Blake Poole (195-C-88, college: St.Martin's) was well on his way to another double-double season, when the rebounding machine suddenly had to cease its activity. Only three minutes into the derby against BSV Wulfen in early December the 24-year-old was struck by bad lack again, after suffering a broken foot during the summer, which kept him from turning out for the Topstar Kangaroos Leitershofen/Stadtbergen, the Pro B team he initially had signed with for the 2012-13 campaign. In late October he returned to BG Dorsten and registered an impressive double-double (18 points, 22 boards) in his comeback game. However, that joy didn't last long. Only in his seventh encounter Poole's season ended in frustration. To make matters worse, it was another foot injury which forced him to stop the action. "I just think it was an unfortunate setback", he says, "I was ready to come back, but landing wrong on the same foot just caused another injury. It doesn't cause much pain, but my X-rays clearly showed a slight fracture in my 5th metatarsal." Do the back-to-back foot injuries put his basketball career in danger? "No, I wouldn't say my career is in jeopardy, just another setback", the Eugene, Oregon, native told Eurobasket.com. "I'm sure my foot will heal and I will be able to return to the game." For the time being, however, rehabilitation will have to be done as he is aiming to do some damage in the IBL once he is cleared to return to game action. "I'm just going to rest it for a little bit and see family while staying in the gym so I can go in my summer IBL season healthy."
Dorsten coach Torsten Schierenbeck had no other choice but to move forward without his inside dominator and to reshuffle his formation. He signed Justin Eller (203-C-87, college: Sacramento St.) hoping to have found a suitable replacement as his team is getting to the business end of regular season in which it will be determined whether BG is capable of clinching a second straight playoff berth. "I think they will do well, they have great players still there and Torsten will continue to provide good coaching as well. That along with the Dorsten community, they should continue to have success", he says.
Poole has produced impressive numbers at every level he has played at throughout his career. In fact, ever since his sophomore year at St. Martin's he has tallied double-digit averages in points and rebounds without exception. The 2011 NCAA D2 All-American helped the Bellingham Slam win the 2012 IBL championship, averaging 18.7 points, 13.2 rebounds per outing en route to USBasket.com IBL Center of the Year honors. In his first season in Germany he scored 14.9 points and pulled down a league-high 12.9 boards a game, which would land him a spot on the 2011-12 Eurobasket.com All-2. Bundesliga Pro B Second Team. Standing 6'5'' tall Poole is certainly not the longest post player you will find - that's something he had to deal with at every stage of his career. "Too many to count", he replies to the question of how many times he has been told being not tall enough to play in the post. "It has always been nice to see the reactions when someone sees me play because I always surprise them." As a rebounder, Poole is as good as is gets, using his strong body to hold off taller opponents and his knack of anticipating and getting to the right position to corral the ball off the rim. He might not be the tallest center around and he might not jump over people, but he gets the job done.
"A good rebounder gets every rebound in his area, a great rebounder gets those rebounds and the rebounds out of his area that someone else should have had. That's what Blake does", Keith Cooper, St. Martin's Men's basketball head coach, said in an article posted in local newspaper The Olympian in 2011. "I like the feeling of getting the ball for my team. An offensive rebound allows my team to take more time off of the clock and get another chance at scoring and a defensive rebound means we got another stop as a team. Points will come playing within the team system, but rebounds take an extra effort to put yourself in the right spot", Poole added, who's mother was among the influences who helped him to become a workhorse in the paint. "Growing up she has always kept my stats, so with rebounds she would always encourage me to get 10 rebounds a game. After awhile, that became a habit", he says.
"He's just a very intelligent basketball player. He has a tremendous low-post-game", Rob Ridnour, Bellingham Slam coach and father of NBA guard Luke Ridnour (188-PG-81, college: Oregon), told The Olympian in another feature. In his 2012 IBL championship season with the Slam, Poole also dished out 4.1 assists a game besides the inevitable double-double. As a senior at St. Martin's he averaged 2.8 assists and accomplished the same tally in his first year with BG Dorsten. "I think my passing is looked over sometimes. I love setting up my teammates and I think I do a good job of distributing the ball", Poole says.
As he continues recuperating to be ready to play by the time the IBL season gets underway in spring, it will be exciting to follow, where Poole will go to work in the next European season.
Vaughn Duggins (190-SG-87, college: Wright St.) is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Pendleton, Indiana that is playing his sixth professional season, fourth in Germany and second with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Last season with Oldenburg he played 36 games: 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%. He started his basketball career in 2006 with Wright St. (NCAA) where he played until 2011 paying... [read more]
Vaughn Duggins (190-SG-87, college: Wright St.) is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Pendleton, Indiana that is playing his sixth professional season, fourth in Germany and second with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Last season with Oldenburg he played 36 games: 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%. He started his basketball career in 2006 with Wright St. (NCAA) where he played until 2011 paying a total of 130 NCAA games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 18.0ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 82.2%. In 2011, he started his professional basketball career in Germany with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen where he played until 2013 and in his second season played 33 games averaging 14.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 82.0%. He then played two seasons in France with Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-ProA): 31 games: 10.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 85.9%; Eurocup: 10 games: 10.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 79.2% and Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-ProA, starting five): 32 games: 14.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 79.3%; Eurocup: 12 games: 11.1ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 78.6%. He spoke to eurobasket about basketball recently during holiday time..
Vaughn thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you and how have you enjoyed the Christmas time in Germany this season?
I'm currently at my apartment in Oldenburg. The Holiday season in Germany is always amazing. Now that I'm able to share it with my wife and son, it makes it even more special. My mom, Paula, came to visit as well so I have gotten to spend a lot of time with all of them.
You have experienced some Christmas markets over the years in Germany, but where did the Christmas market rank in my all-time favorite city of Hamburg?
The Hamburg Christmas market is high level, and it is always great to experience what each city does differently. It is definitely in my top 3, but Tuebingen's Christmas market has always had a special place in my heart and, together with Oldenburg's, is my favorite.
You had surgery on your ankle recently. How did that go and how has it been the last weeks not being able to play?
Surgery went amazingly well. I was in great hands with foot/ankle specialist Dr. Preis in Wiesbaden. I am feeling better every day and God-willing, I will be on the court faster than anticipated. The last few weeks not playing has not been fun. I am very competitive and not being able to be on the court with my teammates hurts.
You have been pretty injury free your whole career except your junior career with Wright State. With time and experience does a player gain the ability to know how to play wiser knowing how to get around sustaining dumb injuries that could have been avoided on the court?
Haha I wish that were the case. The longer you play, you get to know the 'dirtier' players and you try not to get caught in a situation where a dumb injury can occur. Injuries are going to happen regardless of how wise you become, and sometimes, if you actively try to avoid injuries, the more likely they happen.
Up until your last game in Frankfurt, you were playing very consistently averaging 13,0ppg,3,3rpg and 3,0apg. How much of a pain was it physically playing on a bad ankle?
I have been in pain almost all season and it has definitely affected my play, and it even affected my mentality at times. I wasn't as aggressive and did not have the explosiveness and power that my game commands. I could not help the team like I was used to and It was very frustrating at times.
Last season you averaged 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%. Your scoring is down this season. Has your role changed a bit this season with more scoring options?
No, my role has
not changed at all. Up to my last game at the end of November, I have not
played to the level I played at last season. I do believe I can play a lot
better and will try to prove that when I get back on the court.
How much fun is it playing possibly with the best small forward Rickey Paulding and best center Brian Qvale in the BBL? How much easier do they make your job on the court?
I love playing with Rickey and Brian. I have gotten to know them over the last year and a half of being teammates and as good a players as they are, they are even better people off the court. They do so much for the team. Rickey is our leader and and sets a great example for everyone. Brian is an unstoppable force on the block and our defensive anchor.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg have been up and down with a 8-8 record. How confident are you that the club will have a big turn around in the second half of the season?
I am 100% confident that we will turn up the heat and start playing how we did the second half of last year. We have too many good players and our team chemistry is too good for us not to make a second half push and a deep playoff run.
The club had some good defensive games against Braunschweig, Tuebingen and BG Goettingen earlier in the season. But overall the team has been allowing too many points. What area on the defensive end does the team need to make improvements in the second half of the season?
We just have to execute the defensive plan a little bit better. Our defense could be a lot worse, but if we want to challenge the Top 4, we need to have the same focus every defensive possession and to have constant communication. Just a little bit of talking on that end would fix a lot mistakes we make by having each other's backs.
The club is 6-4 in Champions League play and holding it's own, but it could be 8-2 having lost some close games. What has been the biggest challenge the team has had being successful in this competition?
The Champions league has proved to be a very competitive league in only its first year in existence. The challenge has been in bringing the focus and motivation to every game. We don't have as many fans attending the games home or away as in the BBL and the travel is much more intense also. It is important that we control only what we can control and that is our effort, focus, and mentality every night.
Last season Olden burg had an unwanted departure in the quarterfinals against a very nasty but potent Ulm team. Do the EWE Baskets Oldenburg have the character to be a championship team or just be a strong team that will make the playoffs, but not do damage?
Ulm has not looked back since that series. They are showing their class with their amazing start this year. Of course we believe we have the character, talent, and team chemistry to win a BBL championship. Why else do we play the game? We can beat anyone at any given time, but we have to take it one practice and one game at a time if we want to make it to that level.
I was impressed by the 16 point game by Belgium national player Maxime Zeeuw in Frankfurt. Has he been the solid role player from the bench that you envisioned when he was picked up?
I played against Maxime in Eurocup when I was in Nancy and he was in Rome, so I knew him as a player and his athletic ability and intensity still surprised me. He has high work ethic and can affect the game in many different ways on the court.
Chris Kramer once scored a bucket sitting on the floor at Purdue. You have seen him now everyday for the second season. What has been the most amazing thing you have seen him do on the court in a game or practice?
Chris is the definition of 'machine'. He is a work-horse that is always making amazing plays on both ends of the court. As many tomahawk dunks as he's had in his career, the most incredible things I've seen from him are his chase down blocks. He comes flying out of nowhere when you least expect it.
You are 29 years old and in your sixth season. Would you say that you are in your prime now? Do you see yourself heightening your game in the next few seasons?
Yes, I believe I am in my prime physically, but I always feel there is room to improve, especially from a mental perspective. I have no idea what God's plans are for me and my game, but I am always striving to get better and I want to play the best basketball I can for as long as possible. I will control what I can, but I am just along for the ride.
You played two seasons with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen.and Reggie Redding. Did you know then that he would become a Euroleague player with Alba Berlin and Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL)?
I knew Reggie was incredibly talented and could play at a very high level, but you never know what is going to happen. He definitely belongs at that level and proves that day-in and day-out. He is a great guy and I want nothing but the best for him.
You also played a season with American point guard Cameron Wells. How refreshing is it for you to have seen his development with the Giessen 46ers into a very fine BBL player?
It is awesome to see the way Cam is playing. The situation in Tuebingen was a tough one for him. He has reinvented himself in Giessen as a leader and a go-to guy and he has really thrived in that role. He has a bright future.
As a rookie, you told me this about Dashaun Wood. '! Dashaun beat me 9 out of 10 times on one on one. I was a young puppy out of high school and he was the horizon league player of the year. I don't remember him having any weaknesses other than he was smaller than me so I could post him up. How would that older puppy do against him today?
Haha well Dashaun will for sure disagree with me,, but I think I could take him now. He is one of those guys that is best in a competitive trash talk situation. He raises his level and can play with ANYONE, but I think my strength and athleticism would outlast him. It would be interesting to see that go down. We might have to schedule a closed 1 on 1 game soon.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Michael, Magic, Larry and Wilt. And there is no debate!
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 is a great question and I'm sure many fist fights have been started by it. I could argue that the last Championship was his greatest of the 3 and it puts him into the top 5 all-time greats. His resume needs a lot more work to crack the top 3, but he is definitely capable of that.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game? He is number 4 in my personal opinion. Tim Duncan is #1, Karl Malone, is 2, James Worthy is 3 and then KG, but that sure is debatable too.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
It is one of the most amazing scoring displays of all-time. It is close behind Wilt's 100 and Kobe's 81. I was very surprised that he didn't demand to stay in the game. He was 'en fuego' and who knows how many times that type of feeling will happen throughout his career.
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?
Yes, he absolutely is. The numbers he puts up on a nightly bases are out of this world. He is responsible for almost every creative decision on that team and its crazy that he has that high of efficiency with the speed and intensity he plays with.
What was your most memorable Christmas experience in Indiana when you were a kid?
Our family had a long tradition of driving to Fort Wayne, Indiana and going to (what we thought) was the best Mexican restaurant in the U.S. We would eat there Christmas Eve with my Grandparents and then drive to their house, which was 30 minutes away, to stay and open of presents Christmas morning. We did that for 15+ straight years and it always puts a smile on my face when I think of those times.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Disney's Moana with my wife, Maria, and my 18 month old son, Gianni.
Giesen 46ers head coach Denis Wucherer is battling week by week in presenting the best prepared team for every new EasyCredit BBL opponent, but he does have some space in his basketball mind concerning next season and upholding the potent team chemistry and has kept the German boys Benjamin Lischka (204-F-89) and Marco Voeller together as they have agreed to contract extenstions. Lischka will stay until 2019 and Voeller until 2018. Lischka is a 27 year old 204cm forward that is currently... [read more]
Giesen 46ers head coach Denis Wucherer is battling week by week in presenting the best prepared team for every new EasyCredit BBL opponent, but he does have some space in his basketball mind concerning next season and upholding the potent team chemistry and has kept the German boys Benjamin Lischka (204-F-89) and Marco Voeller together as they have agreed to contract extenstions. Lischka will stay until 2019 and Voeller until 2018. Lischka is a 27 year old 204cm forward that is currently playing his fourth season with the Hessen team and made a fine debut in the BBL last season playing 31 games: 5.1ppg, 2.3rpg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 78.7%. This season he has played 18 games averaging 3,6ppg, and 2,1rpg while shooting 38,9% from outside. He recently had a 14 point game in 15 minutes in a win against SC Rasta Vechta. The German who also gained experience with Crailsheim and Kirchheim in the Pro A is elated about staying in Giessen. "I am looking forward to the next years. It is a great feeling that I can play in my home. I want to thank Heiko Schelberg that allowed this to happen", stressed Benjamin Lischka.
Marco Voeller is a 28 year old 199cm forward that celebrated his birthdayrecently and is playing his first season in Giessen. It took him a while in his career until he was able to make his debut in the EasyCredit BBL as he was 27 years old with Giessen. The German who is the son of German football legend Rudi Voeller played in locations like TV Langen, Hanau and Gotha where he developed slowly, but also stuck to his trade and now is playing in the best league in Germany. This season Voeller has seen action in 17 games averaging 3,2ppg, and 1,4rpg. The German is also content about remaining in Giessen. "I am looking forward to playing anotehr season in Giessen. I feel comfortable here and it is fun to play in this environment, so making this decision was easy", added Marco Voeller.
According to eurobasket sources Pro A team Hebesien White Wings have added Isaiah Sykes(198-G-91, college: Cent.Florida) to the roster to help bolster their rotation in the scoring and rebounding categories.Isaiah Sykes is a 25 year od 198cm guard from Detroit, Michigan playing his third professional season. He started the season in Israel with Hapoel Gilboa Afula (Israel-National League) where he played four games averaging 11,5ppg, 11,5rpg and 2,8apg. Last season he played for Maccabi H... [read more]
According to eurobasket sources Pro A team Hebesien White Wings have added Isaiah Sykes (198-G-91, college: Cent.Florida) to the roster to help bolster their rotation in the scoring and rebounding categories. Isaiah Sykes is a 25 year od 198cm guard from Detroit, Michigan playing his third professional season. He started the season in Israel with Hapoel Gilboa Afula (Israel-National League) where he played four games averaging 11,5ppg, 11,5rpg and 2,8apg. Last season he played for Maccabi Hod Hasharon (Israel-National League) playing 25 games: 19.9ppg, Reb-2 (14.3rpg), 4.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 59.9%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 34.5%.
Skyes started his basketball career in 2010 with Cent.Florida (NCAA) playing 32 games: 4.0ppg, 3.2rpg. In his second season he played 32 games: 12.5ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 56.4%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 54.3%. As a junior he played 31 games: 16.0ppg, 7.5rpg, 4.5apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 61.7%. As a senior in 2013-2014 he played 30 games: 17.2ppg, 7.2rpg, 3.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 54.0%. He started his professional career in 2014 with U.S. Basket Recanati (Italy-A2 Silver) playing 28 games: 17.2ppg, 8.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 55.2%; A2 Gold Playoffs: 3 games: 17.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.0apg. Awards and achievements in his basketball career have been C-USA Tournament Semifinals -12, All-C-USA 1st Team -13
C-USA All-Defensive Team -13, NABC Division I All-District 11 1st Team -13, All-AAC 2nd Team -14, AAC All-Tournament Team -14, Eurobasket.com All-Italian LNP Silver 2nd Team -15, and Eurobasket.com All-Israeli National League Honorable Mention -16.