Taevaunn Prince hopes to play in the NBA one day, but he understands the road to get there has its share of bumps.
Fresh off a season with ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen, a second-tier professional league in Germany, the Malton, Ont. native is determined to do what’s necessary in order to reach his goal.
“I want to be in the NBA,” said Prince, who played two seasons of Division I basketball with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits from 2011-2013, making consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament. “I feel like I have the tools, but I just have to fine tune [my game].
“I’m going through the pro ranks and had a great first season,” he said. “But at the end of the day I’m just trying to get to the top … I enjoy the grind of getting there.”
The 6-foot-3 guard found great success in his first year of pro basketball, averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season, all while shooting an efficient 54 per cent from the floor.
But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Prince, he had to adjust to the European style of play.
“I dealt with a little adversity in terms of positioning and my role on the team,” he said. “I calmed down, collected myself, prayed about it, put in the work and then things just started coming into motion.
“I became the leading scorer on the team and [we] went very far, we lost the game [before the finals].”
Karisruhe PS went on to defeat ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen 92-75. Prince finished the night with 17 points while connecting on nine of 10 free-throw attempts.
Germany – Taevaunn Prince (I Am Excited And Obsessed With The Process Of Getting Better) https://t.co/O51JYlzt4O
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Putting points on the board normally shouldn’t be the sole priority of a basketball player, but when you’re a foreign player whose job security is contingent on your day-to-day performance, then you’re required to yield results, and it was something the 26-year old was conscious of every single game.
“Being an import guy you have to produce right away or they’re sending you home,” he said. “Two guys on my team got sent home in the first two weeks, and I wasn’t trying to be the third.”
The added pressure is most certainly a heavy burden to bare, and it’s not unique to just Prince, others have also felt duty-bound to play well and produce results.
“We went through so many point guards, so many got let go,” said Michael Smith, a Canadian currently playing professionally in Germany for a club called BC Soest.
“So many guys got let go and you’re just there. You can’t play bad two games in a row, you just can’t.”
The realities of international play can be difficult to sustain for any foreign player, but Prince is optimistic his second go around will be even more successful, and if he’s to make it to the NBA, then he will have to brave the journey.
“Next season it’s only going to get easier for me,” he said. “I work so hard in the offseason that when the season comes it’s easy for me.
“I just want to make it to the highest level possible. I feel like I’m starting from the ground again and I’m building my way up,” he said. “That’s just the underdog mentality.”