Author: Miles Schmidt-Scheuber

Basketball journalist and play by play commentator

Hayden Lescault Paces The ScanPlus Baskets Putting Another Buzzer Beater Dagger In the Heart Of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors 87-84

Sometimes one does realize how time flies when a player returns back to a place he once played in almost two seasons ago as players have come and gone and even the floor was redone in the BCM gym in Frankfurt, but with all the traveling to different arena´s in the last years, it wouldn´t be a surprise if Hayden Lescault didn´t notice this. In the 2015-2016 season, the 25 year old 192cm shooting guard from Folsom, California who had a stellar career at Point Loima(NCAA2) embarked on his professional basketball career to Germany where he suited up for BG Karlsruhe and had a solid rookie campaign averaging 13.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 71.8%. After a season away from Germany, he got a taste of a new style of basketball with the  Glasgow Rocks (United Kingdom-BBL), but also witnessed a whole new kind of life in Scotland that was very much different than the carefree life in California that he had been used to. Lescault came back to Frankfurt for his second time as in his rookie season he helped beat Frankfurt at home scoring 27 points in a big 76-59 win, but couldn´t find a groove on the road losing 77-70 as he produced only 12 points in 20 minutes. Two seasons ago he was surrounded by veterans like Rouven Roessler, Jeremy Black and Marcus Smallwood and it´s no different this season as he has four guys on his team 30 or older and a fine mentor in 37 year old Marin Petric who has been a professional since 1997 and has played for 13 teams. The faces on the Frankfurt side had changed as only one player was still on the court with Garai Zeeb who had been instrumental in the win in Frankfurt in 2015 with 14 points and nine dimes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors came into the game playing up and down basket and were confronted with the best team in the Pro B south ScanPlus Baskets who entered the game with a 7-1 record sporting an offensive powerhouse averaging 85 points, averaging 37 rebounds per game and holding their own on the defensive end allowing 73 points per game. The guests had the huge advantage on paper, but with 17 seconds to go there was not big difference as the game was tied and the ScanPlus Baskets with the ball gave it to Mr moneyball Hayden Lescualt who like Kameron Taylor two weeks ago put another dagger in the hearts of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors winning with a buzzer beater 87-84. However there was one little difference. In Rhondorf, Frankfurt saw nothing but net, but in their own gym had to watch the ball dance on the rim for a few seconds feeling like an eternity before it trickled in wondering on who´s side the basketball God really was. “I wanted to be aggressive today. We had never won here and really wanted to win to get the monkey off our back. I have had one or two buzzer beaters in college, but this was my first professional one. We had a high ball screen and I was supposed to read what the defense gave me. My guy kept sagging off me thinking I might drive, but he gave me enough space to shoot it. When I let it go, it felt good, but then it trickled around the rim and went in finally. We had some luck from the basketball God. I love this gym today”, smiled California native Hayden Lescault.

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How Dangerous And Scary Will The Fraport Skyliners Be In May 2018?

If one were to put Fraport Skyliner identity figure Quantez Robertson and ex NBA player Toure Murray face to face at a table, it would be interesting to see how long it would take for the conversation to mention the word NBA. The NBA was never a reality for freak athlete Robertson who would have made it had offense been omitted from the game and defense been the only option while Murray made it to the big show playing parts of four seasons in the G-League and 53 games for the New York Knicks and Washington Bullets. There could be other topics like where the United States will go with Donald Trump, if the Houston Astros can repeat as World Series Champions as Murray hails from that city or if the Cincinnati Bengals where Robertson is from will ever win a Superbowl. But would the conversation ever get to the topic of which team´s start into the current EasyCredit BBL season was more surprising? It probably wouldn´t as American players are always joking and talking about home and other comical things, but in basketball Germany, this is a topic that has left many bewildered. No disrespect to Alba Berlin who have made a great comeback and start to this season after underachieving last season, but what ratiopharm Ulm and the Fraport Skyliners have produced in the early going have been the biggest surprises in the league so far. In a way the Fraport Skyliners and ratiopharm have traded roles if one remembered how they started last year. Fraport Skyliner Mike Morrison if confronted with this reference would just smile gently and with his pleasant Floridian tone reply with a funny and witty gesture concerning the undeniable strong team basketball that his club is displaying.

If you had been in a closet or taken a month vacation to the outback and been offline and returned back to Germany and checked the BBL standings and seen the 0-5 Ulm record most wouldn´t have believed it. How can such a deep and talented roster with so many scoring options not be 5-0 or at least 4-1? There are some reasons why the club has played under expectations.

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A Fourth Consecutve BBL League Championship For Brose Bamberg Will Heave Andrea Trinchieri To Ultimate Basketball God Status

After last season´s final game at home where Brose Bamberg manhandled the EWE Baskets Oldenburg for a second time in the 2017 BBL finals sweep winning 76-58 and winning their third league title in a row, the big rugged Italian head coach Andrea Trinchieri who appears like an overgrown teddy bear that could pass easier for a sports fan getting lost on the sidelines of a basketball court instead of being one of the top coaches in Europe had many many thoughts buzzing through his head after the 40 minutes had elapsed. His biggest of course was just savoring the moment of having won the BBL title again and knowing that 9 months of very hard work had paid off, but there was probably something else roaming in his thoughts that he knew was something he couldn´t control in the upcoming months. He knew that the 12 incredible players that had worked hard for a whole season wouldn´t all be back in a few months to attempt to defend their title for a fourth time. When the Italian top coach returned in August to practice, he might have felt a little lonely at first since many old faces were missing as well as there were many new faces that were running up down the court wanting to prove early to the coaching wizard that their signing would pay dividends down the line. No longer was the athletic Daniel Theis around making crushing dunks as he was doing that now with the Boston Celtics, the amazing killer instinct and just superb guard play of Fabian Causeur was gone as he had escaped for the serious big bucks with Real Madrid and who could blame him, ex NBA player Darius Miller returned back to an old stomping ground with the New Orleans Pelicans as he had been there along the ride for the three league championships, the precise shooting accuracy and sniper qualities of Latvian guard Janis Strelnieks had taken him to Olympiacos in Greece while the Italian good looks and inside out play of Nicollo Melli had taken him to Fenerbahce in Turkey. After digesting these loses and then taking a closer glimpse of where they actually went to, being able to contend against the NBA and better, more lucrative and more prestigious Euroleague teams was as tough as trying to shape the ego of a Lebron James. One can´t blame the players for leaving as they were only doing only what any other player except maybe Ricky Paulding or Quantez Robertson would have done and that was to do what was best in their financial interest. Trinchieri continues to build his experience with Bamberg as before he came to Germany he won a cup with Prima Veroli (Lega2) in 2009, reached two cup finals in Italy and won a Russian cup with Unics Kazan in 2014. He has gained much respect from his basketball peers in Europe and especially in Italy is seen as a head coach that is always ready for duty. He has been described as a head coach that is always fully prepared for each game and gets 100% from his players. He is very charismatic and is always liked by all players. Trinchieri also was behind the bench leading Kyle Hines and Prima Veroli when the ex Bamberg player won his first title as a professional. Now the Italian is faced with his biggest challenge of winning a fourth BBL league championship with a potpourri of many new talented players like a Dorrell Wright, Ricky Hickman, Daniel Hacket, Luka Mitrovic and BBL veterans like a Bryce Taylor and Augustine Rubit having to integrate the most players that he has ever had to with Bamberg and construct another winning chemistry. If Trinchieri is capable of winning a fourth BBL title in a row then he will be heaved to ultimate Basketball God status in Bamberrg the way Paulding already is in Oldenburg. “I think that Bamberg has a great chance to repeat and win their fourth title because coach Trinchieri and the management has done a great job in creating a winning culture. When you sign for Bamberg the goals of the team are clear. You can see from the past teams and history that winning is a tradition and is expected. Trinchieri signed experienced players that understand what it takes to win and he has the ability to keep his players motivated through the entire season”, stressed three time Euroleague winner and current CSKA center Kyle Hines.

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James Nunnally(Fenerbahce Istanbul) My Time In Italy Made Me Like Basketball Again

James Nunnally is a 27 year old 201cm forward from California that is playing his sixth professional season and second with Fenerbahce Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) whom he helped win the 2017 Euroleague title averaging  5.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 45.1%, FT: 87.0%. In the Turkish league he averaged 11.9ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT-1(57.1%), FT: 86.2%. He started his professional basketball career in 2012 with  Enosi Kalathosfairisis Kavalas (Greece-A1) playing 2 games averaging 9.0ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.5apg; Balkan League: 1 game: 11pts, 3reb, 1ast, then signed with the Bakersfield Jam (D-League) playing 51 games averaging 10.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 88.6%. In the 2013-2014 season he made the jump to the NBA playing with the Phoenix Suns (NBA) playing 9 games averaging 2.6ppg, 1.2rpg, played with the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) playing 4 games averaging 4.5ppg, 2.0rpg, played with the  Bakersfield Jam (D-League) playing 25 games averaging 18.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.1apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 84.8%, played with the Frisco Texas Legends (D-League) playing 10 games averaging 17.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 60.3%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 78.1%, and played with the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) playing 9 games averaging 2.6ppg, 1.2rpg. In the 2014-2015 season he played with Tuenti Movil Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 7 games averaging 9.4ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.3apg, 2FGP: 58.1%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 75.0%, and also played with Maccabi Ashdod (Israel-Winner League) playing 24 games: Score-4(17.1ppg), 7.8rpg, 3.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 80.0%. In the 2015-2016 season he played with Scandone Avellino (Italy-Serie A) playing 40 games: Score-3(18.4ppg), 4.2rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT-2(90.8%). He played at UCSB (NCAA) from 2008-2012 playing a total of 122 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 15.7ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 79.8%. He spoke to German Hoops  before the Euroleague game against Brose Bamberg in Bamberg,

 

 

 

 

James thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. Last season you swept the series against Brose Bamberg. Had that been your first time in Germany or had you been there before?

 

No that had been my second time. My first visit to Germany was when I played with Italian team Avellino and we played in a pre season tournament in Hagen. I remember a couple of good games. The fans were crazy there. It was a good experience.

 

 

 

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

 

One of my good buddies is Peyton Siva who plays for Alba Berlin. I also played briefly with Dennis Schroeder with the Atlanta Hawks and my sister in law is German.

 

 

 

Last season you won a nail bitter at home by one point and won on the road in an also tight game. What memories do you have of last season´s victory in Bamberg?

 

 

The fans were crazy in Bamberg. We actually had quite a few Turkish fans in Bamberg so the fan support seemed even. It got really loud in that arena when the game got tight. Bamberg had great fans.

 

 

What was your impression of Bamberg last season? They had a very good team and with some breaks might have gone farther in the Euroleague. Did you see that also?

 

They were a talented team. I remember Darius Miller who was their best 1-1 scorer and also Daniel Theis who is a big time hustle guy that always brought great energy.

 

 

This season they are struggling with the BBL and Euroleague as the team had a big facelift. What kind of game can we await and what will be key to winning?

 

Every game in the Euroleague is a fight. You battle each game and have to fight for everything.

 

Has Brad Wanamaker told some interesting stories from his time here? How have you sensed his demeanor coming back to an old stomping ground?

 

 

 

 

He hasn´t talked so much about the basketball side, but said the city wasn´t big, but just chill. You had to find things to do. I do sense that he wants to play his old team again though.

 

 

If some bold person had told you in the summer of 2009 after your freshman year at UCSB that 8 years later you would have played in the NBA and won the Euroleague what would you have thought? How blessed are you with your life?

 

I don´t know. I probably would have believed those words, because I was confident in myself. I always knew what I wanted to do and playing professionally was it. People dream of these things happening and sometimes dreams come true. Dreams happen when you put in the work and I did that .Even if I have won titles and reached the NBA, I strive for more. I am always hungry.

 

 

 

After playing NBA Summer League from 2012-2016, you didn´t play this past summer after winning the Euroleague. Are you content now at age 27 to be a high profile Euroleague player and seek titles and put the NBA on the back burner?

 

 

 

I never want to say no. I am fine where I am now. If the opportunity presents itself then I would have to think about because the NBA is the best league in the world and has the best players. But the Euroleague has a great history, great competition and has good players also.

 

 

What was really the key component last season in the Euroleague win that allowed this special team to win it all?

 

 

 

 

We were an experienced team that was healthy and played together at the right time. The struggles we did have during the season helped us turn things around and play our best basketball when we needed it most.

 

The club kept a majority of players from last season title team and added Brad Wanamaker and Nicolo Melli. Does the team feel much pressure to repeat and is the “we believe” feeling in your minds already now?

 

The season just started and we are still feeling each other out and still trying to gel with each other. We did get new players that have to learn a new system. That takes time.

 

 

 

After coming from the NBA in 2014, you got your feet wet again in Europe in Spain and Israel and the season after moved to Scandone Avellino (Italy-Serie A) playing 40 games: Score-3(18.4ppg), 4.2rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT-2(90.8%). Do you feel like this was your true breakout season in Europe which was something like your Euroleague screen test?

 

 

My time in Italy with Avellino made me like basketball again. I wasn´t enjoying basketball before that. I wasn´t treated well in Spain, but then I moved to Israel and I loved my time there. But I loved Avellino. That was a very special place for me. I got a chance to show there what I could do on the court. We had a lot of veterans which made it easier increasing my learning speed. I won the MVP there and I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff and my teammates.

 

 

 

How important was it having a guy like ex NBA player Alex Acker around who had seen it all in the NBA and returned back to Europe and has had a stellar career. Did his experience from having to make the transition back to Europe rub off on you?

 

 

Alex helped me in many different ways like with certain strategies on offense and defense. He was a good veteran to have and was a good friend off the court.

 

In the 2014-2015 season you came back to Europe and split time with  Tuenti Movil Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-Liga Endesa): 7 games: 9.4ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.3apg, 2FGP: 58.1%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 75.0%, in Dec.’14 moved to Maccabi Ashdod (Israel-Winner League, starting five): 24 games: Score-4(17.1ppg), 7.8rpg, 3.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 80.0%. After moving from Spain to Israel you really blossomed. Was Israel a good example of how important a certain situation can be?

 

 

 

Yes Israel was a very good example of how important the certain situation can be. In Spain, I didn´t understand why the coach didn´t want us playing more than 20 minutes a game when all we had was one game per week. Spain simply wasn´t the right fit for me. Israel on the other hand was a different style and that fit the team best. We had very good players. We might not have had the best record, but made a great turnaround. When I arrived the team was 1-11, but when the season ended we were one game away from the playoffs. We were successful at the end because we talked things out and had to figure things out on our own.

 

You spent a season in the NBA and D-League in 2013-2014 with the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers and played with the Bakersfield Jam and Texas Legends. You had 10 day contracts and played 9 games with the 76ers and 4 games with the Atlanta Hawks. When you look back at your NBA gig, what did you appreciate most about the experience?

 

 

I appreciated how hard I had to work to reach the NBA. Dreams really can come true when hard works really pays off. I didn´t have the best opportunity to showcase my skills, but all in all the experience was a big blessing.

 

 

With Atlanta you saw the early development of German Dennis Schroeder who has kept developing. How far do you see a guy like him getting down the road? Could he become a top 5 NBA point guard?

 

 

Dennis has game. He could be a top 5 NBA point guard depending how hard he works. He still has a lot of upside. He was a gym rat. I remember going to the gym with him after games.

 

 

 

What did you learn about the NBA process? There are probably many less talented players than you that have stuck in the NBA. Has it bothered you that over the years despite showing your craft in the NBA Summer League that you didn´t get an another chance?

 

 

That is a great question. It has bothered me. I will not watch the next guy. I feel that I wasn´t in the right place at the right time. Some get in the right situation and then get a great chance.

 

I know you have played with hundreds of players and against thousands, but let´s see how good your memory is. In 2014 you played 5 NBA Summer League games with the Miami Heat and your teammate was German Danilo Barthel. Do you have any memory of him?

 

 

I don’t remember playing along with him in summer league maybe I missed him since I played with Indiana in The Orlando summer league prior to switching from Dallas to Miami in Las Vegas.

 

As a rookie you played briefly with Enosi Kalathosfairisis Kavalas (Greece-A1). What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in California?

 

 

I had no wake up call there at first. I wanted to go there, but my agent told me not to. I should have listened to him but I was thinking to much of the money. The club didn´t pay a big portion of my money and I eventually left. After going from practice to practice, playing games, and taking 16 hour bus rides to Bulgaria, I was just fed up and angry. I decided not to play the next game and threatened to leave, but the club wanted to keep me, but after still seeing no money, I left a few days later and flew back to San Francisco. Soon I was playing in the D-League with the Bakersfield Jam.

 

 

 

You played at UCSB from 2008-2012 winning two Big West tournaments. When looking back which one was sweeter?

 

 

The first one. There had been a huge drought at UCSB for years of losing and not reaching the tournament.

 

 

 

How did head coach Bob Williams groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

 

 

He was a hands on coach. He made you responsible for your mistakes. Also his assistant coaches played a big role as did he in getting me ready for professional ball.

 

 

What memories do you have of Orlando Johnson? How competitive was playing with him and going into your senior year, did either of you two ever mention the NBA being a possibility?

 

 

 

Yes we talked about the NBA. He is one of my best friends. Every practice with Orlando was very competitive. Coach always had to switch up the lineups, because when we played on the same team, we always won. He brought out the best in me and I brought out the best in him. He had a plan and reached the NBA playing three years there.

 

 

Who won a one on one in practice you or Orlando Johnson?

 

 

 

We also train together in the summer. He won his share and I won my share. He is a great one on one player that is very hard to stop.

 

 

 

 

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?

 

 

The fastest was Ty Lawson. He played with the great North Carolina teams with Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Zeller, Deon Thompson and Ed Davis. I remember that was my freshman year and my third game as we were in the  game and even led before halftime. Another tough player was Evan Turner who played with Ohio State.

 

 

 

If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?

 

Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaq

 

 

 

 

 

Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?

 

 

 

My list now is 1.Jordan 2 Kobe 3 Lebron

 

 

There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?

 

 

Yes it is a fair assessment. He was on a bad team and was stacking his stats. I am big on winners like Tim Duncan who is one of my favorites of all-time.

 

 

 

 

How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?

 

 

I didn´t follow the young boys much. Lonzo Ball will have a hard time because he has a target on his back. But Ball is very good. Ben Simmons will win rookie of the year.

 

 

 

Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?

 

 

 

I don´t know. I think that they are missing a dominant big man.

 

 

How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?

 

 

The deal was great for Kyrie Irving. I think it was messed up how Isaiah Thomas was treated. He did great for them and they just traded him. The deal is great for the Celtics long term.

 

 

Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?

 

No they can´t

 

 

 

 

 

What was the last movie that you saw?

 

 

 

I have been watching the TV series 24. It´s a great show.

 

 

Thanks James for the chat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ronalds Elksnis(Dragons Rhondorf) I Can Bring That Champion Mentality In This Team Culture

 

Ronalds Elksnis is a 24 year old 203cm forward from Latvia that is playing his first season in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. Last season he helped  BK Jelgava/BJSS (LBL2) win the Latvian division two title playing 34 games averaging 11.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP-3(63.2%), 3PT: 45.0%, FT: 82.0%. The season before he played with  Gulbenes Buki BJSS Riga (Latvia-LBL2) playing 23 games averaging 12.8ppg, Reb-5(10.0rpg), 3.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 21.7%, FT: 61.6%. He spent some years in the states at La Jolla Prep (Calif.) and played a year at Clark St. CC (JUCO) and John Brown (NAIA). Currently with the Dragons Rhondorf, he is averaging 3,3ppg and 1,9rpg. He spoke to German Hoops  at the end of the summer about basketball.

 

 

 

 

 

Ronalds thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are starting a new adventure in Germany this season. What will you miss most from your native country the abundance in snow or the food Rupimaize?

 

Thank you for reaching out me! I am not going to miss snow thats for sure! For me, its not the first I am away from home forav long time period. But I will definitely miss my family, girlfriend, close friends and my dog LeBron.

 

 

 

Welcome to Germany. You won the Latvian second league title last season with BK Jelgava/BJSS (LBL2). Was there never any thought about going into the first division and play against better competition and top teams like VEF Riga or Ventspils?

 

 

Yeah it was a thought and opportunity. In the same time, I wanted to go play pro ball outside the Latvia. I believe I made the right choice, because it will help me now and further in career.

 

 

 

 

What do you know in general about the country and Germany? How much of a basketball presence does Germany have in Latvia?

 

I have been a couple times in Germany already. So I know the language very well, and the country doesn’t feel so strange for me. I think there are not so many player German players in Latvia. But everyone know that German basketball system is one of the most developed in Europe.

 

 

 

 

You have joined the Dragons Rhondorf that are a very ambitious organization that played in the Pro A two seasons ago and underachieved last season. What sold you best about coming to this club?

 

 

The organization and team have huge goals, and I want to help them to succeed. They see me as a great fit in the team. I believe this place will help me to develop and improve my game better and get to the next level. Dragons Rhondorf have corporation with Telekom Basket Bonn, which is a great opportunity to showcase what you are capable to do to a higher level team.

 

 

What has been your early impression of head coach Thomas Adelt? He is in a similar position as you in that he also wants to prove himself at the next level.

 

 

He is very confident and settled as coach. Coach Thomas really wants to build that trust between player and coach, which helps a lot mentally for me. Off the court he is a great person, because we can talk about everything not only basketball. I can see a lot of potential in him as becoming a great coach.

 

 

 

How has he helped you most in the early going in helping you get adjusted to the German level? How has your game profited from him so far?

 

Coach wants me to play my game, and he trusts that I can make a huge impact at this level. In the early going I am just adjusting to the team, and speed of the game. I can bring that champion mentality in this team culture and help other teammates, which is very important.

 

 

 

The Dragons Rhondorf are very high on your skills and like your versatility. Would you consider yourself a modern day forward?

 

Probably yes, as a modern day forward. This summer I worked really hard on my game and my weaknesses. I can see myself as all-around player

 

 

You have a nice inside out game, but what other strengths do you have in your arsenal?

 

I believe I can bring a lot to the table, since I worked on my game this summer a lot. So I will let my game do all the talking.

 

 

 

 

You lived in the States in California and got your does of NBA when you lived there. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would you pick?

 

 

My comparison would be Danilo Galinari or Kevin Love. They are more like all- around PF, that can shoot the ball and do other stuff and are great offensively and defensively.

 

 

You are a player that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?

 

I make my teammates better around me. By communicating and talking on the court, help them use their strengths, always put confidence so they be efficient. At the same time,  I must be efficient, which is one of the other things that doesn’t get noticed right away.

 

 

 

What kind of experience was it playing with two sets of brothers with the Krumins and Justovics? What did you learn about brotherly love that you had never known about before?

 

First of all, I have brothers too, and I know a lot about brotherly love. Second, both Krumins are not related. But that aside, I learned many things from these experienced players. They helped me grow mentally, and show the passion what it takes to win games and even a championship. It was a great experience to play in such a team and players.

 

 

Two seasons ago you played with  Gulbenes Buki BJSS Riga (Latvia-LBL2): 23 games: 12.8ppg, Reb-5(10.0rpg), 3.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 21.7%, FT: 61.6% and last season with  BK Jelgava/BJSS (LBL2): 34 games: 11.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP-3(63.2%), 3PT: 45.0%, FT: 82.0%. How do you feel has your game developed further since coming back to Europe from the States?

 

It has developed a lot since coming back from States. Just in these two years I feel way more better than before. It feels good to focus on basketball, and have people around me, who really support me. I got my confidence back, which was really damaged when I played back in States. I am really happy how everything is moving forward and in the good way. Can’t wait to develop my game even more.

 

 

 

You spent time in the States at La Jolla Prep (Calif) as well as Clark St. CC (JUCO)
and John Brown (NAIA). How was this whole experience in the United States for you? What were the positives and did you have any negatives?

 

It was a definitely a huge life lesson for me. To be honest, overall it was the most negative experience. Of course, there were positive things like seeing how life is overseas, met new people, education, played with and against great players, saw many beautiful places and so on. but the whole experience, If I had a chance to go back in time and do this again, than I would say no.

 

 

 

 

How do you feel was the time in the States positive for your game and how did this time benefit your game that you wouldn´t have gotten had you stayed in Europe?

 

States basketball is more physical and athletic than European. During the time in college I learned how important is to have success as a team, and that it is not everything about me. I definitely learned how to play a more physical game. I learned how important is the communication on the court.

 

 

 

You didn´t get much of a chance at John Brown (NAIA) playing 19 games averaging 3.9ppg, 3.6rpg. Was one of your nicest memories when you scored eight points and hauled down nine rebounds in the win against Avila?

 

 
The whole season was pretty hard for me. I battled most of the season with two injuries. So its hard to say if I had any nice memories.

 

 

How did head coach Jason Beschta help your game at John Brown in the year that you were there? Did you incorporate any American basketball know how in your year there?

 

I believe he could helped me a lot more, but the year was not great for my health. So it was very difficult to make any progress in that situation, when you battle injuries and try to get healthy.

 

 

 

 

 

How did you profit from talented Austrian national player Maximilain Hofgartner at John Brown? How much did you push each other in practice and do you follow his career now?

 

 

He is good player with a lot of potential and talent. I believe we were two players that spent most of the time in gym/weight room. He has a great work ethics, and that´s why  I saw him a lot to work in the gym, so it kind of pushed me to work even harder. I know that it is his third season in Spain. I believe, he is doing pretty good there, since he will start his third season in Spain. I wish the best for him, and I know he is capable to be a great player in the future.

 

 

 

Who won a one on one in practice you or Maximilian Hopgartner?

 

Good question. It was going both ways. He was really good competition.

 

 

Did you have any funny experience concerning your name? I can imagine kids called you more Ronald than Ronalds simply because I can imagine American kids not being able to master the Ronalds on a regular basis.

 

 

That is so true. Well Ronald is familiar name to people in the States, because of the former president of USA Ronald Reagan. So I told everybody that you can call me Ron, which is way more easier. In college I got my favorite nick name The Latvian Lion, thanks to Coach Rob. So I will use that one a lot, but usually people call me Ron.

 

 

Did it seem like you lived in paradise at times in La Jolla California not far from San Diego? What was your most memorable experience off the court that you will never forget?

 

Oh man that place is just beautiful. Cali is one of the most amazing places I ever have been. Like the weather is perfect all year long, the beaches, people of different cultures, just a positive place. It seems like a paradise, not going to lie.

 

 

 

Who was the toughest player you battled in the states in high school or college time that is in the NBA or in Europe now?

 

From talent perspective and who has gone the furthest in career: Anthony Davis. There are other great names I played against like Doug McDermmot, Steven Adams, former first pick Anthony Bennet, and Latvian player Davis Bertans, and others

 

 

 

 

 

If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?

 

 

 

My own NBA Rushmore would be: LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Micheal Jordan.

 

 

 

Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?

 

 

In my opinion, he is close to Jordan, like very close. I am LeBrons fan since high school to be honest. People just dont appreciate his greatness. There won´t be other player like him, that can attractspeople with his greatness. What things he does on the court are just unreal. I believe he will be all time greatest basketball player, but that´s just my opinion.

 

 

There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?

 

 
I will put in this ways. Its great that he brokethe  record and won MVP. There is no question that he is one of the best players in the leauge. In my opinion, I would rather win Finals or Finals MVP, because I am more focused on team success and not individual awards.

 

 

 

 

How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?

 

 

 

 

 

I think this years draft was not that great. I see that Jayson Tatum could make a major impact already in the league. I was impressed with Dennis Smith JR performance during summer league, he can play huge role in Dallas. Latvian player Anzejs Pasecniks got drafted this year to Magic, so he can get a chance.

Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?

 

 

 

 

Well I am not a fan of James Harden´s game. I think Houston is not the right place for CP3. I believe they won´t make a serious run at the title. I don´t see CP3 and Harden cooperate that great on the court, but we will see.

 

 

What was the last movie that you saw?

 

Spider man: Homecoming. I am Marvel fan!

 

Thanks Ronalds for the chat

Adam Smith(Ex ES Chalon-Sur-Saone) I Could Be A Valuable Piece For Any Team Competing For A Title

Adam Smith is a 25 year old 185cm point guard from Jonesboro, Georgia playing his second professional season and recently played with ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA) averaging 12,3ppg, 2,1rpg and 3,3apg and in the Basketball Champions League averaged 13,5ppg, 3,5rpg and 4,0apg. Last season as a rookie he played with Mec-Energy Roseto (Italy-Serie A2) playing 37 games: Score-2(23.6ppg), 3.0rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 86.8%. He played at three NCAA schools from 2011-2016 with NC-Wilmington, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech playing a total of 112 NCAA games. In his senior year with Georgia Tech he played 35 games averaging 15.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 39.5%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 80.3%. He was released from ES Chalon-Sur-Saone on the eve of their Basketball Champions League game against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and spoke to German Hoops about his basketball career.

 

 

 

 

Adam thanks for talking to German Hoops. You didn´t make the trip to Germany to play in the Basketball Champions League against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg on account of being released by ES Chalon-Sur-Saone. Would this have been your first time in Germany or have you been here before?

 

 

I have stopped in Germany before and have some friends playing here. I have heard that the BBL is a really good league. Many of their teams play in Euroleague, BCL and Eurocup which is a big market. If you play well in Germany, you can attract a lot of attention.

 

 

You have a very common name. I knew a Adam Smith in grade school. How many Adam Smith´s have you come upon in your life

 

 

Honestly I have never met one in person. All like to make the reference to the famous economist Adam Smith and his book “Invisible Hand”. It inspired me to read his book. The book wasn´t really my cup of tea, but it intrigued me to read it.

 

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

 

 

I know a few guys like Thomas Walkup who I would have played against in Ludwigsburg. We trained together a few summer ago in Phoenix with the Phoenix Suns. I also know Malik Mueller who plays with Bamberg. We were teammates at Virginia Tech for three years. Bryon Allen of the EWE Baskets is one of my good friends.

 

 

 

Your played briefly for Chalon putting up solid stats. After a great rookie season in Italy you needed no adjustment period. What were the main differences from the Italian Serie A-2 and the Pro A?

 

 

The level of competition was different. In France Pro A there was a lot of pick and roll, experienced players and it was very athletic. Plus you can use five Americans in France Pro A and only two in Italy 2. The adjustment wasn´t too big. I played shooting guard in Italy and point guard with Chalon.

 

 

 

 

Chalon have had some start problems in the France Pro A having a 1-7 record and lost five very close games that you could of won. Do you feel like the losing record is one of the reasons the club released you?

 

 

 

When teams lose at any level, they will look to make changes and look for the problems and make solutions. I think that losing so much made them in making the change with me. I have nothing bad to say about the organization Chalon. The club and I have to move forward. I learned a lot in the short time I was there. I thought that we were coming around. I felt we were improving. Losing makes you come together and you tend to fight harder in practice and games. I saw this fight and respected it a lot.

 

What is the next step for Adam Smith? I am sure you won´t be without a team long?

 

 

My agent and I are looking for our next best and right situation for me. I will take what I learned with Chalon and take it to my new team. I have nothing on the table yet and just waiting for the right opportunity. My stats were pretty good in Pro A and BCL and I would like to get with a team that is playing for a title. I feel that I could be a valuable piece for any team competing for a title.

 

 

How did it feel to be the leading scorer of Chalon in both the France Pro A and BCL that has talented and experienced guys like ex NBA players Kris Josepth, Mickale Gelable and Lance Harris?

 

 

It felt natural. It felt like I was playing my game. Scoring is simply what I am good at. I really loved playing in the Basketball Champions League. It is a very professional league. I really got up for those games and loved leading the team and it felt good except for the losing. I´ll never forget the Chalon fans. It was always a great atmosphere there. It is a very small French city and I was always amazed how well they supported their team. They are extremely loyal to the players and coach.

 

 

Does a young player like you feel in awe sometimes just being able to play and spend time with a guy like Mickale Gelable? Does the urge to ask some questions about his NBA days or time at Real Madrid come about or do you just leave him be?

 

 

We spoke a bit during my time there. He was a veteran and would come randomly to me giving advice while not saying so much. I learn important things from him like about how to handle one´s self at practice and at pre game. I just tried to soak in as much as possible form him.

 

 

Let´s talk about your game. You a pure scorer and have shown it from Jonesboro, through the NCAA at three schools and last season in Italy. Were you born with the scoring genes?

 

 

I think so. When I was five years old, my dad gave bought me a plastic ball and basket. That first night I took over 1000 shots. From then on, I just loved watching see the ball go through the hoop. It is the same way today. I just love being alone in the gym, putting on music and putting up 1500 shots. The gym is my sanctuary. Time flies by when I´m in the gym putting up shots.

 

 

Your obviously a guy that can score at ease, but also know when to set up your teammates, but if you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would come to mind?

 

 

I would say a Kyrie Irving. He can get to the basket when he wants to. I might not be able to do that as well as him, but I know how to shoot and find my teammates. I also have a nice variety moves and can shoot over any kind of guard. I can get all over the floor and get off any type of shot for myself or my teammates.

 

 

 

You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that isn´t always noticed right away on the court?

 

 

My leadership qualities is a hidden strength in my game. I have become more vocal and lead by example. I feel that I am very mature for my age. Veterans like Kris Josepth, and Mickale Gelable have respected that about me.

 

You put up great stats in the NCAA, but when you decided to attend Georgia Tech so you could pursue a Masters Degree in Music Technology you stated the words of wisdom ““Hopefully, I get a chance to play professional basketball,”  “But at some point, it’s going to end. Was there really some doubt in your mind that you couldn´t play professionally?

 

 

When your in college, you don´t really know anything else except what is going on there. I had known guys that had come over to Europe played ball and made money, but I myself had no idea what kind of process it was coming over here and being a professional basketball player. Coming over here is everybody´s dream. I was playing it safe when I made that quote, but really there was never any doubt in my mind that I could come over here and play professional ball. But you never know what can happen. You could suffer a career ending injury. You can only hope for the best.

 

Last season as a rookie you played for Mec-Energy Roseto (Italy-Serie A2) playing 37 games: Score-2(23.6ppg), 3.0rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 86.8%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Georgia?

 

 

I was in a really good spot. I was right on the beach with great food. The people were all nice and treated me well. They really made me feel at home and we were winning and there wasn´t any pressure or stress. I was blessed that the coaching staff and teammates let me play my game and be successful. I know there was some doubt coming in, but as soon as they saw what I could do, they gave me free reigns to lead the team.

 

 

 

Last season you scored 20 points or more 24 times in 37 games. The Italian Serie A-2 is very respected, but did you sometimes feel like a man playing among boys?

 

 

No, no, it wasn´t as easy as people may have thought. After a while teams really keyed in on me putting double teams or box and one´s which made it more difficult for me as a rookie. But that is part of being a great professional. You have to be really good and what you do really good. I had to find different ways of getting open and getting off shots.

 

 

You were the only American last season with Roseto along with Brandon Sherrod who like you was a rookie from Yale. How important were you for each other and did you become friends for life?

 

Yes we are friends for life. Brandon and I are super close. We still talk to this day. He is doing really well again this season in Italy. He is really well cultured. He is really into food and traveling. I learned a lot of things from him in how to respect different cultures and sites because of his willingness to go out and do different things.

 

 

You played at three schools with NC-Wilmington, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. How did you benefit most from playing at three schools instead of only having had that experience at one school?

 

A lot of people look at my track record and think it must have been hard to bounce around so much and never really gets settled in one place. I learned so much in my years with three different schools. I saw different coaching styles. I was on the beach at NC Wilmington, in the mountains at Virginia Tech and in the city with Georgia Tech. I lived in three different environments and it helped me learn a lot in a short amount of time. I faced some adversity, but also had some great times. I would advise people never to go to three schools, but to welcome as much change as possible. Some may be afraid of this, but I like it.

 

 

You were a freshman at NC-Wilmington (NCAA) in 2011-2012 and played 30 games averaging 13.9ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 83.8%. . You were teammates with scoring guard KK Simmons who was a rookie in Germany last season and is now playing in Austria. What memories do you have of his game and did it shock you that he finished in the NAIA?

 

KK is one of my best friends in life. He is one of the funniest guys that I know. His game is similar to his personality. I saw him shoot some crazy shoots that went in. We were roommates there. I wasn´t shocked that he finished his career in the NAIA. He takes situations that he feels most comfortable in. I know that he could have been successful as much at a high division one school as much as in the NAIA.

 

 

 

After a solid freshman season you transferred to Virginia Tech on account of academic reasons. You credit head coach Buzz Williams in being very instrumental in your basketball development in your two seasons there. How did he help shape your game best?

 

Coach Buzz taught me a lot about life. He showed me how to truly work. I thought that I had always worked hard until I came to Virginia Tech. He pushed me past limits that I honestly never thought I could reach. He helped me instill a crazy work ethic. He produced so many great players like Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder or Wesley Matthews and numerous players in Europe. Every guy played hard and worked hard and it was all because of coach Buzz.

 

 

You played a season with talented German Mailk Mueller who is now on the roster of Euroleague team Brose Bamberg. What did you like most of his game and do you see him having a fine European career?

 

 

Malik is a very versatile player that can play the point guard position and if needed the stretch four because of his size. He is a good defender, is crafty and also plays hard. He is a great teammate and I see him having a long career in Europe.

 

 

You scored 15 points in a tough 91-86 OT loss to top NCAA school Duke that had a whole roster full of NBA players. When you remember the game of Tyus Jones does his skills and where he is now motivate you further each day to work harder in the gym?

 

 

Yes but not only Tyus. Not only Duke players, but the whole ACC is filled with NBA prospects. Playing against guys like that really lifts your confidence. I have trained a lot with Milwaukee Buck Malcolm Brogdan. He motivates me a lot and is one of the toughest players I have played against.

 

 

You played one more season at Georgia Tech (NCAA) playing 35 games averaging 15.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 39.5%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 80.3% After creaming South Carolina you lost to San Diego State in the NIT Elite 8. What was your most memorable game there?

 

 

 

My most memorable game was playing Clemson in the ACC tournament in the first round. We were down by 20-25 points coming down the stretch. We never gave up, but always fought. It was the hardest that we had fought the whole season. All of a sudden when we looked up at the score board the game was tied with a few seconds to go. We pulled out the win. This game showed just how far we had come that season and what we were able to do as a team in the five months. When I look back at that game, I have so much more respect for my teammates and coaches.

 

 

How did head coach Brian Gregory give you that last push in your game to help you leave the NCAA satisfied and content about becoming a professional?

 

 

 

When I transferred there for my senior year, he reached out honestly to me and said how important it was for me to come back home. He simply let me play my game. He gave me a lot of confidence and I am forever grateful. Not every coach lets you do that at that level, because it is a system. Having this freedom and letting me play my game was crucial for my senior year. We had a successful season. A week before I started my professional career in Italy, I was still on the campus at Georgia State taking 1000 shots from the gun. I think going from there to Italy set the stage for me being successful overseas. I took a lot of confidence to Italy from there and that helped my game.

 

 

 

 

 

Who won a one on one in practice you or Tadric Jackson?

 

 

 

Definitely me. He was really athletic, but I had too many moves for him.

 

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?

 

TJ Warren of the Phoenix Suns. When I played against him he was going through stretch where he was scoring between 35-45 shots a game. All you could try to do was slow him down, but I didn´t slow him down. He hit my team for 35 points. Another tough guy was Erik Greene who was my teammate and now plays with Euroleague team Valencia. He was leading the ACC in scoring. Going against him daily in practice really helped my game.

 

 

 

 

If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?

 

 

Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis

 

 

 

 

Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the neverending debate of who is the best of all-time?

 

 

If you go by rings it´s Jordan, but by filling the stat sheet it´s Lebron. Lebron has created his own legacy. He just keeps getting better. When all is said and done there will be an answer to this question.

 

 

 

There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?

 

 

No It isn´t. They made the playoffs. They wouldn´t have won games if he hadn´t played like that. He just plays the game so his team can win.

 

 

 

 

How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?

 

 

Luke Kinnard of Duke. He is a lefty shooting guard. I think that as soon as he feels comfortable around midseason that he will make an immediate impact.

 

 

 

Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?

 

 

They have enough. I have watched some of their games. They have all the necessary pieces to make a run. They play well together. They play fast paced and like to shoot the three like Golden State.

 

 

How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?

 

 

 

 

Short term the Cavs got the better deal as they will make another run for the title. Long term the Celtics got the better deal. They have a good core of young talented players. When you take them and build it around Kyrie, then they will be successful down the road.

 

Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?

 

 

I don´t think they can. The talent of them and Golden State are similar, but the system is different. The system and how Golden State play makes them much better than the Thunder.

 

 

What was the last movie that you saw?

 

I saw the Pirates of the Caribbean. I am a big Johnny Depp fan.

 

Thanks Adam for the chat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alec Brown(Moviestar Estudiantes) The ACB Style Fits My Game Best But I Won´t Give Up On NBA Opportunities

Alec Brown is a 25 year old 216cm center from Winona, Minnesota playing his fourth professional season and second with Movistar Estudiantes(ACB). Last season he started the season with the Windy City Bulls (D-League) playing 50 games averaging 10.7ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.9bpg, 2FGP: 53.4%, 3FGP: 36.4%, FT: 81.0%, in Apr.’17 moved to Movistar Estudiantes (ACB) playing 6 games averaging 14.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 68.0%, 3PT: 63.6%, FT: 68.8%. In the 2015-2016 season he came to Europe and played with  Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro CAB (ACB) playing 29 game averaging  6.1ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 75.0%. In 2014-2015 he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns (NBA,2rd(50) and  played his rookie season with the Bakersfield Jam (D-League) playing 20 games averaging 7.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.0apg, 2.0bpg, FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 79.3%. He started his basketball career at Green Bay (NCAA) form 2010-2015 playing a total of 30 games averaging 15.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.0apg, 3.1bpg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 42%, FT: 72.7%. He has played NBA Summer League the last four summers and last summer won the Gold at the FIBA AmeriCup. He spoke to German Hoops before the Basketball champions League game against medi Bayreuth in Bayreuth.

 

 

 

 

Alex thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball?

 

 

Not much. I have played with and against guys that have played in Germany. I played with Alfonso Mckinnie who is with the Toronto Raptors now and he played in Germany.

 

He actually played in Luxemburg(D2)

 

Oh ok.

 

 

Your playing your first full season Movistar Estudiantes in the ACB league in Spain. You have played parts of three seasons in the best league in Europe. Do you feel that this league suits your game best in Europe?

 

 

I would say yes. I haven´t played in any other league in Europe besides the ACB, but so far it has worked out well. I was injured in my rookie season and then went to the D-League. I returned my second year back to Spain and it was a lot easier.

 

 

How is life in Madrid playing for Estudiantes and being in the shadow of Real Madrid? Do you notice that there is so much less pressure as everything is focused on Real Madrid?

Real Madrid is the big team in Madrid, but Estudiantes has a pretty big following as well. We will meet fans on the street and that´s kind of cool. People tend to like to cheer for the underdog. We aren´t as high profile as Real Madrid, but we believe that we can beat any team on any night.

 

Movistar Estudiantes last reached the playoffs in 2006. This season they are filled with a lot of talent, but so is the ACB league. What is your early season feeling about where the journey will end this season for the club in the ACB and BCL?

 

 

It´s still very early and it´s tough to tell. We already showed what we are capable of this season as we beat FC Barcelona when we come together as a team. If we can be consistent then we should be a good team. I think that we are a potential playoff team.

 

 

 

Omar Sharif-Cook is 30 centimeters smaller than you and is a point guard, but the St Johns legend and ex NBA player has had an amazing career? How has his play and character rubbed off on you in the short time that you have been teammates?

 

It has been great playing with Omar. I have played with many great point guards including good scoring point guards, but I have never played with a point guard that has seen the court as well as him. His IQ is amazing. Anyone would love to play with him.

 

 

You share the big man duties with Croatian Goran Sutton, but do you believe like despite the immense talent around you that this could be your break out season in the ACB where you could play a more significant offensive role than you did before in this league?

 

 

I think it could be. I showed in the last six games of last season for Estudiantes that I could be effective and help them win games. I haven´t been as consistent as last season, but I have shown in a few games this season that I can be at the level that I was at last season. I feel that my play works well within coach´s system.

 

 

Let´s talk about your game. You’re a versatile big man that can shoot the three and are an amazing shot blocker. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would you say has a game most like yours?

 

I don´t know. I´ll let other people decide that.

 

 

 

You shot over 40% in your last two years of school at Wisc.-Green Bay (NCAA) and in 2014 hit 18-25 three´s at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Was shooting something that came easy to you already at a young age or has it been a work in progress?

 

 

I feel that shooting has always been a work in progress for me. I always had a natural touch from the mid distance. I worked very hard in school in expanding my range little by little. I have to really credit my coaching staff who had a lot of confidence in my abilities and believed in me. I eventually got the green light. That has really helped open up my career and get new opportunities.

 

 

You left Wisc.-Green Bay (NCAA) as the all-time shot leader at 309. Obviously blocking shots is all about timing, but do you also study opponents a little extra more with video so you have an advantage when game time comes?

 

Yes it does. I think knowing especially what hand a player uses best or what moves they have is important for being successful as a shot blocker. Most important is the timing and knowing when to be in the right place and knowing when you need to help off the drive.

 

 

 

 

Last summer you were with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Summer League in Las Vegas. After seeing Lonzo Ball live, do you see him being able to make the Lakers into a contender in the next years?

 

Yes I think he can, but maybe not right away. He is a player with a lot of potential. He is among a lot of other talented players and if they can stay together and grow then they should be good in the years to come.

 

 

 

Last season you played mostly for the Windy City Bulls (D-League) playing 50 games averaging 10.7ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.9bpg, 2FGP: 53.4%, 3FGP: 36.4%, FT: 81.0%, in Apr.’17 moved to Movistar Estudiantes (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 6 games averaging 14.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 68.0%, 3PT: 63.6%, FT: 68.8%. You were teammates with German national player Paul Zipser. Does he have the game to have a long NBA career?

 

 

 

Yes he could have a long NBA career. I only played a couple of games with him, but from what I saw, he really knows how to read the game well. He is a very smart player and really knows how to play.

 

 

In the  2015-2016 season you played your first full season with Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro CAB (Spain ACB) playing 29 games averaging 6.1ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 75.0%. What was your wake up call to playing your first season in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Minnesota?

 

 

 

It is always tough to be far away from home living on your own and then being in a foreign country. I lived in a small city where few knew English. The late dinner´s actually fit into our schedule so I liked that. My Spanish still isn´t fluid. I know basic Spanish.

 

 

In that season you lost by 30 and 15 points to top team Real Madrid scoring 10 points combined. When you look back to two years ago and look at your game now, how do you feel have you developed further that you can be an impact player this season against a team like that and in general in the ACB?

 

I have grown in the years. I wasn´t able to play to my full potential in my first season in Spain. It had nothing to do with the coach or players, but just their system that didn´t fit my style. With Estudiantes I am playing in a system that fits my game.

 

 

 

After being drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2014 you played your rookie season with the Bakersfield Jam (D-League) playing 20 games averaging 7.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.0apg, 2.0bpg, FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 79.3%. A tough injury curtailed your rookie season as you missed many months. How tough was this rookie season going through all the lows. Were there any highs for you?

 

 

 

The D-League as a rookie was tough. I was drafted and then was injured right away and missed a long time until I returned in February. Important in that down time was doing the rehab right. I knew at the end of the season that my shoulder was good again. I put in the time to get healthy again and put in the time and didn´t risk coming back to early.

 

 

You have played the last 4 NBA Summer Leagues, but still haven´t played an NBA game. What is your current approach towards the NBA? Obviously your number one focus is Estudiantes Madrid, but how far do you feel are you from getting an NBA job. How was the feedback this past summer?

 

 

I didn´t have much opportunities last summer to showcase my abilities. I don´t plan on giving up on reaching the NBA. As long as there are opportunities to play NBA Summer league or others I will accept. There is no harm in trying for the opportunity. I don´t plan on stopping.

 

 

 

 

You played at Wisc.-Green Bay (NCAA) from 2010-2014. You were signified a lot with your defensive play. When you look back at your career there what were you most proud about your accomplishments on and off the court?

 

 

I think off the court just building long lasting relationships with the coaches and players. The best thing has been building life long friendships with the people there. I can always get in contact with the coaches which is nice. On the court there were a lot of achievements. It would have been nice if we would have reached a NCAA tournament, but we won the conference my senior year so that was a big achievement.

 

 

 

 

Was your 57-56 win against Wright State where you had 11 blocks one of your most memorable games in the NCAA?

 

 

Anytime you get 11 blocks that will be memorable. That game was fun. Scoring 40 points against Fairfield was also memorable.

 

 

 

How did head coach Brian Wardle groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Wisc.-Green Bay (NCAA)?

 

 

 

 

When I got to school I was so unprepared for everything for being able to do the level of work there. He helped me become responsible. He also helped my shot giving me the green light. He had the confidence in me and helped me develop as a player.

 

 

 

Who won a one on one in practice you or Greg Mays?

 

 

Definitely me. I don´t know what he will say, but it was for sure me.

 

 

How much of an honor was it playing for the USA national team last summer and winning the gold at the FIBA AmeriCup? You played with some NBA players. Did the feeling of playing for your own country wet your appetite for possibly doing that again down the road?

 

 

 

I would play again if I was asked. It was an amazing experience. I will never forget all the confetti coming down and everyone going crazy. I kept the jersey and medal and framed it.

 

 

 

 

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?

 

 

I have played against many very tough players. Too many to name off the top of my head. I played against Anthony Davis at a Nike camp.

 

 

 

If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?

 

 

Kevin Garnett, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Lebron James.

 

 

 

 

Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?

 

It is still Michael Jordan. We will see where Lebron is after he ends his career, but he is close behind and ready to take over his role.

 

 

 

There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?

 

 

 

No I don´t. Anytime a player averages a triple double, it is simply amazing.

 

 

 

How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?

 

 

I didn´t follow it closely. But from what I saw and heard and with guys I played with, I would say that Kyle Kuzma has a good chance of having a good career.

 

 

 

Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?

 

Their conference is tough. Good luck to them.

 

 

 

 

 

How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?

 

 

The Cavs got the better deal short term and the Celtics long term.

 

 

Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?

 

They will always be good, but I doubt that they can make a serious run.

 

What was the last movie that you saw?

 

I recently saw the movie Thor. It was a great movie.

 

Thanks Alec for the chat.