Raley-Ross: "Basketball is like a chess match"

It’s been a season full of ups and downs for Tarvas, but it has brought out the best of one of the Estonian club’s players. Brandis Raley-Ross was recently named the Baltic Basketball League’s top scorer of the regular season and claimed the award before the home game against Pieno Zvaigzdes.


The 27-year-old guard averaged league-best 20.7 points and his biggest scoring outburst was against Dynamo Moscow, when he racked up 35 points. Brandis took some time off his schedule to talk to BBL.net about his season.

Congratulations on becoming the top scorer in the Baltic Basketball League, Brandis, and thank you for sparing some time for us! What does this kind of achievement mean to you?

Firstly, I want to thank you for the interview. This achievement means a lot, it shows the extra work that I have put in this summer and during this season to make my game complete. I also credit my coach and everyone involved in bringing me to Tarvas for giving me this opportunity. 

Tarvas has had a so-so season, winning half of their eight ‘official’ games, as they finished third in Group C. How would you rate the first part of the season team-wise?

Well, if Dynamo hadn’t dropped out, we would be 6-4. The first part of the season has been interesting to say the least. Tarvas this year has dealt with many things including players leaving, injuries etc. I don't think I have played with the same group of players for over 6 weeks yet. I believe we have done well considering the adversity the team has been through.

While the club has yet to perform to its’ full potential, you’re racking up an off-the-charts statline. What is the secret behind this outstanding form? 

Focus, confidence, determination, dedication and discipline. I am extremely motivated to prove I am the best player every time I step on the court and I have had to sacrifice things off the court for my success on the court. I am a gym rat, I watch film every day, eat healthier and spend 2-3 hours a day preparing my body for upcoming games. Any other secrets I can't tell.... To quote Kobe Bryant, "if I tell you my secrets I have to eliminate you".

Where do you see the most room for improvement both as a team and as an individual?

As a team we have to build chemistry with our new additions and develop an identity as a team. For myself, I have to be ready for everything. Teams are throwing a lot of different defenses at me and always switching up coverages, so I must watch more film and continue to add more to my game defensively and offensively to be 2-3 steps ahead of the opposition. Basketball is a chess match and I pride myself in being ahead and prepared.

You’re facing one of the regular season’s best teams, Pieno Zvaigzdes, in the first round. What are your expectations for this matchup and what will be the key elements of carrying out the upset?

Pieno Zvaigzdes is a great team they have great players and even better coaches. It will be tough to beat them, but anything is possible. I expect our team to compete for 40 minutes and execute our game plan.

When did you start playing basketball and was there anyone who inspired you to continue with this path? Who was your role model growing up and who is your basketball idol right now?

I started playing basketball when I was 5 years old. My mother and father both inspired me, they supported me every step of the way and help to keep my dream alive. I'm from North Carolina so Michael Jordan was always a role model or the standard to which I measured myself. I gravitated to watching Kobe Bryant more while in high school so he is currently my idol.

Rakvere is a small town with a population of merely 15 thousand and you’ve spent the lion’s share of your professional career here. Are you enjoying your time in Estonia and what is it that you miss most about the States? 

I love Estonia, this is where I got my 1st chance to be a professional player. I have great friends here that are like family. Obviously, I miss my family, especially my younger siblings who look up to me. 

What do you do in Rakvere, when you're not on the basketball court?

I spend a lot of time working on future business plans with my business Immaculate Training! Besides planning tournaments and camps, I also train and spend time with the younger teams in Rakvere. I love to give back and help others. Other than this, I am preparing for the next game.

What are your goals in the near future, this season with Tarvas and what do you think about the next step in your career, your longer-term ambitions?

My goal is to reach my full potential as a player and win multiple championships. Every year I want to move up a level and be more successful than the previous year. Long term, I will eventually play at the highest level of basketball.