both sides and that it goes hand in hand.
Cole Walker (206-C, college: Ferris St., agency: Hamriding Sports Management) is a 206cm forward from Elk Rapids, Michigan that is playing his rookie season in Germany with club TuS ADEMAX Red Devils Bramsche (Germany-Regionalliga) currently averaging 17,7ppg, 9,4rpg, 1,9apg and 1,0bpg. He began his basketball career with Elk Rapids High School. He then played with Ferris State University (NCAA2) from 2016-2020 playing a total of 133 games. In his last two years he averaged 10.2ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 76.4% as a junior and as a senior averaged 8.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 43.4%, FT: 88.0%. he won the GLIAC Tournament in 2017 and 2018 and won the NCAA 2 title in 2018. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career during the summe rof 2021.
Cole thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is life treating you? I am in traverse city, Michigan. Life is treating me well. I have the opportunity of a life time.
Before we get to basketball, I have to ask you about COVID-19. After finishing at Ferris State in 2020, you didn’t play last year. How tough was it sitting out plus having the whole drama of the pandemic? It was a tough time. I had a lot of time to think about basketball and realize what I really wanted. All in all it ended really well for me
What was the most challenging thing that you had to endure during COVID-19? How did you survive in the last year during COVID-19? The hardest thing was not being able to finish my senior season. It got cut short due to covid. I survived by staying positive and looking forward to the future
With everything that you experienced off the court with COVID-19 how do you feel did the whole tough times make you stronger as a man? It did make me stronger as a man. It helped me realize what I was passionate about and how to get to that goal
Congrats on signing with TuS ADEMAX Red Devils Bramsche (Regionalliga). What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? I know that it is good competition all throughout Germany. Other than that I don’t know too much but I am excited to learn
What were the main reasons for joining TuS ADEMAX Red Devils Bramsche (Regionalliga). What was key for you wanting to make your rookie season a reality in Bramscke? The interest this team showed in me from the start really had me hooked. It is also awesome that they were willing to look into me even after not playing last year.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 203cm forward/center. If you had to compare your game to a NBA player who would best fit the description? I like to think of myself like a Kevin Love who is a good stretch forward who has the ability to shoot from outside as well as play down low
You’re a player that can score, rebound and shoot the three. Would you classify your game as being a modern day forward/center? I would consider myself a modern center/forward. Bigs are becoming more and more of a threat from the perimeter and I try to push myself to be tougher from out there.
Talk a little about your playing style and strengths. What would you classify as your biggest strength on the court? I think that my biggest strength is my ability to shoot as a big man.
You’re a very good outside shooter and shot above 40% in your last two years in the NCAA 2. How do you envision yourself making the next step at the professional level as a shooter? I will keep the same mentality when it comes to shooting outside, take open good shots and don’t force them.
Talk a little about your defensive abilities. What kind of a defender are you now and what kind of defender would you like to become at the professional level? As of now, I consider myself a very intelligent defender who can hold the post down very well. In my professional career I intend to become a better perimeter defender.
On what part of your game are you working on most now so you will be best prepared for your rookie season? The part of my game I am working on the most right now is my ball handling so I will be a better threat when it comes to driving the ball from the perimeter.
You played at Ferris State (NCAA2) from 2016-2020 winning the GLIAC Tournament twice. Which title was the sweetest? The best title I earned at Ferris was the national championship in 2018. Best experience of my life.
Your teammate Zach Hankins remembers winning the D-2 title over Northern as being a very crazy ending. He watched it like 10 times that first year after the win. How many times have you watched it? I have watched that ending at least 10 times as well!
Talk about that last play. Northern went on a high ball screen. What do you remember from the last seconds? I remember a 3 going up for the win and the suspense that was in the air when the ball was shot. The shot looked like it was going in but it was just a little short!
You hit Wayne St., MI for 35 points on 9/10 shooting from downtown. Was that your personal best game at Ferris State? That was my best game at Ferris. It was so much fun because it felt like no matter what I threw up, it was going in.
Zach Hankins remember learning mental and physical toughness. How did head coach Andy Bronkema groom and prepare you best for a professional career? The best thing he taught us as a team was to play through adversity and keep your head high while doing it. It helps you get through anything that is going on.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Logan Ryan? We were very close but I took him down not too long ago.
Who was the best player that you ever played against that reached the NBA?
Zion Williamson was the best player I ever played. The guy is an absolute monster
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?
Drew Cushingberry Zach Hankins Greg Williams Josh Fleming Peter Firlik
Please list your personal own NBA Mount Rushmore?
Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant Lebron James Shaq Magic Johnson
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest Michael Jordan or Lebron James? I have to give it to MJ. Even though it was a different time period, he was such a competitor it didn’t matter who he was playing against. He was winning
Skyler Bowlin (190-G-89, college: MSSU) is a 32 year old 190cm guard that is playing his 11th season as a professional and his sixth in Germany and first with the Telekom Baskets Bonn currently averaging 11,6ppg, 1,3rpg and 3,4apg while shooting 44% from downtown. Last season he split time with GS Iraklis Thessaloniki (Greece-A1) averaging 8.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 4.4apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 47.1%, 3FGP: 30.8%, FT: 70.6% and also played with Enea Zastal BC Zielona Gora (Poland-EBl) averaging 9.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 4.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 78.3%.. In the 2019-2020 season he played with s.Oliver Wurzburg averaging 11.2ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 44.8%, FT: 87.2%. and the season before averaged 9.3ppg, 2.0rpg, 4.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 70.7% in the BBL and in the Fiba Europe Cup averaged 8.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 5.6apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 72.2%. The ex Missouri So (NCAA2) began his professional basketball career with BG Topstar Leitershofen/Stadtbergen (Germany-ProA) and then played three seasons in Denmark with Horsens IC and a year in Sweden with the Sodertalje Kings (Sweden-Basketligan). He played two seasons in Germany with the Giessen 46ers and with Science City Jena (Germany-BBL) playing 32 games averaging 11.7ppg, 2.9rpg, 5.1apg, Steals-5 (1.6spg), FGP: 38.1%, 3PT: 40.9%, FT: 80.9%. He spoke to germanhoops.com late last summer about basketball.
Skyler thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is life treating you in these hard times with COVID? Hey Miles, always a pleasure! At the moment I’m back home in Arkansas with my family enjoying some time with them while we can!
Before we talk about basketball, I have to ask you about COVID-19. How did you experience the whole drama in Greece and Poland last season. What was the most challenging thing that you encountered in these tough times? This season was definitely crazy. I think the hardest thing was my family and my wife’s family couldn’t come and visit our newborn the entire year.
Last season you played in Greece and Poland. It was only the second time in your career where you played for two teams in a season. It was a very successful season for you reaching the Polish final, but on the other hand how tough was it not winning the chip? Yeah, changing teams is always difficult, but that’s how it goes sometimes. It hurt losing in the finals for sure.
You began the season with GS Iraklis Thessaloniki (Greece-A1). What kind of an experience was it playing in Greece and what did you enjoy most about the league, style and players? Playing for iraklis was a great experience. The Greek style of play is definitely different than Germany. A lot of teams like to slow it down and grind out every game. I enjoyed my time there.
What kind of an experience was it playing against top Euroleague club Panathinaikos Athens? Was this the best talent you have ever played against at the pro level?
Playing against Panathanaikos was a great experience. They are for sure one of the better teams, but tough to say if they were the best or not.
For years Shelvin Mack played in the NBA and then suddenly you see him face to face. Were you overwhelmed by his sheer talent or is the level of skill that guards have not as deep as one may think overseas even with ex NBA players? He’s a very good PG. it’s always fun to match up against guys who have recently been in the NBA.
What was it like being teammates with veteran and ex guard William Hatcher? He had to pay his dues just like you starting in lower leagues. He played with Bonn farm team Rhondorf back in the day. Could you guys relate to one another very well because of what you had experienced as players overseas? I loved every second of being teammates with Will. We had a great relationship from the moment he got to our team. We had some great battles during practice.
You finished the season with Enea Zastal BC Zielona Gora (Poland-EBL). You played in the highly touted VTB league. Just how good is this league if you compare it to other leagues that you have played in?
The VTB was a lot of fun. The travel was crazy, but it was a great experience and an extremely high level league.
You also played in the Polish EBL league. That league seems to have been growing in status in the last years. What was it like playing in this league and what did you enjoy most about the basketball side? I was very impressed with the level of the EBL. Once we hit the playoffs the level was very good. It was a pretty physical league also.
What was it like being teammates with ex Virginia tech great Adam Smith? This guy dominated the Italian A-2 twice and has been a prolific scorer everywhere he has gone. This guy really has been underappreciated from teams. Shouldn’t he be playing for at least a Eurocup team?
Playing with Adam was a lot of fun. I wish we would have gotten to play more games, but our time together was great. He’s a high level scorer at almost any level so I’m sure he will find a nice job somewhere.
You will be playing your 11th professional season with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Has Germany become your second home? Germany has treated me well. My family and I really enjoy living here.
How excited are you to be starting a new challenge with the Telekom baskets Bonn? Is there one game that you especially remember? You had some big wins against them with Jena and Wurzburg? I’m very excited to start with Bonn. It’s always been a fun place to go and play. I don’t recall one game specifically but it was always a difficult game against them.
You will be working with the very talented head coach Tuomas Iisalo. He did an amazing job taking the Crailsheim Merlins to a new level the last years. What do you enjoy most about his coaching ability and what is his biggest strength? He’s a hard nosed coach and an extremely hard worker and that’s why he’s been so successful. I think those qualities are what make him a good coach.
You will be battling against ex teammates Cameron Wells and Jordan Hulls. They were huge in your development. How do you feel did you make them stronger during your Wurzburg days? I think we all helped each other. I had a lot of fun with those guys and we had some great battles in those 2 years. It’s going to weird playing against them for sure.
You will be 32 when the easyCredit BBL season starts. What are your biggest goals with your game besides winning? How much better can you get with your scoring/playmaking abilities? I just want to do whatever I need to do for our team to be successful. I know my strengths and weaknesses so I just want to be as stable and solid as I can be for our team.
How is Skyler Bowlin a better player now then a year ago before going to Greece and Poland? I’m working on my conditioning and body a bit more this summer so I hope that can help me get through the season as healthy as possible.
Your three point shooting was down a bit last season. Is this an area that you are working more on this summer? I always try to work on my shooting every summer so it’s for sure something I want to get better at. I’ll try to improve on everything this summer!
Where do you see Chris Paul in the debate of the best point guards of all-time? Would he be higher if he had a ring? I think Chris Paul is an all time great but I’m not one to argue on the subject. Everyone has their own opinions and thoughts.
Dino Radja said that he couldn’t imagine Russell Westbrook being able to lead a team to success in Europe. Do you agree? The styles are completely different, but I think Westbrook would be perfectly fine playing in Europe.
Draymond Green stated he believes that he is the greatest defender of all-time. Do you agree? He’s clearly a great defender and extremely versatile. Tough to say all time great or not though.
Did you see the new Coming To America? Shouldn´t they just have left it alone?
Jermale Jones (186-G-86, college: Tuskegee) is a 35 year old 186cm guard from Birmingham, Alabama is playing his 11th professional season and first with Nift Al-Shamal (Iraq-Superleaguen): Last season he played in Switzerland playing for Swiss Central Basket Luzern (Switzerland-NLB) averaging 18.1ppg, 3.3rpg, Assists-5 (3.8apg), Steals-3 (2.6spg), FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 76.7%. He can look back at a long career having played 6 seasons in Germany with 5 in Lich and 1 in Bernau while also getting experience in Luxemburg with Black Star Mersch (Luxembourg-N2) and played two seasons with CS Politehnica Unirea Iasi (Romania-Liga Nationala). He spoke to germanhops.com on his 35th birthday.
Jermale thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
I’m currently in Iraq and basketball is treating me well. We had a slow start but we will pick it up.
You turned 35 today. Do you cherish birthdays as you get older more than say 10 years ago where the world was fine?
Yes every year I cherish my birthday because God gives me my health and strength to make it each year.
Last season you played with Swiss Central having a very solid season averaging 18.1ppg 3.3rpg, Assists- (3.8apg), Steals-3 (2.6spg), FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 76.7%. Was there any thought of having continued your career there?
I would have went back if I had a chance to but things didn’t work out like that. So when one door closes another door opens.
Covid seems to be acting up again. How has it been experiencing it in Iraq where you ball now? Are the protocols any different to what you saw in Europe and the States?
Yes it’s very different here compared to Europe & in the states. In Europe they start closing things ASAP, in the states they close things gradually but here it’s not even talked about.
Your playing for Nift Al-Shamal (Iraq-Superleague) this season. The most logical question is was money the biggest factor in helping you make the decision to play there?
No it wasn’t all about the money, but it was more about the opportunity and getting a chance to play in a different market to show myself also.
What kind of experience has it been balling in Iraq? How would you compare the skill level and play compared to other leagues that you have played in?
I have had a great experience so far. Walking through the streets of Baghdad was the best experience for me. Never in my life would I have thought that I would be walking through that city. Comparing this league in Iraq is really hard to say because it’s very different and each team is only allowed 1 foreign player.
Your team Nift Al-Shamal has started slowly. What have been the biggest problems that the team has faced that hasn’t allowed you to win more games?
We have a very young and inexperienced guys that’s the cause of the slow start but things lately have been getting better and they are starting to understand what it takes to work to be successful & to win games.
How big is the challenge this season for you to lead the team to success? How inviting are your Iraqi teammates to an American leading the charge?
My challenge for me is just lead the team the best way I can. Teach the young guys things from my experience and show them small details to help them be a better player. My teammates are very welcoming and they take my advice on a lot of things I say to them on the court.
You have put up very good numbers as usual. It seems like your getting better with age. Do you feel like your game has come to a new level?
Yes every year it seems like another level of myself is unleashed. During the summer working so hard in the gym and learning new things from guys that have played on a very high level every summer helps my game tremendously.
Your 35 years old. You continue to be that lethal scorer. Does the game become more fun as you get older and you can still be able to compete with young bucks?
Yes, being a scorer is natural to me and the game is very fun because the younger guys always joke about me being a little older but then when going up the court I’m still so faster than them. So I always have a lot of fun and jokes with my teammates.
Do you continue to watch the same NBA guys and their games for inspiration or does every now and then a new guy pop up where you try to get inspiration from?
I don’t watch the NBA that much. I only watch when it comes down to the playoffs. Those are the most important games and watching those games and how players handle themselves in certain pressure moments helps me learn.
What has it been like for you as an American living in Iraqi. Was there any doubt at first to do this? How have you been welcomed in that country as an American?
Well before I decided to come I did my research and all over the media it said do not travel to Iraq because it’s very dangerous and bad. I prayed about it and God lead me to go. I have been here a month now and I haven’t had any problems. Everyone looks to help me and make sure I don’t need anything. The media makes this place sound really bad.
Have you celebrated any wild party’s in owners palaces? What has been your most interesting experience that you have had living in a new culture?
I haven’t been to any parties.
Rickey Paulding is retiring this season. You watched him for years. What legacy will he leave in the BBL when all is said and done? Would it be fair to say he was the greatest American that ever played in that league?
His name will forever be rememberd and his dedication to the game won’t go unnoticed. He had a great career but I wouldn’t say that he was the best American that played in the BBL
Your buddy Quantez Robertson has a nasty injury. How much longer will he play? Could you imagine him playing until his body breaks down?
Yes Tez is a warrior. He will play until he can’t anymore. He might give it 5 more years. He will be back playing in no time.
Some NBA experts have stated that Anthony Davis isn’t a top 5 player at the moment and needs to make the next step now with Lebron Hurt. What is your opinion on that?
I really don’t have one because I haven’t watched much of the NBA
Have you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they just have left it alone?
They shouldn’t have tried to do a part 2. Part 1 was good enough.
John Murry (192-G-95, college: Austin Peay) is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Indianapolis, Indiana that is playing his third professional season in Germany with BSG Grevenbroich (Germany-Regionalliga). Before that he had experience with the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans. He played two years at Owens Community College playing 63 games and two years at Austin Peay State University (NCAA) playing 56 NCAA games and as a senior averaged 16.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 81.1%. He and Miles Schmidt-Scheuber talk weekly about basketball.
After getting your first win last week, Grevenbroich suffered the next loss against Essen. How tough is it going from an ultimate high to a low again? It is tough we are just trying to stay focused and keep the consistency in our play so we can grind out some wins.
How frustrating is it playing your heart out and scoring a career high 36 points and then losing? It can definitely be frustrating at times but being positive is the key to the game so that’s how I try to remain at all times.
Talk a little about the game. I believe in this game, controlling the boards was a huge factor. You allowed as a team 15 offensive rebounds.
Yes and that’s something we talked about in practice, it doesn’t matter how tall people maybe boxing out doesn’t have anything to do with height so that’s something that we have to get better at.
What was key in crunch time for the ETB Miners being able to pull out the win?
Like you said in the previous question, we would get stops in the 1st possession but they would get 2 chance points off offensive rebounds and score of the second try and that’s what hurt us the most.
How crucial is the bench in general in a league like the Regionalliga? Essen won the bench points 31-5.
Definitely important for us to have the support off the bench, I can say we are getting better and better each day.
Was this another game where just not enough came from everyone else? You had to be that savior with 36 points.
I just feel like it’s a key of how focused you are on gameday, we can’t come in with the lack of focus like we did against a good team like Essen.
What positives do you feel could the team take from the loss? The team took better care of the ball again or not?
Yes the team definitely is taking better care of the ball and making smarter plays on offense, we fought hard and battled for 40 minutes so I must say I am super proud of my guys for the effort they gave. I definitely told them that’s afterwards.
You had 36/3/4 stats. When you lose a game like this do you feel like you could have done more with your playmaking? Sometimes I do but then I look at the film and try to learn more about my teammates and ways I can make them better in certain situations.
You belong to the top players in the Regionalliga. You have such a huge desire to move up leagues, but does your exceptional play not feel the same when your losing so much?
Yes because at the end of the day I am a winner and as a team we have to all have the winning mindset because the game is played to win.
You next battle tough team Deutzer that are 6-2. What will be the focus this week to see that 2nd win?
Just keying in on defense trying to be better every day on help side and just making shots When we are doing those things we are just as good as any team in the league.
Do you feel like the great Scottie Pippen is damaging his legacy in the way he seems to bash Michael Jordan in every interview? I just feel like he deserves just as much respect as MJ because as good as MJ was he didn’t win a ring until Scottie Pippen arrived with the Bulls. Facts are facts.
Stanley Whittaker (183-G-94, college: Keiser) is a 26 year old 183cm point guard from Philadelphia playing his third professional season and first in Germany with PS Karlsruhe. He played his rookie season in Lithuania and last season had his break through with UBSC Raiffeisen Graz (Austria-BSL) playing 24 games: Score-2 (21.5ppg), 6.3rpg, Assists-2 (8.0apg), Steals-1 (2.6spg), FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 78.4%. He played his college ball at Frank Phillips (JUCO) and Keiser (NAIA). He teams up every week with Miles Schmidt-Scheuber to talk basketbal
PS Karlsruhe suffered a tough 113-109 loss to the hands of Medipolis SC Jena. When was the last time you lost in double OT in your career?
Definitely a very tough loss in double overtime, as I try to think back I can’t recall a time I lost in double overtime in my career.
How tough is it in general for a player to lose after 50 minutes of a hard grind opposed to 40 minutes? I can imagine your muscles felt different than after 40 minutes. You played an insane 50 minutes. That must have been the most in your career.
It’s not easy but if that’s what is needed in the game to give our team a chance to compete at the highest level, I’d sign up for it time and time again. It’s what comes with this profession. My body was pretty sore, I took a tough fall in the first half and got hit with a hard screen in the first half as well, but I’ll be fine.
Jena was all over PS Karlsruhe in the first half leading 53-34. What lapses did you have as a team on the defensive end?
We just weren’t aggressive enough defensively, most of their offense in the first half came fairly easy to them, which is unacceptable on our end. We have to make opposing teams work a lot more on offense, and make them beat us with difficult shots. We weren’t disruptive at all in the first half.
PS Karlsruhe finally exploded in the third quarter scoring 31 points. What adjustments did you make to get back into the contest?
Our third quarter run all started with us playing defense and finishing possessions. On the defensive end, we came out with more of a sense of urgency and wanted to show some pride!
You could have won the game in the fourth quarter with free throws but missed one. Were you able to mentally let go quickly after missing?
That will haunt me, the game was ours to win, me at the free throw line to put us up 1 with two seconds left and I wasn’t able to give us the lead. And I had no other choice but to let it go we had an overtime to play so I had to lock back in. But that’s on me, I have to be better and knock the free throws down.
You brought your team into the second OT with a basket. You were in total control of your destiny. How much fun is it as a player to make these big shots. They aren’t that typical but more rare.
I play the game of basketball with a sense of joy and fun but in those moments I am extremely locked in so I won’t ever get the real chance to feel it, but it is nice when my teammates trust me in those moments to take shots of that magnitude to try and help us get a win.
The second OT was so exciting, but the guests won the game. Did the Jena free throws decide the game?
We gave up some free throws down the stretch in the second overtime but we still had an opportunity, it just didn’t go our way this time unfortunately!
Three guys combined for 86 of the 109 team points with you, Tylka and Pluskota. Is that a healthy thing to happen on a consistent rate?
I would love for it to be a consistent rate haha, but as long as we are playing as a team, and making plays that are going to give us opportunities to win games, that works for me.
What was it like battling Rayshawn Simmons who belonged to the top guards in the Pro A a few years ago and is back. Was he the toughest player that you have played this season at the guard spot?
It was good being in that battle with him, high level competitor and plays well with his group. He gave us trouble with his ability to drive the ball to the basket and he hit a big three in the second overtime.
How do you rate your own game of 32/5/12. Would it have been better had you won?
I was alright, made some plays but it wasn’t enough for our team to come out victorious.
When you look at your efficiency over 50 minutes, you probably could have done even more. Is this something that you thought about?
Definitely, I think it was more I could’ve done on both sides of the ball. The objective is to win and we came up short so figuring out what more that has to be done to pull out wins like that is what I’m thinking of.
You next play Bremerhaven. How will the team want to rebound after this? What will be the main focus this week?
We just want to get out of this Losing funk. So by any means, whatever it takes we want to get a win!
Do you feel like the great Scottie Pippen is damaging his legacy in the way he seems to bash Michael Jordan in every interview?
I think Scottie Pippen seems a bit bitter. I think his legacy is cemented because of what he accomplished on top of the athlete he was and skills he possessed. But these comments and statement in today’s media can make you look a bit foolish.
Kendrick Ray (188-G-94, college: KSU) is a 27 year old 188cm guard from Middletown, New York that is playing his fifth professional season and first with ASP Promitheas Patras (Greece-A1). Last season he played with Socar Petkimspor (Turkey-TBL) playing 29 games averaging 15.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.4apg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 82.1%.He also got extra experience playing with :Maccabi Fox Tel-Aviv (Israel-Winner League), Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA). And AEK Athens (Greece-A1). He began his professional career with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL), averaging 13.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 73.8%; and in the BCL averaged 15.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 86.1%. He began his basketball career at Middletown high school. He then played two years at Quinnipiac University (NCAA) and then finished at Kennesaw State University (NCAA) averaging 18.7ppg), 5.6rpg, 2.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 71.4%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Eurocup game against ratiopharm Ulm.
Thanks Kendrick for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
I’m good. I can’t complain just taking it day by day. basketball wise I’m good just trying to be the best player I can be day in day out.
You have played in Germany before. What stories do you remember hearing from your brother Allan who played in Germany during 2012-2013 for ratioopharm Ulm?
I haven’t really talked to him about Ulm, but 2 years ago I was close to signing with Ulm had the contract, met with coach and everything but I switched agents so the deal didn’t fall through.
Before we talk about basketball, I have to ask you about your experience with COVID. You were in Greece and Turkey during the time. What were the biggest challenges for you on and off the court?
Off the court was catching covid of course and dealing with that being stuck in the house, also coming back from covid and having to get back in shape.
With everything that you experienced with COVID, how do you feel did you get stronger as a man?
it definitely helped me get mentally stronger dealing with that stuff on and off the court a lot of challenges but I got through it
You won 2 professional titles. How big is the urge each season to win a title? It’s definitely always a goal to end the season with championships and every year I try to do what I can to help the team win.
Your playing your first season with ASP Promitheas Patras (Greece-A1)Your having a great statistical season so far in Greece. To what factors can you attribute that? Freedom and great aggressiveness on your part? I just think my work is showing and what I do in the off season paying off and a team that believes in my abilities.
What is it like being teammates again with Jerai Grant? Are you guys like brothers now?
Jerai is a good guy and I love being able to compete with him.
Last season you played for Socar Petkimspor (Turkey-TBL) averaging 15.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.4apg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 82.1%. What was it like playing in the up and coming league in Turkey? How did your game grow there?
It was great to play in the Turkish league. It was tough night in and night out you were playing a good team so you had to be ready. My game grew in different ways but most importantly I think I improved more in a leadership role being more vocal with my teammates and coaches.
You played the 2019-2020 season with AEK Athens (Greece-A1) averaging 9.7ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 81.5%; and in the BCL averaged 9.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 88.9%. The team was stacked with a lot of talent. COVID messed up that season. How much of that lingering feeling did you have of what could have been?
This is one season I wished that we could’ve finished. I caught my rhythm at the right time and the season was over.
What was it like being teammates with ex NBA player Mario Chalmers? Even if you had had 2 years of pro experience was he like a mentor for you?
He helped me a lot I still talk to him from time to time it was great to share the court with him.
There aren’t many pro’s that can say that they played together with Marcus Slaughter and Keith Langford together at the same time: How eye popping was it having two great Euroleague players on your side?
It was a great experience to play with these guys. The amount of things they’ve showed me how to be a professional on & off the court was good for me to grow as a person also on the court:
In your second season you played with Maccabi Fox Tel-Aviv (Israel-Winner League) and Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA). Do you feel like playing in the Euroleague came a little too soon in your career and you weren’t possibly ready for it?
I definitely believe I was ready because when I did play on the court: I showed how great of a player I am, however I think it wasn’t good timing
Even if you lost a tough playoff series to Asvel, was ending the season with two strong games a good consolation to a tough season for you?
It’s always good to play well but if it doesn’t transition to wins it doesn’t matter.
Early in your career you played NBA Summer League in 2018 with the Utah Jazz and 2019 with the Boston Celtics. How was that whole experience for you? Was playing in the G-League and trying to get to the NBA never more of an option for you? D
Definitely the NBA is always the goal but I never really thought about playing in the G League
Your brother Allan had played a season in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. What do you remember being the best piece of advice he ever gave you about basketball? Just to be consistent with what you do and focusing on the small things that’s what gives you the advantage
You played your rookie season with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL) averaging 13.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 73.8%; and in the BCL averaged 15.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 86.1%. What do you remember being your wake up call where you knew that you were very far away from home?
To be honest as soon as I got off that flight and noticed the time difference
How important was it for your whole self-confidence playing for a famous organization like CEZ Basketball Nymburk? How did the mentoring of veteran Eugene Lawrence play a role or didn’t it as much?
He helped me a lot that’s like my big brother, we are both from New York so even before I got to Nymburk we were working out together in the summer.
You began your NCAA career with Quinnipiac University (NCAA). How tough were the two years there? Despite the hardship did you get anything positive from that time?
It was tough but I took it as a learning experience and got better from it
You then finished at Kennesaw State University (NCAA) where you put up incredible stats of (18.7ppg), 5.6rpg, 2.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 71.4% and 21.2ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.1apg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 78.8%. Did you find yourself in the year you sat out? How big was work ethic in your success here?
That’s when I became a gym rat and fell in love with the process of getting better I lived in the gym the year I sat out and it showed my two years there.
You had so many great games as a senior like against USC Upstate, Florida A & M or Alabama State just to mention a few. What do you remember being your best game?
NJIT in New Jersey was my best game to me I hit the game winner in front of all of family and friends I still remember that game to this day.
You were teammates with a great player and even better person Nigel Pruitt. What memories do you have of him who has played most of his career in Germany?
Nigel was the first person I met coming to Kennesaw he was my host on my visit and since then we’ve been good friends
Who won a one on one in practice you or Yonel Brown?
We played a lot of one on one & got different results every time.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Kobe , MJ, Lebron, Iverson
Did you see the sequel to Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
Steve Zack is a 28 year old 211cm center from Lewisberry, Pennsylvania that is playing his seventh professional season and first with Hereda San Pablo Burgos (Spain ACB). He began his professional career in 2015 that has taken him to many countries in Europe including Latvia,Bulgaria, Polan, Israel and Turkey. He has won 3 professional titles so far. He began his basketball career with Red land High School and then played at La Salle University from 2011-2015. He spoke to germanhoops before a Basketball Champions League game in Oldenburg.
Thanks Steve for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Right now I am in Burgos, Spain. Basketball life has always treated me well. No matter the situation it’s a blessing to be able to play the game and be paid for it!
You were in Israel and Turkey during the pandemic. How have you experienced COVID and what were the most challenging things you had to cope with?
I was in Israel when it first broke out and luckily the league and government gave us fair warning that they were going to close the border and thanks to the great management at Beer Sheva they allowed us foreigners to go home and be with our families. The following season in Turkey was challenging in the aspect that there were zero fans in attendance, the weekly covid testing and then obviously dealing with the roster and game plan adaptations when someone was out with covid because it seemed like every 2 weeks it was someone different. I’m glad that things are starting to get back to normal!
With everything that you witnessed during COVID off the court how do you feel did you get stronger as a man?
As a husband and father you really see that at the end of the day, the most important thing in life is your family. Covid really allowed me to take a look at the little things I take for granted every day and appreciate them much more!
Your in your seventh professional season and have played in 6 countries. When all is said and done, in about how many countries could you imagine playing in?
I honestly have no idea lol! It could be maybe just those 6 if I return or if I’m blessed to go experience more countries I’d be more then happy too. One of my favorite parts of playing all over is learning about new cultures.
Your playing your first season in Spain in the ACB which is considered the second best league in Europe after the Euroleague. What has been the most challenging thing for your game in this league?
The most challenging thing is how every single team and player is good. There is no off night in the ACB and you are less likely to catch your opponents making mistakes during games to allow easy baskets.
You have put up consistent stats where ever you have played including in good leagues, but it still took you 6 seasons to reach the ACB. For some guys reaching the ACB comes easier while you had to pay your dues. How do you feel your game has profited from all the experience you have seen.
Every year I learn something new and am able to add it to my game, at the same time building my knowledge and experience. ACB is tough to reach as an American passport holder because I’m sure you know the rule you can only have two American passports per team.
You have been a top 5 rebounder in every country you played. Do you feel like rebounding was your main ticket to having this longevity?
Absolutely. My assistant coach in college, Horace (Pappy) Owens told me if you rebound the basketball and play defense you’ll have a job for life!
Your averaging a lot less minutes than other seasons. You obviously have a totally different role. How will your game profit from being as efficient as possible in the minutes you get?
That’s been a struggle for me this year honestly coming into a new role I’m not really used too. On paper it doesn’t look great but I try to add everything I can that might not show up on a stat sheet during my time in game!
In Latvia and Poland you put up great stats in the minutes you got. Do you sometimes wonder where you could be or if the ACB had come years earlier had you played 30-33 minutes consistently?
There’s always the What If questions with anything in life. I don’t like to look at it with this mindset. Everyone runs a different race, it’s about staying level headed and positive through it all!
Last season you played for Socar Petkimspor (Turkey-BSL) averaging 8.9ppg, Reb-5 (7.6rpg), 1.7apg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 58.0%. You had a very good game off the bench in a loss against 2021 Euroleague winner Efes with 14/7 stats battling top German and ex NBA player Tibor Pleiss. Did a game like this give you extra self-confidence or was it just another game
There’s always a self confidence boost when you play games like that against top competition. Afterwards you can reassure yourself that you’re in these leagues and games for a reason!
In 2019-2020 you played with Hapoel Beer Sheva (Israel-Winner League) averaging 11.8ppg, Reb-1 (10.7rpg), 2.7apg, FGP: 53.9%, FT: 62.0%. Was this one of your best seasons as a professional? You led the very competitive Winner League in rebounds including having a monster 15/21 game against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Absolutely! Rami Hadar will forever be one of my favorite coaches. He challenges and pushes his players to give their max and I really bought into his coaching style that season which led to a very successful season that was unfortunately cut short due to Covid.
All Americans that I talk to always rave about Israel being their favorite play to play off the court. Was it the same for you?.
Who doesn’t like sunny weather and warm beaches basically all year round!?
In 2018-2019 you played for VEF Riga (Latvia-LatEstBL) averaging 11.3ppg, Reb-5 (7.2rpg), 1.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 57.2%, FT: 78.0%;in the VTB league and winning a title in Lithuania. What was special about this team winning the league title?
We had a very close connection within the team. Any time 12 guys from all over the place can come together quickly as possible and build good chemistry usually the seasons are very successful and Riga will always be a place I’d take my kids back to one day to see!
You battled top Euroleague power house CSKA Moscow twice losing. What was it like battling Mr Euroleague Kyle Hines. Where does he rank with all the centers you have played against in Europe?
Go outside and play basketball against a Brick Wall and that can give you a quick idea of what Kyle Hines is like. Much respect to him!
In 2017-2018 you gathered further experience with Trefl Sopot (Poland-PLK) averaging 12.0ppg, Reb-2 (8.2rpg), 2.1apg, FGP: 57.1%, FT: 69.5%. What was it like playing in Poland and being able to make another step there with your game?
I feel like Poland was my big exposure year! After that season a lot of options opened up to me to continue advancing my career and climbing the ladder.
In your second professional season you won your first two professional titles with Lukoil Academic Sofia (Bulgaria-NBL) averaging 10.7ppg, Reb-5 (8.8rpg), 1.1apg, FGP: 56.7%, FT: 67.1%; and averaged 12.3ppg, Reb-2 (9.1rpg), 2.4apg, FGP: 60.2%, FT: 65.9% in the Fiba Europe Cup. What was it like living in Sofia and playing the game you love? What did you cherish most about this opportunity?
We actually lived right outside the city in Pravets on the Riu Resort which might’ve been my best apartment set up to the day! That was my first year I got to travel Europe to play in differentcountries, opening myself for more exposure! So I’m very thankful for that opportunity with Lukoil.
You played your rookie season with Liepaja/Triobet (Latvia-LBL) averaging 14.0ppg, Reb-1 (11.9rpg), 1.3apg, Blocks-5 (1.2bpg), FGP: 51.6%, FT: 64.4%; and in the Baltic League averaged 12,3ppg Reb-1 (11.0rpg), FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 69.2%. You needed no adjustment period to being the top rebounder in 2 leagues. What was your secret to being able to be such a force inside?
It was my rookie season making very little money and I knew what kind of money was out there to be made, so the hungry underdog mentality played a big role that season.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Latvia where you knew that you were very far away from home?
Being in a small Latvian city where very little to no one spoke English and I remember I stayed in a hotel when I first got to the city and as you might know, small city European hotels are drastically different to Hilton’s in Philadelphia per say. So I at that moment I knew I was in for a very big test mentally at the young age of 22.
In the summer of 2015 you played NBA Summer League with the 76ers. What memories do you have of that time and did you ever feel like reaching the NBA could be realistic for you?
Just how amazing the NBA works. Those guys really have it good! I went in with that mentality to be a very positive and energetic role player during mini camp and summer league, at the time backing up the newly drafted Jahlil Okafor . I didn’t have much expectations I just wanted to do as much as I possibly could to be remembered positively.
Did you meet any big time NBA players at the Summer League? What do you remember taking with you with all the people you came in contact there?
I didn’t really have any contact with other players outside the 76ers organization during the summer league. However a few years later I did summer workouts with the Thunder and remember meeting Westbrook and seeing how professional and kind he was by greeting every single person in the building from the new guys, to the janitor, to the trainers. He made sure to greet everyone the same which is something I’ll always remember and try to implement into my life.
You played at La Salle (NCAA) from 2011-2015. Was reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2013 your most memorable experience and beating Kansas State 63-61?
I actually tore ligaments in my foot the second to last game of the regular season so I didn’t get to experience the joy in playing in the tournament but to see my teammates achieve such an incredible accomplishment was awesome to be a part of!
You finished your NCAA career with losing to Davidson 67-66 and having a 24/15 game. I guess this a game you will never forget because it was your last and how you played?
One of the most heartbreaking games to as we lost on a Tyler Kalinoski left handed buzzer beater. I’ll forever remember him no matter how old I am for ending my career after my best college performance!
How did head coach John Giannini groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach G has had many guys under him go into playing professionally so he did a great job of telling me what to expect at the next stage and I know if I ever need anything or advice that he’s a phone call away!
Who won a one on one in practice you or Garvin Hunt?
I love Garvin but me haha!
Who was the toughest player that you encountered in the NCAA that would reach the NBA?
Daniel Ochefu at Villanova was always a tough, hard matchup.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
I would be doing a displeasure to other teammates by only naming 5. I’ve been blessed to build a ton of great relationships with teammates in the US and in Europe.
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads.
Amare Stoudamire, Steve Nash, LeBron James, Vince Carter These were the 4 guys I loved watching growing up. Also the 4 NBA jerseys I owned as a kid.
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I was born in 1992 so I never got to appreciate Jordan in his prime so it’s unfair for me to even make a comparison.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
That’s the case with most Sequels. They take something great and knock it down a few pegs with a sequel.
Shavar Newkirk (183-PG-96, college: St.Joseph’s) is a 25 year old 183cm guard from the Bronx, New York that last played his second season in Germany in 2019-2020 with FC Schalke 04 (Germany-ProA) averaging 13.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.6apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 78.2%. As a rookie with FC Schalke he averaged 15,4ppg, 4,2rpg, 2,8apg and 1,5spg. He began his basketball career at Cardinal Heyes HS /Bronx, NY. In 2014 he began his NCAA career with St.Joseph’s (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 3.3ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.3apg. In his sophomore season with St.Joseph’s (NCAA) he played 37 games averaging 8.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 31.2%, FT: 73.8%. In his junior season at St.Joseph’s (NCAA) he played 12 games averaging 20.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 84.7%. In his senior year with St.Joseph’s (NCAA) he played 32 games averaging 17.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 76.4%.He spoke to german hoops.com and his current basketball situation.
Shavar thanks for talking to german hoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Hey, thank you for having me. I am currently back home in New York City. Basketball will and forever treat me great. I been working on my craft during this stint of not being with a organization.
We spoke a year ago. At that time you had just been released from a team in Iceland. Since then you didn’t find a team. How tough has the last year been for you?
The last year have been really tough for me but that doesn’t discourage me of keeping my eye on the main goal. All I can do is stay ready and when the opportunity presents itself , I will have to seize the moment.
Did COVID become less or more challenging since we last spoke? I guess you don’t have any problems anymore finding a gym.
Covid has been more challenging due to the world assuming it wouldn’t last this long. We are currently trying to adjust back to regular programming while having this virus still around . No I do not have any problems getting in the gym anymore . My good friend and trainer Jr Levy has been doing a good job for the community allowing middle school, high school , college and pro hoopers to get in the gym and work on their craft.
Your not the only player that isn’t playing now, but do you feel like you’re a victim of COVID? How tough has the market been in your case? Yes I feel like I am a victim of Covid. The market has been very tough. It’s been hard to find the right fit for me, but as time passes, I know something good will come along.
How tough is it seeing guys you know playing the game they love and earning money and your sitting around? How mentally challenging is life right now?
It’s not that tough . I am happy for my friends knowing that they are living out their dreams . On the other hand , I have never been a person focusing on what others do. I just know I have to control what I can control. Right now what I can control is being in shape and staying ready for my chance.
Have you had some contact to your old teammates like Deandre Bembry, Charlie Brown or Isaiah Miles? They have been busy playing?
Yes I have been in contact with them . We all have each other on social media in some form whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or snap chat . They have been busy playing to succeed at the level they playing at.
So no disrespect to your ex teammate Javon Bauman, but he never averaged more than 3,6ppg per season at St Joe’s and is playing his fourth season in the German Pro A. I guess it is generally tough for guards to get work, but you should be having work. How have you stayed positive in the last year? Has there been a person who has been very important for you in this time and has kept you mentally tough?
Yes I have stayed positive last year. I’m just a person that is positive and comes from a great family . My family have been important at this tough time , especially my girlfriend Dequanea. She showed me to find the benefit of a difficult situation.
Has any thing changed in how you keep in shape and work on your game since we last spoke? Do you change up your work outs or are they generally the same?
They are generally the same. My trainer and I work on situational things that can happen during the game . Different defenses I may see and how I react to it and when to use certain moves we practice on.
Do you feel like your game has improved in the last year? You have had a lot of time of being able to work on your craft.
My game have improved extremely during the past year . More importantly my mentality has changed.
In our last interview you stated ‘With Covid being here, I am well aware of how blessed I am and fortunate to continue to do what I love . I am extremely hungry to get back on the court and show what I have and what I got to prove’. How do you feel now having had another year of not playing competitive?
I’m feeling extremely anxious to step back on the court. I have just been fueling my mind and body right to get prepared for basketball again. I have worked hard to improve my craft so I can be ready for whatever opportunity I hope I have in the near future .
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they just have left it alone?
Yes I have seen the sequel to Coming to America. It wasn’t as bad as people made it seem like , I enjoyed the movie. In my opinion about anything in general , the original is always better. People can never duplicate that original masterpiece . It’s always one of a kind.