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!
Yannick Anzuluni(204-F-87, college: Houghton) is a 28 year old 205cm forward from Ottawa, Canada that also has the Congo citizenship. He signed back in Germany with BBL team Phoenix Hagen and recently finished his sixth professional season with Umea BSKT (Sweden-Basketligan) playing 32 games: Score-5 (17.5ppg), Reb-4 (8.6rpg), 2.3apg, Steals-1 (2.4spg), 1.0bpg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 84.5%. He played at Houghton (NAIA) from 2006-2010. He played his first two seasons as a professional... [read more]
Yannick Anzuluni (204-F-87, college: Houghton) is a 28 year old 205cm forward from Ottawa, Canada that also has the Congo citizenship. He signed back in Germany with BBL team Phoenix Hagen and recently finished his sixth professional season with Umea BSKT (Sweden-Basketligan) playing 32 games: Score-5 (17.5ppg), Reb-4 (8.6rpg), 2.3apg, Steals-1 (2.4spg), 1.0bpg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 84.5%. He played at Houghton (NAIA) from 2006-2010. He played his first two seasons as a professional with Quebec Kebs (Canada-PBL). In the 2012-2013 season he played for the Solarto Eagles Magdeburg (Germany-Regionalliga)21 games: 17.5ppg, 11.0rpg, 4.2apg, 3.0spg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 50.2%, 3Pts: 27.4%, FT: 80.2%. In the 2013-2014 season he played for Pyrinto Tampere (Finland-Korisliiga): 1 game: 15pts, 5reb, 1ast, 5steals; Baltic League: 20 games: 8.0ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 63.2%, played mostly at Pyrinto Tampere II (Finland-1st Division): 28 games: Score-1 (24.4ppg), Reb-3 (13.9rpg), Assists-5 (3.4apg), Steals-1 (2.6spg), FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 80.9%. Two seasons ago he played with the Rostock Seawolves playing 32 games: Score-3 (21.0ppg), 8.1rpg, 4.2apg, Steals-1 (3.2spg), FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 31.2%, FT: 80.0%. He spoke to eurobasket about basketball.
Yannick thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been? Hey Miles I'm doing well thank you, I am currently in Toronto,Canada and my summer has been great catching up with family and just training every day and enjoying the Euros.
Your back in Germany. Congrats on signing with Beko BBL team Phoenix Hagen. You played two seasons in Canada, one in Finland, one in Sweden and two in Germany. You will be starting your third season in Germany. Do you see Germany as slowly becoming a second home for you? I think its a little more than a second home now, I'm living there every other year so if Canada is 1A then Germany is 1B.
After playing in lower leagues your whole professional career, you now have made the jump to the Beko BBL. I am sure that making the choice was an easy one as who wouldn't take this opportunity. What sold you best on joining Phoenix Hagen?
Yeh it was a very easy choice but I heard so many great things about Phoenix Hagen from one of my former assistant coaches who grew up in Hagen and some of the current players in the BBL like Jermaine Anderson.
Have you had any talks with head coach Ingo Freyer? If yes did you notice that you both speak the same basketball language?
No I have not had the chance to personally speak with coach Freyer yet but from what I have heard from the people who know him and spoke to him him and I definitely have similar basketball minds and speak the same basketball language.
You paid your dues for 6 years playing in lower leagues. How excited are to be able to play against the best in the BBL? I have never been so excited to start a season in my life and I am always excited to start new seasons, it just feels great to see all the years of hard work paying off and finally getting to play against the best competition in Germany.
How confident are you that you can make an impact in the BBL? I'm very confident that I can come in and help my new team in any way possible and help them achieve as much success as possible.
When you look back at your last season with Rostock two seasons ago, does that seem like a long time ago? How confident have you always been about being able to one day play in the beko BBL?
It doesn't feel so long ago because I kept in touch with Coach Basti and some of the players all of last season. Like we talked about in previous years my ultimate goal as a basketball player was to play against the top competition possible so I've been working hard all those years for this opportunity and it has finally come so yes I was always confident that one day it would happen.
It doesn't happen often in German basketball that a player goes from the Regionaliga to the Beko BBL, but it does happen from time to time. You will be teammates with one of the best point guards in the pro A last season with Richard Williams who also made the jump from the Regionaliga to the BBL with Vechta and Frankfurt before coming to Hagen. What got you this far besides just a lot of hard work and dedication? My faith has always been my driving force, always believing that by working hard and being dedicated God would put me in the right situation. Also having some good people around me who have given me great advices throughout the years.
What do you feel will be your best quality that you will be able to give Phoenix Hagen on the court this season? I think my versatility is my biggest strength being able to play and guard multiple positions will be a good asset for the team.
Last season you played with Umea BSKT (Sweden-Basketligan) playing 32 games: Score-5 (17.5ppg), Reb-4 (8.6rpg), 2.3apg, Steals-1 (2.4spg), 1.0bpg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 84.5%. You had very strong seasons the last three years prior to Sweden in Magdeburg, Finland and Rostock. How do you feel has your game developed since your season with Rostock?
I feel like physically I am a lot bigger and stronger than I was in Rostock and my understanding of the game has also improved and I'm able to combine my physical skills with some good basketaball IQ
Do you feel like your leadership qualities rose last season because you were the oldest on the team. Was that a strange experience for you?
It was definitley a shock because I never been in a situation like that before but it was great because I had no choice but to learn on the go which really helped me understand what a good leader should be.
Was your 39 point and 17 rebound effort against Eco Orebro your best personal game last season or did you have a better one? It was my best game not just because of the stats but also because it was the last game of the season which we had to win to stay in the league.
On what things are you working on most now so you will be 100% ready to be able to battle against the best big men in the Beko BBL? I'm pretty much working on everything, my ball handling, shooting, finishing, getting stronger and so on.
How does a normal work out day look like for Yannick Anzuluni (204-F-87, college: Houghton) on and off the court in the summer of 2016? I wake up at 6am grab something to eat then I go to the gym, I start with 30 minutes of biking then its on court training for about 1:30 then some good stretching, then back home grab some food, relax and conditioning workout in the afternoon. Couple times a week I have pick up games with other pros.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore and chose 4 NBA heads which best four would you pick?
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant
Now that Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs where does this further NBA title put him against the best that ever played the game? Well now he is definitely in the discussion with the Larry Birds and Kobe Bryant's but he is still nowhere near Jordan
BBL team medi Bayreuth have added German youngsters Marius Adler and Cedric Kral (205-PF-98) to the practice squad for the start of training camp next week. Adler is an 18 year old 190cm shooting guard that also will play for their farm team BBC Bayreuth in the Regionaliga while Kral is a 18 year old 203cm forward that last played for TSV Breitengussbach and played JBBL with the BIS Baskets Speyer. Kral recently played at the Ciutat de L'Hospitalet International Junior Tournament (Qualifi... [read more]
BBL team medi Bayreuth have added German youngsters Marius Adler and Cedric Kral (205-PF-98) to the practice squad for the start of training camp next week. Adler is an 18 year old 190cm shooting guard that also will play for their farm team BBC Bayreuth in the Regionaliga while Kral is a 18 year old 203cm forward that last played for TSV Breitengussbach and played JBBL with the BIS Baskets Speyer. Kral recently played at the Ciutat de L'Hospitalet International Junior Tournament (Qualifications to ANGT Finals) -16 (Semifinals): 3 games: 0.7ppg, 2PT: 16.7%. He also will play for BBC Bayreuth as well as their youth team in the NBBL league. "We want to give these two young players the chance to develop further with the BBL squad in practice", stressed medi Bayreuth head coach Raoul Korner.
Pro B team Iserlohn have announced the contract extensions of guards Kristof Schwarz(186-G-87, agency: Court Side) and Yannick Opitz. "I am happy to be able to keep these two extraordinary players. Now our roster is perfect", stressed head coach Matthias Grothe.Schwarz is a 29 year old 186cm guard that will play his fifth season with Iserlohn. The ex Bramfelder SV Hamburg, SC Rist Wedel, Crasilheim Merlins and Phoenix Hagen player who played 45 BBL games and last season for Iserlohn playe... [read more]
Pro B team Iserlohn have announced the contract extensions of guards Kristof Schwarz (186-G-87, agency: Court Side) and Yannick Opitz. "I am happy to be able to keep these two extraordinary players. Now our roster is perfect", stressed head coach Matthias Grothe.Schwarz is a 29 year old 186cm guard that will play his fifth season with Iserlohn. The ex Bramfelder SV Hamburg, SC Rist Wedel, Crasilheim Merlins and Phoenix Hagen player who played 45 BBL games and last season for Iserlohn played 26 games averaging 5.2ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 44.2%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 66.7%. Opitz is a 26 year old 186 cm guard that play his third season with Iserlohn. The ex BG Hagen, SG Schwelmer Baskets, SVD 49 Dortmund, Hertener Loewen and Phoenix Hagen player who played 4 BBL games and last season for Iserlohn played 25 game averaging 6.3ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 45.3%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 76.9%.
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