After a summer full of FIBA youth tournaments, we continue our series “Meeting Top International Prospects” by presenting one of the best performers from those events – the German high-flying 6-foot-7 player Benjamin Schroeder. Schroeder was one of the prospects who helped himself and his recruiting process by showing the best of himself at the U18 FIBA European Challenger in Skopje, North Macedonia, an event which we had the chance to scout live this summer. He finished the event as the top performer for Germany, averaging 16.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game, including some ferocious dunks showing his athleticism.
Schroeder, a product of the International Basketball Academy in Munich, is one of the intriguing prospects in the class of 2022 who are still up for grabs thanks to his freakish athleticism, instinctual style of play and agility to go along with his constant desire to improve his game.
Arguably the best 2003-born German talent shared his thoughts on the recruiting process, college aspirations, his expectations on the upcoming season, best on-court memory, areas for improvement and a lot more.
Check out the interview below:
- Hello Benny! Hope you and your family are doing well in these wild times. Congratulations on your strong performance at the event in Skopje last month! Can you share with us more about how you’ve been spending this past season given the impacts of COVID-19? What was your approach and focus in improving your skill set?
Hello Simeon, thank you very much and thank you also for having me. The last year was not easy, because the whole season was cancelled and we could not play a single game in our regular NBBL youth league.
I was lucky, when the opportunity at TSV Oberhaching in Germany`s Pro B under Coach Mario Matic came up. I started to play there in December 2020 until the end of the season in April 2021. The main focus was really to work on my skill set individually with coach Robby Scheinberg at IBAM whilst also doing team practice and adopting to the men`s Pro B standards with Coach Matic at TSV Oberhaching. Both of them helped me a lot to improve my game in the last season and I am very thankful for that.
- How did you start playing basketball? Is there any person who has helped you in choosing this sport?
Like most German boys I initially started off with soccer, but very soon, at the age of 10, I got the spark with basketball, which is my true passion. From the first time I started to play games as a kid, I fell in love with the pace and the emotion of the game and I still do it on any given day on the court. My mom and dad were my first mentors and supporters and they still are.
- Can you share with us more about your experience at the International Basketball Academy Munich?
Our team this year is awesome. Many of the guys live together “on campus” and even now, with the season starting in a few weeks it feels already like we work together as friends. I am really looking forward to my last season in Germany and believe great things will happen to our team this campaign.
IBAM is a great place for any basketball player who is looking for a college career in the USA. Coach Scheinberg is a great individual and team coach and a true basketball enthusiast. It speaks well for him, that many of his former players return to our Munich gym for summer practices, so we have the chance to work out with Euroleague and college players and also some possible NBA prospects who played in the summer league.
- Throughout the past season you’ve been recording solid minutes for TSV Oberhaching in German Pro B, a third-tier level league. What are the lessons a college recruit can learn while playing at this level in Germany?
The main difference is that you play with grown men and not against kids your age. Many teams also have two professional expats on their squad, so the overall level and the competition in Pro B is higher than in the youth league NBBL. I also believe the game is more physical in Pro B.
The lesson learned is, that you need to be patient and at the end of the day there are no shortcuts. An important step last year was to lose some respect when playing against more physical grown-up players.
- A few weeks ago, you were among the top players at the U18 FIBA European Challenger in Skopje, North Macedonia, putting up solid numbers and some highlight reel dunks. Tell us more about that experience, what was your mentality going into the event?
The U18 FIBA European Challenger was really a great experience and I truly enjoyed it. Coach Marius Huth, who is a player-coach, put together a great bunch of guys and we thoroughly enjoyed the summer together. It is truly an honor to represent Germany as a basketball player.
Quite frankly in my younger years many players were put ahead of me in multiple talent scouting evaluations like the IngDIBA “Talent with Perspective” where I did not make the final team when I was 12. That really fueled my ambition to work harder and become a better player. So, listening to the national anthem before the games not only makes me proud, but also sparks all those memories when I did not make it. This really tunes me into a good game mode. It is then fun to prove that they were wrong.
- What is the secret for being a key player on each of German youth national teams you have been playing for at the FIBA events?
First of all, I really try to honor and appreciate the opportunity and put in my very best in every practice and game. I also believe it is very important to bond and relate to your teammates, which worked especially well in Skopje: We had a great group and we will be connected in the future. This all gives you the confidence to put in all you have when the game starts.
- Thanks to your strong showing at the event in Skopje this summer your recruiting process is expected to see plenty of offers from D1 schools. What do you think you can bring up to the table for a high-major college program and what style of basketball and position you think fits you the best?
Playing in the US on a D1 level has always been my dream. I see myself as a hard worker with love for the game. I will do everything I can and what is needed to be the best version of myself at the next level. Even if I played positions 1-4 in my younger years, I see myself as a true perimeter shooting guard whose DNA is to score at any time and from any position. I also believe that I am more of an instinct player with a good basketball IQ. Insofar some room for creativity would also fit my game more than a strictly scripted playbook, which we see quite often in Germany. Insofar, I believe a program, where I would have the opportunity to bring that on the table would fit best.
- What are you specifically looking for when recruited by colleges? Do you have any school preferences? Share with us your impressions of the recruiting process so far.
We spoke to a lot of colleges in the last months. Coming from Europe the recruiting process doesn’t come natural to me, as we are used to a different basketball background and do not have any similar procedures from the transition of youth basketball to the next level. The first impression is really, how professional the organizations work and how competent and diligent the coaching staff operates. It truly looks like a different basketball world and I am very much looking forward if things materialize hopefully soon. My personal preference would be really a school with a strong basketball program that gives me the opportunity to bring my game to the next level. At the end of the day, I also really want to win games and bring it all in for that. A strong academic background of course would also be great.
- Which aspect/s of your game will you be looking to improve the most over the upcoming season? What are your expectations for it?
The expectation is really to win the national NBBL title with IBAM. We have a great team, and I know that we have a good chance to make it happen, if we put in what it takes.
On a personal side – after Skopje we really put immediate emphasis on analyzing my shooting form with a focus on my left hand. Improving the shooting from beyond the arc, and also mid-range, will be the main focus for the next season. I will put out high frequency numbers of shots, also with a shooting gun, every day to improve that aspect of my game.
With Coach Scheinberg I also work on my ball handling, as I might play a decent amount of time on the point guard spot next season. This will hopefully reduce the number of turnovers in the upcoming years. We also set up a nutrition and physical weight lifting program with Coach Patrick Taubert to fill up my frame. I want to be ready to compete when the game starts.
- What are your long-term goals, where do you envision yourself playing in 5 years?
The long-term goal really is to play professional basketball at the highest level possible and do what I really love for a living.
- Are there any players in Europe and in the NBA you like studying/watching and why? Would you name one player whose style of game you consider is closest to yours?
I really enjoy seeing Ja Morant play the game. He is such a gifted player and shows how different successful basketball players can look like. Luka Doncic goes in the same direction and his creativity and understanding of the game is fun to watch. If I however consider a player close to the style of basketball, I would like to play it is Kobe! I love his scoring mentality, attitude and his aggressiveness when attacking the basket.
- Which is your best on-court memory?
It is the championship game of JBBL (U16 German league) in 2019. We had a great team and won the national title. With a real good day and 36 points I was also selected finals MVP. Speaking about the recent times I also enjoyed our game with Germany against much higher rated Croatia in Skopje a few weeks ago. We ended our losing streak and I gave them a few nice dunks in crunch time!
- What is your basketball schedule in a normal day?
A normal day starts now at 08.00 a.m. with physical conditioning. After that at 09.30 a.m. or so we work individually on the shooting for another 1,5 hours. In the afternoon we then have team practice for another 2 hours. Sometimes we have even another team practice before games from 08:00 to 10:00 p.m. It is quite intense, but I want to use this year as good as I can and be ready before the adventure in the US starts in 2022.
- What type of person are you off the court? What do you prefer doing in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?
Off the court I am really laid back and love to hang out with my friends. I also like to travel and to see new things – but the main hobby is really basketball: There are some nice street courts in Munich, like the “Massmann Park” where we play pick-up games during the summer, also hang with my younger brother Flo and other teammates when we do not play any games.
Thanks for your time Benny! We hope you have a successful and healthy season!