Tayler Persons First Pro Season Apr 30, 2020 9:40:18 GMT -6
Post by bsu73 on Apr 30, 2020 9:40:18 GMT -6
Persons reflects on productive first season as pro
• PEDRO VELAZCO Kokomo Tribune
• 10 hrs ago
The King of Swag’s first season on the throne was a productive one.
Kokomo’s Tayler Persons said he was given the memorable nickname by former Purdue player Robbie Hummel last spring when Hummel was broadcasting the 3-on-3 National Championship. Persons’ play in that tourney made an impression, and he spent this past season making a strong impression in the Netherlands.
A former Wildkat and Ball State star, Persons played his first professional season in 2019-20 with ZZ Leiden in the Dutch Basketball League, the top division in the Netherlands. In league action he averaged 16.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists as his team’s point guard.
“Going in, I didn’t know what to expect,” Persons said. “I had old teammates who had played over there and they gave me their advice, but you don’t know until you’re in that environment.
“I felt like the adjustment there was easy for me because I felt like my game was pretty high level already and I adjusted to them pretty quick. I meshed with my teammates. They trusted me and made it a lot easier for me.”
He found a lot of familiar ground on court.
“It’s really physical, they’re really high skill-level players, they think the game very well,” he said. “They pass the ball, they shoot it well. The game is more similar to [American] college … very elaborate schemes and thinking from the coaches. The competition is good, the top teams are very good.
“The best team I ever played was last year when I played against a team in the FIBA Euro Cup that plays in Turkey. It shows how different the game is over there, and how similar too.”
Besides league action, ZZ Leiden played in the FIBA Europe Cup, one of several multi-national cup tournaments in Europe that go on during the domestic league season. ZZ Leiden made it through the first group stage of that tourney and was eliminated in the next group phase involving 16 clubs.
The talent on top clubs in that tourney caught his attention, as did the atmosphere when ZZ Leiden played at aforementioned Turkish first division squad Bahcesehir Koleji.
“It’s extremely high,” Persons said of the Europe Cup talent level. “You’ve got guys making $25,, $30,000 a month on teams — very, very high competition.”
In that tourney, ZZ Leiden got closer to its top level of play.
“We played in that and got to the round of 16 in that,” Persons said. “We had a successful year in that aspect but I would say honestly … our team’s success wasn’t as high as we expected with the talent on our team. But we were playing better toward the end when we had to finish our season up early.”
The season ended two months shy of the finish line as coronavirus halted play in various sports around the world. ZZ Leiden was fourth in the Netherlands’ nine-team league when the season ended. No champion was declared and Persons had to make his way home.
“It was definitely tough,” Persons said of having to stop the season short of the finish line. Part-way through the season “we had a big team talk … turned our season around. I felt like I left a lot of wins on the table last season. It’s something I don’t want to be known as — losing games.
“Next year I’m really focused on getting every win. Winning is the most important thing. I’m disappointed we couldn’t finish the whole season because I think we could have got up to second or third. Leaving the season with a lot left unknown is hard pill to swallow sometimes.”
What’s next is up in the air. Previous Howard County players who have played in Europe usually change teams each season. The landscape is always shifting and this offseason offers a wrinkle with the coronavirus damaging the revenue streams of teams.
“I had nothing bad to say about my old team, but I don’t think I’ll be back there, but I don’t really know,” Persons said. “I have to figure out the deals and figure out what’s the best situation for me. My agent said teams now are trying to figure out what their budget is for next year.
“What I’m worried about is getting on a club that’s a winning program.”
Persons is back in Indiana and trying to work on his game as best he can during the state’s shutdown. He and former Ball State teammate Ryan Weber are able to get some basketball work in at parks to hone his skills, and Persons has access to gym equipment to keep his body in shape. Additionally on Wednesday Persons announced that he’ll take part in The Basketball Tournament, playing for a Fort Wayne-based squad. The tourney is a 5-on-5 single-elimination tourney slated to begin in late July.
The goal is to keep playing basketball as long as he’s able and get to as high a level as possible. To that end, his first pro season with ZZ Leiden was a big positive.
Persons said his biggest takeaway from the season “would be confidence honestly. I just went over there and played at a high level against very good competition. It’s a different thing seeing it and actually doing it. There’s so many different leagues and higher levels I want to go, and I know I can go there playing against them in the Euro Cup.
“My goal is to play in the NBA and I know what I have to do to get there