What do Dashaun Wood, Andrew Rautins, Jon Leuer, Justin Cobbs, Aaron Doornekamp and Philip Scrubb all have in common? At first glance not much except for the last two, but before all is said and done in four months Philip Scrubb could belong to the six best players Gordon Herbert has ever gotten since returning to the Fraport Skyliners in 2010. The only difference is that with Wood you had a Beko BBL MVP, with Rautins an ex NBA player, Leuer a current NBA player for the Phoenix Suns that played three months in Frankfurt before going to the NBA, Cobbs a point guard that saved last season with his calm play and now moved to FC Bayern Munich and with Doornekamp an experienced Canadian national player that won three medals last summer. While Scrubb is a guy who could add to his 8 titles as a Canadian collegian and simply belong to this crowd should he continue to spark the team the way he has in a short time with his timely shooting, passing and big plays that could very well be the missing piece to winning titles this season. He could possibly win his first title with the Fraport Skyliners in a shorter amount of time than what it will have taken his teammate Doornekamp to have achieved. So what is all this hype about a rookie who when you see walking down the long corridor in the Fraport arena from the locker room to the VIP dining room between a Jordan Theodore and a Quantez Robertson looks more like a ball boy that got lost from staying on the court and fetching balls during shoot around or an altar boy who attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying and ringing the altar bell and just standing by the side of the priest like a loyal dog does his master. When you observe the young man from Richmond, British Columbia shuffling down the hall way, he just doesn´t present that menacing basketball presence, but more of a good boy that took the wrong door and somehow landed between athletic professional basketball players on their way to getting a healthy good meal after another day at the office. The only thing missing for Scrubb would be wearing that white altar boy attire to officially distance himself from everyone else. However looks isn´t everything as Scrubb is as Sean Pean once said in the legendary 80´s movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High “The Full hot order” at least in basketball terms. For most in Europe, Scrubb is an unknown unturned basketball leaf, but in Canada he is known as the greatest college player ever and also had NBA buzz in the last year.
Before Philip Scrubb came to 2004 Beko BBL champion Fraport Skyliners, he first made history at Carleton. In order to be able to be classified as the greatest Canadian college player ever in Canada, he had to display greatness and did winning five CIS tournaments which is the equivalent of winning the NCAA tournament, racked up 3 OUA tournaments, won CIS All-Canadian Player of the Year three times, was CIS All-Canadian All-Tournament MVP in 2015 and rookie of the year in 2011. He improved his scoring average each season and as a senior played 24 games averaging 19.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 4.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 48.9%, FT: 88.2%. His shooting out the lights in the CIS was the norm the way it is for FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi scoring goals as he had season averages of 45% and 53,2% from outside. Some of his best scoring games in his college career were 44 and 32 points against Mcmaster, and 33 points against Brock. His consistency was sizzling in his last four years at Carleton as he scored in double figures in 93 of 104 CIS games. He was teammates with his brother Thomas Scrubb for four years who is also a rookie this season in Finland for Joensuun Kataja Basket (Finland-Korisliiga).Of course the harsh critics will say the CIS doesn´t compare to the more competitive NCAA, but Scrubb proved that he can play against top NCAA teams. His stats don´t lie as he racked up some impressive numbers during some exhibition games against Villanova with 32 points, Wisconsin with 30 points and 12 assists, and took apart Memphis twice with 30 points and then 35 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. The latter stat line against Memphis would have been a solid day at the office for Larry Bird in his days at Indiana State 40 years ago. Once a winner always a winner as his champion traits continued to carry over into last summer. He had a work out with the Toronto Raptors and then played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Memphis Grizzlies) playing 5 games: 2.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 20.0%. He also played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Toronto Raptors) playing 4 games: 5.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0apg. He won the NBA Summer League in Orlando with the Grizzles and then wasn´t done and decided to keep chiseling his game and didn´t take a rest to go enjoy his summer on the lakes in British Columbia, but had two tours of duty with the Canadian national team and guess what more hardware there as well in the shape of medals. He took part at the Marchand Cup in San Juan (Puerto Rico) winning the Gold medal as he played 4 games averaging 10.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 46.7%, FT-3(85.7%). He then played at the FIBA Americas in Mexico winning the Bronze medal playing 10 games averaging 7.6ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 48.0%, FT: 85.7%. He played against teams from Central America and South America seeing a totally different brand of basketball and often being inserted into the starting line up playing alongside NBA players Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett while other times coming from the bench for Toronto Raptor Cory Joseph. It also didn´t hurt getting valuable experience battling against NBA veterans Luis Scola and Andreas Nocioni from Argentina. One would have thought with so much winning going on in the basketball life of Scrubb that his luck would continue with his path moving to the NBA, but it didn´t. After the Fraport Skyliners had won their 12th game in a row and 8th in a row with Scrubb, head coach Gordon Herbert was asked why Scrubb was in Europe and not exiting the Ritz Carlton hotel in New York city with an NBA team heading for Madison Square Garden. The Canadian head coach had a tough time coming up with a plausible reason why he wasn´t in the NBA as he seemed more concentrated on his chewing gum. “He is a young kid and everyone has NBA dreams. He played well in two NBA summer leagues and then he joined AEK Athens. He needs to be more explosive to make the NBA. It is hard to say, but I believe he needs a couple of years in Europe”, stressed Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert.
Scrubb started his professional career in Greece with AEK Athens and right from the get go knew that his new challenge wouldn´t be a cake walk as the guard competition was fierce. The club had respectable players like DJ Cooper, Giannis Kalambokis, Nontas Papantoniou, Malik Hairston and Chris Warren. In the Greek division he played 5 games averaging 12 minutes and 4,2ppg, 1,6rpg and 1,0apg while shooting 50% from downtown and in Euro Cup play played 6 averaging only 4,7 minutes per game. He had very little luck there averaging 0,7ppg and going 0/6 from the parking lot. Perhaps he mistakingly had on a white altar boy robe which got lost in the shuffle of the yellow uniforms of AEK Athens. It was a total change of pace from his previous winning ways and always being a force on the court, but he took his short stay in Greece in stride. “I played in the first game and got decent minutes. I thought that I played decent, but then we started to lose. Then I wasn´t put in anymore. The head coach had a lot of pressure to win. I think that he wanted to play me, but he wasn´t totally comfortable in doing it”, stressed Philip Scrubb.
It didn´t take long for the Canadian to find a new team as he was hauled in by the Fraport Skyliners on January 7th first for a two week try-out, but with his instant success to the club, he was soon given the contract extension to the end of the season. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert once again let his contacts go to work as he obviously had heard of the Canadian, but also got good feedback from Aaron Doornekamp who had played with him last summer as well as Carleton head coach Dave Smart. Scrubb came to Frankfurt in the midst of a winning streak and since he has arrived has contributed in a major way helping give support in 8 wins. He also helped the farm team win in Nordlingen as he gave instant power with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists. The first thing that stands out was his quick ability to fit in and have absolutely no problems adjusting to anything. “The way the team plays makes it easy for me to fit in. Every player knows how to pass and are unselfish. The team has good ball movement and it lets me make the simple plays. I don´t have to overthink too much”, stressed Philip Scrubb. His head coach is also very impressed by his quick integration. “He doesn´t play like a rookie, but like a guy who has been in the league for 4-5 years. He played at a good program at Carleton and his poise and self-confidence has helped him adjust so fast”, stressed Gordon Herbert. His stats speak for themselves as he has scored in double figures in eight of nine games. He was a major force in keeping their Europe Cup record unbeaten at 12-0 as he took command like a veteran in the 91-79 come from behind win against Turkish team Royal Hali Gaziantep steering home 26 points and 15 points in the second quarter in the big Skyliner rally. Last week, he came into the game and poured in big three pointers in the victory against medi Bayreuth. Obviously his shooting is the first thing to stand out always. “He is a great shooter, can play on ball and can guard the three position. He has given this team a new dynamic that we hadn´t had yet”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Jordan Theodore. His teammate Aaron Doornekamp was already introduced to the stellar play of Scrubb last summer and knows what to expect now. “He really knows how to play. He can really shoot. He doesn´t make many mistakes and our system is perfect for him. His game just has made it very easy for him to fit”, warned ex Braunschweig forward Aaron Doornekamp. Scrubb is working on his game to become the most complete player like teammate Aaron Doornekamp and that is why he is the “mini Doornekamp in a guard´s body” as his complete game aspirations are moving in a decent way.
Of course the young Canadian knows that he is still far away from being the complete player. On offense he is definitely on a good way, but he is alert about the possibility of getting better on the defensive end. “Adjusting to the professional game is difficult. Guys are bigger and smarter at this level. You have to focus on so much all at once. I think that I can improve my foot speed and thinking on the court”, added Philip Scrubb. Even if he has always been known as a scorer and has demonstrated it in the Beko BBL, he sees another part of his game as hidden and not fully noticed yet. “I think that I am not a bad passer. I can make the right pass to lead to an assist and I am calm with the ball”, expressed Philip Scrubb. His passing skills really came into life in the 91-60 win against the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven where he had five assists. It will be interesting to see just how well his passing skills continue to develop having a superb teacher like Jordan Theodore and also German national player Johannes Voigtmann who is the best passing big man in the Beko BBL and has displayed some cute Globetrotter like passes this season. Another big strength in his game his unending self-confidence and calmness that is apparent on the court and is like an aura in the air when he has the ball in his hands. “He has a very cool demeanor on the court and nothing rattles him. Even when he isn´t hitting shots, I keep coming at him giving him the ball. He is always willing to take the big shot and make the big play”, warned Jordan Theodore. He credit´s a lot of his early success to his teammates especially Aaron Doornekamp. “It is so important that Aaron is here. He is the biggest reason why I came. I know that he will help me on and off the court and he is a guy I trust”, warned Philip Scrubb. Other guys that have been very key for his early success has been ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore as well as Quantez Robertson. “Jordan has helped me so much just by playing with him. He is the point guard and runs the show. He takes a lot of pressure off me so I don´t need to overthink and can pick the time when to get aggressive. Robertson is our leader and does so much on the court. He is our best defender and I learn so much from him on the defensive end”, added Philip Scrubb.
Philip Scrubb has so much going for him on the basketball court, but he also has other amazing traits. What really stands out is his character and just how humble he is. Gordon Herbert knew what he was getting from Scrubb as a player, but also knew that his team was getting the ultimate winner as his character has role model status plastered all over it. In a day and age where the ego seems to have taken control over the professional athlete way more than even 20 years ago with the media world having grown so much, Scrubb would be the last guy to laud himself before the team or a teammate. He is as nondescript as an altar boy would be, but that is just how he is. He lets his stellar play speak for him on the court and let´s his teammates talk everywhere else. “He is quiet and humble and never talks about his self. He works hard, listens and always wants to help the team first”, stressed Aaron Doornekamp. Teammate Jordan Theodore has noticed the more taciturn mentality of his teammate, but jokes that he hopes that may change. “He is quiet, down to earth and goes about his business, but he professional about everything. I am more the funny and talkative guy. Maybe he will open up more”, smiled Jordan Theodore. Scrubb credits his upbringing to his parents for having a big part in how his character has developed. “Growing up I looked up to my parents very much. They were humble people. I learned that if you focus on your job, everything will come easier to you. If you do your job good, then you feel great internally”, stressed Philip Scrubb. His Carleton head coach Dave Smart who said there was no Canadian better than him playing in the NCAA last season obviously also had a huge impact on the continued development of his character. “Smart made me realize that you can be a nice guy, but still focus on your teammates. In my first year at Carleton I focused more on myself, but coach then made me realize that the team and being unselfish is most important. Smart was a great life coach that helped me in all areas”, warned Philip Scrubb. The best example of just how humble he is is when he is confronted with the best Canadian college player of all time label. When Scrubb listens he is focused 100% on you and here and there will smile and laugh very quietly and even when addressing this difficult label, he keeps the same expression. “There have been many great players from Canada. I played at the best program and the best coach. There was much handed to me. Winning improves the way people look at you. I was lucky to be on winning teams. The media helps people remember this”, added Philip Scrubb. Scrubb continues to win and once you have had that winning gene, it just sticks with you as guys like Bill Russell, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan learned in their careers. Just when Scrubb exactly first started to work on that winning mentality is unknown, but it may have started when he was two or three years old when his dad was playfully taunting him standing tall over his little son and blocking every shot from the kid at the children´s Fischer Price basketball rim while the future professional player was getting madder and madder and getting more and more agitated. He is a man of little words, but one thing that he knows best about and wants most is too win. “I didn´t play much in Greece. I am very happy about my situation with the Fraport Skyliners. I just want to win games. We have high goals and I want to do my part and not waste it”, warned Philip Scrubb. Scrubb has the chance to win 3 titles in Frankfurt. The club will most surely make the playoffs in May and have a long road then needing to win three best of five series, but in Europe Cup play, they have to win 6 more games to win their first international title and in one week need to win two games at the Beko BBL cup weekend. That will be a tough hurdle to have to beat Alba Berlin and then FC Bayern Munich/Brose Baskets Bamberg, but Frankfurt has a 12 game winning streak and has much self-confidence. If Scrubb can win at least one title, he will instantly belong to the best signings/steals that Gordon Herbert ever got. The Fraport Skyliners have a very special team this season and winning on a very consistent rate and have found the ultimate missing piece with Philip “the mini Doornekamp in a guards body” Scrubb who only knows how to win and that will continue to rub off on the club in a very positive way.