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!
Chris McNealy(194-G-92, college: Cal-Irvine) is a 24 year old 194cm guard from Danville, California playing his second professional season and second with the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga). Last season as a rookie for the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga), he played 31 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 79.0%. He started his basketball career in 2010 with Cal-Irvine (NCAA) playing a 135 games and a senior played 35 games av... [read more]
Chris McNealy (194-G-92, college: Cal-Irvine) is a 24 year old 194cm guard from Danville, California playing his second professional season and second with the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga). Last season as a rookie for the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga), he played 31 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 79.0%. He started his basketball career in 2010 with Cal-Irvine (NCAA) playing a 135 games and a senior played 35 games averaging 11.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 43.8% (138-315), 3PT: 35.9% (37-103), FT: 68.9% (73-106). He spoke to eurobasket before the Fiba Europe Cup Game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn.
Chris welcome to Germany. Your playing your second professional season and secondt with the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga) and playing Fiba Europe Cup as well. This competition has taken you all over Europe. How blessed do you feel as a guy from California to be traveling the world at age 23?
It's amazing to be traveling. I've been to many places throughout the world and have created a lot of memories that I would like to tell my kids one day.
You play and live in Austria and are experiencing a totally new kind of lifestyle in Austria this and last season. What has been your most memorable experience so far in Europe off the court that none of your friends in California had ever seen before?
Being in the snow. I don't think I've ever seen snow in California and I see it out here on a daily basis.
Your playing against the Telekom Baskets Bonn in Bonn in Fiba Europe Cup play. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it's basketball?
I know basketball is really big in Germany and that Bonn is a great team. This will be my first time there so I;m excited to see more.
In the first game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga) lost badly at home 83-64. It was kind of a strange game stat wise as Bonn dominated the boards and shot very well from outside, but had 22 turnovers. What will the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga) have to do better this time around to get the win?
We can't have a long lapse like we did last time we played. Game was close until the 3rd quarter when they went on a run and we didn't respond. We want to create havoc on the court and cause them to make turnovers like last time and not to get rattled when they go on a run.
The Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga) give up 82 points in the Fiba Europe Cup which is 28th. Is it the overall better skill level of the competition that has made it harder to defend than in the Austrian Bundesliga?
Yea the teams we play in the Euro Cup have been better than what we usually face, but we enjoy that because it makes us a better team. We work hard every day to compete at this high level.
The Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga) are leading the Austrian Bundesliga at the moment with a 13-2 record. The team is ranked first in points and third in points allowed. Does the club feel much pressure having to defend their Bundesliga title?
We try not to put pressure on ourselves and just focus on the next game ahead of us. Each game holds different situations and we learn from every game to make us ready for when the playoffs come around
How .much fun and challenging has it been playing with the 4 other Americans Traylor, Cumberbatch, Jackson and Kuakumensah who are all young and each guy at the start of their professional career wanting to prove something? Do you feel like each player is growing this season with the drive that each other guy has and gives on the court on a daily basis?
It's been fun playing with those guys we have good chemistry on and off the court and by pushing each other every day will help us become better individual players.
You are a guy that can really fill up the stat sheet, but on what part of your game are you still trying to incorporate new things too? Something that I'm working on is making more plays on the defensive end. Being able to play the passing lanes will not only get me more steals but opportunities to score in open floor.
Your stats are much improved from last season especially your three point shooting. What been the main reasons for your improvement? Is knowing the league better come into play?
I really made an effort to improve my shot in the offseason. Worked on it on it all the time and also having the belief that every shot is going in.
You had your best scoring Fiba Europe Cup games against Apoel and Yytautas recently with 24 and 25 points. Do you feel like you have landed in European competition now? I'm just in a very good flow right now and playing with a lot of confidence. Going to continue to being aggressive on the floor.
How important has American Derek Jackson become this season for the team and you? This is the second season that you guys are teammates. Do you guys understand each other blindly on the court? He has played very well this season. He is playing with a ton of confidence and is a reason on why we have been a successful team. We play well together.
You are a very active defender. To what NBA player did you always look up too growing up and now when it comes to taking care of defensive assignments on the court? One player I liked to watch was Rip Hamilton. I think he was a very underrated defender but was pesky and able to defend stars well on his time with the Pistons.
How vital was American Quincy Diggs last season in Oberwart winning the title? What did you appreciate most about his game? Quincy did a lot for us last season and had a knack for scoring. I appreciated his dirve and working every day in the gym to try to get better.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe last season where you knew that you were very far away from home? Was tough being away from family especially on the time difference and being able to talk. Definitley struggled with that.
You didn't play in the 2016-2015 season after being waived by the Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League). How difficult was this season and after being drafted by them what was the best example that basketball is always a business first? That was the first real time being cut from a team like that but heading into I had a feeling it would happen. I learned mostly that its all about who you know and how big your brand is (name, school attended, agent, ect)
You played at Cal-Irvine (NCAA) from 2011-2015 reaching the Big West final in 2013. What was your overall best experience on the court?
Winning the regular season title my senior year
You played against countless talented players for example in your second season you played against California that had future NBA player Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs and against Cal Fullerton that had DJ Seeley whos playing with top Euroleague team Macabbi Tel Aviv and Kwame Vaughn who is with the Fraport Skyliners. When you look back over the years how much difference is there really between guys like that and you? When you see where these guys are how much does that make you want to work harder each day to continue to move up the basketball ladder?
Honestly I dont think there is much difference in our games and I know I can compete with those guys so yea every day I work hard and inspire to be at the level they are at now.
How did head coach Russell Turner groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career? He gave me a competitive edge. He was known as a guy who would yell and get on you because he knew the skill you possessed and by doing that he made me more mentally tough.
Who was the toughest player that you had to battle in the NCAA that is in the NBA now? Damian Lillard by far. Played against him my second year and he killed us.
If the world ended tomorrow would you pick a last meal at Mcdonalds or get Austria's best Wiener Schnietzel?
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose? MJ, Magic, Russel, and Kareem
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time? That hurt me because I'm a big time warrior fan but he is definitely top 10 possibly top 5 players of all time.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you? I don't know to be honest but was very exciting. That and the 37 in a quarter was crazy .
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
Yea he has to do a lot more for his team now that KD is gone. The numbers he is putting up are video game stats.
What was the last movie that you saw? The Girl on the Train
There have been players to land in the NBA with lower stats in their senior year than Dallas Anglin (185-G-93) but the American is as far away from the nBA right now as the Brooklyn Nets are from making the playoffs, but like so many rookies before him, Anglin will start his basketball career in the German fourth league for the Hannover Korbjager and attempt to work his way up the basketball ladder in the next years. He is a 23 year old 185cm points guard from Mont Clair, New Jersey that... [read more]
There have been players to land in the NBA with lower stats in their senior year than Dallas Anglin (185-G-93) but the American is as far away from the nBA right now as the Brooklyn Nets are from making the playoffs, but like so many rookies before him, Anglin will start his basketball career in the German fourth league for the Hannover Korbjager and attempt to work his way up the basketball ladder in the next years. He is a 23 year old 185cm points guard from Mont Clair, New Jersey that brings a lot of talent to the table. The American brings extensive basketball experience from the college ranks to Germany as he balled for schools like Hofstra (NCAA), S.Idaho JC (JUCO), S.Mississippi (NCAA), and N.Colorado (NCAA).
He brings a strong basketball scouting report to Germany concerning his game as he is a true PG who is crafty and can score in bunches. He shows a high IQ and great vision, using quickness to get into the lane with nice body control, finishing off plays with a pullup jumper. Anglin's superior athletic ability helps him get to the basket and finish with contact. He also plays both sides of the basketball by being a great on ball defender to match superior changes of direction. He plays with active hands on defense and getting steals and deflections. As a senior he played at N.Colorado (NCAA) playing 20 games averaging 13.2ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 79.6%. He scored in double figures in 15 of 20 games and memorable scoring games included 31 points against Idaho State, 23 points against Jacksonville State and 20 points against Montana State.
He started his basketball career in 2012 with Hofstra (NCAA playing 6 games: 3.2ppg, 1.2apg. He then moved to S.Idaho JC (JUCO) playing 32 games averaging 13.4ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.9apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 77.8%. In 2014, his next stop would be S.Mississippi (NCAA) playing 6 games and averaging 6.0ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 28.6%, 3PT: 46.2%, FT: 93.3%. Awards and achievements in his basketball career have been All-NJCAA D1 Region XVIII 2nd Team -14, All-SWAC 2nd Team -14, NJCAA Region XVIII Finalist -14, and NJCAA Region XVIII All-Tournament Team -14.
Surrey Scorchers (BBL) strengthened their roster with addition of 23-year old American forward Gabe McCray (201-91kg-94, college: South Carolina State). He supposed to play at SC Rasta Vechta in German BBL league. McCray played in the final of MEAC Tournament. He received All-MDJUCO 1st Team award back in 2014 at his college time. McCray graduated from South Carolina State in 2016 and it is his first season in pro basketball. By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfers List... [read more]
Surrey Scorchers (BBL) strengthened their roster with addition of 23-year old American forward Gabe McCray (201-91kg-94, college: South Carolina State). He supposed to play at SC Rasta Vechta in German BBL league. McCray played in the final of MEAC Tournament. He received All-MDJUCO 1st Team award back in 2014 at his college time. McCray graduated from South Carolina State in 2016 and it is his first season in pro basketball.