Majority of the players I have interviewed I have never set foot on a basketball court with. I had some battles, at least in my mind, with then-ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb at the YMCA in Southington, Connecticut. On the same floor, Maurice Young, who played at St. Bonaventure, showed me what a 6-5 shooting guard can do at the D-I level and then-ESPN analyst Mark Jackson showed me how he used to zip passes into the hands of teammates on the biggest stage of basketball.
But like I mentioned, I didn’t interview any of those individuals. However, I have spoken with Jonathan Abrams, who played for Berry College (2010-13) and two teams in Germany for which he averaged nearly 20 points, six assists and four rebounds, and shot ball against him.
Before Abrams acquired that basketball experience, we squared off for opposing teams and I played some pretty good defense. But on one play, the 6-1 point guard showed me he was going somewhere with basketball when he powered through me on a move to the basket (I didn’t think it was an offensive foul) and finished the play with a dunk.
Despite embarrassment, I was impressed and many others have been impressed by Abrams’ talent since then.
Recently, Abrams and I spoke at Gospel Tabernacle in Atlanta for the first-ever installment of 1-on-1 with Mobasketball.net to find out what is on the horizon for the 25-year old basketball player, what are some of the lessons he’s learned so far and what his next role for a team could be.
What’s in the works as far as basketball for you?
I’m still working out. My agent really wants to try to get me back overseas for the approaching season so in the meantime I’m going to stay in shape and coach. I really wouldn’t care but in a perfect world I would go somewhere like China or back to Germany. I like Germany. I met a lot of people there.
Over a year ago, you were an international basketball player. You learned some things from being in Germany for six months. What do you think other players should know about playing abroad?
It’s definitely a different lifestyle. The food is different. People are different. You got to be aware of your surroundings because technically you are there by yourself. You don’t know anybody. You got to work hard if you want to stay over there. Consistently work on your game. Always work on your game.
Any other lessons?
Networking is probably the biggest thing because in the grand scheme of things you have to basically promote yourself to everybody you meet. You might meet another coach who might want you to come play for him because he saw you play against his team or another team. Basically shaking hands and hugging necks–being real personable.
Here in the states, the game of basketball has more of an international flavor than ever before. Is there still a difference?
The game over there is different because you have big men shooting 3-pointers. You may have a 7-footer come down on the fast break and shoot a 3-pointer. You rarely see that over here so over there big men are more mobile and versatile. Our big men here try to be versatile but most of them aren’t. The European players are good at it.
Shooting is a skill nearly all five players on the court possess in today’s game. With that fact, who are you a fan of?
This is a popular answer but Stephen Curry. Offensively, he does it all. Although I love Russell Westbrook’s aggression. The way he approaches the game. Every night you know he is going to put it all on the floor.
No love for your doppelganger Rudy Gay?
Oh my God–that is funny. I wish he was my doppelganger. It would get us some money. I like his game. He is an all-around player but he is 6-8 so it’s hard to relate to that because I’m not 6-8. Most of the players I’m a fan of are relatively around my height cause it’s more realistic. I love KD [Kevin Durant] but unfortunately I didn’t get to be 6-11. I like Kyrie’s [Irving] ball handling.
You spoke about possibly coaching soon. What inspired you to entertain becoming a coach?
Helping kids has always been the thing I knew I was going to do. If overseas basketball didn’t work out, I always knew I wanted to help people. Then growing up without a dad.
My coach in high school [Clarkston’s Anthony Forrest] was very influential in my life. I would want to be that for kids. I want to counsel them–talk to them as well as helping them get their game better because nobody really helped me with my game coming up. Nobody stayed late with me to get extra shots up.
You mentioned not having your father in your life but you do have two influential uncles in Bishop Wiley Jackson and Dr. Rodney Jackson in your life. They preach about faith often so how do you translate that knowledge to the basketball court?
The biggest thing I’ve learned from them is having strong faith. In the grand scheme of things, that is going to take you further than basketball or anything else could. Everything in life comes down to faith. It’s going to be hard times when you got to have faith and it’s going to be good times when you got to continue to have faith. It’s about building a foundation of belief and just knowing things are going to work out for the better.