In his first season playing in Europe, 25-year old point guard Willie Kemp (188-G-87, college: Memphis) is off to a tremendous start both in the Czech NBL and Slovak Extraliga. He is tied for the NBL league lead at 20.0 points per game after two rounds and has helped Astrum Levice to a 2-0 record in the Extraliga. Kemp played collegiality at the University of Memphis where in between being a part-time starter his freshman and senior seasons, was part of a historic 2007-08 season which saw his Tigers reach the NCAA Championship Game. After playing professionally in the NBA D-League in the USA and then last season in Tunisia, Kemp took some time to share his thoughts on playing for Levice, his journey here and what his expectations are for the season.
Q.What have been your first impressions about Levice, Slovakia so far?
A.It has been great here in Levice so far. The fans are awesome and everybody loves basketball here.
Q.Most fans do not know much about basketball in Tunisia, where you played last season. How did you end up there and what was the experience like?
A.I ended up in Tunisia because I was going to go back to the NBA-D League for a second season but I changed my mind at the last minute. Most jobs in Europe were taken by the time I had made my decision. But the experience was amazing, we traveled to Europe and Morocco to play some good teams. Also, it was a great experience for me to be a leader on another championship team.
Q.Going back to your time at Memphis, you were part of a historic and also controversial 2007-08 Tigers team which reached the NCAA Finals. As a player going through the high of reaching the Finals, but then having to deal with the scrutiny of the NCAA investigations, how did it affect you and your teammates?
A.Playing on the 2007-2008 team at Memphis was something special to be apart of. That team was very talented and amazing as a group. We won a lot of games and making it to the National Championship game is something nobody can ever take away from me and my teammates. When the NCAA started to investigate our team it was very difficult because that's all people wanted to talk about when they see you out somewhere. But, me and my teammates stuck together like we did all season and we knew as a team we didn't break any rules.
Q.What was the most memorable moment of that 2007-08 season for you personally?
A.I had a lot of great memories from the 2007-2008 team. One memory that sticks out is when we played Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament and I stepped up and hit four big three's to help us win and move on in the tournament. Another one, is playing in the National Championship game playing in front of 80,000 people was something special. Another memory was playing with Derrick Rose, he was a great player and I learned a lot from him.
Q.What were some of the positive aspects of playing in the NBA D-League your rookie season?
A.Playing in the NBA D-League my first season was a great experience for me. I played against some good players there. Not only did the D League teach me some things about basketball, it also helped me learn how to be a professional basketball player personally.
Q.So far this season you have gotten off to a terrific start for Levice, what has been the key to your and the teams success?
A.We have just been playing as a team and trying to get better every game and every practice. Our coaching staff does a great job on making us work hard in practice. I know I am 100% dedicated to winning a championship and my teammates are as well. You practice how you play!
Q.You also are in a situation unlike any other team, playing both in the Czech NBL and the Slovakian Extraliga. What is that like? Do you have to change your approach to preparation?
A.Playing in two different leagues is something I haven't done before. The most important thing I have to do is take care of my body and eat right. Playing 60 games is a lot, but if I can do those two things I will be okay.
A.Fans should know that I love to win and I'm a winner. I love playing the game of Basketball. I am blessed with the chance to play basketball professionally and I do not take that for granted. I hope that my hard work on and off the court shows that. Levice has been great thus far; and I'm willing to do anything to help our basketball team win games this season.
MBK Banik Handlova (SBL) agreed terms with experienced 35-year old Czech swingman Lubos Stria (197-95kg-81). He has played for the last five seasons at BK Decin in NBL league in Czech Republic. In 49 games he had 9.3ppg, 2.7rpg and 2 [read more]
MBK Banik Handlova (SBL) agreed terms with experienced 35-year old Czech swingman Lubos Stria (197-95kg-81). He has played for the last five seasons at BK Decin in NBL league in Czech Republic. In 49 games he had 9.3ppg, 2.7rpg and 2.6apg last season. Stria played in the final of Czech Republic League for two years in a row (2015 and 2016). He was selected to Czech Republic NBL All-Star Game in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Stria has played also professionally for other Czech Republic teams like BK Pardubice, Levharti Chomutov, BK Kolin and Podebrady. It's very possible he may end his playing career at Handlova.
Leonard's pro career starts at Lucenec - 1 day ago
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Newly promoted MBK Lucenec (SBL) tabbed 23-year old American guard Phillip Leonard (188-91kg-93). He just graduated from Mercer (NCAA). Leonard has played there for the last three years. In 34 games he averaged 10.6ppg, 4.5rpg and 4.8apg last season. As mentioned above he is just out of the college and it will be his first season in pro basketball. Leonard's team made it to the SoCon Tournament Semifinals in 2015. MBK Lucenec roster for 2016-2017: Maros Rendla Simeon Jackuliak Jan Zorvan... [read more]
Newly promoted MBK Lucenec (SBL) tabbed 23-year old American guard Phillip Leonard (188-91kg-93). He just graduated from Mercer (NCAA). Leonard has played there for the last three years. In 34 games he averaged 10.6ppg, 4.5rpg and 4.8apg last season. As mentioned above he is just out of the college and it will be his first season in pro basketball. Leonard's team made it to the SoCon Tournament Semifinals in 2015.
Vasas Akademia adds Taylor to their roster, ex Inter Bratislava - 2 days ago
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Vasas Akademia (NB I. B) added to their roster experienced 35-year old American point guard Ronnie Taylor (187-90kg-81, college: NC-Greensboro, agency: Octagon Europe). He played last season at Inter Bratislava in Slovakian SBL league. In 19 games he recorded very impressive stats: 15.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 6.6apg (top 3) and 1.2spg. Taylor helped them to win the cup and make to league semifinals. A very spectacular season in his career as he was voted to Eurobasket.com Slovakian League All-Import... [read more]
Vasas Akademia (NB I. B) added to their roster experienced 35-year old American point guard Ronnie Taylor (187-90kg-81, college: NC-Greensboro, agency: Octagon Europe). He played last season at Inter Bratislava in Slovakian SBL league. In 19 games he recorded very impressive stats: 15.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 6.6apg (top 3) and 1.2spg. Taylor helped them to win the cup and make to league semifinals. A very spectacular season in his career as he was voted to Eurobasket.com Slovakian League All-Imports Team and 2nd Team. He also played for Orchesien BC (ProB) in French league that season where in 10 games Taylor averaged 10.7ppg, 3.0rpg and 3.3apg. He is quite experienced player. Thanks to Taylor's pro career he managed to play on four different continents (Europe, Asia, Latin America and of course North America) in seven different countries. Taylor has played previously professionally in Germany, Iraq (Duhok), Lebanon (Homenetmen), Qatar (Al Wakrah), France (Pau-Lacq-Orthez, Etendard de Brest, SPO Rouen, Le Portel and Boulazac Basket), Hungary (Marso Nyiregyhazi KK) and Dominican Republic (Soles de Santo Domingo). It's very possible he may end his playing career at Vasas Akademia. Taylor attended University of North Carolina, Greensboro until 2004 and it will be his 13th (hopefully lucky) (!!!) season as a professional player. The scouts decsribe him following way:
Ronnie Taylor understands the game and knows how it's played. He's a point guard who scores without forcing the issue, but is not afraid to take responsibility when needed. If the situation asks to get teammates involved he will reduce his scoring output and add to his assist total. Offensively, Ronnie posesses great ball handling skills, always plays under control and does not falter against full court or half court pressure. Being a natural right hand of the coach, Ronnie is also able to create and break a play to score. Defensively, his quick hands and footwork help him a lot to stay in front of his opponent and come up with steals. Ronnie is a leader on the court who can score in many ways and has all the skills to make the players around him look better. He's a clutch player with cold blood when the game is on the line in the last minutes. Ronnie is extremely dangerous in the transition phase almost always making the right decision. He can go coast to coast, pull up for the shot, or find the right guy running the lanes. In the half court set Ronnie also has many options to choose from. He is an excellent pick and roll player as he is able to turn the corner and take it to the hole. When the defense cheats or switches he can hit the three or take a bigger guy one-on-one. In addition to his skills on both ends of the floor he has the necessary desire and drive to win every game.
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