K.K Simmons is a 23 year old 190cm combo guard from Marietta, Georgia that is playing his first professional season with German Pro B team Licher Basket Baeren. He played at three schools with NC-Wilmington (NCAA), Kent St. (NCAA) and Pikeville (NAIA). Last season he finished his college basketball career with Pikeville (NAIA) playing 31 games and averaging 16.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 46.1%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 78.5%. Simmons is an amazing shooter and shot 48% from outside in his junior season at Pikeville, but can also mix it up getting to the hole. In his first season with Pikeville, he played 25 games averaging 20.8ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 45.3%, 3PT: 48.9%, FT: 78.4%. He spoke to German Hoops after giving his debut as a professional fort he Licher Basket Baeren beating the Bayer Giants Leverkusen 99-93.
Karriem congrats on the big 99-93 victory over the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. Top scorer of the game and a win to go along with it. Was this the perfect start to your professional season?
Getting a good tough win, against a great team, on the road is definitely a great way to start off my professional career! I’m so proud of what my teammates and I have accomplished.
What kind of a feeling was it playing in the legendary Smid arena that housed Germany´s best team in the 90´s with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen?
It was an amazing feeling. The gym was very nice. Also, the feeling of the atmosphere and energy in the gym was top notch. I really respect what they have going on over there. I had a lot of fun.
The Bayer Giants Leverkusen had the 46-40 advantage at halftime. What was key for being behind after 20 minutes?
Going in at half time we felt we were right where we needed to be. As a team we all agreed that we didn’t play our best half of basketball, but we were only down 6 points, so that was the big picture. We needed to remain in striking distance at all times.
The Licher Baskets Baeren went on a furious run in the fourth to cut down the 10 point lead. You and American Lamar Mallory went to work. Did you guys know it was time to step up or did head coach Rolf Scholz advise you guys to go to work?
Lamar and I know when it’s time to lead our team in the right direction. Also, coach will let us know when it’s our time to step up and make plays for the team when need be. Big time players make big time plays when needed. It’s on us to make it happen.
You and Mallory hooked up for the go ahead bucket, but Leverkusen sent the game into OT with Carter free throws. Lich could have sent the game into OT with a game winner from Simon Kutzschmar. Was this the desired shot that the team wanted at the end?
We wanted to search for whatever good clean look we could have at the end of the 4th. Simon had a good look, it was a good shot, it just didn’t fall. We have good shooters and scorers throughout our entire team. So we live with whoever takes the shot. Make or miss.
You got Lich going with back to back three pointers in OT which got you the momentum. Was this the moment that why you love and play the game as a professional?
Yes!!! It’s what I live for. To hit big shots at a time and need to fire my teammates up and get the momentum and energy shifted towards our way a bit.
What was key in OT for the Licher Baskets Baeren winning? Did you simply want it more than Leverkusen?
I wouldn’t say we wanted it more!!!! Because they competed very hard and played an amazing game throughout the 5 quarters. I just know my teammates and I really locked in, and focused and made those plays we needed to make in the crunch to become successful in the end. We have so much room for growth that it’s scary. We will continue to work.
As a team what were you happy with and what not? Lich shot well and had 61 rebounds, but only 14 assists and 20 turnovers.
We were happy with the way we played. When I say that, I’m talking about our effort and our attitude to never give up no matter what the score looks like or the flow of the game. Play good defense and let the offense come. We do need to cut down on the turnovers. It will come better with time.
You had a strong 34 points, but shot an overwhelming 29 times and shot 38%. Do the many shots and shooting percentage somewhat outweigh the meaning of your 34 points?
Not at all. I watched the game again on film. I didn’t feel like any of my shots were really bad shots. Some of them I feel like I could have not took and found us a better look as a team. I will work on that. My teammates trust me and my decision making and as a leader on the floor. They lead me as well. They believe in every move I make and shots that I shoot. They seen what I can do and they accept me for it. So I just go out there and try to remain aggressive knowing they got my back no matter what. I’m not into the 34 points or how many shots I took. I’m more concerned with what we did to become victorious.
Do you remember shooting so much in a game?
I have shot this many shots in a game before, but it definitely has been a while haha. I just have so much confidence in my ability to score and to make plays for my team. It was a lot of good looks and shots missed in that gym last night from both teams. I will continue to work on becoming more efficient.
You had a game high 34 points. Was this the best K.K Simmons people will see, or do you feel like there is even more to come this season from you?
Way more to come. It was just the first game. My first game as a professional athlete. Only way from here is up for us.
You combined for 55 points with Lamar Mallory. How did feel playing your first professional game with him? Is this a deadly duo in the making?
My boy Lamar is the bus driver for this team. He does so much for us and covers up so much of our trash we do commit on the court. He’s a magnet for that ball. He gets big rebounds! Impossible rebounds! And he plays hard for us every single play! Never does he take a play off. He attacks hard and is coming at you every possession. On both ends of the court. We really feed off his energy and effort. We all believe he has our backs no matter what the situation. We can count on him when it’s time to battle. Front line.
How much fun was it dueling Kerry Carter? Is he a guy that you could see battling for the scoring crown?
Carter is a great player. He has the total package. Competes hard. Leads his team by example along with being verbal. I appreciate his competitive spirit and respect him and their organization. Good team. I’m not really caught up in the whole scoring crown thing, but we shall see.
Where will the journey of the Atlanta Hawks end this season?
I have no clue about the Hawks. I love my city and hometown, but the past couple of years have been a lot of ups and downs. Some adjustments were made in the origination as you can see. I think they will do just fine this year.
Kevin Garnett retired from the NBA. Where does his legacy rank in the NBA now that his career has ended?
His legacy lives on forever!!!! KG is a legend!!! A veterinarian, an animal on the court. A perfect example of putting your heart out there each and every night. I had the opportunity to meet him in person for a couple of days and received a lot of words wisdom from him. Things bigger than basketball. He’s so real and his story can be nothing but honored and respected. He is branded in one of the NBA’s best. The game will miss him.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Rush hour. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. One of my favorites of all time.
Thanks K K for the chat.