Although several of his teammates have had blow-up scoring performances as ratiopharm Ulm has won three of its last four 7DAYS EuroCup games in Group B, the steadiest presence in the German team's rise has been its floor leader, point guard Semaj Christon.
Recently turned 29, Christon returned to the EuroCup this season after having debuted in the competition two years ago for Limoges CSP of France and then finished that season in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.
No sooner did Christon arrive in Ulm for this one than head coach Jaka Lakovic gave him the keys to a team that featured precious little EuroCup experience but loads of potential, both from imported players and homegrown young guns.
Christon's firm hand on the rudder has helped steer Ulm into the middle of Group B despite the team's 0-2 start on single-digit defeats to current group leaders Buducnost VOLI Podgorica and Virtus Segafredo Bologna, respectively.
Although he was solid in those first two games, with 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists on average with solid shooting, Christon has been even better since, while barely leaving the floor.
He played 34 minutes in Round 3 as Ulm took its first victory at home against Umana Reyer Venice as Christon led the winners with 19 points and 7 assists.
Next, he played 43:32 of a double-overtime 96-101 road win at Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, scoring 24 points and dishing 9 assists. His 20 points in the next game went for naught in a 65-71 home loss to Promitheas Patras.
But Ulm bounced back on the road last week, beating erstwhile group co-leader Gran Canaria 81-96 on the road as Christon combined 18 points with 5 assists.
Between Round 3 and Round 6, Christon lifted his scoring average to 20.3 points, his assists to 6.3 and his steals to 2.0. Turnovers and a three-point shooting slump cost him a higher PIR, but few players wouldn't take his 16.3 per game over that stretch.
One thing that Christon gives Ulm is scoring the team can count on.
He has put up between 14 and 24 points in every game this season to rank seventh in the league with 18.7 per game. In the last four of them, he has more total points, 81, than all but four other players in the EuroCup.
At the same time, Christon finds his teammates enough to rank sixth in the competition in assists with 6.0 per game.
Most important, and despite the turnovers and shooting slump, Christon has the full trust of a head coach, Jaka Lakovic, who had a great career himself as a floor general at the EuroLeague level and so knows what it takes to lead a team.
Their partnership is the key one in helping an Ulm team with plenty of talent, but little experience, keep getting better in a tough group where every win will be worth its weight in gold.