|Halfway through his first Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season, shooting guard Jaycee Carroll of Real Madrid is spinning heads with his scoring prowess. Carroll currently ranks fourth in the Euroleague with 18.6 points per game, including an amazing 19 of 28 from long-range so far, ranking him first for three-pointers made and third in accuracy rate, 67.9%, from the arc. But what makes Carroll truly remarkable is that he squeezes all those points into less than 22 minutes per game on the court. In fact, so far in his rookie season, Carroll is scoring more points per minute than any Euroleague player this century - by a lot. He has 93 points in 109 minutes played. On a full-game, 40-minute basis, he would be averaging 34 per game. Only one player has scored over 30 points per 40 minutes playing 5 games or more in any phase of Euroleague competition until now, Milos Vujanic, the 2002-03 regular season scoring champ with Partizan. The way he scores points, it's no surprise that Carroll has picked up a few nicknames over the years. "They called me Boom Boom in Italy, because I made back-to-back three-pointers in about 6 seconds in one game," Carroll told Euroleague.net. "Around here, I've heard them say Bombardero, or bomber. I play with a lot of energy, so I have been called Energizer Bunny before, after the battery commercial, and now Mirza Begic calls me Duracell, another battery."
Hello Jaycee. You've had five Euroleague games already and basically no one has ever scored at such a high rate in this competition. How do you explain getting your points so easily?
"You know, I am not sure. I just kind of came out aggressive in all the games and my teammates have been able to find me. I've shot a good percentage so far, which is always nice. It's a little bit of a case of being in the right place at the right time and my teammates finding me."
Actually, the closest person to you before this was your teammate Rudy Fernandez, a few years ago. What's it like to co-exist with another lethal scorer?
"It's fun to play with him. It's fun to see the things he can do on offense, the way he plays defense, and the day-to-day stuff he does, how he goes through everything. It's also great to have the chance to play at the same time as him. Every time we're on the court it seems like there are a lot of options for our team to score."
The win against Anadolu Efes last week was Madrid's second game over 100 points. What's it like to play on such a high-scoring team?
"It's a blast. I love playing on high-scoring teams, offensive-oriented teams. I haven't played on a team that scored a lot since I was in high school. We just ran and scored as much as we could. It's fun. And I hope we can keep up this type of basketball."
As you said, everyone looks at scoring as fun. But how hard is it for a team to put up 100 points in 40 minutes?
"It's tough. It's a challenge. A lot of people look at 100 points and think, 'Man, that team must do nothing but shoot and think offense all day'. But it's just the opposite: in order to score 100, you have to play good defense and have the ball more than the other team. You need to steal, rebound and run to make easy layups. It's tough to reach 100 points, but it all starts on the defensive end."
You are coming off the bench, a different role from the one you had in Gran Canaria. How did you adjust to that new role so quickly?
"It's different. It's the first time I have ever come off the bench in my career, so it took a little getting used to. It's nice to get a chance to see for a few minutes how the defense plays, also to see what their offense is doing, those sorts of things. I just take that all into consideration while I'm waiting and try to be as ready as possible when I get in the game."
We've seen you enter a game and launch a three-pointer within seconds. What are your instructions from head coach Pepe Laso?
"There's nothing really specific. It's all just in the framework of the game. I come in sometimes and have a shot attempt in the first few seconds, other games - like in the ACB over the weekend - it could be 5 or 6 minutes before I take a shot. So, it depends. Against Partizan, I got a clean look right away and shot just after coming in. I come from a situation in Gran Canaria where I was asked to score and score a lot. That's one thing I can do to help a team: score points."
Despite all the high scoring, you guys are 3-2 and in the middle of a tough Top 16 race. What will be the key to survive this killer group?
"We've lost a couple of tough ones on the road in tough places to play. In Maccabi, we lost by a few and at Partizan by one. We had a chance to win both games, though. Those losses were due more to us being a young team in terms of playing together, so the key will be learning from those experiences. To get through to the next group, we need to win our home games. Then, apart from winning at home, we need to go out on the road, learn from the mistakes I mentioned, and come through with a win or two to help us reach the Top 16."
Now that you have played against every other team in Group C, which of them impressed you?
"All those teams have things all their own. Milan has the potential to be a really tough team, because they're good at half-court defense and half-court offense. They can get a lot done that way. Maccabi is scary with their combination of scoring guards and post presence with their big guys. They can get hot, too, and they're homecourt advantage is scary. The same with Partizan's homecourt play, and their interior game can be super tough. I guess I was most impressed with how Maccabi battled in the game we had with them."
Madrid is the first superpower club in your career. What's it like the first months with a club like that, what differences do you see?
"It has been great to be here, honestly. It's a serious basketball club and a serious organization where they expect good things from their players and employees. It's a nice environment to be a part of. There's definitely more pressure, but as a basketball player I always put pressure on myself to do well. You feel the same pressure here to prepare ourselves and do the best possible in every game. I like that."
You gave up two years early in your career to become a missionary in Chile, learning Spanish there. How much has that experienced helped you in your basketball career?
"It has helped me a lot. To begin with, I learned dedication, sacrifice and those sorts of the things that I have been able to apply to the rest of my life, including basketball. It helped me understand what hard work is, what it means to be part of team, to sacrifice yourself for the good of something bigger, like an organization or a team. When I moved to Europe, the experience of being away from home previously, in Chile, meant that the adjustment to Europe wasn't as tough for me as it is for some other Americans. And for sure, coming to Spain already speaking the language and having no language barrier adds a level of happiness to living here."
We've heard scorers like you nicknamed Microwave and Instant Offense. What nicknames have you heard along the way?
"Not a lot, really, but a couple have stuck over the years. They called me Boom Boom in Italy, because I made back-to-back three-pointers in about 6 seconds in one game. Around here, I've heard them say Bombardero, which is bomber. I play with a lot of energy, so I have been called Energizer Bunny before, after the battery commercial, and now Mirza Begic calls me Duracell, another battery."
What do you love about scoring?
"It's the best part of basketball. Every kid growing up always wants to be the one to score points, and every parent wants his kid to be that guy. I've been kind of lucky throughout my career, because scoring is something I am good at and coaches like me to do it. For me, it's just fun, which is why I say it's the best part of basketball."