So let’s talk Munich, the team seems to be seeing a good deal of success! I saw you were off to a 7-0 start, and you are in line with your career numbers from your first two years in Europe. The European game is a different animal to us here in the United States, if you can, I’d like to do a lightning round on the European game:
You haven’t stayed in one place for more than a year so far, having moved from France to the Ukraine, and now to Germany. Is this your decision to keep moving? Do they not sign guys long-term? Does the need to find a new home each year stress you out?
In Europe it’s rare that a young American starts off on the highest level as far as Euroleague and a financially stable team, so taking that into consideration my agent and I had a plan and that was to make it to the highest level and go from there. next yr my plan is to sign a multi-yr deal because I’m in the top tier and as long as I’m comfortable spending multiple yrs in a certain city, with a good winning club with financial stability that decision is easy. That’s not always the case though. I’m never stressed about finding a job because as long as I play good and do my job, that won’t be an issue.
In the past, I’m not sure if this is still the rule, do the Euroleague teams still only allow 2 Americans per team? If so, does this create any social isolation for you? How long is the season, before you can return home?
I’m not sure that was a rule or if it was that was a long time ago. most teams have around 5 foreigners and every team I’ve been on everybody has spoken English and I’ve had good teammates. this season because of Euroleague i won’t get a break and I won’t be home until June.
What are some of the differences in the Euroleague that take getting used to? Are there any strange rules and so forth that affect your game specifically?
No big rules here affect my game the only two major differences is you can goaltending and they have a different first step travel rule. I never had a problem adjusting though.
Who are some of the American players you teamed up with so far? Who are the US College players you see in the Bundesliga?
Right now I have Deon Thompson, Bryce Taylor, Chevon Troutman and John Bryant on my team from the states. last yr I had Leo Lyons, and my rookie year Blake Schillb and Alade Aminu. Alade and Deon were both acc guys I played against in college.
I see from the game log you have played teams from Spain and Turkey with Munich? Were those exhibitions, or do they count towards your regular season record? The way FIFA runs Soccer is confusing to me, in terms of what games count towards what. Is FIBA just as complicated in that regard? Do you only play teams in Germany for your regular season?
Euroleague is teams from all over Europe. German league and Europe are separate but count towards your total record. totally different leagues though.
Bayern is the richest German team right? Are there some poor teams? I’ve heard horror stories. Do you play in unheated gyms in some places? And do you hear the stories about guys getting shorted on their checks because teams try to cheat the players?
There are poor teams everywhere. and it’s true about the money issues, that’s a big thing in Europe now. goes back to why you have to be cautious signing multi yr deals with any team. I’ve dealt with getting paid late all of last season but it’s not a problem in Germany, this is the most financially stable country with basketball in Europe. the unheated gym I’ve never played in, not sure about that.
Which league do you feel has the best players in Europe?
Spain, Turkey, Germany and Italy are probably the top leagues.
Which is your favorite European country to live in? To travel through?
So far Munich is the best I’ve lived in, its clean, the people are nice, and it has everything i need to feel comfortable living. my favorite place I’ve visited is probably Athens.
As a food enthusiast, with a grandmother who actually grew up in Munich, I am extremely jealous of your posting up in Germany! Have you gotten acquainted with the cuisine yet in Germany? I see tweets from you about getting Subway, and I hope you’re not timid about trying the local fare! What country do you feel has the best food out of France/Ukraine/Germany? What special dish(es)have you tried over there, that you never saw over here, and might recommend to us?
I’m honestly not big on food that doesn’t look appetizing so I will try food only if I think I will like it. I’m simple with European food, but Germany has the best good and Ukraine had the best soup. here the most famous I’ve tried is the schnitzel.
Do you still get to the line like you used to? In spite of all your abilities, it was your tenacious will to make something out of every possession that I liked the most. If your J wasn’t falling you were going to get to the line. To me, that messes the other team up more than you sinking a clean look. It makes them factor in the foul trouble and alter their substitution patterns. Who taught you to do things the right way? For a slender, shorter guy you got to the FT line with the frequency reserved for bigger players who play the more physical spots on the floor. It’s another reason I feel the NBA isn’t looking at you the right way. The Euro game is less physical, so do they call the games the same?
Europe is very physical depending on the type of player you are, I’ve established myself as one of the top players so I get the best defender and they always play me physical. I’m usually bigger than every point guard in height and not far off in weight. I’m 6’3 for a point guard that’s big. but as far as free-throws it’s still the same, I think I lead Euroleague in makes, and attempts. I am Pretty sure I’m top 3 in percentage. Nobody taught me how to do it, I study the game and being a scorer you have to learn different ways to get points instead of just taking a lot of shots.
Questions will be about your grind to get to the NBA, which of course is everybody’s dream who ever picked up a basketball.
Unfortunately you haven’t been given the opportunity to compete in the NBA on a regular season roster yet. The money is of course better in Europe than in the D League, and getting paid while you can is the priority. However, do you think if you took the pay cut and rode the D-League bus that you would get a call-up?
Well that not accurate information because I’ve chosen to stay in Europe. I’ve had opportunities from the time I left college to stay home and do camps but I’ve never entertained them because like I said before I had a plan. I wanted to get financially stable and the only way to play in the NBA is when they want me enough to take me out of the league minimum range which I’m making more than league minimum now. So it would be dumb to go home for that and sit on a bench or to play in the D-league and basically make no money. The d-league route isn’t an option for me at all, I’ve established myself too well over here for that. With a NBA contract I would play in the d-league but the highest paid in the d-league is maybe $10,000 a season after taxes, I would get a job before I did that.
How did Summer League go in 2012 with the Pistons? You didn’t get a roster spot, but did it give you any insight into what was holding you back? Personally I see a ton of guys on NBA benches that you could easily swap spots with and make a contribution. Your handle was always exceptional and you weren’t turnover prone. Is it your height as a shooting guard? Or the fact that you have a scoring mentality that scares teams away from bringing you in as a PG? Is it the size limiting you from being viewed as able to match-up defensively? I’d love to see you get a chance, because I think your attitude is what sets you apart. You always seemed capable of rising to whatever level game you compete in, even if there were questions on the “eye-test”.
The Pistons didn’t give me a chance, they sat me on the bench in summer league and I think it held me back that summer. I had a lot of Euroleague teams watching me and they didn’t play me so I honestly didn’t learn or gain anything from that summer. That’s why I didn’t waste my time with summer league last summer.
If money were equal in the end, would you trade a full career in Europe for two years in the NBA at minimum salary? Personally to me, I love the game, so if someone told me I could play it for a decade or more, I’d do that. But that’s just me.
If you’re talking as a whole being money made over both time periods being equal at the end I would do the NBA because Europe is tougher to do than just basketball and I would stay home if it were equal. the season is long and in some cases very demanding. and nobody would chose to stay away from their family for equal money.
Will you be back this summer to give the NBA Summer League another try? When do the inquiries start being made to you or your agent about your availability?
My path is different, I’m not playing Summer League to tryout if I chose the NBA route at this point in my career it’s because a team is ready to sign me on a guarantee deal and they want me to play, but besides that I doubt it. I’d rather rest my body and get ready for the next season.
After you declared following your Junior year, they gave you a shaky report in terms of what you could expect in terms of draft status. At that time did they give you pointers as to what you could improve? Are those things still issues for you after all the work? I guess what I’m getting at is: Once you get typecast as a certain type of player, can you ever overcome that initial assessment?
This is also false. What people fail to realize is the feedback I got was very positive. The NBA survey I did came out a lot better than I expected. Out of 17 teams who responded the Spurs were the only ones who said they had no interest. the people I talked to said I was a 2nd round pick but I didn’t want to settle for that because the lockout was coming the following year and if you can look into statistics, a lot of the guys who took minimum deals or 2nd round picks found themselves in trouble even if they played the lockout year. Also I was still fighting my ankle injury which after the Portland workout I had I could barely even walk, and was shut down 2 months before my senior season because of it. I came back too early to play vs. Carolina that season and it is one of my biggest regrets because it illed my ankle.
What was your favorite season in a Hokie uniform? What made it special? If I look at your career I really liked your JR year.
My junior yr of course for statistics and getting the honors I received and leading the acc in scoring. it was a special season for me, but we never made the tourney so I’m still not happy with my overall career there. wish i could have done more.
Of all the Hokie players I’ve seen in 20 years watching the program closely, you are the one that deserved to go to the NCAA the most. For four years, there was nobody more reliable. And that includes the guys who actually went to the tournament in 2007. How unfair were those selection committee snubs? Did the snub your Junior year upset you to the point it made you feel unhappy to come back to VT for your SR year?
I’m still trying to figure out how we didn’t get in, and the ESPN guys can give all the BS answers they wanted but we deserved it. And yes the biggest disappointment was junior year but that made me doubt the senior yr. I didn’t think we were in when we met at coaches house and I was right. Something just told me history would repeat itself.
Jim Weaver is leaving as Athletic Director at the end of the year. And though I sympathize with the circumstances, nobody has been more objectively critical of him than me. I felt he never scheduled you guys tough enough games to get the respect from the committee. The RPI for Strength of Schedule was always weak. What are your thoughts on that?
I’m not sure how that went, but i know for sure sometimes we beat teams who were supposed to be good but ended up falling off towards the end of the season. I do wish we played more big games, but we aren’t UNC or DUKE we weren’t a premier college name that everybody wanted to get on their schedule.
What made you choose Tech over your other offers? Rapport with the coaches? The ACC? Coach Greenberg?
I wanted to play in the ACC, against Duke, UNC, UMD because I’m a very competitive person and wanted to play the best. coach did a good hands on job recruiting me and he made it clear that I was the guy he really wanted to go after, and with the graduating class basically losing everybody I felt it was the best opportunity for me.
How much do you feel Coach Greenberg calling the committee “certifiably insane” affected your chances to get an at-large bid for your SR season? As soon as he voiced that, I said, “Damn we’re gonna need to go undefeated next year, and even then they might leave us out.
NO COMMENT, lol
What was your favorite class at VT? In your major and not in your major please.
Not in my major was Women’s Studies just because it was something new for me and it was a class full of girls, and in my major I think Stat and Econ because it helped me get a better understanding of how to build, save and manage my money before I even made a dollar.
What were a couple of things you enjoyed about VT and Blacksburg that weren’t basketball related?
The college town experience, the parties of course, and just being able to go from the inner city to what we consider the country and be successful with a different type of environment and people was a big thing for me.
I love Baltimore. I’ve spent a good deal of time up there. I find it preferable to DC in fact. I used to play a little ball on the West side up off North Avenue near Coppin/Mondawmin. Your bio states that you are from the East Side. As a fan of the best TV show ever to grace the airwaves, The Wire, I’m asking if have you ever been involved in a Westside-Eastside basketball game like the one Avon and Prop Joe put on? Is this a real thing? I know in DC they got Berry Farms down in SE , where are the best games in Baltimore in your opinion?
When I was younger the west side/ east side thing was bigger but I’ve played in some all star games like that. the most famous court in Baltimore is “the dome” which is on the east side and where I started playing basketball, but basketball evolved as I got older and there were people from both sides on my team.
I grew up in the early 80s and Dunbar was a feeder school for University of MD and Georgetown. But the Baltimore coaches all had a problem with MD for a while there between Lefty Driesell and Bob Wade. Did you find the AAU circuit was against MD and Gary Williams when you were coming out because Gary didn’t kiss any ass? Maryland was on your short list? What turned you off?
Nobody really talks about MD in Baltimore because they really weren’t giving the tope kids proper looks. they didn’t do a good job recruiting me and that’s why I didn’t want to go there. they offered me and that basically was it, I guess they expected me to just sign but it’s not that easy. That’s not the dream school for ‘Baltimore city kids, in my personal opinion.
Lake Trout? True delicacy? Yes or No?
Lake Trout, yes.
Did you take time out to watch The Wire, or are you already like been there-done that? If you did watch the show, who you got if it came down to it? Omar or Mouzone? Did a little bit of you die along with String? I know part of me did.
I’ve watched every season, a few times and my favorite character was snoop.
If someone is coming up to Baltimore, what is the secret eating spot that you would refer them to?
Jimmy’s seafood. Best seafood in Maryland hands down.
Crabs. Worth your time to eat, or too much work?
Eat them all the time, but if I don’t feel like it I get crab cakes.
Women. Do you have a girl back home? If so, is it tough being in Europe, and does the team allow you to fly her over for visits? Is there a break in the season for you to come home?
Favorite drink. Every man got a favorite drink. What do you favor?
Half lemonade / ice tea.
What do you want to do when the game is done with you, since we all know you’ll never be done with the game?
hopefully I make enough money to franchise some of my ideas and I won’t have to do anything but enjoy life and be my own boss but if there was something else I would want to do. I think coaching would be an option.
How often do you get back to Blacksburg? As a kid from Baltimore did SW VA grow on you, or were you happy to get back to city life?
I’ve only been this past summer for a week since I graduated. I haven’t had the time. And SW/VA was good to me but I prefer living in the city more.
Whips. What are you driving in Germany? What do you keep at home? Dream car? I remember when a buddy of mine at VT went to Iceland they got him a loaded Explorer. Is the club hooking you up?
We are sponsored by Audi so everybody had a Audi A4. they take care of us well… and back home I have a Porsche Panamera. My dream car is probably a Lambo Aventador.
Favorite NBA team? Favorite current NBA player? Favorite historical NBA player besides Jordan? Please explain briefly why for each. Me, I like KD. Doctor J was my favorite player from word go.
I don’t have a favorite team, I barely even watch NBA basketball. But Melo is still my favorite current player because I’ve known him almost my whole life and he’s a humble superstar, and historical I would go with Pistol Pete because of how his style of play was so ahead of his time when he played and he wore the #23 before #44 one of the reasons I wear it. Also Jordan but Pistol Pete as well.
Favorite basketball movie? Me personally, I can’t choose. I think it’s either Semi Pro or White Men Can’t Jump. On the serious tip, maybe Above the Rim with Tupac, or He Got Game.
He Got Game is definitely my favorite but above the rim and sunset park are also my favorites.