I’m back with an interview that I did a couple of days ago with German coach/scout/columnist Sven Wehrmeyer.
Check out what he got to say:
Sven, you were coaching successfully in Germany for Alba Berlin’s former farm-team Lichterfelde (now ALBA 2) in the past years and then moved across the ocean to live in Los Angeles. What were the reasons for your decision to move far west?
Wehrmeyer: There is only one reason: love. My wife is American.
How different is it to coach in the U.S. on a youth-level based on your experience you had in Europe before? How hard was it for you to adjust?
Wehrmeyer: It’s only about networking, contacts and reputation. It’s very difficult for foreign coaches to get a foot in the door at the D1-level or Pro level. During my camps and the AAU-practices I couldn’t recognize any differences. I didn’t need any adjustments. It’s the same game, with the same passion for the game.
Santiago: You often attend college basketball games as well as the European championships in the junior categories. How easy or hard is it for a young European player to adapt to the American way, not only the game itself but the lifestyle?
Wehrmeyer: I guess it’s easier for young players to adjust to the US than for older coaches, because they get used to the European way of life. Young people are more open-minded and flexible. Most of them have dreamed their whole life about the American way of life. On the court the kids will find a more athletic and physical game, which means they need one season to develop.
On your website camp4kids.net, you listed references from well-known coaches like Dirk Bauermann or Calvin Oldham. What does it take to coach on such a high level? Could it be, that we are able to see European coaches succeed in the NBA in the next few years?
Wehrmeyer: As a coach on this level you need a lot of experience. But more important is a coherent, clear and simple philosophy you can sell to the players with consequence and no contradictions. Anything is possible. There are a lot of talented coaches in Europe and an open minded NBA GM could not overlook the possibilities. Basketball is a world sport. But I doubt these great European coaches would work as an Assistant. And I doubt that they will get an offer for the head coaching position in the next years…
You ran a camp for young talent altogether with NBA-Megastar Kobe Bryant. Is he really such a distanced person or can you squash those rumors?
Wehrmeyer: Kobe is a great guy; I was really impressed how he talked to the kids. You could really see how he loves kids and loves to work with them.
Besides writing a column for German basketball mag “Five” and coaching at camps, you are also scouting players all around the globe for colleges in the U.S. How difficult is it to help players getting a basketball-scholarship nowadays with all the strict regulations of the NCAA forcing so many players to quit their dreams of playing college hoops?
Wehrmeyer: It’s a shame how the NCAA punishes kids and their dreams, even though they didn’t get any money. The one year suspensions also make no sense in a country well known for its so-called open-minded culture. It is especially tough for the German kids. When they need to sit out for one year for whatever reason, many coaches are afraid to recruit them. Some of them don’t want to give a scholarship to kids who can’t play in their first season. Fortunately there is always a chance for these kids, but they need to prepare their applications on time. Kids from other countries have an easier chance. These NCAA rules are absolutely anachronistic in a free and global world.
Your newest brainchild is the Camp 4 Kids in L.A. slated for April next year. Tell us a bit more about it and which kind of players are you targeting with that camp.
Wehrmeyer: My camp goals and philosophy are very unique. Besides my special basketball drills, the campers benefits are worthwhile. There will be many exciting activities, such as watching NBA or College games, visiting Disneyland, visiting a College, meeting a surprise NBA star, and much more. The basketball facility is a cool new building in Los Angeles. We want to bring the world together with great partners. We will invite kids from every country. We want kids who love basketball and sports, and want to explore life and other people from all over the world. Our goal is to offer camps in other countries as well. Please go to www.camps4kids.net to get more information or contact me at [email protected]
Thanks for taking the time to do the interview!
I’m out like NCAA rules.