Every season, a lot of rookies coming out of college begin their professional career overseas. Most of them are seniors who went undrafted after they graduated in college. However, there have been also a few underclassmen who decided to forgo their remaining college eligibility in order to turn pro and become automatically eligible for the NBA Draft. It has happened for a while and this trend has kept going this year, as some underclassmen have begun their pro career in Europe this season.
One of them is Tavarius Shine, who left Oklahoma State after his junior year and spent his first professional season in Sweden with BC Lulea. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 11.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals over 26.5 minutes per game in the regular season of the Swedish first division, while shooting 31% from three. He stepped up in the playoffs against Jamtland, averaging 19.4 points, four rebounds, two assists and 1.4 steals even though his team lost 3-2 in a best-of-5 series. In those five playoff games, he shot 38 of 52 – 73 percent – from the field and 12 of 18 – 67 percent – from beyond the arc. After playing in Sweden, now Shine is auto-eligible for the 2019 NBA draft.
You finished your first pro season in Sweden after leaving Oklahoma State. Why did you decide to leave college and come play in Europe?
“I felt like I was pretty ready to leave college and become a professional. I had also talked to my family and they thought it was a good idea.”
This is a trend that is still continuing with underclassmen who are going overseas in order to become automatically draft eligible. Do you think this trend will keep going and is it something that you would advise other players to do before entering the NBA draft?
“I feel like it’s a great idea. After sitting down and really thinking about it I thought it was a great idea. Some colleges have systems and in the NBA they don’t run those types of systems, but when you go overseas and play, you can see this professional system and see how the guys care of themselves, how the professional game is played. And it’s nothing but bonus. I think it’s a great idea for a lot of guys to do that. Some guys also want to get the college experience and get a degree but I feel like playing overseas for one year and then coming back for the draft is an excellent idea in my opinion.”
Let’s talk about your experience in Sweden. What do you think you were able to show? What is the mark that you left over there?
“I think I got to show that I am a professional, I play defense, I’m a big combo guard. I showed that I don’t need to have the ball in my hands to score and be an efficient player. I can shoot from mid-range and I can shoot the three. I got to show that I can play the pick and roll and be a good passer, not just a spot-up shooter. In the playoffs I showcased a lot of posting up against smaller guards and getting to the rim. Overall, I feel like I showed my whole package and my versatility.”
What did you learn from this experience and how important was it for your growth?
“I learned a lot this year. Just playing the professional game I learned not to worry about a lot of different things, just go out and play and remember that you are professional so you have to carry yourself as a professional, you have to think as a professional, you have to go out there with that mentality and think that this is not college, this is professional basketball. As long as you keep that confidence and you feel like your skillset is there, you’ll be perfectly fine and that’s what helped me out a lot towards the end of the season. It’s a long season, there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs, but if you stay confident in your talent you’ll be fine.”
Do you believe the type of game that is played in Europe helped you prepare for the NBA draft?
“Oh yeah, it helped a lot. I think the professional game in Europe shows that everybody can shoot, from the 1 to the 5, especially in the Swedish league I was in. And the floor is spaced out because everybody can shoot. It also shows you the size, a difference between Europe and the NBA game is that in Europe you can stay in the paint as long as you want on defense and it makes it even more difficult to score. The NBA has a little more athleticism, but the big guys in the paint make the difference both in the NBA and Europe.”
“I just want to keep growing as a player and have fun with the process, no matter how it goes. I’ll always keep a positive mind and keep striving to be the best person I can be. I don’t want to let the things that I can’t control bring me down. One thing that I want to showcase is just my overall game, showing that I don’t have to be the person with the ball in my hands, I don’t need to take 20 shots to be efficient, but I can also be that guy if I have to step up, I’m not afraid of being that guy. I want to show also that I can adjust to any roles on the court. I’ll always find a way to be effective and make it work.”
What are the aspects of your game that you’re looking to work on in order to get even better?
“I want to improve on everything, my whole game, because you are never perfect so you can always improve. I can become a better shooter and a better overall defender. I have a nice body frame but I want to put in a little more weight. I want to work on the pick and roll, coming off screens, catch and shoot, just my whole package.”
My final question, related to the fact of you being draft eligible, how do you think your game translates into the NBA game?
“I think it translates well because I’m a big guard and I play both sides. I think my strong point is the fact that I’m a two-way guard because I can shoot it and I can defend. The NBA has a lot of 3&D guys, I can be a 3&D guy but I can also do a little bit more, I can adjust to whatever my role is on my team. So I think that’s my biggest key.”