Turning pro during a pandemic - with Akwasi Yeboah - Ep. 85 - Hoopsfix.com

Turning pro during a pandemic – with Akwasi Yeboah – Ep. 85

For Episode 85 of the Hoopsfix podcast, we sit down with first year pro and GB Senior international Akwasi Yeboah.

Currently plying his trade with Saint Quentin in France’s Pro B for his rookie year, Yeboah is coming off a hugely successful college career, where he played at Stony Brook before becoming a grad-transfer to Rutgers.

He is one of the few Brits to score over 1600 points during his college career, made multiple-all conference teams, and also led the 2017 GB Under-20 side to Division A promotion whilst earning All-Star five honours.

Yeboah was part of the ‘comeback kids’ Barking Abbey side that won the 2015 NBL Division 1 Men’s title with a squad that consisted of just one player over 19.

Due to COVID-19, Yeboah missed out on his opportunity to play in the 2020 NCAA Tournament (which was cancelled) and subsequently increase his ‘stock’ for the pros, and has navigated turning pro during a challenging time for basketball globally.

In this 1 hour and 20 minute pod we discuss Akwasi’s journey so far and how he is finding pro life.

Time stamps:
00:00 Intro
02:37 Interview start
03:01 Transitioning to pro life
04:03 Whether there is more pressure now he’s a pro
04:40 How COVID-19 has affected the basketball in France
07:24 The lockdown in France and how it’s impacting the league
08:46 Whether COVID-19 impacted the decision on where he signed
10:43 How COVID-19 has impacted Akwasi’s opportunities
12:05 What it felt like to sign his rookie contract
13:21 Whether there are any surprises about being a pro basketball player
14:52 What Akwasi does with his down time
15:26 What a day in the life looks like
16:58 How his French is coming on
17:33 Akwasi’s early years in Ghana and why he moved to the UK aged 9
19:18 Getting punished with a cain in Ghana
21:20 How much his brother Kwame influenced his playing
23:16 Playing for London Spartans, Brentwood Fire and NASSA
24:04 The stacked NASSA junior side that were a year up from Akwasi
26:06 Now playing on the GB Senior squad with guys he looked up
26:39 His first junior national team experience
27:17 Not getting selected for the England Under-18s
28:15 The point he realised he could be a professional player
29:38 His first year at Barking Abbey and transitioning to an academy
30:56 The jump in his development from his first year to second year at BA
32:32 The group he was with at BA and how much that pushed him
34:02 The NBL Division 1 run with BA and getting his only D1 scholarship offer at the back of it
37:22 Whether he always maintained the faith he could play at NCAA Division 1 level
38:20 If there was any hesitation to sign with Stony Brook immediately
38:48 The herd mentality when it comes to recruiting
39:25 The transition to the US
40:06 Putting on weight in his Freshman year
40:43 The decision to redshirt his first year at Stony Brook
42:19 The team making the NCAA tournament in his redshirt year
43:57 Whether the level of provision and facilities at D1 schools become normalised after a period of time
45:31 Whether college sports in the states has a higher level of provision than the pros
46:19 If redshirting made it hard to know whether his skills would transfer to games
48:04 The coach that recruited him leaving after his redshirt year
50:13 Hitting the rookie wall in his Freshman year
51:06 Not having the option to transfer even if he wanted to
51:48 Being named All-Rookie conference team in his Freshman year
52:37 His year by year progress in his college career
53:42 Looking back on his 3 years at Stony Brook and the standout memories
55:42 When he started thinking about the pros
56:26 Whether being a grad-transfer and getting his masters was in his head when he initially redshirted
57:20 When he knew he was going to transfer
58:04 The recruiting process from schools to be a grad-transfer
59:29 Whether he always knew Rutgers were going to be the likely choice
1:00:30 The differences between mid-major and high-major level at college
1:01:40 Whether anyone ever torched him in the Big 10
1:02:16 The best player he personally guarded
1:02:59 Playing against NBA talent and seeing it up close
1:03:54 His season at Rutgers
1:05:58 The difference between Rutgers and Stony Brook off court
1:07:03 Missing out on the NCAA tournament and being nationally ranked
1:08:15 Playing for Junior national team and whether it helps with his development
1:09:15 Whether having knowledge of the international game gives him an edge in college
1:10:06 Deciding which agent to sign for when it came to turning pro
1:12:06 How he is approaching his rookie year
1:13:11 Whether playing in the BBL is on his radar at all
1:15:05 Best British junior player he’s seen
1:16:29 Best coach he’s played for
1:17:18 His favourite basketball memory
1:17:42 Where he wants to be in the next 3-5 years

The show has been approved on iTunes – find it here and please subscribe to automatically receive new episodes straight to your phone/computer/tablet – if you could give us a review/rating it would be much appreciated to help the podcast spread far and wide, meanwhile it is also on Spotify hereOvercastStitcher, and Google Podcasts.

You can support Hoopsfix’s work in helping to grow British basketball on Patreon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *