Seger Bonifant is a 24 year old 201cm forward from Berlin, Ohio that just completed his second professional season and first with Team Ehingen Urspring (Germany-ProA) playing 30 games averaging 12,6ppg, 2,0rpg and 2,5apg while shooting an astounding 48,7% from outside. Last season as a rookie he played for Cocinas.com CB Clavijo Logrono (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 32 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.0rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 45.3%, FT: 82.9%. He played at W.Liberty St. (NCAA2) form 2012-2016 playing a 126 games and improved his scoring, rebounding and assists average each season. There he established himself as a real sniper as he shot over 50% from outside for a season three times and as a senior played W.Liberty St. (NCAA2) playing 35 games averaging 25.5ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 49.6%, FT: 83.5%. He spoke to German Hoops at the end of his season with Ehingen.
Seger, thanks for talking to German Hoops Where are you at the moment and how did you spend your last days in your second professional season in Europe?
Right now I am at home in Berlin, Ohio. I will spend the summer here, working out everyday and getting better at my game. My last days In Ehingen I just relaxed and spent the days with my roommate Davonte.
Did you catch some sights in Europe after the season or did you return right away to home to Ohio? If yes what was the first thing you did before seeing family or friends? I can imagine you sought out one of your favorite local eateries?
I went right home after the season. My flight was scheduled 2 days after the last game so I didn’t have time to travel. My first stop at home was my favorite place to eat, chipotle. I really missed it and love it!
You had a solid season in terms of what you accomplished on the stat sheet, but your team Ehingen was unable to remain in the Pro A. With what kinds of feelings and thoughts do you have about your second professional season?
Obviously it was very tough losing as many games as we did. My whole life I have been on very high profile teams that win a lot of games. So being on the opposite side of that was tough, but a great learning experience. Also, our team never gave up and never felt sorry for ourselves and worked hard everyday. Besides losing, the season was a good one.
Team Ehingen had a record of 6-24 and was unable to stay in the league. It came to the last game day where you had to win. Instead of losing a close fought game, you were embarrassed losing 102-67 against the Hebeisen White Wings. At first glance one would be terrified and think, “what the hell happened”?
Our last game was rough. We had a great crowd and we knew what we had to do to win the game. The White Wings came out of the game and punched us in the face. They executed their game plan and played a near perfect game and we played a terrible game. I will give credit to them, they were ready to go and they delivered.
Did possibly the pressure get to the team or was this one of your classic days where nothing went right?
I don’t think the pressure got to us. Coming out of the gate they jumped out to a 10 point lead and we could never overcome that, which hurt us very bad. We knew we would have to have a great start to have a chance to win and we didn’t. So that hard very bad.
How instrumental was the season start of losing 8 of your first 9 games for the rest of the season? Except for one loss to the Hamburg Towers 74-70, you lost in double digits to the 7 teams. Why was the start so negative?
Our first 7 games we played all playoff teams, except Ulm. The Ulm game hurt because we should have won that first game. We knew the beginning was going to be tough with so many new and young players, but we battled every game I thought, but a couple didn’t go our way.
The team didn´t do a bad job in the scoring department averaging 77 points per game which was eighth best in the Pro A, but you never found a balance on the defensive end giving up 86 points on average which was 16th in the league. Why could the team not find a consistent basis on defense and what were the main problems?
We struggled on defense all year. The games that we won, we bunkered down and played great defense. It was a mix of a lot of things as to why we were not a great defense team, but it comes down to each person individually, including myself, to get stops.
Team Ehingen had a sold phase in January and February winning 4 of 5 games. What adjustments did the club make in this period to get on the winning street? It seemed like you defended better as a team and there was hope for staying in the league.
Yes, we were playing defense a lot better the second half of the year. We were one of the best shooting teams in the league all year percentage wise, so we knew if we played defense that we could beat anyone. I think during that span we were playing great defense and playing together as a unit.
Do you feel like the key game at the end was the 82-80 loss to Heidelberg? Had you won that Ehingen was likely would of saved themselves. What memories do you have of that game and with the outcome of how the season ended, do you remember those last plays more vividly?
The Heidelberg game was a very tough loss for us. We knew going in that we could win that game, but some plays down the stretch hurt us. We played really good basketball both offensively and defensively, but we couldn’t pull out the win and get key stops down the stretch that we needed to get.
Was the club´s biggest season success sweeping the Hamburg Towers or was it the victory against playoff team Trier?
I think beating Hamburg twice was really big for us. We matched up well against their club and played two great games against them. We felt like we could beat almost any team in the league if we played well, but those two games we played very well as a team especially on the defensive end.
What kind of experience was it playing with a scorer like Davonte Lacy. How did his overall play help your game mature in the German pro A this season?
Being able to live and play with Davonte was a huge blessing for me. He has experience both in the European leagues and the NBA G league. I have never played with another scorer that is on his level so it really helped me all year to get better as a professional. He is a great passer too and I think that goes overlooked because he is such a high volume scorer.
Speedy Gonzalez Achmadschah Zazai came late and despite his good play couldn´t save the club. What did you appreciate most about his game? Possibly his knack of getting you in the best position to score at a high rate?
Cha cha was a great player. The best thing he taught me was to be a professional. He came in every practice and set the tone for us. He really taught us that you need to work hard every day and that you cannot take any days off.
How did you see the development of young German Kevin Yebo who averaged 10,9ppg and 7,4rpg. He came from the Regionalliga which is 2 leagues below the Pro A. What part of his game improved the most and what is the next step for him?
I think the best part about Kevin’s game that improved the most over the season was physically. He got stronger throughout the year and he was grabbing more rebounds and got more stops on defense as the year went along. The future is very bright for him if he keeps working hard and getting better.
Let´s talk about your game. You averaged 12,6ppg, 2,0rpg and 2,5 apg with Ehingen. How content were you with your personal game in Germany. Do you feel it was an upgrade from your rookie season in Spain?
I think that individually I had a good year. I know what I need to get better at and that is rebounding and defense. And I think that as the year went on I got better at both of those. It was definitely an upgrade from my rookie season in Spain. I played a lot better and I was playing at my natural position as the 3, which I enjoyed very much.
When your a flat out knock down shooter like yourself, how do you rank a shooting season of 48,9% from outside after having shot over 50% three times in school? What kind of things do you look at when your shooting so well from outside besides shot selection?
Shot selection is key for me because I can shoot the ball so well. I am working this offseason in creating more space off of the dribble so that I can get off more shots in games. I feel like any shot that is in range with rebounders in rebounding position is a good shot.
any players dream of shooting above 40% as a professional from outside, but I imagine your goal is to be shooting over 50% as a professional. How difficult is a goal like this and what things does a 50% shooter need to know to do that most other shooters don´t know of?
My goal is to make every shot that I shoot. I know that is a very hard goal to possess, but that is my goal. I have great confidence in my shooting and scoring ability so any time I miss a shot I know that the next one is in. So that is my mentality in a game.
As a rookie you played in the Spanish Leb Gold which is the second professional league. How would you compare the second divisions from Spain and Germany? Are the top teams in Leb Gold more skillful, but the overall skill from 1-16 better in the German pro A?
I think that there are a lot of similarities between the Spanish Leb Gold and German Pro A. Both are very physical and very competitive. I think the German Pro A is a little more higher pace than Leb Gold, but I also played a different position in Leb Gold.
You have been a sniper your whole career. Which shooter has always been your role model and to what NBA player would you compare your game to?
I have watched Kyle Korver play and I really like the way we can shoot the ball off screens. I try to model my game after Klay Thompson because he is such a great shooter, but that isn’t all he can do. He can play the pick and roll, attack the basketball, create for others and I really like that about his game
Your shooting stands out, but how do you prove to people that you are a lot more than just a one dimension player and what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I know that I have a lot more to my game than my shooting. I have worked on my attacking and creating and have gotten a lot better at it this season. I am a great passer and I think that is one aspect of my game that goes overlooked because I am such a great shooter.
What is the next step for Seger Bonifant? You have proved in two strong leagues the last two seasons that you can be a consistent performer. Are you ready for a first division in a competitive league or would another Pro A season with a top team fit you best for a third professional season?
I have talked to my agent about next season. I really enjoyed my time in the Pro A and my agent and I will look over everything this summer and make a decision. My goal is to play in the highest leagues in Europe and I know that I can. I know that I still need some development and that is okay because I enjoy the process of getting better and I don’t take any day of this for granted. It is very exciting for me.
On what things will you be working most on this summer and how many shots do you put up on a daily basis? Does the drive to want to always be a better shooter force you to want to shoot more shots or is sometimes not the shot count important to get better, but other things?
Defense, creating my own shot are my top two that I will be working on this summer. I will be working out all summer and I know that the summer is when players are made so I am looking forward to it. I will get anywhere from 500-1000 shots up during the summer everyday. I know that my shooting can always get better so I never take a day off of shooting, but the other aspects of my game need to get better as well, so I am looking forward to working in those
What does it feel like be the best three point shooter ever in the NCAA? The record is amazing, but does a guy with your competitive edge have some kind of chip on your shoulder simply because you did it in the NCAA 2?
I will never take anything in my life for granted. Most people don’t realize how good high level division 2 programs are and I will always wear that badge with honor knowing I was at one of the best division 2 schools in the nation and competing at the highest level of D2. Having that record is great, but I am never satisfied as a player and I always want to get better every day.
You played your rookie season at Cocinas.com CB Clavijo Logrono (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 32 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.0rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 45.3%, FT: 82.9%. What was your wake up call to beíng a rookie in Spain where you knew that you were very far away from home in Ohio?
I definitely got home sick my first couple months my rookie season. No one speaks very good English so for me that was the biggest wake up call that I wasn’t close to home. But I love this game and you must make sacrifices for the things you love and I am willing to do that for basketball.
How valuable was it having a guy like Andre Norris on the team who played at Dubuque (NCAA3). Coming from a NCAA 2 school, you both knew what it was like not playing in the NCAA, but still getting a job in a top basketball country. How did your basketball backgrounds help you guys gel with each other on and off the court?
Playing with Andre was great because we proved that you can play at some of the highest levels of basketball in the world even if you attend division 2 or 3 schools. If you are good enough, the right people will find you and being able to share that with Andre was great. He is a great player and is having a tremendous year in Leb silver this year so it was an honor to get to play with him for a year.
You played at W Liberty(NCAA2) from 2012-2016 leading the school to an overwhelming 124-14 record. Despite breaking so many records and being the NCAA´s alltime leader in three point shooting percentage you never won a NCAA 2 title. When you look back at your career what were your highlights at W Liberty(NCAA2)?
I had a lot of highlights while I was at West Liberty. Playing in 3 Final Fours will always be the highlight of my career. Competing against the best teams in the country will never get old if you are a true competitor. My senior year in Frisco, Texas was special because our team was so close bonded. It was a great run and winning a D2 title was never attended, but it was always a special ride and I will never take that for granted.
You had so many amazing games, but where does your 37 points in 40 minutes on 7/8 shooting from outside in the 115-105 win against Concord?
That was a great game. Concord always had great teams while I was at West Liberty. They had a great head coach and would always play to our tempo, which was fun because most teams Tried to slow us down. I think that’s why playing Concord was always fun.
Do you still think about your last game with W Liberty where you exploded for 44 points in the 103-102 loss against Lincoln Memorial. Was this one of the most bitter loses in your whole career?
I will never forget that game for as long as I live. It was a great game against two great teams. We played a great game but we just came up short. I will always have a bond with those players for the rest of my life and never take that for granted. Besides losing that game, that trip was amazing.
How did head coach Jim Crutchfield groom and prepare you for a professional career best at W Liberty(NCAA2)?
Coach Crutchfield is one of the best coaches in the country at any level. His statistics prove that. He showed me that you need to play hard every second of every game and that will always give me and edge while I’m on the court for the rest of my career.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Zac Grossenbacher?
Zac and I both know who would win a game of one on one. Me.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in school, pro´s or pick up during the summer that is in the NBA now?
I have played against some great players in my career so far. I would say Jared Sullinger was one of the toughest. I played against him at a shootout while I was a sophomore in high school. He was very physical and surprisingly quick for his size. He is killing it in China now after playing for the Celtics and Raptors.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Lebron, MJ, Bird, Wilt
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?
I think Lebron is the best player to ever play. I won’t write a long response because it can go on forever haha
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?
No one played harder than Russel Westbrook in the NBA. I don’t think anyone can say otherwise. Rebounding is about effort and nobody can question his effort.
Deandre Ayton seems like he could be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must of seen some highlights of Real Madrid´s 19 year old stand out Luca Doncic who belonged to the best players in the Euroleague. Should a guy like that be the automatic #1 pick just from sheer experience and talent?
I feel like the draft has a lot in potential. Luca Donic has shown that he can play and dominate on the highest level of basketball besides the NBA. Whichever one you choose I think is a good pick. I think Donic will be a great NBA player.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
I feel like Lebron could average 15 assists if that is all he concentrated on. Even more if he really wanted to. He is such an amazing passer and that is so bard to do at such a high level.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
The last movie I saw was A Quiet Place. Is was a pretty good movie!
Thanks Seger for the chat.