Isaiah Sykes is a 26 year old 198cm forward from Detroit, Michigan playing his third professional season and first with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau. He started this season with Hapoel Gilboa Afula (Israel-National League) playing 4 games averaging 11.5ppg, 11.5rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg. Last season he played with accabi Hod Hasharon (Israel-National League) playing 25 games averaging 19.9ppg, Reb-2(14.3rpg), 4.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 59.9%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 34.5%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with U.S. Basket Recanati (Italy-A2 Silver) playing 28 games averaging 17.2ppg, 8.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 55.2%; A2 Gold Playoffs: 3 games: 17.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.0apg. He played at Cent.Florida (NCAA) from 2010-2014 playing a total of 125 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 17.2ppg, 7.2rpg, 3.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 54.0%. He spoke to German Hoops after his arrival in Hanau recently.
Thanks Isaiah for talking to German Hoops. 2017 has come and gone and we are already into February. Did you make any new years resolutions or are you the type of guy that doesn´t believe in that?
Just to continue to grow and take care of my daughter while building on my career.
Welcome to Germany and the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau. After a year in Italy and Israel, you have arrived to your third tour of duty now in Germany. What do you in general about the country and it´s basketball?
The style of play is different and more aggressive I love it and will adapt to it as the season progresses.
Do you have any friends playing in Germany and did anyone give you some useful advice about coming to Germany?
Yes I have some friends playing here in Pro A and Pro B as well as the BBL!
After a big win against the Hamburg Towers, Hanau had to travel to Weissenfels and play against MBC in their annoying small loud arena. Was this your first welcome to how spirited an away arena can be?
Loved the atmosphere they are a great team and playing in games like that is what us athletes love to do.
The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau lost a tough 77-61 game and lost in almost every important statistical category except the rebounding. How key was their 14/27 accuracy from downtown? Was this one of the key factors for the loss?
Just have to keep competing things won’t always go as planned.
You have come to a very motivated team that have gone through so much drama this season with injuries, 6-7 man rotations and the departure of Jordan Wild on account of personal reasons. How quickly have you noticed that this team is all about heart and winning?
Very quick this team has a great group of guys that’s all about winning.
It really starts with head coach Simon Cote who has built something very special in Hanau. What has been your early impression of him and what has impressed you most about his basketball philosophy?
How he brings energy and passion into practice and games and prepares us for our game plan as well as other teams.
You are a 198cm forward that can pretty much do it all and fill up the stat sheet. What kind of role do you see yourself having this season with the Hebeisen White Wings?
Being a creator and making things easy for other guys getting shooters shots, scoring and rebounding the ball.
You have seen the dominance already of American Kruzie Pinkins. Do you see him and you developing into a dominating rebounding duo on both ends of the court as the season progresses?
Yes we definitely can impact the game on both ends rebounding the ball!
You are a guy that fill up the stat sheet each weekend, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
Being able to play different positions and impact the game in many different ways.
How would you compare the German pro A second division with the Italian and Israel second divisions? How would you rank the three from top to bottom in skill and talent?
It’s more competitive here in Germany. The Italian league was as well but was at a much slower pace. Israel is more of a skilled league with not so much physical play being allowed.
You started the season with Hapoel Gilboa Afula (Israel-National League, starting five): 4 games: 11.5ppg, 11.5rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg. You had very good stats. Why was your stay so short?
Family issues that needed to be handled and taken care of.
Last season you played for Maccabi Hod Hasharon (Israel-National League, starting five): 25 games: 19.9ppg, Reb-2(14.3rpg), 4.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 59.9%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 34.5%. These stats should of easily warranted you a ticket to many first division teams in Europe. How disappointing was the fact that you landed back in the Winner League?
I let God handle these types of situations I felt I had a great season I had some first division teams offers during the season but the team wouldn’t release me because of their situation
As a rookie you played for U.S. Basket Recanati (Italy-A2 Silver) playing 28 games: 17.2ppg, 8.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 55.2%; A2 Gold Playoffs: 3 games: 17.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.0apg. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Detroit, Michigan?
I’ve always been away from home playing basketball and traveling it was just tough being away from my daughter but she got to visit when I was there playing and it helped a lot seeing her and having her get to experience it with me.
You had a triple double last season in Israel and almost had one in Italy. What do you feel are you doing more on the court when you get a triple double than when you aren´t, but are still filling up the stat sheet like crazy.
Being able to play my game and play freely within the team I think some coaches are very strict on players and won’t let them to do what they feel is best for the team and I’m a team type guy I put the team before individual goals.
You played at Cent.Florida (NCAA) from 2010-2014 and had two triple doubles as a junior against Stetson and East Carolina to become only the second player in NCAA history to achieve multiple triple doubles in a season. What does this achievement mean to you? Just another story in front of the fire on a Christmas Eve for the grand children down the road?
It was a honor I worked extremely hard all summer and the results paid off during the season.
How did head coach Donnie Jones groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Central Florida(NCAA)?
He did a great job of teaching me how to work as a pro and being a leader on and off the court and prepared me for life after basketball on how to approach it.
Last season you had massive numbers with 43 points and 36 boards against your ex teammate Keith Clanton In Israel, but he came away the winner in both games. How was it facing him again and how much better had he gotten over the years?
It’s always good going up against a former teammate we will be able to set back and talk about these memories for a lifetime. He got the best of us but it wasn’t easy for them it was a grind.
In your second season with Central Florida, you beat UCONN and had 10 points where you faced 6 future NBA players. When you look back at a game like that and remember the talent is the bridge between the NBA and your ability very little?
The focus and preparation and chemistry they had for the game was a great bond that helped them be a top team.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
I’m not sure I’ve faced many great players in college.
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
He’s definitely at the top with the greats I respect his game and things he does off the court for our generation and being a leader/role model.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
Top 5 he’s a player you’d always want on your team because he will compete every night with passion.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
That was unbelievable just shows how good of a shooter and team they have there.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
I love Westbrooks game and he puts his all into every game and possession and backs down from no one.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I’m not sure I love watching movies daily.
Thanks Isaiah for the chat.