Aaron Nelson is a 203cm power forward from Bloom Township, Illinois that is playing his third professional season and first in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. He started his basketball career with SW Illinois JC (JUCO)and then moved to S.Indiana (NCAA2) and as a senior played 29 games averaging 19.3ppg, Reb-1(12.7rpg), 2.3apg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 60.4%, FT: 63.3%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with Los Leones de Quilpue (Chile-Liga Nacional, starting five): Liga Americas: 3 games: 24.0ppg, 10.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 54.5%, FT: 80.0%; Chilean Liga Nacional: 28 games: 21.1ppg, Reb-4(11.6rpg), 2.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 55.2%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 63.7%. Last season he split time with Atletico Tabare (Uruguay-LUB): 4 games: 15.3ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg, in Dec.’15 moved to Salta Basket (Argentina-TNA). He spoke to German Hoops after the Gezeiten Cup In Rhondorf last weekend.
Aaron thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are playing your first season in Germany and have been here one month now. What have you grown to like most about the country?
I am still getting a feel for things but like where I live in Bad Honnef. It’s a small town but it’s very peaceful and relaxed. The town is also right next to the river which is always a nice place to go chill and hang out at. Bad Honnef is also short distance from Bonn and Cologne which are two great cities.
You live very close to the historic Rhein river with all it´s castles looming up on the hills. H ow blessed do you feel and has it crossed your mind yet that you have seen more foreign places with Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Germany than most of your friends back home in Bloom Township
I am very blessed an humbled to be in the position I’m in. I am traveling the world and doing what I love at the same time. I am still amazied at some of the things I get to see and do daily. I know a lot of people would do anything to be in the position I’m in. I don’t for one second take it for granted.
How pleased have you been with the first month of the pre season with the Dragons Rhondorf? What is still missing most with the play of the team that you need to have ready by the start of the season on September 23rd against BG Karlsruhe?
I am very pleased with how the pre-season has been going. All the guys are working hard, and we’re getting better every day. I definitely feel like as a team we’re all on the same page and taking steps in the right direction. There’s still a few areas we can improve on but overall its been a great first month of pre-season
Last weekend you played in the Gezeiten Haus Cup in the Dragon Dome at home. How tough was it playing back to back games for you? Was your fitness where you want it at this juncture of the season?
Playing at home in front of our fans was great. It was a great atmosphere in the Dragon Dome. Playing back to back games is always tough but I think we handled it great. We went out there and left it all on the court. I think my conditioning was solid. It’s a lot expected out of me so there’s always going be room for improvement. But I’m definitely getting there and we’re getting there as a team.
How important was it for you to be a part of the Basketball Aid international tour last weekend in the Gezeiten Cup with all proceeds going to help kids stricken with cancer?
It was great being a part of something like that, knowing that we are playing for a great cause. I’ve had a relative pass away from cancer so I know how hard it is for families to have someone diagnosed with it. Playing basketball knowing that it’s going to help someone or some family in some way it’s a great feeling and I’m an glad i could be a part of it.
In the first game, Rhondorf fought back down from 17 points and came back and defeated the Astrostars Bochum 70-68. What do you feel did the club learn from this win that will help them get into the regular season in the next weeks?
The Astrostars are a great team. I am glad we were able get a win against a quality team. We made a bunch of mistakes as team that we know we have to improve on. We have to learn to play better with a lead. Every game we’ve played besides Bonn we’ve had a 10+ point lead going into the half. 2nd half we always get sloppy and let the team back into the game. It’s something we will get better with over time. Winning against the Astrostars let us know that we can compete and win against any team on this level.
At what level do you see the team chemistry now and how important are the many young German kids who have been playing together for some years?
I think are chemistry is great. Everyone has a great feel for each other. Every man on the team is important and has job to contribute to our team one way or another. We have a great team and we’re building together.
You feel that you only have done your job when you get your double double. You poured in 21 points and 11 rebounds. What is the biggest difference between the Pro B competition and what the competition and level that you experienced in South America the last two years?
The competition isn’t much different. There are good players and competition in South America just like it is here in Germany.
The majority of the Pro B teams enjoy having an American as a point guard but Rhondorf have given full confidence in German Viktor Frankel-Maus. Is his game at a level that your satisfied with?
I think the team made the right call on not signing an Import at point guard. Viktor is a great point guard and knows the game. He’s our floor general, our captain, and our leader. We are very confident that Viktor will get the job done night in and night out no matter who’s the opponent.
You and Canadian Mike Lucifer have gotten adjusted to the play, but American William Trawick is still adjusting. How have you been helping him on the court to get integrated better to the style?
Will is definitely adjusted to the game and a great player. The thing is in Pro B you’re only allowed to have two imports on the court at the same time. Will is for sure a starter, he can light it up and get it done on both on ends of the court. Sometimes it’s hard for a player like that who’s been starting his whole life to come off the bench an get an instant rhythm in the game. I am sure Will will be key player for us and will have a great season for the Dragons no doubt.
In the second game, Rhondorf played with BBL team Telekom Baskets Bonn for one quarter and then folded losing 79-54. Did fatigue come into play for Rhondorf in the second half?
I think fatigue definitely played a big factor. Telekom is a great team and they have great size and bodies at every position. It was the second game of a back to back but still they just wore on us throughout the game and made it tough. We had to work for all our baskets. I don’t think we had any legs in the second half. I know I didn’t and I missed a bunch of stuff that I easily should of made. I still think we went out and fought and competed. We were only down 9 at the half to one of the best teams in Germany.
How much fun was it playing against BBL team Telekom Baskets Bonn and what was the most challenging thing for you to be able to perform well against this competition?
Those are good players and good defenders. I think I just need to keep playing/ improving my game and knock down some open shots. I for sure know I can compete with those guys. You can put me on any level of basketball and I will produce.
Who wins a one on one in practice you or Mike Lucier?
We haven’t played any one on one’s yet. Of course being the competitor I am I would say myself. If he was asked the same question I would expect him to say himself. We somewhat got two different games, but on the court we compliment each other very well. One day we’ll just have to go at each other and see who wins.
Where will the journey of the Chicago Bulls end this season?
I think the Bulls will be a solid Eastern conference team. They will make the playoffs maybe as far as the Eastern conference semifinals. Im excited to see how they play this year.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I haven’t seen any movies recently. I been watching Narcos and Power.
Thanks Aaron for the chat.