Byron Sanford is a 183cm guard from Louisville, Kentucky that is playing his professional season in Germany with BBC Coburg. He played at Trevecca Naz. (NCAA2) and really excelled in his last two seasons as a junior he played 17 games averaging17.2ppg, 6.5rpg, 4.2apg, Steals-3(2.9spg), FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 72.0%. In his senior year at Trevecca Naz. (NCAA2) he played 32 games averaging 18.4ppg, 7.6rpg, 4.2apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 69.5%. He was the G-MAC Player of the Year in 2016. He spoke to German Hoops earlier in the summer about basketball.
Byron thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I just got to Coburg Germany and getting adjusted now. My summer was great!!! Long and hard but it will pay off. I was ery competitive working and playing with all the pros from Louisville (Kentucky)
Congrats on signing with German Pro B team BBC Coburg. How thrilled are you about being able to call yourself a professional basketball player?
Thank you I appreciate it. It’s a major blessing to be a professional athlete and part of the BBC Coburg organization. I dream I have prayed and worked for is now reality so it’s a great feeling. I am happy but nowhere near satisfied.
You will be taking your talents to BBC Coburg. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball?
I know basketball in Germany is a growing sport year by year. I am glad to be a part of the growing process of basketball in Germany. Also I think Germany will be a great country to adjust in since it has some similarities to the States. I have had friends play in Germany and most have all had great experiences.
Did Vincent Sanford give you some good tips about the German Pro B and basketball in general in Germany?
I haven’t talked to Vee Sanford. He is from a city about 45 min away from mine. I have followed his success in the league and then into a great deal this upcoming season. Its very motivating to see a journey like that and know that with production and consistency its possible to have great success. I have talked to his former teammate Marcellus Barksadale and he gave me some good tips about the German league.
You play with a big heart similar to Chris Kramer who has carved a great career in Germany. Have you watched any of his film yet to help you get even more inspired?
Yes I have watched film of Chris Kramer and I see some similarities in our style of play. I have heard about his success in Germany and how each year he managed to improve and produce more as a player in Germany. I think I have a lot of inspiration that comes from within and everything I have been through to get here but yes seeing things like that allows me to see it is possible!
Chris Kramer once made a shot sitting on the floor at Purdue. How many times do you think would it take you to score sitting down unguarded?
Man that takes a lot of strength. I haven’t tried but I will get back with you and let you know how it goes. I will say once just from my confidence haha.
BBC Coburg are a very ambitious club that just moved up to the Pro B and have big goals for the future. What were the deciding factors that gave you the green light to sign with them?
Yes the BBC Coburg is moving in the right direction year by year and that’s very important to me. Some of the deciding factors with the club was one they saw something in me to want to bring me along to continue to reach bigger goals, being in a winning culture, also the connection I have made with Coach Simon and Matt, being in a situation I can see myself flourish in and move up, seeing players resign for this upcoming season showed me it was a place players wanted to be, and also being in a country like Germany and a city like Coburg where the fans embrace and support you!
What was your first impression of head coach Simon Bertram? Did you gather quickly that you both are on the same page when it comes to basketball?
My first impression of coach was that he puts a lot of emphasize on defense, he is very detailed in his preparation, and that he can coach a player to their strength to put them in productive situation. Yes after talking to him and seeing the team play I seen we were on the right page and could work out great.
How excited are you to be playing with American Jordan Burris who was the teams best scorer last season and has had dealing with Kobe Bryant in the past? https://germanhoops.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/jordan-burrisbbc-coburg-has-the-game-and-kobe-ammunition-to-fill-a-gym/
I am very excited to play and compete with Jordan this upcoming season. I followed the season he had and knew he was a real good player. After seeing him resign it showed me this is a place where players want to play and compete. He has a similar story to mine so I know we will be on the same page once we get things started. Yeah I read the article about him and Kobe Bryant. Pretty cool and humbling experience I could imagine.
Let´s talk about your game. What stands out quickly is your excellent rebounding strength for a small, but very physical guard. How has the joy of rebounding grown with you in the last few years?
Yes one of my strengths in rebounding. I think my strength, frame, and just will to want to ball more than the next man helps play into my advantage. A guy may be a little bigger than me but my will to want the ball is greater to a lot of the times I can rebound better than players a lot bigger than me.
Did the rebounding strength and passion of Russell Westbrook in the NBA the seasons before where give you an added push as well to help you average 7,6rpg as a senior?
Yes I love watching Westbrook play. Just his passion and motor is very similar to mines as well. I try to be very versatile and feel up the stat sheet a lot like Westbrook does. I love watching/learning from Westbrook to see things I could incorporate in my game.
Talk a little more about your game. What other strengths do you have in your game and to what NBA player could you compare your game to?
I know my will to win and do whatever it takes is a big strength of mine. Just getting that mental edge on the opponent is very big in my game as well. I think my decision making, pick and roll game are also big strengths in my game. I would compare my game to a Russell Westbrrok just the way he can fill up the state sheet. Other than that I think my game is one of a kind and hard to compare to.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away?
A hidden strength is just getting the mental edge over the opponent and seeking to exploit their weaknesses. Also doing the little things that don’t always get in the stat sheet but helps the team be successful. For example moving without the ball, settling solid screens, diving for loose balls, just the small things most players don’t want to do. I enjoy.
Your new head coach Simon Bertram compares you in size to an NFL running back. How do you feel you would be as a player today if you didn´t have the body that you possess?
Haha im not quite that big. NFL running back are on another level. I feel I would be stiff if I were that size. But yes I am stronger than most guys I play against and that gives me a great advantage. I take my body serious to be able to produce as well as have longevity in the game of basketball.
You had a very stellar career at Trevecca Naz. (NCAA2) and as senior played 32 games averaging 18.4ppg, 7.6rpg, 4.2apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 69.5%. How do you feel did your game develop in your years there?
I think my game developed tremendously at Trevecca. I put in a lot of extra work that most didn’t see or wouldn’t do and it paid off for me in the long run. I improved each year statistically and it was a testament to the work I put in. Once I got to college I began working out with the pros in my city and just the intensity and focus of the workouts gave me an edge once I went to compete during the College season. Also each year the team improved in win totals which was very important to me. I built lasting relationships there.
How did head coach Sam Harris help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Harris is great and did a lot for me by giving me a chance to play one and just gaining his confidence and trust was big for me. Coach Harris, the assistants, and myself put in a lot of unseen hours whether early mornings or late nights in order for me to continue to develop my game and work my way into becoming a Professional. I still talk to him on a regular basis and he continues to encourage and give me tips to be successful at the next level and in life.
You had many great scoring games in school, but what was your most memorable game? You seemed to have the number of Cedarville.
Yeah I had games where I really got going and had some nice numbers. Cedarville was our rival so that was a team I always wanted to perform well against. A lot of the times I wouldn’t even know the numbers I put up until my teammates told me I was so locked into getting the Win. Also I liked playing against the Division 1 schools just to prove that I was on their level and let them know that have to respect my game and team.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Percy Blade?
Hahaha I won most one on one games in college. I take a lot of pride in those games and HATE losing so it didn’t happen often.
How does a summer work out day look like for you on and off the court?
9am Basketball workouts, in between rest and eat, 3pm another basketball workout, in between rest and eat, 7pm Weight training/ yoga
Who was the toughest player you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Umm lets see I battled some tough players from my city (Louisville) like Rajon Rondo, D’Angelo Russell. I worked out and competed with Rondo quite a bit this summer as well. But players that I played during the college season were players like Damion Jones of the Warriors and Wade Baldwin when we played against Vanderbilt. I was also at the University of Kentucky when they won the 2012 National championship and competed with Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Darius Miller when they would come play in the Rec center. Other than that a lot of great overseas pros in the Louisville Area as well like Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Donta Smith, Leroy Hickerson, Chris Dowe, Jazz Ferguson.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
It’s a great argument but I don’t think Lebron is as close as people think. Michael Jordan never lost in the finals and has 3 more titles which is a lot more. I think the completion for Lebron might have been a little tougher though. I don’t really like to get into the arguing of whose better but just enjoy the greatness that both player have brought to the game of basketball.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I don’t think this is true. I think Westbrook wants to win. I would be surprised if Westbrook even overthinks about getting a triple double. He is just so productive and always has the ball in his hands so its easier to get a triple double. But Westbrook uses so much energy during a game that I am sure a defensive assignment is blown every now and then which you would have to live with because everything else he does.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Of course being from Louisville watching and playing against Donovan Mitchell I have to say him for the Utah Jazz. I think Dennis Smith Jr. is very talented and will be a good player in the league as well.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
I think that they have a great chance to contend for a title. The Rockets brand of basketball is hard to defend and with the addition of Chris Paul they will be able to outscore most teams. I cant wait to see them go up against the Warriors.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I just watched the Isaiah Thomas “Book of Isaiah” documentary if that counts for a movie. I love his game and his approach to being great. He is undersized but it doesn’t matter to because still getting the job done. I always like his relationship with Floyd Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather is one of my favorite non-basketball athletes not because his lifestyle but his work ethic and discipline he has to his craft. But back to your question the last movie I seen is the new Planet of the Apes movie.
Thanks Byron for the chat.