Joe Asberry is known as a basketball clown, as a streetworker and last but not least as a former professional basketball player. He came to Germany in the early 90s and when his career had come to a close, he decided to stay in Germany. Eurobasket.com had the chance to talk to Asberry about the dream of American basketball players to play professionally in Europe, about the difficulties to start a new life in a foreign country and about the risks and pleasures of playing pro ball: a must-read for young Americans who play or want to play in Europe.
I'm sure, there won't be many, but for those people who don't know you yet, can you talk about your career as a basketball player, how and when you first came to Germany and where you spent your professional career. Joe Asberry: In high school I was All State in Washington and won a State Championship with the German Legend Christian Welp. He was the foreign exchange student at my school. I was heavily recruited on the West Coast. I took all five of my recruiting visits: Reno, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Washington State. But I ended up choosing the wrong school by going to Pepperdine. I fell into coach Jim Harricks doghouse because of my criminal activity off the court, and did not play much. But I can say I played in the big show during march madness and got a dunk in garbage time in front of 20 000 people. That's big time basketball, I love march madness so much! I was frustrated with my playing time, so I transferred to San Francisco State. I played there for two years, I started and was a main guy on my team. I was not the big star in college, I was a role player known for my rebounding, defense, and my bounce. I got cut by a CBA team in Oklahoma City, and by the Golden State Warriors, but I never gave up. I first came to Germany back in 1991, when Marzel Price was playing in the first division in Giessen. We grew up together in the hood in California, so he hooked me up. I want to thank Thomas Andres, he took a chance on me, when nobody else would, and in return, I averaged 30 and broke a backboard playing for him in the oberliga. I was playing against Big Wysocki (Konrads dad) in that game. When I saw his son this year playing in Bonn in the first division, I told him I was mighty proud that he chased down his hoop dream and his brother Kevin too. That was my first job, I got paid 150 marks per game. I also want to thank Harry Kramer, the second half of that season. I played with him in Krofdorf Gleiburg, and my dunk show never stopped. I averaged 30 in the 2nd Regionalliga and had a 50 point game playing with the managers of the UBC Tigers, Mike and Markus Goch. I helped Crailsheim move to the 2nd division, I played in Finland (2nd Division Korinokia), I played on a touring team in Japan and China, and my last stop was in Luxembourg (BBC Nitia), where I also averaged 30, but I fell out of love with basketball, because in Luxembourg they expect you to do every thing. How can I play the point with no handles? I did it though. If you ever play there, when you leave that country you will be a better basketball player, trust me.
What have you been doing after your career as a basketball player and what made you decide to stay in Germany? Asberry: After my playing career I stared working for a drug prevention center in Hamburg (SPZ) and now I work in Bonn as a streetworker in Tannenbusch. I try to save kids' lifes everyday using basketball as a tool to get them to go school ,stay out of trouble etc. I decided to stay in Germany, because it is better then trying to rob banks in California, for me it was a no brainer LOL!
Many players have a dream of playing a couple of seasons in Europe and then making it to the NBA or at least playing in the Euroleague one day. Did you have that dream yourself back then and how likely is it for a young player to achieve that? Asberry: My dream was to play in the NBA and win a championship. I wanted to be two people when I was a young buck: my big brother Mike, and Dominique Wilkens. I stole their games and put it all into my game. My ballhandling was not good enough for the NBA, everything else was good enough, but I still got cut: wrong place, wrong time. I tell young guys: You have a shot, but it will be very difficult. There are alot of great basketball players out there. So chase your hoop dream and give it your best shot. I gave it my best shot for sure.
What are some of the problems, on and off the court, that a player will face, who comes out of college and who spends his first year as a pro basketball player in Germany? Asberry: I am a natural born clown, but I must take this question very serious, Moritz. I had a long talk with Greg Baker last week, the star player playing in Iserlohn in the 1st Regionalliga. After that conversation I know the answer. The main problem an American coming from college will run into here in Germany is called THE CLUB! It is ok to party and have fun. You deserve it, you work hard, you run lines everyday. I know, I've been there and done that. But the problem is: How do I get home now after the heavy partying and drinking with my teammates? I have watched it every year here, some Americans will get into the car the club has given him, and drive it home after the night partying. This is a bad decision. Take it from a guy who's life has been filled with bad decisions. So party on young bucks, and get a designated driver, leave that car at home. Because when your manager finds out, you will be fired. And I dont even want to think about the fact that you can kill yourself, or hurt others driving in that condition. And trust me: They go HARD HERE! LOL! Or better yet, stay out of the club, study film and become a student of the game.
Do you feel that the players who come to Germany or other European countries for the first time are prepared for the different culture, the different life that is waiting overhere? And what can be done to better that situation? Asberry: Players who come to Europe for the first time have no idea what is going on. A different time zone, a different culture. You leave everyone around you that you truly love, you are on your own. Like my big homey told me: It's time to really MAN UP! You are a professional basketball player now. This is not college, this is your JOB NOW! They pay you for a service, basketball, and they want to see the results. If you can't produce, they will find another player easily that will produce. My advice is to ask guys that you know who play in Europe, what it is all about.
Do you think living the life as a professional basketball overseas can go together with living the "normal" life of a young man, who wants to enjoy life? Asberry: I think that professional basketball and a normal life can go hand in hand. You only have to train I would say a maximum 6 hours per day. Get some shots up for 2 hours, hit the weights for 2 hours, and then your normal practice with your team. So you're still not working that eight hour grind of a 9 to 5. So the other time you can spend checking out the city, bonding with teammates, but please, don't just sit in your apartment playing video games the whole day, like I did LOL!
Compared to other places and to other countries: Is Germany a good place to start your overseas career? Asberry: Germany is an excellent place to start your career. When I see the guys who play here in Bonn: Man, for them it must be like paradise. Your first job in the first league! They play in a beautiful Dome. I am so happy for Dre Mangold, he understands the grind here with basketball. He stayed patient, worked hard, and now instead of playing in that little box of a gym in Hannover, where I tore my biceps dunking, he is now playing in that dome.
Does any player, regardless the school he attended or the college division he played in, has the chance to play overseas? And what's the best way of finding a place to play overseas? Asberry: Oh yes. Let me clear that up right now for people who do not understand basketball here. If you can ball, you can ball. It's nice to go with a guy who played Division 1 for sure, that's big time basketball. But there are guys who play Division 2, 3, Juco, even just coming out of high school who can flat out GO! The best thing about those guys who play on a lower level is most of them always have that chip on their shoulder, like they have something to prove. When I played here in cup games, I was like: Ok, I play in the 3rd league, but today we play against a 1 or 2nd division team, so I am going to prove I can play on that level. I never played in the 1st division here, but in every one of those cup games I dropped 20 and 10, so I proved to myself I could play with those guys. So for you guys playing here on the lower levels: Stay ready, you never know who is in that gym watching you. So for the young guys dreaming about playing professional basketball here in Europe: Check the agents page, contact clubs, get your footage together, go to summer leagues and show cases, and give it all you got. I hope this information helps some youngster out there to live out their hoop dream. And last but not least thank you so much Pat Elzie, my former agent!
Brian Sullivan (180-PG-93, college: Davidson) is a 23 year old 180cm guard from Upper Arlington, Ohio that is playing his rookie season in Germany with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau. He started his college basketball career in 2011 with Miami, OH (NCAA) playing 30 games averaging 10.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 35.7%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 70.0%. He then played at Davidson (NCAA) from 2013-2016 and as a senior played 30 games averaging 14.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 32.7%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 83.1%.... [read more]
Brian Sullivan (180-PG-93, college: Davidson) is a 23 year old 180cm guard from Upper Arlington, Ohio that is playing his rookie season in Germany with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau. He started his college basketball career in 2011 with Miami, OH (NCAA) playing 30 games averaging 10.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 35.7%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 70.0%. He then played at Davidson (NCAA) from 2013-2016 and as a senior played 30 games averaging 14.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 32.7%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 83.1%. He spoke to eurobasket during the summer before signing with the Hebeisen White Wings.
Brian thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been? My pleasure. I am currently in Hanau, Germany preparing for the season with my teammates and coaching staff. My summer was excellent, it was the most productive and efficient summer I have had as a basketball player.
After a stellar college basketball career where you played the last three seasons with Davidson, with what expectations were you going into this summer's transfer market? You signed very late with German team Hebeisen White Wings. Did you not have as many offers as one may have thought or was the right opportunity not there earlier in the summer? The biggest thing I wanted was a good fit. I felt that Hanau was a great situation for me because of the coaching staff and player development they offer. I wanted to go to a good opportunity where I would be able to improve the most and I felt Hanau was the best place for me to do that.
Congrats on signing with German Pro A team Hebeisen White Wings. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it's basketball? I studied German for about 8 years growing up so I know a bit of German (not as much as I thought I did) and I know a little about the culture. As far as basketball, I know that it has a very good reputation and the coaches do a great job here.
Did you get some timely advice from Luke Loucks who played with the Hebeisen White Wings last season. How vital was his input on helping making your decision easier? I did not speak with Luke.
What were the main reasons for picking the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau as your first destination as a professional?
I wanted the best opportunity for me to grow and improve while still being able to compete for a winning team. I felt like the White Wings coaching staff would give me the best growth in player development while competing at a high level.
Did you have talks with head coach Simon Cote? What was your first impression of him and did you notice quickly that you speak the same basketball language in talks? Yes, I was really impressed after talking to Coach Cote, he is passionate about the game and ask for his players to compete and improve which I really appreciated. He was a big factor in my decision.
You will be entering the very competitive German Pro A and could advance to one of the top point guards in the league. How confident are you that you can make an impact as a rookie? I am confident that I am able to make an impact for my team. I feel like the A10 and coach McKillop prepared me very well to be a professional and I am excited to continue to learn and improve.
Let's talk a bit about your game. You seem not to be a pass first guard, but more of a scoring point guard. What other strength do you have in your game? I have the reputation of being more of a scorer, which is certainly a big part of my game. I feel like much of that is from playing more as a combo guard at Davidson so I was asked to score the ball more. I think a strength of my game is being able to handle the basketball and find teammates for open shots.
If you had to compare your game to an NBA player to what player would your game resemble the most?
I would compare my style of play to Damian Lillard
You can fill up the stat sheet, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn't get noticed right away on the court?
I think one thing that doesn't always get noticed is that I like to play the right way. I always try to help my teammates on either end of the floor and just try to bring energy to the game.
You started your college career in 2011 with Miami, OH (NCAA) playing 30 games averaging 10.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 35.7%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 70.0%. You were the first freshman since 1996 to score in double figures as well as other fine achievements. How much of an impact did Charlie Coles have on you which prompted you to transfer to Davidson? Charlie Coles was great for me during my freshman year. He trusted me and I gained valuable experience as a freshman. He ultimately retired after my freshman year when I did decide to transfer. So I did not transfer because of Coach Coles, it was just a better situation for me on and off the court at Davidson.
Do ever think about how your school career might have gone had you played all four years at Miami, Ohio? Do you feel like you could have been better with your development then how it went with Davidson? No, I don't like to look back in the rear view mirror like that. I confidently made my decision to transfer to Davidson and loved my experience there.
You once said in an article 'I've really stopped trying to please others,' 'Basketball is not who I am, it's what I do. When did you realize that you had to change this outlook? I realized this when I felt the expectation of others driving me more than my own expectations were. I wanted to make others happy to the point where I became miserable and tired, and so I just started to be myself and play the way I knew how to. That was a big moment in my career and has allowed me to find a lot more joy and peace in playing the game.
How do you feel did you prosper from having very talented guard Jack Gibbs in the back court with you on a daily basis? Jack is a great player and we would go against each other so it was good for both of us to be competing like that. He draws so much attention from defenses that it opened up things for other players. Moving forward I am excited about being able to have the ball in my hands more and be a decision maker on the court.
You had many amazing games, but also games to forget like the 98-65 loss to North Carolina. When you remember games like this and the talent you faced, do you see a big difference in the level of play of these future NBA players or do you sense that these guys aren't really better than me?
We played against a lot of good players over my four years at Davidson, so what I saw was obviously great talent, but I noticed most all of them had great confidence. Personally, I don't back down and so I feel that I can play with anyone.
How did head coach Bob Mckillop groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He has taught me so much that has prepared me, whether its on or off the court he has prepared us. He taught me to respect my teammates, to have fun and attack while I am playing and those are all things I will take with me.
You hung out a lot with head coach Bob McKillop. What was your favorite Steph Curry story where you learned something that you didn't know about the NBA superstar? A story coach loves to tell about Steph is that during one of his first games as a freshman he had about 6 or 7 turnovers in the first half and that would typically rattle a freshman but coach McKillop stuck with him and he ended up having a great second half. It speaks to his ability to stay in the moment.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Jack Gibbs? Jack is my little brother, I wouldn't let him beat me.
Who was the toughest player that you battled on the court face to face that is in the NBA now?
We played Jabari Parker his freshman year, his size and skill set were very impressive for a freshman.
If you had to construct your NBA Rushmore with the 4 best heads ever who would you choose? I can only speak on players that I have actually seen video of, so I will say MJ, LeBron, Kobe, Shaq
Lebron finally won an NBA title with the Cavs. Where does he stand now with the all-time greatest that ever played? I haven't seen enough film of the older plays to compare them against each other but he is very high up there on my list.
What was the last movie that you saw? I watched Zoolander 2 on my flight over here.
Brandon Lockhart (185-G-90, college: Drury) is a 26 year old 185cm guard from St Louis, Missouri that is playing his third professional season and first with the ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen (Germany-ProB). Last season he played for the Giants TSV 1861 Noerdlingen (Germany-Pro B) playing 29 games averaging 16.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 5.7apg, 2.5spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 26.8%, FT: 81.1% As a rookie he played for BK Levicki Patrioti (Slovakia-Extraliga) playing 34 games: Score-5 (16.7ppg), 3.8rpg, Assists-... [read more]
Brandon Lockhart (185-G-90, college: Drury) is a 26 year old 185cm guard from St Louis, Missouri that is playing his third professional season and first with the ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen (Germany-ProB). Last season he played for the Giants TSV 1861 Noerdlingen (Germany-Pro B) playing 29 games averaging 16.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 5.7apg, 2.5spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 26.8%, FT: 81.1% As a rookie he played for BK Levicki Patrioti (Slovakia-Extraliga) playing 34 games: Score-5 (16.7ppg), 3.8rpg, Assists-5 (4.3apg), Steals-1 (3.0spg), FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 28.5%, FT: 78.9%. He played at Drury (NCAA2) from 2009-2013 and as a senior played 35 games averaging 12.5ppg, 3.9rpg, 6.1apg, 2.9spg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 48.3%, FT: 77.1%. He spoke to eurobasket after the season opening 105-74 win against Wurzburg.
Brandon congrats on the overpowering 105-74 win against Wurzburg. After the preseason and all the hard work did you expect to come out with such a good result before the game started? Danke Miles! Starting the season with a win is all we really had in mind. I do not think any of us believed the game would have a result as such.
Wurzburg had the narrow 22-19 lead after one quarter, but in the second quarter the ScanPlus baskets got their offense going with 33 points and gave up only 8 points to have the overwhelming 52-30 lead at the break. What did head coach Dario Jerkic want the team do change up in the second frame?
We were lacking focus on the defensive side of the ball and allowed them a bunch of second chances. So in the 2nd quarter, we wanted to make it harder for them to score and really focus on grabbing rebounds when they missed.
The Elchingen offense kept scoring,scoring and scoring adding 31 points in the third quarter. What makes the squad so dangerous on the offensive end? We have a good number of players that can score the ball in a variety of ways. Therefore the defense cannot just lock in on 1 or 2 players. They have to be worried about all 5 players on the court because anyone can score at any time.
But it isn't just the offensive end, but on the defensive end you had 14 team steals and forced Wurzburg to 23 turnovers. What has been key for getting so many on the same page so early on the defensive end?
We still have a long way to go but it's something we work on daily at practice. We really want the defensive side of the ball to carry us because we know there will be games when shots are not going in.
Would the score have been closer if Wurzburg had had some Americans. They played with only one import last season and this season recently added a new American, but he didn't play. Wurzburg is a good team that has talent so I believe the score would be closer if we played the same roster today or tomorrow. Lucky for us, we were clicking on both sides of the ball which contributed to the score being as such.
The ScanPlus baskets had five guys in double figures. Does this team make your job a bit easier than last season where Nordlingen needed you to score much every game with it's non deep scoring roster?
I don't know if it makes my job easier, but it does change it some. I might not have to score as much, but I still have to go out each game and give it my all. So my approach to the game is still the same.
What has been your early impression of rookie Taevaunn Prince. Is this a guy that will be able to make a consistent impact week in and week out? I would characterize Taevaunn as a "walking bucket" because he can get you a basket however you want it whenever you need it. He led all of NCAA DII last year in scoring and that just doesn't happen easily. I hope and believe that he will put up big numbers for us this season.
How important is the fact that the ScanPlus Baskets have a nice mix of imports and not only Americans. Has this reality had an early impact on the healthy growing team chemistry?
It's still early in the season and chemistry on/off the court is still developing. We are at a good point for this part of the season and I hope positive chemistry continues to happen within the club!
You had a very solid game with 14 points, six rebounds, nine assists and three steals. How is your role different this season to last? As the point guard, I feel my role is still the same no matter my stat lines. I still have to lead vocally and by example.
What is your main goal as a player this season besides winning. You obviously are not depended to score as much as last season. Could this be a season where your playmaking goes to a new dimension? With the amount of players we have this season that can score, having high assist totals are definitely in reach. I've always been a fan of passing more than scoring, so it should be a really fun year!
Defense is also a big part of your game. In a team that has many athletes, how is your defensive game able to grow this season which it might not have been last season? Haha coaches are not really a fan unless I get it, but it allows me to take a few more chances on defense. But it also allows me to pressure the ball more, which coaches like, without the fear of getting beat because help side can arrive quicker.
Jordan Talbert is in Karlsruhe and Janek Schmidtkunz in Gotha. How much do you miss these guys and how sure are you that both guys will be checking your box score each weekend to see how well you are doing?
I definitely miss those guys! They are like brothers to me. The three of us had a tremendous connection on/off the court. We are all in contact a couple times a week and have already told each other we will be keeping up with games and even try to catch a couple in person.
What does a football fan do in St Louis now without the Rams during the winter? Do you still follow them now even though they are home in Los Angeles now? Luckily for me, I was never really attached to the Rams. It would hurt more if the Cardinals were to leave the StL. So I'm not sure what a Rams' fan does during football season.
The great Kevin Garnett has retired. Where is his legacy now with the alltime great that have played in the NBA?
He is definitely one of the best to ever do it! I think basketball people could sit around for days and debate whether or not he is a top 5 PF of all time. But no debate about whether or not he will end up in the Hall of Fame!
Julian Scott (203-F/C-90, college: Adams St.) is a 26 year old 203cm forward from Sacramento, California that completed his second professional season and first with the Uni Riesen Leipzig playing 23 games: Score-5 (20.4ppg), Reb-2 (10.5rpg), 1.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 17.9%, FT: 66.7%. He picked up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Forward of the Year -16, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 1st Team -16, and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Imports... [read more]
Julian Scott (203-F/C-90, college: Adams St.) is a 26 year old 203cm forward from Sacramento, California that completed his second professional season and first with the Uni Riesen Leipzig playing 23 games: Score-5 (20.4ppg), Reb-2 (10.5rpg), 1.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 17.9%, FT: 66.7%. He picked up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Forward of the Year -16, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 1st Team -16, and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Imports Team -16. As a rookie, he played for TSV Quakenbrueck (Germany-2.Regionalliga) playing 16 games averaging 29.7ppg. He started his basketball career at Yuba junior college and then played two years at S.Utah (NCAA). He finished at Adams St. (NCAA2) playing 27 games: 10.8ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 70.2%. He spoke to eurobasket about the departure From Pro A team Ehingen.
Julian thanks for talking to eurobasket. Com. Where are you at the moment and what are momentarily most in your thoughts now? Hey Miles I'm currently in Ehingen looking for a new situation to come up. My thoughts are more reflecting on everything that's happened up to now.
Recently this summer we talked about your future season Ehingen and you were very motivated about the new opportunity. You must of never thought in your wildest dreams that your stay would be so short? Not at all but it was a mutual understanding with the manager as well as the coach.
You had been in pre-season with Pro A team Ehingen. How would you summarize your stay there?
Definitely took dedication and focus to come in and work so hard every single day and wake up sore as hell and get right back to work. I definitely can say my body benefited from the process.
Would you agree that it was more a problem with getting used to the system of head coach Domenik Reiboth then it was a matter of adjusting to the level of the Pro A? Yes definitely and that's what it came down to and in the end a decision had to be made so you live and you learn
What did 't fit with the system of Reinboth and combining the strength's of your game? I can't really sit here and complain about his structure they won the Pro B championship with that structure. I just wasn't able to adapt in the time frame he needed me to.
Was their possibly less room at the big positions with Danny Berger and Tobias Jahn and you became the odd man out? Not at all I was their starting 4/5 man Danny and Tobias just knew his system and were very comfortable with it. I was still learning but it wasn't quick enough for the coach to trust in me to be his leader in that system and position.
How comfortable did you feel playing in the Pro A? How confident are you still that you can be a productive player in this league? I was completely comfortable. I have no doubt in my mind I can do well in Pro A it just depends on the next club who is willing to give me the opportunity.
I guess you have left with no hard feelings? What kind of farewell did you get from coach? Yeah no hard feelings it's nothing personal and sometimes you got to remember this is a business I'm doing what I love but it is also my job and I didn't do it well enough for them to have confidence in me. Nothing special just good luck on a new situation for me and that's was it.
What have you learned from this experience that will help you in the future in this kind of situation. I would say just remember this is your job as well so meaning I need to be professional as well as being 100% every practice.
What is the next step for Julian Scott (203-F/C-90, college: Adams St.)? Will you stay in Germany and wait for a new opportunity? The next step for me will be to find a new club quickly to put this all behind me. I will stay in Europe yes in order to stay prepared for the next possible opportunity.
If a Pro B team opened their door tomorrow and the situation was good, would you go that route? I would speak with my agent and we would make a decision together if that's a route were interested in taking.
Your ex teammate Brandon Shingles is also without a team. How weird is it for both of you to be without a team despite your success from last season?
Not weird to me at all its a business and there are millions of athletes competing for jobs everyday so we're just trying to get in where we fit in and try to move up from there.
What is one thing that you would like to see happen in the NBA this season? See the Sacramento Kings be playoff contenders.
What was the last movie that you saw? Above the rim is the last movie I saw.
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