The Miles Basketball Minute With Curtis Hollis Volume 2

Curtis Hollis is a 21 year old 198cm forward from Arlington, Texas that is playing his first season overseas and first in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. He began his career at Mansfield Summit High School. In 2017-2018 he played with Hutchinson CC (JUCO) playing 34 games averaging 6.9ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 27.0%, FT: 66.3%. In 2018 he played in Lavar Ball’s new league with the Houston Ballers (JBL) playing 7 games: Score-5 (29.3ppg), 11.3rpg, 5.3apg, 2.6spg, FGP: 46.0%, 3PT: 21.2%, FT: 71.8%. Currently he is averaging 20,3ppg, 8,5rpg, 3,3apg and 3,8spg. In the overwhelming 87-65 win over Leverkusen he notched a massive triple double scoring 26 points, getting 11 rebounds and 10 steals. He and I will team up every week to talk basketball in the Miles basketball minute.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Curtis Hollins in the Dragon Dome in Rhondorf

Congrats on the 87-65 win over the Bayer Giants Leverkusen 2 team. Would it be fair to say that this was up to now the club’s best win of the season? The only flaw was the 16 turnovers, but other than that a very well played game with 24 team assists.

I guess you could say that yes. But as we always say it was just 1 game for us. We played well, defended hard for sure, cut down on the turnovers as you said but we try to move past every game win or lose and focus on the next. Can’t get too up or down over 1 game. We have a bigger goal.

The defense allowed 65 points. How well has the defense continued to develop in the last two weeks. It seemed like there was absolutely no lack of aggressiveness as the team got 16 steals.

It’s been going pretty well! We focus on defense and go hard at it every day. Coach says there’s no days off and he’s trying to get us into that mode at all times. We have a culture we’re trying to build here so it’s been getting better every day and we’re going to continue to get better and play hard defensively as much as we can.

Do you feel like your exceptional day of 10 steals pushed the other guys on the defensive end? Do you feel like you could have an influx of steals the more you get adjusted to the Regionalliga?

I wouldn’t say that. I think everybody was just trying to defend very hard. I just played on the ball defense hard and was being very aggressive in the passing lanes! I think this could for sure be a nightly thing going on with the season and getting adjusted yes. I just have to stay out of foul trouble.

You, Gabriel De Olveira and Killian Binapfel combined for 65 of the 87 points. Last week it was Anisch Sharda that had the hot hand with 28 points. Is the team on a good way of establishing of having the capability to have 1-2 different scorers each game?

Yes. We try to share the ball and find the open guy always! We have talent on our team so it could be anybody’s night each game! We’re just trying to make sure we all play as a team so everybody will have a chance.

What is your history of triple doubles in your career. The usual triple double is usually points, rebounds and assists, but you had 10 steals. Did you even know near the end of the game that you were on course of achieving a triple double?

Yes I had an idea. After every quarter I try to look at the stat sheet to see where I’m lacking and where I need to pick up on things and how the team is doing as well. So I noticed that and just kept doing what I was doing and ended up with 10 steals.

Despite getting a massive triple double, how much do the five turnovers bother you? Will you go back and watch film and closely dissect the mistakes you made this week?

Didn’t really bother me much. A couple little mistakes but I was being aggressive as well and coach really emphasizes that with me be aggressive so it was okay. I’ll definitely watch the film this week and fix it.

After taking six three’s in the first three games, you attempted five in the fourth game. Are you starting to feel more comfortable shooting the three? 

Yes I am 100% I’ve been putting in a lot of work with my assistant coach Julius he’s been doing a great job so far so I’ve definitely been getting more comfortable shooting the three.

Next weekend comes the big showdown between you and Herford 196cm American Derylton Hill who like yourself is tearing up the Regionalliga averaging 24,8ppg and 13,3rpg and like you has a 3-1 record. Will you take some time to watch some extra film on him this week to be fully prepared?

Yes I always want to take time and watch film not necessarily on him but on the team they have. It’s a team game so his team has to try to be better than ours but I’m competitive so it’ll be fun matching up against him. 

You live in a very beautiful area of Germany. Have you had some opportunity to explore the country with cities Bonn and cologne near you? What have you learned to appreciate the most about Germany?

I’ve visited Bonn , and Cologne yes! Germany is just really pretty! I appreciate the energy! It’s a calm, nice, really good energy place it’s really peaceful

What was the last movie that you saw?

Malcolm X.

Thanks Curtis for the chat.

The Miles Basketball Minute: The Fraport Skyliners Need More Than Lamont Jones To Carry The Team

Fraport Skyliner lifer legend Quantez Robertson´s presence isn´t only seen on the basketball court every day, but he is also seemingly always there watching the Skyliners farm team Juniors battle on Saturday nights in their practice facility instead of being out on the town in Frankfurt. He is a true passionate supporter of the club´s young talents and when I as usual visited him at halftime during the Pro B game against Baunach who were leading comfortably and were stifling the kids with their defense, I had the audacity to ask him in a way boldly, but also rudely “now Tez you guys aren´t going to play that bad tomorrow against BG Goettingen”. He gave me a slight glance and then returned back to his phone probably wanting to say “How dare you think that”. He had proclaimed recently that he saw the Fraport Skyliners as being able to win the BBL title in 2020 something they hadn´t done since 2004. Obviously there is nothing wrong in having massive stubborn self confidence and believing in his boys, but after the disappointing 79-74 cup loss to 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen, the club is as far away from winning the crown in June 2020 as German big man Marco Voeller is from joining the German national football team. But no team is totally prepared to win it all after only one game. That is why the regular season is long and gives each team enough time as Gordon Herbert always says to get better.

The game might have been different had the Fraport Skyliners had their starting point guard Anthony Hickey on board. But he had injured himself in the down stretch period of pre season and should be back in two weeks. But this injury could hurt the club immensely should they start off slow against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. The first games are very tough and with no Hickey, the club will have to make the best of it. But if they continue to play the way that they did against BG Goettingen then they will be 0-3 before it is even mid October. The loss against BG Goettingen ended the Fraport Skyliners cup season and what makes the loss so difficult to handle is that they could of won the game. The game had many ups and downs for both teams and especially in the first quarter experienced 8 lead changes. The second half seemed to be the turn around for the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner. They had began the third quarter with an 11-0 run and led after 30 minutes 62-56. Despite two bang bang three´s by Terry Allen and Kyan Anderson to dead lock the game at 62-62 in the first minutes of the fourth quarter, it then seemed like Frankfurt had made the turning point of the game as defensive specialist Akeem Vargas made back to back steals and coast to coast lay in´s, but once again BG Goettingen relied on their precision three point shooting which helped them go on a 10-2 run and get the momentum back. Frankfurt did have the lead one more time, but BG Goettingen just made the more crucial plays in crunch time and were the more clever team.

There were good things and bad things that the Fraport Skyliners displayed in their first real game of the season. A big problem was their work on the boards. They allowed way too many offensive rebounds. After 40 minutes, it was 13 in total. There were way too many extra possessions by BG Goettingen and more often than not, they were able to scold Frankfurt with that second and third opportunity and get points. The three bigs Kratzer, Waleskowski and Freudenberg played combined 47 minutes and grabbed combined only 6 rebounds. Quantez Robertson as usual played almost the whole game with 38 minutes and hauled down 8 rebounds. Obviously a Tez is always aggressive on the boards and is capable of leading his team in rebounds, but there has to come more support from the big men  Building consistency is something that grows as the team chemistry grows and one can´t expect it to be spot on in the first game. Frankfurt had it´s moments on defense, but the consistency was up and down. Too often they didn´t play proper man on man defense and weren´t close enough on the BG Goettingen snipers. Serbian forward Andric hit Frankfurt with 5 three´s and none were more bitter than his back to back three´s that started the 10-2 run mid-way through the fourth quarter. Offensively the team had it´s moments, but very seldom did one see the kind of ball movement that one has been used to in past years. The team was playing with no starting point guard and since there was little support from other players in the scoring department, Lamont Jones had to be that go to guy and take a back seat in the playmaking. It also didn´t help that they shot a pathetic 19% from outside. One won´t win any games shooting the ball like that.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Lamont Jones when he played his first season in Germany with MBC in 2018

Positives for the Fraport Skyliners was their effort. One could see that the game meant a lot to them. Often in bad phases of the game, the club never let their heads sink, but they always stuck together and that is definitely a good sign especially with some tough games coming up in the next two weeks. One saw that passion on defense even if it didn´t always want to work the way the players had envisioned it and hustle plays were on the influx. Another positive sign was the discovery of that next genuine go to guy. Not just a go to guy, but a guy who can take a game to the next level and be that game changer whenever he wants to. The Fraport Skyliners have that most definitely in Lamont Jones. It doesn´t matter where he has played in his career, he has always lit up the scoreboard. It didn´t matter if it was at Iona(NCAA) where he was the third best scorer in the NCAA in 2013, or the second best scorer in the NBL league in Japan in 2014 or fourth best scorer in the BBL in 2018 with MBC, he has shown that scoring consistency and ways of keeping his team alive in many different situations. He demonstrated in pre-season that he could be that player and against BG Goettingen had 28 points. In the past the Fraport Skyliners have had very dominant players like Dashaun Wood in 2010-2011 or Jordan Theodore in 2015-2016 who had had those very rare qualities to be able to take over a game at the blink of the eye.

However there is only one difference to this season with Lamont Jones and to those seasons with Wood and Theodore. The guys in the past had had suitable support from guys like Roger Powell or Jimmy Mckinney or from the twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel. Against BG Goettingen that second and third consistent scorer was missing. Obviously Hickey can and has to be that second reliable scorer, but when a guy like that is injured, the team needs support from the others. But there are question marks with the other players. Can a Leon Kratzer make the next step this season? He made a huge jump last season going from 3,4ppg to 9.4pg and the expectations are huge this season. He did score 10 points, but missed some easy shots and fouled out mid way through the fourth quarter which put a big void under the basket. His decision making was a bit off at times as well. Kratzer will have his dominant games, but he needs to find consistency. Other question marks. Can Matt Mcquaid make the jump from the NCAA to the BBL and be successful after a great career at Michigan State? So far the kid has shown flashes, but he still is allowed time. Despite his defensive and rebounding duties, can a Shaq Hines be a scoring support? Can a Adam Waleskowski shine with points and rebounds on a consistent level? He definitely will be an influence on the young kids with his experience. He also told me that he would definitely help Kratzer with some soul searching in the few days leading up to the first regular season game in Bonn. Can Richard Freudenberg finally make his break through and be a vital factor for this team?. He did play 13 minutes, but attempted only two shots. He needs to finally get the full trust from the coaching staff and get more minutes. He also has to finally produce and not be up and down. Daniel Schmidt showed good play, but didn´t do anything out of the ordinary to impact the game and could show a bit more emotion on the court. Marco Voeller did the most that he could in the 4.39 minutes that he played with a basket and block. How many more DNP´s will Bruno Vrcic see before he gets his first BBL minutes? The kid needs to be thrown into cold water sooner or later.

Quantez Robertson who is the heart and soul of the team now is n his 11th season and as usual belonged to the best players on the team. He filled the stat sheet like always with 9 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, had 6 dimes and 1 steal. Early in his career, he once told me that he would love to play point guard. Well he has been something like that secret point guard for years, but many just haven´t noticed or appreciated his effort as a playmaker. How badly would the Fraport Skyliners have lost had he not had to have been that playmaker in the game. When a Tez leads the team in assists and you register only 12, then you know that something is dearly missing on the offensive end. It will be some tough weeks for Frankfurt without Hickey as they will have to find ways to generate offense. The team also needs more than just a Lamont jones to carry the team. The club definitely have those scorers on paper, but they just have to present themselves during games. Best would be to begin the season with stealing a win in Bonn. A loss in Bonn will hurt their self confidence as they head into the brutal contests against FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. Being 0-3 before Anthony Hickey has even set foot on the floor could be demoralizing as he will have even more pressure on himself. Possibly he will be back for the tough game in Berlin, but the road to success doesn´t get any easier after that as ambitious new team Hamburg Towers come to Frankfurt and then they have a difficult road game against dark horse team ratiopharm Ulm. The next weeks will be an eye opener for how the season might go for the Fraport Skyliners, but one thing definitely won´t change for the Fraport Skyliners. They will continue to have the chance to get better each day and Quantez Robertson will remain 100% behind his team as always. Some wins somehow would be nice, but if they don´t come, the team will have to stick together something they already proved against BG Goettingen.

BG Goettingen Grind Out Cup Battle Over The Fraport Skyliners 79-74

It had  been more than four and a half months since the Fraport Skyliners played their last game in the 2018-2019 season where they lost the ultimate nail bitter 82-81 to their arch nemesis and rival Giessen 46ers, but that calamity was long forgotten as much had changed in that time. Sebastian Gleim moved up form the Pro B to the BBL as coach, new interesting pieces were added to the roster with Lamont Jones, Anthony Hickey, Matt Mcquaid, Adam Waleskowski, and Shaquille Hines to name just a few, but one thing remained the same as Quantez Robertson didn´t go anywhere as he remained and is in his 11th professional season with Frankfurt. After a solid pre season where the club was able to set a foundation for their much anticipated improved defense, they seemed prepared ready to go into the season. The club was struck though with a real blow as they didn´t have a normal regular season game to kick off their season, but a do or die contest against 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen. Over the years, both clubs have had some interesting games like the 2012 buzzer beater by Matt Bauscher in Frankfurt or the victory in Goettingen in 2008 where half the Frankfurt club was sick and an unknown Maksym Shtein surprised everyone carrying his team to the win with 24 points. On a typical nippy and rainy fall afternoon in Frankfurt, the Fraport arena and it´s fans were ready and electrified while the Frankfurt players had a few jitters, which is normal in the first game, but were prepared to go to battle in an intense cup game. Fans witnessed an intense cup battle which had it´s typical runs and in crunch-time, it seemed like the Fraport Skyliners would prevail, but they allowed the 2010 Eurochallenge winner come back and attain the 79-74 victory. After the tough loss, game top scorer and ex MBC guard Lamont Jones who had 28 points in his Frankfurt debut was disappointed in the loss, but was able to take positives out of the loss. “We didn´t do enough today. It was our first game while they already had one under their belt. You could sense their will after losing against Braunschweig. It was tough because we were without Anthony Hickey and I had to play a lot of the one. But I´m still very proud of the guys in that we stayed together and didn´t fall apart”, stressed Lamont Jones. For BG Goettingen it was a huge win, but after the game, BG Goettingen top guard Kyan Anderson was very composed and calm and just enjoying the big moment. “We did good preparation. Coach had us ready. We also did a good job staying with the game plan. A big main point for us was to rebound better after getting killed against Braunschweig. We stuck to our system and it was working. My teammates looked for me and my shot was falling and I remained aggressive”, stressed Kyan Anderson.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing BG Goettingen top scorer Kyan Anderson after the win in Frankfurt

                4,900 fans came out to support the Fraport Skyliners in their first home game of the season and quickly witnessed a back and forth tug of war as there were eight lead changes in the first quarter and BG Goettingen had the slim 22-19 advantage.  BG Goettingen jumped all over Frankfurt in the first minute leading 5-0 as ex Medi Bayreuth guard Kyan Anderson hit a step back jumper and Serbian forward Mihajlo Andric dropped a trey. It didn´t take long for the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner Frankfurt to charge back as they went on a 4-0 run as new Skyliner Lamont Jones hit his bread and butter mid distance jumper and Quantez Robertson who is in his 11th season with Frankfurt made an acrobatic lay in. Then the game experienced a back and forth of both teams grabbing the lead and then losing it. Robertson scored again showing his never aging athleticism and Leon Kratzer had his best spurt of the game scoring twice on two handed dunks. BG Goettingen got support from Andric and diminutive 21 year old 178cm guard Bennt Hundt who made an amazing off balance shot and free throws for the 13-12 BG Goettingen advantage. Anderson was the go to guy down the stretch making 7 points and giving BG Goettingen the 19-17 lead. BG Goettingen did a great job getting 4 offensive rebounds which led to extra possessions and baskets. Bennet Hundt closed out the first quarter with free throws and the 22-19 lead for the guests. BG Goettingen shot 40% from the field and 27% from outside and had 6 rebounds and 1 turnover while the Fraport Skyliners shot 58% from the field and 20% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 4 turnovers.

                In the second quarter the game remained tight for the first few minutes, but then BG Goettingen was able to get away from Frankfurt and keep the lead until the break. Ex Oldenburg center Dennis Kramer hit a runner for the 25-19 BG Goettingen lead. The Fraport Skyliners had had a dismal begin as promising German center Leon Kratzer who went from averaging 4 points two seasons ago to 9 points last season couldn´t find back to his first quarter start missing a shot and then turning it over, but Frankfurt had that one secret weapon which really isn´t a secret weapon. Frankfurt have often had that player like a Dashaun Wood or Jordan Theodore in the past that could change a game at any time and this season they have Lamont Jones. The American got heated up and dropped two treys and suddenly the game was dead locked at 25-25. But BG Goettingen also have their own version of a Jones with Kyan Anderson as he led his team on a 9-2 run to give them the 34-27 lead. Anderson nailed a trey and made three free throws while Andric who was kept in check for  a quarter struck back with a three pointer. Frankfurt got some key buckets from Marco Voeller and ex Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas, but BG Goettinegn kept their composure and lead thanks to young point guard Bennet Hundt. His small stature may give him an advantage at first, because teams underestimate him, but with more good games, will become a more known player in the league. He made a left handed lay in after getting a quick bullet pass from Anderson and he made free throws as BG Goettingen led 38-33. Hundt finished with 16 points and 5 dimes and one could see how well he harmonized with Kyan Anderson at this early juncture in the season. “I normally play the one, but with Hundt we have a different dynamic. When you look at him at first, you don´t expect him to produce, but he is a real warrior. He has way more heart than height. He initially takes the attention from me and that allows me to get open looks that I necessarily might not usually get”, warned Kyan Anderson. Jones made another shot in the last minute, but BG Goettingen got a deep trey from ex Gonzaga guard Matis Monninghof as they led 41-36 at half-time. BG Goettingen shot 41% from the field and 38% from the three point line and grabbed 11 rebounds and had 4 assists while the Fraport Skyliners shot 48% from the field and 25% from the three point line and grabbed 17 rebounds and had 9 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing new Skyliner Adam Waleskowski after the cup loss against BG Goettingen

                The Fraport Skyliners played their best basketball in the third quarter going on a massive run to retake the lead and ended the quarter with the lead. The Fraport Skyliners came back on the court reborn while BG Goettingen looked sloppy allowing their opponent to go on a lethal 11-0 run to recapture the lead 47-43. Key in the run for the Fraport Skyliners was Lamont Jones again who produced 7 points and was aggressive on transition as good defense led to easy buckets. Frankfurt had stuffed BG Goettingen on 5 consecutive possessions until Kramer scored. Frankfurt had gotten the momentum while BG Goettingen had lost their fine offensive rhythm from the second quarter and also kept the ball away from Andric. The Fraport Skyliners offense was smooth now and the bench also reacted as German Richard Freudenberg hit a pretty trey from the corner and ex Ludwigsburg forward Adam Waleskowski scored in the paint for the 56-49 Frankfurt lead. BG Goettingen´s offense wasn´t flowing the way it did in the first half and only Kyan Anderson was on his game and he kept his team in the game hitting 5 free throws and ex Richmond(NCAA) forward Terry Allen made an offensive rebound and put back, but Frankfurt still had control and the 62-56 lead after 30 minutes. “Their run wasn´t a surprise as it can always happen in the BBL. Jones took over and we had no answers”, stressed Kyan Anderson. “The run helped us get in rhythm. We fought hard in getting the lead back”, added Lamont Jones. BG Goettingen shot 36% from the field and 27% from the parking lot and had 21 rebounds an d 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 51% from the field and 24% from the parking lot and had 25 rebounds and 9 turnovers.

                The fourth quarter was a real exciting battle where BG Goettingen had the better nerves and executed better to get the victory. The Fraport Skyliners couldn´t duplicate their grand start of the third quarter, but instead watch BG Goettingen tie the game with two three´s from Terry Allen and Anderson. Frankfurt charged back letting some quick steals lead to easy transition baskets. Akeem Vargas is known as a tough hard nosed defender, but on his two steals in a row which led to two easy coast to coast baskets, he was standing in the right place and profited from sloppy BG Goettingen mistakes, but Frankfurt suddenly led again 66-62. But then came the turning point of the game as Andric led BG Goettingen on a 10-2 run to give BG Goettingen the 72-68 lead and they would be in control. Andric had been slowed down at certain junctures of the game, but Frankfurt couldn´t keep him under tabs the whole game. He nailed back to back three´s as well as hitting a jumper while Bennt Hundt hit free throws. “My shots were important, but our defense and rebounding helped us get the win”, warned Mihajlo Andric. Frankfurt hadn´t had much consistent offense from anyone other than Lamont Jones and let him do his thing as he stayed very aggressive and hit two baskets keeping Frankfurt close at 73-72. Jones continued his scoring rage as BG Goettingen couldn´t stop him and he scored again reaching 28 points giving Frankfurt the 74-73 lead with less than a minute to play. Ex Oldenburg guard Dominik Lockhart made free throws as BG Goettingen led 75-74. The Fraport Skyliners had the chance to regain the lead and get the win, but Quantez Robertson was forced to a deep trey which necessarily wasn´t Frankfurt´s most desired option. “We were happy wit giving Robertson that shot at the end. Andric changed the game. He is our best shooter and we gave him open looks. We knew it would be a close game so we picked up our defense at the end”, warned Kyan Anderson. After the Robertson miss, Hundt hit three free throws. Jones then missed a shot and Hundt sealed the win with two more free throws for the win. “This was our first real situation game where it counted. Fatigue caught up with us at the end. Kratzer had fouled out and Jones had to carry us. Their extra chances and three´s hurt us”, explained Adam Waleskowski. BG Goettingen was led by Mihajlo Andric with 21 points and Kyan Anderson had 20 points and Bennt Hundt added 16 points while the Fraport Skyliners were led Lamont Jones with 28 points and Leon Kratzer added 10 points.  BG Goettingen shot 38% from the field and 34% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 12 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners 47% from the field and 19% from outside and had 30 rebounds and 12 turnovers.

The Baunach Young Pikes Frustrate The Fraport Skyliners Juniors 77-66

It had been almost six months since the Fraport Skyliners Junior last graced the BCM floor in Frankfurt as they had problems with Alba Berlin´s farm team Lok Bernau getting swept and thus ending their season. It was a long summer, but it was finally time again for the young team to battle again on their home court. Some things had changed as Germans Armin Trtovac and Garai Zeeb had departed as well as Swedish athletic beast Elijah Clarance who was loaned to Dutch team Den Bosch. Head coach Sebastian Gleim also had made the next jump to head coach BBL club Fraport Skyliners. However there were many familiar faces still around like big German talents Len Schoormann and Maxi Begue as well as the elder gentleman Tobias Jahn. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were home for their first game in their living room and met the Baunach Young Pikes who had played a dismal Pro A season and landed in the Pro B. Both teams suffered tough loses in their openers to Giessen and Speyer and were reeling for some kind of successful experience to get their season on track. It was a battle of young Germans as both teams had an average team age of 19 and the guests boasted four players from the 2019 NBBL final team of Breitengussbach with the Tischler twins, Elias Baggette and Moritz Plescher. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were severely weakened as their two Germans Len Schoormann and Maxi Begue were out as was American Nigel Pruitt while Baunach also had the injury woes as Nicolas Wolf, Kai Brunke and Daniel Keppler were also out. It was one of those games where the Baunach Young Pikes were always leading and the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were uncapable of getting over the hump being frustrated losing 77-67. “Losing Nico Wolf was tough for us. We wanted to come together and did. We defended well for the first three quarters. We always had good answers for Frankfurt. It was a good win for our guys”, stated Baunach head coach Mario Dugandzig. Jaz Bains from England made his professional basketball debut for Frankfurt and is confident that the team will turn it around. “We have a nice young team. Our chemistry is off a bit, but when we continue to play more together, it will get better. We need to pick up our defense. It will come. We didn´t do a good job keeping the game close at the start. If we can do that then we will be able to keep the game close and have have a better chance of them making more mistakes”, stressed guard Jaz Baines. “We did a good job minimizing our mistakes on offense and defense. We followed coaches game plan and defended solid even when we weren´t scoring so much on offense. We shared the ball and always had the momentum”, expressed ex s.Oliver Wurzburg guard Marvin Heckel.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Marvin Heckel who dropped 23 points leading Baunach to a 77-66 win in Frankfurt

                Baunach had a very physical team and Frankfurt wanted to get their big man going early with Aaron Kayser who made a nice tip in dunk and made a left handed lay in to cut the Banach lead to 5-4. Baunach had began to shoot well getting a trey from Heckel and a jumper from 2019 NBBL finalist Moritz Plescher. Baunach kept the lead thanks to their athleticism and quickness as they took advantage of the penetration as 2019 NBBL finalists Elias Baggete and Brandon Tischler scored for the 13-8 advantage. Frankfurt was not only having problems stopping the Baunach penetration, but also couldn´t match the Baunach intensity on the glass. Jaz Bains made his first professional basket with a running hook shot as he was perfectly fed by ex Ehingen German Tobias Jahn to cut the Baunach lead to 13-11. However the Baunach Young Pikes closed out the first quarter with a 8-0 run to lead 21-11 and they would never look back. In the run, the Bavarian club got solid support from Marvin Heckel who couldn´t do any wrong on this night as he scored six points including a jumper, lay in and free throws. Baggete scored the last Baunach basket as they continued to take advantage of the cracks in the zone. “Frankfurt didn´t do a good job getting into their sets and Baunach played good transition basketball”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Leon Kratzer. The Baunach Young Pikes shot 73% from the field and 100% from outside and had 12 rebounds and 7 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 29% from the field and 0% from outside and had 4 rebounds and 1 turnover.

                The Baunach Young Pikes continued to control the game in the second quarter and led by as much as 15 points. Baunach had a nice offensive rhythm and quickly got early baskets from ex Ludwigsburg forward Mateo Seric and Marvin Heckel while Frankfurt also was experiencing inconsistency from the free throw line as Baunach led 25-13. Frankfurt had problems with the Baunach on ball pressure and couldn´t hit the ocean while not having that much needed go to guy. Basketball wouldn´t be basketball with out a run and the Fraport Skyliners Juniors finally had one as ex FC Bayern Munich guard Bruno got going nailing a trey and made a lay in while Jaz Bains also connected from outside cutting the Baunach lead down to 27-21. Even if Frankfurt got some offense going, the Baunach Young Pikes always had the right answer to combat their runs. Baunach closed out the second quarter with a lethal 10-3 run to have the 37-24 advantage at the break. Frankfurt was inconsistent and couldn´t prevent the guests from getting easy buckets on transition. In the run, the Baunach Young Pikes got key transition baskets from Moritz Plescher and Brandon Tischler and Swedish big man Felix Edwardson who played 75 Pro A games with Baunach nailed a three pointer. “Frankfurt wasn´t getting into their sets well and weren´t moving the ball well- They also were unable to find the mis matches and weren´t aggressive on the boards”, stressed ex Auburn(NCAA) standout Quantez Robertson. The Baunach Young Pikes shot 48% from the field and 33% from the three point line and grabbed 24 rebounds and had 10 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 33% from the field and 22%from the three point line and grabbed 11 rebounds and had 6 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Skyliner Jazz Bains who contributed 10 points and 4 dimes in his professional debut

                The Fraport Skyliners Juniors played their best three minutes of basketball of the game at the start of the third quarter as they raced out on a 9-2 run to cut Baunach´s lead down to 39-33. In the run the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by 19 year old 197cm guard Bruno Vrcic who added 5 points and made a nice assist for a Cosmo Gruehn lay in. ex Chemnitz center Aaron Kayser also played heads up catching an air ball and making the lay in to cut the Baunach lead to 39-33. Baunach was very sloppy in this phase not taking good care of the ball. Frankfurt stepped up their defense and Vrcic got going again. But every time where Frankfurt made a run, Baunach could counter it going on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 46-35. Baunach got big time production from young 19 year old big man Leon Bulic hit a trey and scored in the paint while Baggette found his way to the hole again using his quickness to his advantage. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors found some day light in the last minutes and closed out the third quarter with a 8-4 run as once again Bruno Vrcic carried the team netting five points. The Baunach Young Pikes still had the comfortable 50-43 advantage after 30 minutes. “We did a good job never letting them get into an offensive rhythm. We were able to stop their momentum with time outs or defensive stops”, added Marvin Heckel. “We had a good start, but they always hit big shots when they needed to”, stressed Jaz Bains. The Baunach Young Pikes shot 43% from the field and 29% from the parking lot and hauled down 34 rebounds and had 16 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 38% from the field and 29% from the parking lot and hauled down 20 rebounds and had 11 turnovers.

                The Baunach Young Pikes began the fourth quarter with a bang with a 8-2 run to extend their lead to 58-45 and they would never look back. In the run, Baunach received hot shooting from Plescher and Seric who nailed three´s and Baggette once again made the paint area his very own playground as he split the defense and made an easy lay up. Baggette did a superior job leading the offensive charge as the Baunach Young Pikes offense was like a well oiled ship. Despite a Konstantin Schubert basket, Baunach continued to light up the score board as Brandon Tischler and Marvin Heckel dropped three pointers for the 65-49 advantage. But the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had one last gasp of energy as they went out on a 8-0 run to cut Baunach´s lead down to 65-57. It was typical of Frankfurt on this evening as they lived off offensive spurts the whole game, but couldn´t find more consistency over longer stretches of the game. In the run, Frankfurt got a turn around shot from Aaron Kayser, a lay in by Kontstantin Schubert and another trey by Vrcic. The Baunach Young Pikes stayed calm and just continued to execute well their offensive sets as Brandon Tischler and Mateo Seric scored giving Baunach the 69-59 lead. In the last few minutes Marvin Heckel closed the door on Frankfurt with 7 points while Frankfurt just couldn´t get over the hump which was the problem all night long. “We hit our three pointers well and that is when they broke”, stressed Marvin Heckel. The Baunach Young Pikes were led by Marvin Heckel with 23 points. Mateo Seric added 12 points and Brandon Tischler and Elias Baggette contributed 10 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Bruno Vrcic with 21 points. Aaron Kayser produced 14 points and Konstantin Schubert added 11 points. The Baunach Young Pikes shot 50% from the field and 44% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 19 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 39% from the field and 32% from outside and had 26 rebounds and 13 turnovers.

Can The Fraport Skyliners Find Back To Their Old Defensive Success And Be Rewarded With the Playoffs?

You have to wonder how that first encounter was last summer when the Canadian national basketball team met and Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert and Brady Heslip said hello? Did Herbert say in his dry tone “No hard feelings” or just give his charming chuckle and smile and ask if he played any defense with team Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-BSL) which he joined after being released by Frankfurt in early 2019. His offense was spot on as always as in 12 games he averaged 13.0ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 37.0%, 3PT: 45.6%, FT: 86.7%. In Frankfurt his defense wasn´t spot on which helped in the club not having the type of defensive presence and identity that Herbert would have liked to have had and had been used to in the last years. Only a few years ago, the Fraport Skyliners belonged to the top defensive teams in the BBL year in and year out giving up somewhere around 68-69 points per game, but last season it was a disappointing and pathetic 82 points. There were many factors that led to this as the team as a whole wasn´t on the same page and their late strength of having immaculate rotations had gotten lost somewhere between the players parking lot and the court. In his career with Frankfurt, Gordon Herbert has been very successful in reeling in players especially point guards like a Wood, Cobbs or Theodore, but one had to wonder what he was thinking when he picked up Brady Heslip in the summer of 2018. Was he blinded by his amazing three point shooting that hindered him from realizing that one doesn´t play defense in the G-League? The club missed the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons and the last straw was having the German Bachelor in the squad which is something that he probably never really understood and even if he never said it publicly one could sense that he had had enough for now. He finally got his chance to be associate head coach of the Canadian national team at the 2019 World Cup and now will be head coach for the next window qualifying games, but will return back to Frankfurt in 2021. In the meantime, the question will be can the Fraport Skyliners rebound from a less than satisfactory season with new head coach Sebastian Gleim and find back to their old defensive success and reach the playoffs again. The good news is that Gleim is known for shaping defensive teams which he did at lower levels like the Pro B and NBBL, but will he have the same kind of success rate at the high level easyCredit BBL?

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Anthony Kickey in pre-season in Frankfurt

            It has been no secret that for years and years, the Fraport Skyliners have never been lucky with having sufficient money in their budget for getting the best players possible, but is something the club has gotten used to. Before the club set out to test the waters, they did a good job keeping some of their core players from last season. Most importantly having the Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson on board is always big and everyone will first realize what it is like when he one day is gone and only his jersey remains under the arena ceiling. He is the captain Mr everything and the anchor on defense and he will need to play extended minutes and fill the stat sheet for the team to be successful. EX German cup winner with Alba Berlin Akeem Vargas also remained and is known for his aggressive and pest like on man defense. He is limited on offense and will have to play consistent defense for the club to return back to their defensive ways. The biggest surprise last season and most improved player was German Leon Kratzer. He went from 3,4ppg an 3,3rp with s.Oliver Wurzburg in the 2017-2018 season to averaging 9,4ppg and 6,5rpg with Frankfurt which was 5th best in the BBL. He can be unstoppable in the zone and now he has to become that always dominant player which he can. He shoots over 60% from the field and important this year will be to up that even more, reduce his fouls and practice more free throws. Marco Voeller also remained and will be going into his fourth season. He is the type of player that every coach loves and wants, because he leaves his jersey on the court every night. He isn´t the most talented player, but will fight, be physical and get rebounds and score on occasion while filling up space in the zone. The big question mark this season will be can German Richard Freudenberg finally make his break through. Everyone including himself was hoping for it last season, but once again it didn´t happen.  The kid is so talented and has the skill set to become a very good player, but his game is like night and day. One night he is on top and the next night makes mistakes that will give any coach grey hairs. He has to become consistent. If he can be that, then it will immensely help this team with their depth.

            With so many problem players last season plus not being able to keep scorers Jason Clark or Tyler Larson, it was obvious that the team would engage in a massive house cleaning this summer. The team hauled in seven players and with the quality did a pretty good job with the minimal budget that they have. Probably the best signing was scoring ace Lamont Jones who is a lethal scorer as he was third best scorer in the NCAA with Iona as a senior at 22,6ppg, was fourth best scorer in the BBL with MBC at 17,6ppg and second best scorer in Japan at 23,9ppg with the  Kumamoto Vorters. He will be the go to guy this season and be hungry to rebound from his satisfactory and not great season in Ludwigsburg. He will have to be infected with Frankfurt´s team play and remember that there are other scorers as well. The most important signing is always the point guard. In the past, the Fraport Skyliners have had probably more luck than misery with their signings. In the last years probably the most forgettable signing was Kwame Vaughn and now the club hopes that Anthony Hickey can continue to keep the good Frankfurt point guard tradition alive. Even if he is a very good scorer leading the Polish league was and second in Cyprus, he is probably best known as being a defensive steal specialist. His consistency started in the NCAA at Louisiana State and Oklahoma State where he never had less than 1,8spg and carried right on over into the pro ranks as he has been a top the steal leader in every league and led the Cyprus league. Probbaly the most interesting pick up has been rookie Matt Mcquaid. BBL teams don´t usually sign an influx of rookies, but when they do, it is well thought out decisions. The American played at Michigan State and one would have to search the Skyliners archives to find a player that came from a better NCAA school than him. He comes from the Tom Izzo basketball school and is very versatile that can shoot and was his school´s best defender helping them reach the 2019 NCAA Final 4. Plus he has an amazing basketball IQ for his age. He has adjusted slowly to the BBL, but will with time.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and ex Michigan State guard Matt Mcquaid at the Fraport Skyliners 20 year anniversary party in Spetember

            The club´s first signing was Shaquille Hines who played at  UTRGV (NCAA,) and brings a season of BBL experience to Frankfurt with the Basketball Loewen Braunschweig (Germany-BBL) playing 34 games averaging 8.2ppg, 4.6rpg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 66.1%. He is a solid scorer averaging double figures in Sweden and Greece and is an excellent defender. He will be a very vital puzzle piece for the club having defensive success again. Especially if the rotations want to function again, he will have to be able to guard the bigger players. Another pick up was veteran guard Daniel Schmidt who has won the most titles from any player on the roster with 6 as he spent 9 seasons with Brose Bamberg, but never really made his break through there, but was able to gain valuable experience and play Euroleague. He is a good pick and roll player and can shoot and is a guard that just won´t do anything he can´t do. He will be the back up point guard and will be able to lead the team in the minutes he is on the floor well something he learned playing behind top guards in Bamberg. The most exciting pick up was German guard Bruno Vrcic. He came from FC Bayern Munich. He knows how to win having won two NBBL titles, a Albert Schweitzer International Tournament  title and a Bronze at the 2019 U-20 European championships. He played 32 Pro B games with Munich and at the age of 19 still has a lot of potential. He will have a double license and will see quality minutes in the BBL: His best attribute is his shot, but he has an overall good game that will only get better working on a daily basis with the leagues best individual coach Klaus Perwas. The last signing was veteran Adam Waleskowski who brings 9 years of BBL experience with him and played the last 8 years in Ludwigsburg. No one should dare to say that he is over the hill at age 36 as last season he still put up respectable stats of  8.0ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT: 53.5%, 3.3rpg, FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 21.2%, FT: 83.3%. His best asset is his great character, a team player that every team needs. He is a versatile inside/out player that may not be the quickest anymore, but his experience and role model qualities will be huge for Leon Kratzer and Aaron Kayser.

On paper the roster looks really good. The question will be how well will they perform and how well can head coach Sebastian Gleim construct a team chemistry that will be potent and successful? A strength again will be the defense especially on the perimeter. Before the 2018-2019 season, Gordon Herbert preached those words, but was let down, but this season the duo of Quantez Robertson and Anthony Hickey could be among the top steal getters and guard defense tandem that the BBL will see. Not to mention putting the rookie Matt Mcquaid into the equation as an additional pest as well as the always aggressive Akeem Vargas will make the Frankfurt Skyliners a very very scary team to approach in the back court. The competent defense won´t stop there as down low, the club will make it very tough for opponents to get room and good shots when you have a potent shot blocker in German Leon Kratzer and a good off the ball defender and can match the quickness of smaller guards with Shaquille Hines. Freudenberg will bolster the defense inside as well as the physicality of Marco Voeller on the pick and roll will help from the bench. Defense won´t be the problem and they will definitely have their moments on the offensive end, but can they be consistent? One can´t expect consistent scoring from a Quantez Robertson, but guys like Jones and Hickey should be able to score consistently and carry the offensive load. The team will have enough other players like Mcquaid, Hines, Kratzer and Waleskowski who will be able to give their support with the scoring. The team also should be a better than average rebounding team. With Kratzer holding down the fort and having guy like Freudenberg and Hines giving support down low and guards like Robertson and Hickey crashing the boards, the team should be able to hold their own when controlling the boards.

So where will the Fraport Skyliners land this season. On paper they are a boarder line playoff team, but it all comes down to staying healthy and being able to build chemistry and as Gordon Herbert loves to preach, “it´s all about getting better each day”. There are some question marks that have to be addressed. Can Quantez Robertson continue to soak up massive minutes in the 30-40 range. It would be fatal for him to get an injury. Will Anthony Hickey not only be able to be that lethal and consistent scorer, but will he also be able to be a keen playmaker that will be able to make his teammates better? Possibly the club´s most important quality that they will need to possess is having Richard Freudenberg to finally find his game and groove and perform the way everybody has been waiting for. With German Niklas Kiel out for the season and his career on the line, Freudenberg gets the big opportunity to get more minutes. The German who played at St Johns(NCAA) and seemingly hasn´t been able to put his poor season in New York to rest needs to step up not only for the club Fraport Skyliners, but also for himself. If he has another average or below average season, then that could be it for his BBL career as the Pro A would be the next option. The good news is that the Fraport Skyliners have never given up on him and believe in him and his abilities. All the kid needs to do now is finally show some consistency on the court. A break out season by Richard Freudenenberg could be the difference between squeaking into the playoffs or not. The Fraport Skyliners will finish somewhere between position 7-13.

Once Jackson Trapp(Uni Baskets) Felt His Shot Was Automatic He Would Continually Shoot Quicker And Quicker Until It Became Natural

Jackson Trapp is a 27 year old 193cm guard that was born in Tallahassee, Florida and is playing his first season with the Uni Baskets Paderborn. He brought professional experience to Germany having played in Canada with the Island Storm and with the Yakima Sun Kings (TB). He played at Florida Atlantic (NCAA) from 2012-2016 playing a total of 118 NCAA games. His best season was his junior year where he averaged 10.1ppg, 3.2rpg, FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 83.3%. He spoke to earlier in the summer

about basketball. 

Jackson thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and how was your summer? 

Not a problem at all, I am currently In Paderborn. My summer was good, just did a lot of training with my brother who is a basketball trainer in Orlando.

Congrats on making it overseas after struggling as a professional in your first three seasons. How difficult was the grind in the past and what have you learned from the whole experience?

Thank you! And there have been many ups and downs the past three years. I have learned to always stay positive, no matter what life throws at you. When one door closes another one opens. After I left Canada I ended up being very happy with my move to Washington to play for the Sunkings, I met several guys that I will carry on to know the rest of my life. 

How tough was the struggle playing in a few games in your first two professional seasons in Canada. Were you totally overlooked getting a chance in Europe or was the correct representation missing? You had a solid career in the NCAA at Florida Atlantic that should have gotten you a chance a lot earlier.

Well I actually ended up getting hurt my rookie year in Canada. I broke my foot towards the end of training camp. The coach there, Joe Salerno, seemed to like the player I was, and decided to keep me on the IR for the few months I was out. Unfortunately I rushed back into things too quickly and was only able to play two games before being let go. I had an agent that was not the right fit for me, so after I got injured there were not many options at all that following summer.

Congrats on signing with the Uni Baskets What was different this summer in the search for a team? How thankful are you that you landed in Germany with the Uni Baskets?

Thank you! At the start of summer I did not have an agent, so I reached out to hundreds of them within a month or two, hoping for a few that would be interested in finding a spot for me. Fortunately there were 5-7 of them that were really interested in me, and helped me get looks all around the world. I am very thankful that I was able to land a spot here in Paderborn. 

What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you had any friends, ex opponents or ex teammates play in Germany besides Justin Raffington?

Honestly, I did not know too much about it, except for the fact that it follows the ‘European’ style of play, with a lot of screens and a lot of movement. They focus less on 1 on 1 and athletic ability, and use their basketball IQ to play better team basketball. Yes, I know several players playing in the BBL, ProA and ProB. 

How enticing was the offer from Paderborn and what was the main reason for you wanting to play for this organization?

It was an offer that was hard to turn down, in large part due to the fact that Pro A is such a reputable league around the world. I had many offers throughout Europe, but decided to turn down them for that reason.

Did Grant Benznger help you with the adjustment period? His dad was a well known baseball player and your dad was a professional football player so I imagine you guys could relate to each other well.

Grant has been a great teammate in this first month here in Paderborn. He has definitely helped with several things that I have had to deal with in this ‘adjusting’ period of moving to Europe for the firs time. And yes, I just discovered that his dad played pro baseball! My dad actually did too briefly along with football, but my dad is significantly older than his haha. 

How important has your dad been Richard for your overall development as an athlete? How do you feel has his experience helped you in becoming that special athlete?

Honestly my whole family has been a huge impact on me and the player that I am today. When I was younger, before I knew what work ethic was, it was both my mom and dad that on a daily basis made sure that I was working, no matter how much I did not want to, and I can’t thank them enough for that. In the past 5-7 years or so, although my parents are still a large influence, it has been my brothers, especially the one that currently is a basketball trainer, that have kept me on track. I would not be where I am today without all of them. So thank you TNT Hoops in Orlando and the rest of my family for making me the person and player I am today.

How have you experienced your short time in Germany with Paderborn? The team has a very nice point guard duo with the very experienced Demetrius Ward and talented youngster Kendale Mccullum and nice fitting parts with Germans and a strong shooter with Grant Benzinger. What kind of team is it and how competitive do you feel will it be?

I think we have developed a lot in the past month already. Demi is an experienced guard who knows how to control the pace of the game and never gets flustered by the defense or any runs the other team may make, which is huge for a somewhat young team like ours. Kendale is a very good point that plays older than he is. He is extremely fast and is really good out of the pick n roll, making him extremely difficult to contain. On top of that both Demi and Kendale are good defenders. Add that with the shooters and skilled, experienced big men we have, and we should be a really good team. In terms of how competitive we can be, I would just say that out of the four ProA teams we have played so far, there is not one that I don’t think we can’t beat when it comes time for the season.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 190 cm guard that has a nice versatile offensive game. For those that want to get an impression of your game, to what NBA player would you compare your game best to?

I like to see myself as a more versatile JJ Reddick. We are about the same height, weight, and neither of us are highflying dunkers. I love coming off screens and I have a very quick release. But when guys close out too hard I can drive to the basket and either finish or kick out. 

What kind of role do you have? You are also a very good shooter. How do you feel do you compliment your teammate Grant Benzinger best?

Right now we are still figuring out the roles. Coach has told me that I have the green light to shoot whenever I am open, whether it is in the half court or in transition. Unfortunately I have not been able to play with Grant yet because of his injury, but I know he is a good shooter. The more shooters you have the easier things become on the offensive end and even the defensive end. 

What other strengths does your game have besides shooting that will help the Uni Baskets be successful this season?

I believe I am good at penetrating to the basket when guys close out too hard. I also believe I have good 1 on 1 defense. On top of this I believe I am an unselfish player. 

You played last with the Yakima Sun Kings and was the best three point shooter in the league. How do you feel did you make extra strides in your shooting this summer that will help your shooting make the transition to the European game?

I am always shooting. As I mentioned before, I am very fortunate because my brother is a basketball trainer back where I live in Orlando. I believe the best way to become a great shooter is by repetitions. I would make sure that 5 days a week that I shoot anywhere from 700-1500 NBA 3’s a day, whether it be in workouts or on my own. On a daily basis, once I felt my shot had become ‘automatic’, I would continually shoot quicker and quicker until it became natural.

You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet well, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that still somewhat is off the radar for many?

I believe my defense is a hidden trait that many don’t know about. 

You played last summer at the well known Basketball tournament. What kind of experience was that for you and how did you do?

It was an awesome experience and got to play with a lot of talented guys. We ended up losing in the regional finals (Sweet 16) to the team that had won the previous four years, Overseas Elite. We were up 6 going into the 4th quarter but ended up short.

Your were teammates with Robert Nortman a guy who had to play many seasons in Canada before getting a chance in Germany. What memories do you have of him there?

Rob is a great guy. He actually was my Roomate during the time I was there. We had a lot of fun playing video games each day after long practices.

As a rookie you played two games for the Island Storm (Canada-NBL) and the next season didn’t play at all. Why didn’t your career take off in Canada?

I broke my foot towards the end of training camp. Next season I ended up joining the Yakima Sunkings in the TBL.

How important was it getting a chance with the Yakima Sun Kings and playing well there? How did this experience help your self confidence and get you ready best for that next step?

It was huge. The league, the TBL, is a brand new league and I would recommend any American to that needs a start to their career to take a look there. We had a great coach there in Paul Woolpert, along with a ton of teammates that I played really well together with. Helped me build my confidence and made me realize the type of player I can be.

You played at Florida Atlantic (NCAA) from 2012-2016.Despite not winning any titles there, what was your fondest memories there?

I also met a ton of great guys at FAU. I had some good coaches that I learned a whole lot from over my four years there. My fondest moment had to be our 24 point comeback against Louisiana Tech and my game winning 3 I hit with 2 seconds left. 

You played against powerhouse North Carolina in your first NCAA game losing by 24 points and netting 2 points in 5 minutes. You played against countless future NBA players. What will you remember most from that first NCAA battle?

That game got me prepared for the rest of my career at FAU. There’s a reason that coaches at mid majors like scheduling bigger schools to play against at the very beginning of the season (besides the money), and that is to set the tone for the rest of the season, and that’s what that first game did for me. The atmosphere in general is what I will remember most there. 

In your first senior game you lost to Michigan State but scored 10 points had 7 rebounds and three assists. How far do you feel had you come from that first game against North Carolina as a player?

It had been three years, So I had developed a lot as a player. But another huge difference in those games was my confidence. I knew I was the senior captain of the team and had to lead by example and go all out in order to set the tone for the rest of the guys

What kind of relationship did you have with German Justin Raffington? Do you plan on meeting with him again in Germany?

Justin is great guy. I have had a lot of great memories with him in our years at FAU. If we are ever near each other we will for sure be seeing each other.

You played for two head coaches in the NCAA for MIke Jarvis and Michael Curry. How did each guy help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

Coach Jarvis taught me a lot about discipline and helped me a lot on the offensive end. Coach Curry was a defensive specialist and brought a lot of his knowledge from the NBA to us guys at FAU. 

Who won a one on one you or Nick Rutherford?

Haha we never got a chance to play each other 1 on 1!

Who has been the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA or in the gym that is in the NBA or in Europe?

That is tough. I have played against a lot of great players. I would say playing against Rodney Hood when we played Duke was very tough in large part because I was so young. Austin Rivers is a guy I grew up with and to this day is still one of, if not the toughest, players I have ever had to guard.

Please list your five best teammates of all-time?

This is tough! I would have to say Javier Lacunza from FAU and Lance Stokes who I played with in high school because they are some of my best friends today, but there are so many other factors in this that it hard to make a decision, so I will have to pass.

Please name your personal own NBA Rushmore. Which four heads would you pick past or present for your list?

Lebron, Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem

What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

I would have to say Lebron because he is the most valuable player of all time. But, full disclosure, I am biased because I was too young to really watch Jordan back in his prime.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Just watched ‘Role Models’ because it was on Netflix.

Thanks Jackson for the chat.

Staying In The Moment And Clearing His Mind Was Vital For Tanner Graham(Tigers Tuebingen) Of Making The Last Push To Become a Professional Player

Tanner Graham is a 201cm forward from Kingston, Ontario playing his rookie season in Germany with Pro A team Tigers Tuebingen. He contributed 5 points in 12 minutes in his Germany debut beating Artland 74-59. He began his career at La Salle SS and then played at Queen’s University (CIS) from 2014-2019 playing a total of 101 games. In his senior year he played 22 games averaging 15.9ppg, 8.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.2spg, Blocks-5(2.0bpg), FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 74.4%. He spoke to eurobasket earlier in the summer about his basketball career.

Tanner thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your summer?

Thank you for reaching out to me. I am in my hometown of Kingston, Ontario, Canada at the moment. I have enjoyed my summer a lot thus far. During the week I train, which includes shooting, lifting weights, running and practicing with my University team (Queen’s). On the weekends I try to spend time with my friends and family.

Congrats on signing with German Pro A team Tigers Tuebingen. How did you experience your first professional transfer period? You signed very early. Did you have other offers?

Thank you, I’m looking forward to it! My first transfer period was a seamless transition and I owe a lot to Limelight hoops and my agent Ingo Wolf as Ingo made sure to explain every step of the process and answered every question I had. I feel like I learned a lot during this period, but I also realized there’s a lot more to be learned. Yes, I signed early. There were other German Pro A teams interested, however I felt the situation in Tubingen was ideal so I jumped at the opportunity to join this organization.

What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Have you had any guys ball in Germany that you know or have played against in the past?

I do not know that much about the basketball in Germany or the country itself to be honest. I have been trying to learn through the internet and by asking my agent questions that come up, however I imagine most of my learning will be done once I’m there and immersed in the culture. One of my coaches growing up (Nate Doornekamp) played in Germany as well as an alumnus of Queen’s that I have spoken to briefly. Everyone I have spoken to about playing in Germany has said great things about the basketball as well as the country itself so I am looking forward to this opportunity. 

Head coach Doug Spradley is really high on your abilities. What was the deciding factor that made you want to start your rookie season with the Tigers Tuebingen?

I wouldn’t say any one thing was a deciding factor, I think Tuebingen was an ideal location to start my career for many reasons. Speaking with coach Spradley certainly helped me make my decision as I had a conversation with coach Spradley and I believe our values lined up very well. I have only heard great things about coach Spradley and he has an impressive coaching résumé so I’m excited to be able to play for him.

You will be teaming up with German Sven Stammberger who you dueled once in a pre season game in 2017 which you won. He put up 29 points and you flirted with a triple double. Sven stated nice things about you. What does it mean for you to be teammates with the talented German?

Sven is a very talented player and his career in Canada speaks for itself as he attained a great deal of success. I am very excited to play alongside him as I always respected the way he played and his talent. However, I’m also excited for the impact that having another Canadian University player will have off the court. Moving to another country will be quite a shock for me as I’ve lived in Canada my whole life. Although I’m looking forward to embracing another culture it will be nice to know that Sven will relate to my situation as well.

Let´s talk about your game. You’re a very versatile 201cm forward that can fill up the stat sheet with ease. If you had to describe your game to an NBA player who would best fit that description?

If I had to pick one NBA player to compare my game to, I would have to pick Larry Bird. He was a versatile forward who could shoot, pass, rebound and defend very well. I think there are a lot of similarities between the way we play. I also look up to Larry Bird because he wasn’t the most athletic player by any means, but he is still one of the greatest players to ever play. I know I’m not the most athletic player but if I can use IQ and skill to my advantage than perhaps, I could take after Larry.  

What stands out quickly is that you a very good rebounder for 201cm. You really broke out in your second season at Queen´s with 7,3rpg. What has been your secret to being such a consistent and strong rebounder in Canada?

I have to give credit to my basketball and strength coaches at Queen’s. I came into Queen’s at 17 years old weighing 185lbs. With the help of the strength coaches at Queen’s I was able to gain nearly 40 lbs over my career. The strength and power that they helped develop has helped me in my rebounding. In addition, my basketball coaches really stressed how important possession of the ball is and there’s only two ways to gain or lose possession; turnovers and rebounding. I think my improvement in rebounding is also largely due to my coaches priority on rebounding.

You have been a solid three point shooter in Canada and shot 40% one time. Is there any thing special or different thing you will be doing this summer to continue to grow as a shooter?

I don’t plan on doing anything special. I have been, and plan on continuing, to take a lot of shots this summer. I’ve taken more shots this summer than I’ve ever taken before in this time frame. I want to be the best shooter I can be when I arrive in Germany.

You belong to the top shot blockers in Canada in the last three years. How do you feel did your defensive game grow in the last three years and do you feel like you can be that defensive stopper as a professional rookie?

I have always had good instincts for timing when to block an opposing player’s shot. However, I feel I was able to be one of the top shot blockers in USports because my defensive IQ grew while playing for coach Barrie at Queen’s allowing me to anticipate help-side blocks faster and know when to jump vs when not to. In addition, my development with the strength and conditioning staff at Queen’s also improved my athletic capabilities, which always helps when blocking shots.

I feel that my shot blocking may decrease at the professional level as the athleticism, knowledge, size and skill of my opponents will be higher, making it harder to block shots. However, I believe I will still be able to alter shots at the rim so although It may not get tracked on the scoresheet, I believe my defensive instincts as well as my development at Queen’s will still be valuable.  


You had a stellar 5 year career at Queens University. How would you sum up your career there and how do you feel did you profit most from having this experience?

I find it hard to sum up my own career, but I hope that my career as seen as an important in changing the culture of Queen’s Basketball. Before I came to Queen’s the team was consistently one of the worst teams in the league. With the guidance of Steph Barrie the program has now consistently been a top team in the best league in Canadian University basketball. I hope moving forward that the program can advance to be an elite team in Canada and that my career will have been a positive contribution to that process. I feel as though the most valuable aspect of my time at Queen’s was teaching me to be the best version of myself in all aspects of life. As this message was emphasized throughout the University and the athletics department.

You don´t only excel on the court, but were an ace in the classroom getting the Ken Shields award, but you also spent a lot of time volunteering for organizations such as Revved Up, which helps individuals with physical and mental challenges. Do you feel that your character would be what it is today had you not had this five-year experience at Queens?

My parents raised me exceptionally well and are people of amazing character. So, I believe they fostered me such that my character entering University was very high. For the most part my experience at Queen’s emphasized and prioritized the same messages my parents had instilled in me. During university I was more independent and was able to act more on these principles. So I think my character would be similar but Queen’s allowed me to improve and explore new opportunities. 

You really put up consistent stats, but your career wasn´t always great at Queens. There was a point where you were putting to much pressure on yourself as you were thinking too much about the future than the task at hand. How did head coach Steph Barrie guide you back to reality?

In my last year I was injured in the first game of the season. When I returned, I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted to. I’ve always placed a lot of pressure on myself to be successful, so this was difficult for me. I knew I wanted to play professionally after the season, and I kept thinking I wouldn’t be able to if I continued to play poorly. This made me play even worse and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore because playing was a stressor. Steph saw this was happening and we had multiple conversations about changing my mindset to return to playing for the joy of playing in the moment rather than the pressure of performing for the future. Steph gave me a book to read called ‘The Mindful Athlete’ by George Mumford. This book really emphasized the importance of staying in the moment and clearing your mind. This book as well as the conversations with Steph helped me turn my season around and enjoy my last season to a much greater degree.

You played together with brother Jesse for five years at Queens. You guys are best friends which can´t be said for all brothers. How vital was it having him as a teammate and brother and what do you remember being the most important experience you had with him in school?

My brother Jesse is my best friend and probably the most influential person in my life. I’ve been by his side for my entire life. I can’t remember a single experience as being the most important, I feel like just being around Jesse so often has been an important experience simply because his character and nature is so positive that just being around him has made me a better person. I will miss him while I’m Germany but we’ll be close no matter what.    

As a freshman you played against the great school Carleton. What memories do you have of playing then against the incredible Philipp Scrubb who has carved a nice professional career for himself?

When I played against Phil Scrubb I was a young player in the league and was amazed by what he was capable of. All I remember is that it seemed like he never missed.  

You had many great games at Queens, but was your 32 point and 10 rebound game against Mcmaster in the 88-80 win one of your most memorable games?

I wouldn’t say this game stands out as one of my most memorable games. Statistically it may be the best game of my career. However, my most memorable games came down to game-winning shots. In my 1st year my teammate Sukhpreet Singh hit a game-winning buzzer-beating shot. In my second year we lost in the playoffs on a game-winning shot. My teammate Jaz Bains hit a game-winning buzzer beater in my fourth year. Finally, I was able to hit a game winning shot in my second last game of my career in playoffs. Those games are more memorable to me as the emotions in these moments are incredible 

You stated that it takes a village to raise a child. How vital was head coach Steph Barrie in grooming and preparing you best for a professional basketball career?

Steph was an amazing coach over my career at Queen’s and he will continue to be a role model in my life as I move forward. I owe a lot of my development as a player to Steph. I started my career at Queen’s strictly as a shooter. Steph was able to mentor and motivate me to expand my game into a well-rounded player. He also worked with me on my mental state while playing which may have been just as important as the skill development. Without Steph I don’t think I’d be in the position I am as a basketball player. However, more importantly than my development as a basketball player, Steph fostered my development as a man. Throughout my career Steph always used basketball to teach life lessons such as being grateful and the importance of GRIT in achieving your goals. Steph was not only vital in preparing me for a professional basketball career, he was vital in preparing me for everything as these lessons are applicable to all aspects of life. These aspects of Steph’s mentoring are more important to me than my development as a basketball player only.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Jesse?

Growing up Jesse won every game as he was 2 years older than me. However, at Queen’s once we were both mature it depended on what type of game we were playing. If we were playing in the post, he would win most of the time. If we played from outside the 3 then I’d say I won most of those games.

Who was the toughest player that you battled in Canada that reached the NBA or is in Europe now?

I’ve played against a lot of great players in Canada that are playing in Europe now. I would say that the Scrubb brothers (Phil and Tom) were extremely tough as they were relentless, and their demeanor was so focused and almost robotic. Manny Diressa is another player I think of as he was an amazing scorer and basically single-handedly eliminated my team from playoffs in my fourth year.  

Please name your NBA Rushmore with 4 heads past or present.

Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?

When I was growing up my brothers and I would argue over these debates for hours at a time. I learned from this that there is no point to arguing over these debates. I choose to simply respect both players for their greatness and not even try to engage in this debate because there will never be a conclusive and satisfying end. Both are amazing and I’m just glad I was able to watch Lebron during his prime, I imagine it was a similar experience for those who were able to watch Jordan.

What was the last movie that you saw?

I believe the last movie I saw was a horror movie called hereditary, easily one of the weirdest movies I’ve seen!

Thanks Tanner for the chat.