Joey Jenkins Witnessed How Scrupulous People Realize You Love Basketball Far More Than You Love Money

Joey Jenkins is a 33 year old 198cm forward that has waited a long time to get to Europe which he did in 2014 playing for the Westfallen Mustangs of the Oberliga and Paderborn and continued to playin Italy and for the Missouri Quake (CBDL). He played college basketball with Evangel University (NAIA) and Oklahoma Wesleyan (NAIA). As a professional he has played in the minor leagues in the States with teams like the Gastonia Gamers (WBA) or Springfield Thrill (UBL). In an unreleased interview in 2015 the American told his fascinating story to German Hoops about his basketball life in 2015.

 

Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?

I am back in Springfield, Missouri for the moment after just returning from Germany a couple weeks ago. I came into the summer season very hopeful and optimistic about getting picked up by a club in Europe, mainly because of all the hard work I have put in and now with some experience in Europe the last few seasons, I feel my game is well-suited for the European style of play regardless of what position I play.

I always think I have heard it all when I hear the newest Cinderella story, but when hearing your story it seems like you have taken the Cinderella story to a new dimension. How often do you ask yourself why me why me? Why has my life have to have been so difficult?

I try not to ask myself why, rather just understand certain things are going to happen in life that are out of my control. How I respond to these circumstances is what determines my future. Feeling sorry for myself will not get me anywhere. Looking back, I have adopted the motto of the National championship team I was on in 2009, which was, “For His Glory”. People have been doubting me my entire life, especially after they found out I had certain disabilities (around age 8 ), but that is exactly why God allowed me to carry these burdens my entire life, because He (Christ) knew when I accomplished my goals in life, there would be no other explanation except, “It is a miracle from God that Joey was able to achieve this. He could not have done it without God’s help. There is absolutely no other way.” That is why I am proud to give my Savior 100% of the Glory. I promised God years ago I would dedicate my life to serving Him. I was always in prayer, asking Him if I could do what I loved for a living. Somehow it was my understanding that God wanted me to do everything possible to achieve my dream, despite the circumstances and the temporary pain of past failures. After knowing I had given 110%, even when the task at hand seemed impossible, He would quietly whisper, “Trust Me”. And now, I am blessed to be able to serve Him on and off the court to further His kingdom. Many times we ask ourselves, “Why is this happening to me?”, But I have learned it’s a maturation process. It is all about faith, knowing when there is an impossible task, and no earthly way out, God is right there in the middle of the storm. All we have to do is trust Him. But giving up just proves how much we underestimate God’s awesome power to bless us when we need it the most. There is a reason God does not give away the ending of his plan before the story unfolds if he did we would not need to trust Him, because that is what faith is all about.

Probably the most interesting part of my recent testimony is I was offered a job in Italy playing for G. S. Robur Basket in Serie C. Just before I sent in my testimony, problems started to arise with me being able to come to that team. But I felt God telling me to go ahead and send in the interview knowing I might not be playing basketball this season. The reason was I truly believed people needed to hear what God has done for me, even if it did not end the way I had imagined. But that is just the amazing thing about God. If you continue to put your trust in Him, ultimately He promises you will be rewarded for your loyalty. During the last couple nights that I was unsure of my immediate future, I would spend hours on my knees pleading with God to let me play professionally this season. Just before my original testimony went viral, I was contacted by my agent, who found me an even better situation in the same league, now playing for Ghepard Mister Auto Bologna. God’s grace and mercy continues to reaffirm my belief that prayer truly does change things. God really had listened to me, and because of my faith and determination to keep asking Him to allow me to play basketball, I was rewarded with yet another second chance at playing basketball, and again I was reminded of what happens when you give God the glory.

If you dedicate everything you have to God, He will bless you beyond your wildest dreams. That is truly the life I am living now. You simply cannot out-give God! The more you sacrifice to Him, the more He blesses you, times 100. It is a win-win. You get to open up your life and allow God to bless you, meanwhile, God gets the glory for doing the miraculous in your life, simply because you trust Him. Many athletes, or people in general, work themselves to death, with little or nothing to show for it, all because they’re doing it by themselves. In reality, if they would dedicate everything they do to a higher power, they would not need to promote themselves for the work they have allowed to consume their lives, thus only reaping minimal benefits. I really was prepared to offer God 100% of the praise for a dream I was totally unsure even existed, and for that, I was more than blessed.

You have a very interesting basketball story as you have fought against the odds as you have Tourette’s Syndrome and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), along with many other psychological disorders including depression and ADHD. Have you ever thought of writing a book or giving your story to a film maker?

YES! Haha. I look around and realize this world is all about second chances. And everybody loves an underdog. It is not that I want people to feel sorry for me because of my disorders or label me a victim. I want to be seen as overcoming these obstacles in my life. Because of my testimony, I would definitely be interested in having my life played out through a book or a motion picture on the big screen. The only reason I haven’t done it yet is because I have a strong belief that my career is not over, and that the best is yet to come.

With all these disorders that you have, how much does it affect you on a daily basis and has it gotten better or worse over the years?

Every second I am awake I am reminded of things I cannot control, things I must do, which I can´t explain things that hurt my body. I cannot walk through a crowd of people in public without being publicly humiliated and laughed at by people that have no clue what Tourette’s syndrome and OCD are. Most people think I am on drugs. It affects every single thing I do – except play basketball. That is why I enjoy spending so many countless hours in the gym by myself. It is on the court I am not bothered by the Tourette’s, the tics, the obsessive-compulsive disorder, the anxiety, or the depression. Basketball gives me hope. Basketball gives me freedom. Basketball gives me a future. These conditions, however, when I am not playing may increase or decrease in severity without any noticeable warning. Stress also plays a big role in determining how bad the tics are and how often they come. The medicines I take help a great deal, as long as I have access to all of my prescriptions.

You never played high school basketball simply because you couldn´t maintain the academic requirements and didn´t start to play college ball until 21. How difficult was it making this decision when you probably had many doubters not giving you the chance to succeed?

I actually did not make a college basketball team until I was 25 years old. Going through college trying to make the basketball team was very discouraging, and my academic performance suffered just because of my depression from being rejected over and over. I was not social with friends, I did not go out and enjoy myself like a normal college student. I had severe mood swings, my weight fluctuated, and I stopped eating normally for months at a time. I spent long hours in my dorm room alone crying myself to sleep at night because I did not want to let people know how weak I had become. But giving up was never an option. Michael Jordan said it best. “I can accept failure. I can’t accept not trying.”

Was getting your high school diploma in 2002 kind of a sign and motivation for you that anything was possible even pursuing basketball in college and as hard as it might be later as a professional?

Not even close! When I received my diploma in 2002, I was in a bad situation in my life. I had no direction and I was just going through the motions happy to be finished with summer school. I had no plans, no college offers or acceptances, and having a thought of a successful future anywhere in basketball was absolutely ludicrous, given my past ability to succeed at things. I was always a late bloomer, but this was far too extreme for everyone else in my family. At that point in my life, I would have been lucky if I did a decent job in the fast food industry.

You didn´t have the best experience at Evangel University. There you were cut by your own uncle three times in two years. After a horrible experience like that what motivated you this time to keep grinding away and wanting and having the desire to play basketball?

Honestly not a lot of people know this about me. But during the summer of 2008, after I had gotten cut the last time, I was living close to some football players at Evangel that had seen me play before and also helped train me in the offseason. One night they asked me where I was playing at next year, and I said I was going to come back to Evangel. They quickly stopped me and let me know that they had heard otherwise, and I confirmed that I had been cut, and there would be no more second chances for me at EU. I was quickly humbled by the realization that I no longer had a place in college playing basketball. I agreed with them and told them about my passion and burning desire to play at the collegiate level. They told me it was simple. Go somewhere! Anywhere! And do what you love. They told me not to let anyone tell me I wasn’t good enough after I had given 110%. They said go to any school you want that will let you play basketball, and prove everyone wrong! That night I got on the Internet and formally applied to over 30 schools in the area. Everyone of them respectfully declined except one. Oklahoma Wesleyan University. The same exact school in my hometown I went to in 2005-2006, where I was denied a try out by the former head coach. Then, the new head coach that just happened to be a very close friend of my uncle, running things put me on the Junior Varsity squad, and told me I had earned a spot on the varsity roster as well. It was an interesting experience transferring back to the school in my hometown where I had started from. But the result was poetic justice at its finest.

You then played at Oklahoma Wesleyan (NAIA) and luck having it you won the MCAC and NCAA 2 tournament having a 35-2 record. Was Donnie Bostwick like your special angel that pretty much gave you your last chance?

Everything happens for a reason. It sounds cliché but it is true. God sent Coach Bostwick there just one year before I arrived. If you ask Donnie Bostwick, he would agree, God gets all the glory here. It was God’s plan that everything worked out the way it did, after being cut 3 times in 2 years by my uncle, who was the head men’s basketball coach at Evangel University. So when it came time for us to play Evangel that year, there was a lot on the line, mainly for us, more specifically me. My teammates all told me before the game not to worry, because they were going to go out and help me prove my uncle wrong. We came into a hostile environment at Evangel and walked out triumphant.

What will always be your sweetest memory winning the 2009 NCAA 2 tournament with Oklahoma Wesleyan (NAIA)? NAIA D-II

Spending time with my teammates, and learning so much about the game from (then) head coach Donnie Bostwick. Ultimately proving everyone wrong that said I could not play at the collegiate level, especially the people closest to me, even family.

How glad were you that you returned back to Evangel University to get your degree? How difficult was it putting basketball on the back burner for a while?

To be honest, now that I look back on it, I wish I would have stayed at Oklahoma Weslyan University, because we had a great team the year we won the championship and the next year when I returned to Evangel, they made it all the way back to the final four in the national tournament. I would have really liked the opportunity to make a difference in the outcome of that season for Oklahoma Weslyan, knowing I was going to have a bigger role on the team the next year. Returning to Evangel was not that difficult. In my mind I thought I was walking away on top. At the time, I did not look at it as temporary. I thought I was completely finished playing competitively. But when you are passionate about something, it is not something you can just put aside for a period of your life, even if you do not realize how passionate you truly are about it.

After college you played in the minor leagues in the states in leagues like the ABA, the UBL, and the WBA. It is here that you were teammates with Milen Brown. He also has been fighting the odds, but will play in Germany this season. Do guys like you develop a special bond over time just through the experiences that you have gone through?

Milen is a great guy, a hard worker, and a tremendous player that will do well in Germany. During our season together in Springfield Missouri, we had many talented players on the team, but they were not willing to fail at something as wild as playing professionally overseas. The two of us knew that about each other, unfortunately so did the other guys on the club. They absolutely hated us because they believed we thought we were better than them, when in reality we just knew we had something special knowing we were not just playing glorified pick up ball. It was a chance to prove ourselves. The 2 of us truly believed that. Just look at both of our social media outlets. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts are all filled with positive, motivational, and uplifting things that remind us of what’s inside of people that think like we do. We knew both of us were putting in the extra hours of work while the other guys were partying all the time. When it came time to play, there was a lot of animosity. One practice ended in a fist fight because Milen was taking guys to school and they weren’t happy about it so they made sure he was a bloody mess by the time we walked out of the gym. But Milen and I stuck together knowing we had a real sense of direction and purpose in our lives. That is why those other guys are really quiet right now when they see us succeeding.

How important was it getting selected to Team USA Select European Tour Team Played in the United Kingdom. You scored 31 points against Leeds. Do you feel that got you through the door in Europe?

It was very important. There are many things you have to prove to different people in this life. Scoring 31 points in the second half that night on tour was not one of them. That was something I had to prove to myself. The funny thing is before the game that day I told all my teammates I was going to go out and get 40. We had a full roster that night, and I had no points going in to halftime. Our coach put me in during the third quarter. There were no cameras there, only the people in the gymnasium. But it gave me a real sense of hope as to what I could accomplish in the future. My teammates were great. After the first three pointer went in, all they wanted to do was pass me the ball.

Did you get some advice from former teammate Steve Briggs about Germany? He had played for Wulfen and Muenster the last years?

Steve is the best basketball player I have ever seen. Keep in mind, I have been given the responsibility of guarding guys that play for the UK National team, and even in the Olympics for Great Britain. With that being said, he is an even better person and friend then he is a basketball player. Ever since our championship run in 2008-2009 he has been my best friend because he treats everyone the way he wants to be treated. You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat people they don’t need in their life. Briggs is a perfect example of this. I can think of countless others who are examples of this for all the wrong reasons. Steve has always been supportive of me, even when I was not using good judgement. We did not always agree on everything, but that is not what best friends do. They just see the best in one another. Aside from telling me the ins and outs of the business, Briggs has taught me a lot about how to handle things in a game. I remember one game of the national tournament in 2009. One of the guys on the other team was trash talking to Steve and eventually gave Briggs a bloody lip. Steve was always a quiet guy. He did not say much unless something needed to be said. He always led by example, and used words when necessary. Directly after the bloody lip in the game, Briggs went off for 27 points in the first half. He taught me a lot about how to act as a professional while he was still in college winning multiple national championships. He was, and will always be, a class act.

In 2014 you came to Germany to play for the Westfalen Mustangs Germany Landesliga that achieved Germany’s Longest Winning Streak in any Sport (72-0). 1 of 6 Import Players on the Team where you led the Team in Steals, Free-Throws Made, Free-Throw Percentage, Three Point Field-Goals Made, Three Point Field-Goal Percentage Averaged Over 5 Made 3 Pointers per Game 19 points per game 8 rebounds per game 5 assists per game 3 steals per game. It looked all good, but then you got cut, because your disorder got in the way. Was that the whole truth or were there other issues with management?

There were, indeed, other problems with the management and his relationship with the players. He was not only the owner, but, at times, the Coach, and the starting point guard. The problem wasn’t necessarily with me, but with the other young big-name Americans that he promised would receive a salary. They never received what was promised to them. Hungry young players rush into a deal that looks too good to be true, with little or no guidance as to what they are getting themselves into. This is not uncommon at all in the low-level leagues around the globe. The United States is no different.

You then were contacted by a team just down the autobahn in Germany the Finke Baskets who play in 2nd Regionalliga only to be continuously mislead by their head coach and front office. With two bad experiences in Germany do you think you would give Germany a third chance if given?

Everywhere I go I learn something. The more I get familiar with this business the more I understand there are scam artists and predators out there willing to take advantage of young immature athletes with a little bit of money to offer. It is very important when someone promises you something to get it in writing and signed, as an official contract, and even then, as ridiculous as it may sound, that contract means nothing. As long as you are employed by that team, the owner, the coach, and the front office may treat you however they choose, despite what is in your contract. If I had a dollar for every time I heard of a contract not being withheld exactly, I would not have to play in Europe. I would probably own an NBA team. I realize there are good honest people everywhere in the world, just like there are honest teams and organizations everywhere, but if you are working your way up the basketball totem pole, starting from the bottom. For that they are willing to exploit you as much as they can. I always want to find the best in people, and maybe that makes me a little naïve, but I will always keep trying to play basketball regardless of the corruption in the business. I would go to Germany and play anytime if I truly believe I can trust the organization, and it always helps if they believe in me. Life is tough, and professional basketball is no different.

You then went home and soon after got a call from an owner in Italy who asked if I would consider playing in Serie C. Now at age 31, you seemed to have a contract and would be playing for Osimo G. S. Robur Basket in Italy with a salary. However the owner of the team in Osimo was having a lot of difficulty finalizing the deal, and just when it looked like you would not have a job you still trusted God. You got a second chance. Now you will be going to play in BolognaThe Joey Jenkins European ride continues. How thrilled are you about this new opportunity?

Words cannot explain how grateful and blessed I am to have this opportunity. The night I received the news from Italy, I went to sleep with tears of joy in my eyes. I am forever indebted to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ for allowing me to make it this far and have a chance to make a living doing what I love. I also have to thank my agent, Allesandro Ferracini, for his diligence and being patient with me, allowing God to use him to further my testimony. I also have to thank my new team, Ghepard Mister Auto Bologna. They really came through for me when I needed them. I look forward to allowing God to be able to use me to be a blessing back to them.There are many people that enjoy their jobs and “passionate” is a very big cliché these days that people use to describe something they like, not even love. So how many people do you know that can truly say they are passionate about getting to play a professional sport for a living?

How convenient that you will be playing in Italy since Pablo Prigioni is a kind of role model for you? Has he always been that or more that he made the NBA at 36 and also fought a bit against the odds, but made the NBA at the unbelievable age of 36?

Mainly because he did what many players cannot do at such a late age, which puts him and I in the same situation more or less. It also helps that he and I are both Italian, but mostly the fact that it is one of those one in a million odds type stories, and now he is successful in the NBA and proving his worth.

You still want to play 5 more years in Europe. What do you believe with be your biggest asset in Italy with your new team?

On the court, it would be my jump shot and my ability to shoot the basketball from anywhere on the court. I am absolutely lethal inside of half court. I always tell my teammates and the guy guarding me, “If you don’t block it, it’s going in.” I truly believe that every time I let it go. That is what has enabled me to be so successful as a player on the court. Off the court, I am very friendly to everyone, mainly because I have a great deal of respect for the people I come in contact with, without making them prove themselves or suggesting they have to earn my respect. I enjoy all kinds of people, and I am easy to get along with. I love trying new things in different cultures, such as food, customs, rituals, meeting girls, and I enjoy learning new languages wherever I go. It gives me a true sense of belonging and acceptance into that culture. You could live in United States and speak perfect English and never get that feeling. It is all about how you present yourself.

Where would Joey Jenkins be today without his faith in God?

In the ground. Not many people know this about me, but there was a time when I was young, where I tried to take my own life. God had other plans for me. He always does.

The late North Carolina State head coach Jim Valvanno said it best “Never give up. Never ever give up.” If you could have the chance to ask the legend one question what would it be?

During the 1982–1983 Championship season, whenever your team would lose focus or succumb to an injury, what was your thought process, and what steps did you take to correct the situation?

How does a summer work out day look like for you in the summer of 2015?

Aside from playing in the southwest Missouri Pro-Am twice every week, my daily routine is not what you would expect for a professional athlete, especially one of a younger age. In the mornings it is more common, mostly physical, including running, sprints, lifting weights, conditioning, and spending hours in the gym. After a meal, it is a bit different than other younger athletes who might be back in the gym or running up mountains of sand for the third time of the day. For me it is mostly mental at this point in my career. They say you need 10,000 hours of practice to perfect your craft. At age 31, I have been playing basketball for 30 years, so the practice is there, and I will always be fine-tuning my game, when I feel there are areas that must be worked on, but later in the day you will catch me watching film on certain aspects of my game and people like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Durant, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, or Kevin McHale. Why Kevin McHale you ask? His athletic ability was never great, In fact, it was subpar to say the least. But he was a scoring machine in the 1980’s for the Boston Celtics. He knew how to set screens, he understood the fundamentals of footwork in the post, and he played the game with a tremendous basketball IQ and sense of knowledge for the game. My attention to detail is something I pride myself on. So whenever I am working on something such as footwork with a ladder I do not allow myself to continue until it is done to perfection. Or when I am watching game film on myself, I get a pen and pad of paper and write down all my mistakes, and ways to correct them. Not only watching things that I could do better but things I can do to make my teammates better or putting myself in the position of a teammate asking myself, “What would I do if I was in his situation”. Even things as meticulous as approaching an official. There is a clear cut way to come across to a referee in this game. If I show him or her up in any way, whether it be by my words, my actions, or even a simple gesture such as rolling my eyes, I can expect a negative result, along with a pattern of calls against me to develop. On the other hand, if I approach the referee during a dead ball or time out slowly and calmly, without raising my voice or being disrespectful, and ask a question, he or she is very likely to give me his or her best interpretation of what they saw or what the rule is. Or if you ask them to watch something specifically, chances are they will be more than happy to keep an eye on it if it is in their area. I have really been pushing myself lately to support the referee on his or her decision regardless if I think he or she missed the call 100%. I will say something like, “Good call”, just to get on their good side and let them know I am not showing him or her up. Finally, after dinner, I usually start working on marketing myself to different teams around the globe by getting on the Internet, and making connections with different teams around the world to build my network of basketball relationships. This has helped me a great deal in terms of who I know and how they can help further my career in the business. I realize at this point in my career, I’m not putting in 12 hours of total workout time a day like I used to, but you have to constantly find ways of reinventing yourself because the game is evolving and you have to change with it.

What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?

LeBron has more God given talent than anyone that has ever played, but the facts are Jordan worked for everything he has ever received. Even if Lebron won 8 titles in his career, he will never be as iconic as Michael. MJ went to the finals 6 times, and won 6 times in dramatic fashion in a way that you could not even script any better than the story that unfolded in the 1990’s. He was also the finals MVP all 6 championships. He was the face of the Chicago dynasty. Lebron’s name will always be associated with his poor professional decision making skills, such as the first decision when he took his talents to South Beach, then when he captured his first title he brought Ray Allen to the team instead of building the team from the ground up like all the great dynasties of the past. Then when he realized he made a poor decision by going to Miami he wanted to please people and his critics so he went back to Cleveland. He is a very savvy business man, and that is why he is very wealthy. His business skills are to be commended, but his common sense and his professionalism throughout his entire career is to be questioned. If it is money he is after, then he has done a terrific job, but I remember him saying he wants to be remembered as the greatest basketball player ever. Going into a post game press conference and stating his opinion of himself as the greatest ever is far different than Michael Jordan going into a press conference humbly, then going out on the court and proving to the world he is the best there ever was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be. The thing is, as soon as he retired for the final time, everyone knew no one in history would ever go down as a better player who did it the way Michael did with so much class and charisma. If you look at all the guys trying to be like Michael Jordan, you still have to remember Jordan did it first, so you have to give credit where credit is due. MJ was not reinventing anyone. He was showing the world the epitome of a perfect basketball player. LeBron James threw that away arguably when he lost his first finals appearance, but for certain when he caused such a scene going to Miami. The bottom line is, actions speak louder than words. The last thing, Michael was never one to self-appoint himself as, “The Chosen One” or “King”. It was the best players in the league at his time that he had to prove himself against, such as Larry Bird that was quoted as saying, “Maybe it’s ‘God’ disguised as Michael Jordan.”.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Rocky IV

 

Thanks Joey for the chat.

 

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Justin Alston Brings Way More Than Just Refreshing Basketball Skills To Trier But A Very Keen Mind

Sometimes the beauty of where a basketball player is able to call his athletic and intellectual home for four years doesn´t change even when he moves on to the professional level. Not all players have that luxury of being able to go from class to class, from meal to meal and from practice to practice and have that combination of that urban feeling combined with that touch of nature that is lurking whenever one wants to forget about all the studying and exam stress coupled with the aches and pains of practice and just be able to get immersed with the bit of green that is present in Boston. Players that had to endure a 4 year stay at places like in the Bronx, New York where one can´t exactly feel comfortable with the nonending smell of filth or in other big cities like in Los Angeles with USC or Philadelphia with Temple didn´t have the grandeur of a Justin Alston who not only was able to taste the combination of city and nature for an extra year in that he had a university education for five years, but the beauty of his surroundings will continue as he embarks on his professional journey in Germany tonight. Alston played 5 years at Boston University from 2012-2017 and could be driving down Commonwealth avenue and witness the bustling student life on both sides of the street while always getting closer to the Prudential building which hovered on the horizon, but at the same time be a few minutes away from the pretty Charles river off Storrow Drive which is like a snake that weaves itself around the Boston area. Along the Charles river, the American could find a comfy spot and open a book while having a picturesque view of the Boston skyline while getting that last studying in for that next exam or just get lost for a few minutes with the next opponent Lehigh and try to figure out a way how to contain a Tim Kempton Jr well again. One could say his beauty of nature that he had in Boston will continue in his rookie season when he will be playing for the Romerstrom Gladiators in Trier.  Alston will call a city home that like Boston is enriched with unending traditional history and is even older than Boston as it was founded by the Celts in the last 4th century BC and belongs to the oldest cities in Germany. It doesn´t match the population of Boston as only 104,000 people reside there, but the beauty of the Mosel river on which the small city lies on will bring back memories of the Charles river. When driving down Paulin street for the first time and passes the historic and breathtaking Porta Negra, he will remember some of the old landmarks in Boston and feel right at home.

Alston is a 23 year old 203cm forward that hails from Washington DC and just finished his basketball career at Boston University. He will play his rookie season in the German Pro A which is the second division, but a very respected and growing league that has produced some very good talent over the years and helped guys make the next step. Alston will play for a very traditional team with the Romerstrom Gladiators that have once played in the top division in the German EasyCredit BBL then known as TBB trier and won two titles with the 1998 and 2001 cups. The American didn´t know much about German basketball other than it is highly respected and well known globally and got some positive feedback from ex UMass standout Ricyk Harris who has had a stellar career in Europe and played in Trier in the past. Alston also didn´t make the mistake of many young and fresh Americans waiting too long over the summer and signing, but rather not wasting any time and just going for that first opportunity, but also weighing on some deciding factors. “My family and agent were both very influential in my decision. Also by signing early in the summer it gives me a chance to be stress free about where I will be playing. It was an awesome experience, my agent really helped me understand what kind of things I should be looking for going into my first season, and the Gladiators were my first and only offer but their presentation and offer was very appealing.”, stressed Justin Alston.

Alston comes to Germany with the typical big man repertoire and is a player that can score and rebound on a regular basis, but do so much more. “I would describe my game as being an energy guy who will always be going to give you all I have every night and a guy who isn’t finished developing his game. I still have a lot more things that I need to improve in but that’s the beauty of my game I feel like I am an unfinished project willing to learn and work. And a guy right now in the league who I can compare myself too is Amir Johnson.”, stressed Justin Alston.  German basketball fans will also see some other appetizers in his game that he felt had been overlooked in the NCAA. “I believe my touch and ability to knock down open jump shots sometimes gets unnoticed as well as my ability to pass the ball from out of the post”, warned Justin Alston. He possessed a great instinct to be able to position himself well around the basket to get the rebound which is an underappreciated asset at the college level. The American knows what part of his game will aid him most in Germany at the Pro A level. “The part of my game which I see helping me at the next level will probably be my energy and willingness to go after every ball”, stressed Justin Alston. He lists Minnesota Timberwolf Karl Anthony Towns as his toughest opponent at the NCAA level and trained hard the last few months to continue to shape his game for the professional waters. However before the Washington DC native was able to sign on the dotted line and have that professional contract in his possession, he had to earn it and did that Boston University. He brings way more than just refreshing basketball skills to Trier, but a very keen mind.

Alston didn´t go the traditional route that most guys take going the normal 4 years, but an injury helped him stay an extra year as he got a medical redshirt and fifth year of eligibility which in turn also allowed him to not only get a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, but also a masters in project management something that is very rare for a player. On the court in 5 years, he was able to play a total of 114 NCAA games and thanks to a stellar fifth year was named to the All Patriot second team after averaging 12.0ppg, 6.0rpg, FGP: 57.1%, FT: 74.7%. He scored in double figures 19 times including two double doubles. He was able to improve his scoring stats each season and it was no surprise that he won the team´s most improved award three times. There are many memories that he will have especially from his senior year, but having that chance as a junior to battle top school Kentucky playing against future NBA players like the Harrison brothers, Devin Booker, Karl Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis, Tyler Lyes and Willy Cauley-Stein is something he can tell his grand children even if he lost 89-65. He remembers exactly which one of these guys was the toughest for Boston University to stop. “Devin Booker for sure because going into halftime we were down three points and then in the second half he probably made every three point shot he took”, added Justin Alston. In his senior season he will also remember his last game against Lehigh losing 91-88 in double OT and dueling Tim Kempton twice having his number once, but relinquishing 31 points in that fateful last game. “Years down the line I think I will just still remember how disappointed I was not to reach the NCAA tournament, but I will be thankful for the blessings and opportunities that BU has provided for my life.  Just as a competitor I want to win the matchups and win the game, but my motivation isn’t based of another person. I want to be the best that I can be and that’s what motivates me every day”, expressed Justin Alston.

To be extra successful on the court as a player, you need to have that special character which Alston has which in turn makes it easier to have those relationships work with your teammates as well as classmates. On the court as well as in the classroom, he had a very tight bond with Eric Fanning who like Alston also had that five year experience in school after being a freshman at Wagner(NCAA) and being in the masters program. Like Alston, Fanning will embark on a professional career this fall with Egis Kormend (Hungary-A Division). A Fanning was much more than just a friend for Alston. “Eric Fanning is my brother and we fought a lot, we argued a lot but when we both put our heads to one goal we really work well together on and off the court. I always remember his personality and you will not meet to many people like Eric he is one of a kind for sure”, stressed Justin Alston. So often one hears of how players move from school to school as rapidly as new Lebron haters surface after his newest NBA finals loss as more often than not it is the head coach that is the reason, but at Boston University the basketball team is like a family where love is a standard word when the name Joe Jones is mentioned. “Coach Jones is awesome. He is a great guy first before he is a coach to me. He has done so much for me over the years to help in my development as a player and person, I really appreciate him and his family for all their love and support over the years”, warned Justin Alston.

Alston who never lost a one on one in practice against Nick Havener, but stated that his unorthodox game wasn´t easy to defend brings those refreshing basketball skills to Trier, but also that keen mind. So many players find it very difficult to make the transition from professional basketball player to the real world. Often NBA players don´t have to go that way, but then again some do after losing their millions and all of a sudden stand in no man´s land and can´t get a job. For the normal professional playing overseas, they will have to enter the real world and Alston will be ready for that because Boston University will have prepared him in the best way. “Being able to receive my grad year, was one of the best experiences of my life. I had two goals which were to become the best player I could by staying in the gym every day and receiving my masters degree in a year. I was able to complete both of my goals with the help of my friends, coaches, and loving family”, said Justin Alston. Alston already has had experience in the work place during his studies at Boston University working at a Time Share company as well as doing marketing at school and after his professional basketball career would like to venture into consulting in construction or government. He is more than thankful that he could go the player and student route with Boston University. “Boston University has given me the blueprint on how to be successful in life in any field I choose to pursue. BU has provided me with a world class education with a Bachelors in hospitality and business management and a Masters degree in project management.”, warned Justin Alston. Before Alston who lists Lebron as second best of all-time after MJ and Tim Duncan as the best power forward ever could embark on his new adventure to Germany, he already had his brush with the NBA having a work out with the Boston Celtics in the spring time. Connections usually do the job in getting a gig like that, but contact or not, not every player can boast having played in front of an NBA team. “My workout with the Celtics was confirmation that God is always working on your behalf and prayer and hard work pays off. That is an experience which was unreal and something that I will be able to hold with me for the rest of my life. After the workout they told me I really held my own and I should continue working on developing my shot more and being able to handle the ball and I should have a bright future”, stressed Justin Alston. One thing is for sure when Alston is driving down Herzogenbuscher street in Trier and takes a right into the Trier arena for practice or a game, it won´t matter if he is chauffeuring head coach Marco Van Den Berg or veteran German guard Simon Schmitz, they will arrive content having heard his relevant NBA stories or simply his visions of how he will make a difference in the corporate world in the future.

Kavin Gilder-Tilbury (RheinStars) A Personal Goal This Season Will Be Breaking The 40 Percent Mark From Outside

Kavin Gilder-Tilbury is a 201cm forward from Houston, Texas that is starting his professional basketball career in Germany with the RheinStars Cologne. He played at Texas St. (NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 128 games and as a senior played 36 games averaging 15.9ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 58.8%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 65.7%. He spoke to German Hoops earlier in the summer about Basketball.

Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been? Did you do anything out of the ordinary this summer?

 I am currently in my home town Houston Texas. My summer has been good. I just been training all summer getting ready for the next level.

When you look back at your life, have there been more benefits to having the name Kavin than not? At least you have a unique name and it isn´t written Kevin which is a household name.

 I haven’t had any benefits for having the name. But I definitely been told it was unique and different.

Congrats on signing with Pro A team RheinStars Cologne. How did you experience your first summer testing the transfer market. Did you notice just how competitive it is when there are so many players trying to land a job somewhere in the world?

 It has been a new experience for me. I’ve been learning the process on how things go and what It takes to play at the next level. It’s all about working hard and waiting for an opportunity to present itself and also have the right people in your corner. That’s what I did to get to this point. It’s definitely been a competitive summer. Every work out or training session I’ve been to all the guys were competing making each other better which is the biggest goal.

What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Do you have any friends balling overseas?

 I don’t really know much about German basketball. I’ve been told there is some competition there and if I work hard I would have a chance to show my talents.

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Marcellus Barksdale Has Improved his Mental Focus So When He Gets Good Looks He Knocks Them Down

Marcellus Barksdale is a 24 year old 196cm guard from Lexington, Kentucky that recently completed his first professional season in Germany with TG s.Oliver Wuerzburg (Germany-ProB) averaging 17,0ppg, 6,0rpg and 3,3apg.He played at IUPUI (NCAA) form 2011-2016 playing a total of 131 NCAA games. As a senior he played 31 games averaging 8.7ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.6apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 73.1%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

Marcellus thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?

 I’m back home in Lexington, Kentucky. I’ve had a great summer spending time with my family and friends.

What was the coolist non basketball event that you did this summer that you hadn´t done before in your life?

I got the opportunity to fly to New York City this summer and work as a basketball choreographer for a basketball theatre musical called BOUNCE. It was by far the most random thing I’ve done in my life but I enjoyed working closely with talented actors and singers.

 It´s September and teams around the globe are slowly filled and you are still unsigned. After playing your rookie season you must be extremely hungry to keep the basketball journey going. How tough is it for you at the moment sitting at home and waiting by the phone?

Surprisingly, it all feels very similar to last year for me. Last year I didn’t sign until the end of September so it feels normal. I just have faith that the right opportunity will come soon.

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Dennis Clifford (Alba Berlin) Pat Heckmann Would Always Talk Trash Germany VS America

Dennis Clifford is a 25 year old 216cm center from Boston that is going into his second professional season and first in Germany with Alba Berlin. Last season as a rookie he played with the  Santa Cruz Warriors (D-League) playing 38 games averaging 11.9ppg, 8.1rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 59.2%, FT: 64.5%. He played at Boston College(NCAA) from 2011-2016 playing a total of 124 games and as a senior played  31 games averaging 9.9ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 9.1%, FT: 61.6%. He spoke to German Hoops earlier in the summer about Basketball.

Dennis thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?

At the moment I am in Boston. my summer has been great! I like being in Boston because that is where I workout and I also get to see my friends on the weekends.

Congrats on signing with top German team Alba Berlin. After a season in the D-League are you ready for a career in Europe or is the route back to the States and NBA still high on your list?

My dream ever since I picked up a basketball has always been to play in the NBA but having said that if the NBA doesn´t work out I would love to have a long and prosperous career in Germany.

You have signed with Germany´s second most winningest team Alba Berlin. What do you know about Germany and it´s basketball? Do you remember BC teammate Patrick Heckmann telling you about his homeland? 

I have heard that the German BBL is one of the best leagues in the world so I am very excited to be a part of it! Pat Heckmann was my roommate in college so we would always talk trash about Germany vs America. haha but on a serious note he has told me a lot about Germany- how the people are very kind and they love their basketball! He also said the BBL is a very competitive league and has a lot of great players

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Kevin Dillard (PAOK) I Have Always Played Well Against Euroleague Teams And Getting There Is A Reachable Goal For Me

Kevin Dillard is a 27 year old 183cm point guard from Chicago, Illinois that is playing his fifth professional season and first with PAOK Thessaloniki (Greece-A1). He started his basketball career at S Illinois in 2008 playing a total of 60 NCAA games. In 2010 he moved to Dayton and played 63 NCAA games in the period between 2011-2013 and as a senior played 31 games averaging 15.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 4.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 41.2%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 89.2%. He started his professional basketball career in 2013 with  Novipiu Casale Monferrato (Italy-DNA Gold) playing 29 games averaging 15.7ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 77.9%. In the 2014-2015 season he played with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL)  and in December 14 moved to Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA) playing 23 games averaging 11.8ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 47.9%, 3PT: 34.1%, FT: 78.9%. In the 2015-2016 season he started with Cholet Basket (France-ProA) and then moved to AS Apollon Patras (Greece-A1) playing 11 games averaging 18.6ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.0apg, 2FGP: 52.6%, 3FGP: 40.5%, FT: 89.7%, In Apr.’16 agreed terms with Port of Antwerp Giants (Belgium-Scooore League) playing 6 games averaging 16.2ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 88.9%. In the 2016-2017 season he started the season with Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir (Turkey-BSL) playing 9 games averaging 12.0ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.9apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 38.7%, 3FGP: 51.9%, FT: 81.8%; In the Basketball Champions League: he played 7 games averaging 7.6ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.7apg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 42.4%, 3FGP: 37.5%, FT: 77.8%, In Jan.’17 he moved to the  New Zealand Breakers (Australia-NBL) playing 9 games averaging 18.1ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.8apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 46.1%, 3FGP: 38.2%, FT: 85.7%, In Feb.’17 signed at Maccabi Ashdod (Israel-Winner League) playing 13 games averaging 8.1ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 58.8%. He spoke to German Hoops after the victory against Brose Bamberg in an exhibition meeting in Bayreuth.

Kevin thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. It’s only September, but already so cold in Germany something you haven´t seen the last weeks in Greece. Does this weather remind you back of home in Illinois?

The weather in Germany did remind me of home. When I got off the plane my fellow American teammates were saying that this weather was more like it. In Greece it is sometimes too hot.

Your playing your fifth professional season and first with PAOK have never played a professional game in Germany. Your ex Dayton teammates Josh Parker, Vee Sanford and Matt Kavanaugh all played here. Did the country first become a topic for you with the emergence of Dennis Schroeder or did you know about it before?

I actually have played in Germany before. I think it was my second season and it was a qualifying game. All I really knew about the basketball in Germany is that it is very physical. They have a lot of very good physical bigs and a couple good guards.

I will quiz you now. You play so many games, but let´s see how good your memory is. In your junior season you beat Boston College 87-71 and you had 14 points. BC German Patrick Heckman had 13 points in 17 minutes. Do you remember him? He recently was a member of Team Germany at the 2017 European championships.

I have to be honest, but I didn´t remember him. He will have had to have done something remarkably good for me to have remembered him. I am so competitive that players in general are all the same to me.

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Michael Smith (Crailsheim Merlins) I Believe That We Can Do Something Special This Season

Michael Smith is a 22 year old 193cm guard from California that is starting his professional career in Germany with the Crailsheim Merlins. He played at Cal.Baptist (NCAA2) from 2013-2017 and set the NCAA 2 on fire in his last two seasons as a junior he averaged 21.4ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 83.6%. In his senior year at Cal.Baptist (NCAA2) he played 25 games averaging 24.6ppg, 6.2rpg, 3.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 83.5%. He spoke to German Hoops  about basketball.

Michael thanks for talking to German Hoops. Your from San Francisco, went to school in Riverside and now your in Crailsheim. Has it been kind of a culture shock concerning the geography? What kind of early beauty have you been able to take from Germany?

It has definitely been some what of a culture shock dealing with the time change and the language barrier of living in Germany but over the past few weeks I have come accustomed to the living.

Your starting your professional basketball career in Germany in the pro A with the Crailsheim Merlins. You were a lethal scorer in the NCAA2 and had a work out with the Los Angeles Lakers. How did you land with the Crailsheim Merlins? Did you get any advice from German teammate Kalidou Diouf?

I was able to land the job through the help of my agent Scott Nichols.

How did you experience your first summer transfer period coming from school. I can imagine that many professional teams were enticed by your scoring like from a team in Mexico where you had an offer. What was the deciding factor that made you chose the Crailsheim Merlins?
The deciding factor for me picking the Crailsheim Merlins was the type of culture that the organization presented. They are hard working and family based team. I also wanted to make sure that I started my career on a team that is fighting for a championship and with the Merlins I believe that we can do something special this season.

 

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