Kassius Robertson is a 24 year old 191cm guard that was born in Toronto, Canada and is playing his rookie season overseas with medi Bayreuth. He began his basketballcareer at Thornlea Secondary School and then played at Canisius (NCAA) from 2014-2017 playing a total of 99 NCAA games. He played his senior season at Missouri (NCAA) playing 33 games averaging 16.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 40.5%, 3PT: 43.2%,FT: 79.5%. Currently medi Bayreuth is celebrating a 8 game winning streak and belongs to the hottest teams in the easyCredit BBL. The Canadian is averaging 11,3ppg,1,7rpg and 2,6apg while shooting 43,3% from outside in the BBL. In the Basketball Champions League he is averaging 10,3ppg, 1,7rpg and 1,9apg and shooting a blistering 51,3% from outside. A few days ago he hit Turkish powerhouse Besiktas with 31 points in a huge 91-74 victory. He spoke to germanhoops.com two weeks ago about his basketball career.
Kassius thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Welcome to Germany. You have been in Germany a few months now. What has impressed you most about the German culture?
I´m not really sure. Nothing has really impressed me. Everything is 100% different from home. The biggest difference here is that everything is strict. Everybody follows rules in Germany. You have to make appointments here and there are no walk ins. They go by book.
I have a extraordinary name with Miles and so do you with Kassius. Muhammed Ali´s first name was also Cassius, but was spelled with a C. How did you get this special name and how did you do in school with the other kids concerning it´s variety?
My mom named me after Ali, but changed the C to a K. I was never bullied in school by the other kids. Not many knew that Clay became Ali. Now everyone calls me Kass.
You are playing your rookie season with medi Bayreuth. What kind of experience has it been for you in the early going and what has been the most difficult transition for you coming from the NCAA?
It has been a transition for me playing with a new team. Playing the pro game is a lot different from the NCAA. It just takes time adjusting to a new team and system. The mindset of the players and coach is a lot different here. Obviously guys that have been here longer are more accustomed to everything. I had a slow start, but I never got down on myself. I knew it would be a process. Last season I was playing around 35 minutes a game and this season it´s around 20-25 minutes. I have a different role.
You had a big leadership role last season with Missouri(NCAA), but with medi Bayreuth are a rookie with many veterans. What kind of role do you have this season and do you see yourself being able to become an impact player already as a rookie?
My role with medi Bayreuth is to be a team player as much as possible and being able to contribute as much as possible. I´m a good outside shooter and a pretty good defender. I feel that I´m an improved passer. I understand that as a rookie I´m allowed to make mistakes. I need to be patient with my game and just take it game by game. I see myself being an impact player in the BBL. I just need to be patient. If it happens in the next three games or at the end of the season, I will be happy whenever it happens.
Medi Bayreuth have already had their ups and downs and have found themselves. There was talk that coach Kroner might release players, but he stuck with his gut feeling. What happened in the last weeks where the team finally started winning and being consistent?
We haven´t changed anything in the winning streak, but did what we have been doing from the start of the season. We just needed time to find ourselves and not continue to make the same mistakes and just improve. We started getting contributions from multiple guys.
A big strength of medi Bayreuth the last two seasons under head coach Raoul Korner has been their team chemistry and the players doing one role very good. What kind of team can medi Bayreuth become this season on the court?
We can stand up withanyone in the league. I think that we can become a very good team. The onlyteam that really beat us bad this season was Alba Berlin. We showed against therest that we were the better team or could of beat them. We had collapses insome games that cost us. I think that if we can continue to keep the defensiveidentity that we have now, we can be a very good team. I honestly think that wecan be up with the four best teams in the BBL.
A big time player for medi Bayreuth is ex NBA player Adonis Thomas. Is he one of those guys where you have picked his brain about basketball and life? He seems like one of those players where when he speaks, you listen?
Adonis is a cool dude. I´m very close with him. We understand each other well. He has been overseas for a few years now. He has been through a lot and drops some gems every now and then and I listen when he talks about his experiences here. We really will need him to be at his best for us to be at our best.
One of the big energy guys in the turn around has been Hassan Martin who had an amazing 8 blocks in Frankfurt. Do you ever remember seeing such a great defensive performance in your career?
I have played with many very good players, but he is probably the best shot blocker that I have ever played with. He is young and super talented as has played really well for us. Hassan has been our rock. He has been our most consistent player because he is so athletically dominant. I haven´t seen anyone as athletic as him here. He times his blocks so well and even when he has to stay out of foul trouble, he can still impact a game at both ends of the court. As soon as he has a little space, he will dunk it. He has great intangibles down low. If your man gets a step on you, he will always be there to protect you. He will have a great career.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You’re a 191cm shooting guard that is known as a very good shooter, but also have many other fine attributes to your game. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit that description?
There are a few. My favorite player now is Steph Curry. But when I was growing up surprisingly my favorite player was Austin Rivers. When I was in high school, the hype around him was crazy. I watched his mix tapes for hours and hours. I loved his hesitation crosses and tried to copy him. He didn´t turn out to be as good of an NBA player like I thought he would. I feel that I´m a better shooter than him. I would compare my catch and shooting to a Klay Thompson.
You’re a very good shooter, but what other strengths does your game encompass where nobody would ever get the idea that you’re a one dimensional player?
I think that I have a good package of finishing. I haven´t showed it too much yet, but it will come. I think that I have a good floater. I think my ball screen game is good with getting the shot off, making the pass and reading the defense
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet with ease, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away in your game?
My passing for sure. I think that they count assists more easy in the BBL than in the NCAA. I feel like I could get a double double with 10 assists. I think that when my shot isn´t dropping that my passing then is very underrated.
You eclipsed the 40% mark from outside your last two seasons in the NCAA. What are the basic things that you are working on daily so that you can continue to be a very good shooter at the professional level?
It is the same thing now as it was in collegeand high school. Just making sure that my shooting fundamentals are in check. Ithink that the best way for me to get my shots off is understanding the offenseand teammates. Knowing where and when I can shoot is key
You have a lot more scoring weapons now than you had at Missouri. Has shot selection and patience been tough getting used to at the professional level coupled with the different style compared to the NCAA?
I was the number one scoring option there and everybody found me. This season it is different. My teammates do a good job finding me for the open shot, but when we need a basket, then they don´t go to me. It has been an adjustment this season with being patient and not forcing anything. There have been some games this season where I only got 2-3 shots. Last season at Missouri I averaged something like 11 shots per game.
You started your NCAA career at Canisius (NCAA) playing 99 NCAA games form 2014-2017 and improved your scoring, rebounding and assists each season. How do you feel did your game develop best here from day one until the day you left after your junior season?
I became a better shooter each season because I worked on my shot very much. I became an overall better shooter at Canisius. My role as a freshman is similar to my role this season in terms of shooting. Having a new team and role. I think that I will be that impact player when I get the minutes and added experience.
In your junior season at Canisius(NCAA) you lost 93-69 to top NCAA powerhouse Kentucky(NCAA). What kind of experience was it playing against future NBA players Fox, Briscoe and Monk?
Playing against Kentucky and those guys was awesome. I loved it. That was the reason why I wanted to transfer to a school like Missouri. I wanted to play in that type of environment and against the best players every night. I never played against guys considered for the NBA in the MAC conference.
What kind of experience was it playing for legendary coach Jim Baron. Do you remember hearing stories about their sons who are professional players in Europe?
I played a season with his son Billy Baron. He is playing in Croatia this season and has had a good career overseas. I have worked out with Billy the last summers in Buffalo. I have to thank coach Baron for everything, because he was the first guy that gave me a chance at the division one level. I will always appreciate him for that. He was a very tough coach. He gave me the right impression about how hard I have to work. He taught me that I need to be tough to get to the next level. He just let me play my game as long as I played defense.
You held your own against those future NBA players netting 16 points against Kentucky. When you look back at that game and where your play was and compare it to where it is now after your season with Missouri(NCAA) would you say that there is so much difference between those guys and you in terms of skill level?
At first yes. I might have scored 16 points, but I also took 16 shots. I missed a lot that night. You really get hyped up in your mind when playing against a top team like Kentucky. But when I was at Missouri and played against Kentucky again, I didn´t feel that there was any difference in skill level between me and those guys. Athletically they were at a different level than me, but skill wise I was either at their level or superior.
After making the jump from Canisius to Missouri you need no adjustment period. How tough was the situation having to jump in for Michael Porter Jr right away and have to be a leader?
It was very tough at first. He was a cool dude.We bonded very well in the early going. I was so excited to play with him. Wehad been playing together a few months that summer. He was an amazing playerlike a baby Kevin Durant. He beat me at 1-1 every time. He was our number oneoffensive option and every play would go through him. But then he was injured.What now? I was the oldest on the team and I naturally stepped up. I think thatmy teammates really respected my work ethic. When I spoke, they listened. Myskill spoke for it´s self and I tried to be the guy in crunch-time. After awhile we had success and our team chemistry was good. Everybody felt thateverybody wanted to win and all went along.
Did you feel a bit disappointed that despite taking over the leadership role from Porter JR and having very good stats as a senior that there wasn´t more interest from NBA teams?
I was disappointed at first. I felt like even if there had been more interest from the NBA, I still didn´t feel ready. I feel like I need 1-2 more years at playing at the professional level. I need to get my body right and learn the pro game. I feel like I need to become a combo guard, better passer and become a better shooter off the dribble. My goal is the NBA, but my real goal is becoming the best player I can be
How great was it beating Kentucky once with Missouri where you steered home 16 times. You scored 26 points in the second game despite the loss. Was the win your most memorable in the NCAA?
No it wasn´t. I had other games that were more memorable. Winning at Alabama was one of my most memorable wins in the NCAA: Another memorable win was in my junior year at Canisius where we won at St Bonaventure in OT. That win was huge. Another big game was my freshman year where we beat Quinnipiac. I hit a game winner. I hadn´t been playing well that season, but I came up big in that game.
How did head coach Cuonzo Martin give you that last touch in helping groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Martin goes down as my favorite coach of all-time. He was a good person off the court. He is wise and very knowledgeable and has been through a lot. He was a very tough coach. He was defensive minded and instilled me in being a defensive leader on the court. I already had a good work ethic coming to Missouri, but he helped it become even better. He taught to be a good player on the court and person off the court.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jordan Geist?
Me. Jordan was a tough player, but I´m winning that battle.
You played against so many incredible players in the NCAA, but who was the toughest player you battled that is in the NBA now?
There are a few. Deaaron Fox was incredibly quick and when he was going full court was almost impossible to stop. The second would be fellow Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who plays for the Clippers. He isn´t the best shooter, but an amazing passer and can always get to the rim with his hesitation. He is really hard to guard
If you had to pick your all-time best starting five of teammates who would you pick?
Billy Baron at the 1. Me at the 2. Michael Porter Jr at the 3. Jontay Porter at the 4 and Hassan Martin at the 5.
When you were at Vaughn secondary school you played together with freak athlete Andrew Wiggins. What do you remember from his game and how good was he already as a kid?
I remember a lot about him. He was so athleticand just super gifted. His moves and spins around the rim was crazy for a tenthgrader. He dominated at that level to the point where it was too easy for him.I remember him dunking over 3 guys. His shot then wasn´t nearly as good as itis now. I played only a year with him, but we went something like 41-1 and won30 in a row. He was a special talent.
If you had to pick your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry and Lebron James.
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
That debate is terrible. You can´t exclude Kobe Bryant. If I had to choose then Michael Jordan 100%.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Operation Finale on Netflix.
Thanks Kass for the chat.