Brantley Bynum is a 196cm forward from Visalia, California that recently finished his two year NCAA career at San Francisco St. (NCAA2) where he played a total of 57 NCAA games. As a senior he played 30 games averaging 15,4ppg,6,6rpg and 1,8apg. Before playing at San Francisco St. (NCAA2), he played at Sequoias CC (JUCO). His uncle is John Bynum who had a long professional career in Germany. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Brantley thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your offseason coming along?
At the moment I am in San Francisco. This off season is a little bit different. This is the first time that I have not had a coach help me with workouts out or have to go to practice. It’s really tough seeing all of your and former teammates getting ready for practice.
You just finished your basketball career at San Fransciso State recently. With a guy coming from Visalia what kind of experience was it being able to live 3 years in possibly one of the most beautiful cities in America. How did experience being able to get an education and play basketball in a city instead of going to school at one of the other smaller CCAA schools?
San Francisco is really really nice. At first I would say it was a complete culture shock because everything was so different. The people are different and the city actually a city compared to a small little farm town. There are so many things to do and Sf is so cultured. There is so much culture at Sf that you get to learn a lot about different people and their beliefs. Sf does not have a huge campus but the school is in the middle of everything. You can get to the beach in 5 minutes and then go downtown in about 10 minutes if there is no traffic. A lot of the other campuses in our league are kind of in the middle of no where and at times they would not have a lot of people at their games to support or help out there schooled programs.
Like so many players form the states, you had to work your way up the ladder in the college ranks. You started at Sequoias CC (JUCO). Coming out of high school was this a tough blow having to go first to a junior college?
It actually wasn’t. A lot of people think that junior college is a cake walk but it is a lot harder than what people think. Unlike in the NCAA there are no rules when it comes to practice times and how long you can be on the court or working out. If a coach wants to practice for 4 or 5 hours then you have to do it. There your team is only allowed 20 hours a week of gym time. Also there are a lot of grown men in junior college. I just graduated from college and I am 18 playing against grown men that are 24 and 25. If you ask anyone it is not easy to make it out and a lot of people do not get the chance to play at the next level.
How did this one year shape you mentally? Often players I interview who started at a JUCO school mention that they learned toughness starting at the bottom. What do you feel did you gain most starting your college career at Sequoias CC.
The thing that I gained the most was probably work ethic. I always been a gym rat but this was the first time that I actually had access to a gym whenever I wanted. Another thing would be confidence. I learned that it may be one of the most important things. If you do not believe in yourself that you are going to make the shot or win the game your not going to do it.
You averaged 16,7ppg there. How confident were you after one season there that you could make the next step up a level? How do you feel did your game progress in that year since high school?
Ever since high school I have got better and better. After having a pretty good season this year I was really confident because of how much I have improved from year to year. I work really hard on my game to make sure that I can help my team be successful.
You then made the next step to San Francisco St. (NCAA2). In your first season there you played 27 games averaging 5.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 27.8%, FT: 76.5%. You averaged 20 minutes per game. How content were you with your debut year there?
To be honest I was embarrassed how I played. That year was really tough because one of our big men was out almost the whole season so coach would put me in at center. It was so hard trying to play my game but I had to play center because we did not have anyone else to play the position. Also we were not winning a lot of games so it just made it a lot harder. We also had 7 or 8 new guys on our team who were all used to being the number option on their team so we all had to adjust to that to.
That first season you scored in double figures in 6 games. Was one of your most memorable games your 12 point effort near the end of the season in the tight 73-71 win against CS San Marcos?
Yeah it would have been the game against San Marcos. It is when I finally felt like I was playing like how I used to play.
You didn´t play your second season. You were redshirted. How much of a blow was this for you? How tough was this? Was this a real mental challenge for you?
It honestly really helped out my game. This is when coach would put me on the scout team and he would tell me to do whatever the other team´s best player would do. After doing this over and over every day at practice it helped me so much with my game. The hardest part for me was not going out there to play with my teammates. That year we had one of the best records in school history and was ranked in the top 25 for most of the year. It hurt to know that I could have helped the team when the conference championship or win the west region if I would have been able to play.
You really broke out in your senior season at San Francisco State playing 30 games averaging 15,4ppg, 6,6rpg,1,8apg and 1,0spg. What did you learn about your game as a senior? How did your game develop further in your senior year?
It is not so much what I learned, but I just wanted to show everybody that I was one of the best players in our league. I started a little slow in the beginning of our season because we would often change our starting line ups but once we kind of figured things out that is when I started playing really good and the best thing about it is that we were also winning. I felt like I was getting better and better. Coach gave me the green light so I was able to play free with a clear mind. By the end of the season we were all playing our best basketball so it just felt really good.
You really became a consistent scorer. You had a great stretch in wins against CS Los Angeles, CS East Bay, CS Montery and Holy Names dropping 22, 27,28 and 24 points. Was this your best stretch of your senior year as a player?
Yeah I would put it up there for one of my best stretches of the season. My coaches and teammates put me in a position to score and would make my job really easy. Plus they would always be yelling at me to shoot the ball so I made sure to do it because if I didn’t take a shot coach would sit me down. I really just wanted to win games and was trying to do whatever it took to when those games.
You had many big games, but where does the 69-66 win against CS San Marcos in your second to last professional game rank where you were a key part scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 boards?
That is a game that I am going to remember for a long time. During the season I would always have a really good game against them but in the end we would come up short. This time we were finally able to beat them and knock them out of the tournament. Also it was really nice to shut down their crowd and win the game in overtime. A lot of people in the conference thought we were going to lose the game but it was great to prove them wrong.
Let´s talk about your game. You have defensive versatility and can jump out of the gym. So we can get a better idea of your playing style, to what NBA player would you describe your game to?
I think Rudy Gay because we both can play on the inside and the outside.
You can score, rebound the ball, play great defense and your athleticism is off the charts. But what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that has been overlooked the last years?
One of the things that is overlooked is my jump shot. A lot of people do not think I can shoot but I feel like that is one of the things that I am going to have to prove to people. Also every year I have shot a pretty good field goal percentage. And lastly is I am a team player. I have always been willing to make the extra pass and pass up a good shot for a great shot.
Now going the possibility of a professional career on what things are you planning to keep working on? You shot under 30% from outside the last two years. I would imagine working on this is a big goal this summer?
Yeah that is the biggest thing that I am going to improve. During the middle of the season to about the end of the season is when I starting to really shoot the 3 ball. This was my first season in a while where I was not always playing in the post. I was able to actually get game reps instead of just shooting them in practice which helps a lot. But I’m going to make sure that I keep working on it to prove to people that I am a better shooter than what people think.
How did head coach Vince Inglima groom and prepare you best for a possible professional career at San Francisco State in your three years there?
At first he was our assistant coach for two years but when our head coach left for a new job he took over. At first it was hard because all of us were so used to our old coach that we did not really want to give him a chance because we kept on comparing him to our old coach. But he did pretty good as a first year head coach. He helped but we had some really good assistant coaches who were helping me whether it was working out or trying to help my teammates get better.
Who won a one on one in practice Jase Wickliffe or you?
That’s a easy one I beat Jase every single time we play one on one.
Your uncle John Bynum raves about your game and must be one of your biggest fans. How important has he been for your game over the years? He also started his career at Sequoias CC (JUCO) and played at a NCAA 2 school Metro State and then had a long and successful 12 year professional career.
He had always been really important. It is nice having someone in your corner who has actually gone and done the things that I am doing. Sometimes it is hard to listen or take advice from people who may have never played or been in your situation before. One of the best things about him is that he keeps it real. If your acting up or not playing good he is not going to lie to you and tell you something just to make you happy. He will always be honest and tell you if you played a bad game or anything like that.
Does the fact that he had a 12 year professional career give you hope that his advice will rub off on your positively? What kind of plan do you have now with your quest of becoming a professional?
Yeah I know his advice will rub off on me. A lot of people have to go through this process by themselves or without anyone who knows what it takes to become a professional. Since he has done it and been successful it would help me out a lot.
How much would you like to play in Germany? Your uncle John Bynum started out in the third league Regionaliga in 2002 with BSG Grevenbroich. Would you be prepared to start all over again in a lower league if given the chance?
It would be great. I wouldn’t mind starting off in a lower league and having to work my way up. I just want to be able to have the chance to play at a high level and be successful.
If you could describe your game in a few sentences that would make any professional team interested in you how would you do it best?
The best thing about my game is that I am able to do a lot of things. I can guard multiple positions and can score from the inside and the outside. My athleticism helps me with my defense and I also am able to rebound.
San Francisco State has sent quite a few players to the pro ranks. One of those is Joe Asberry who had a great career and now works in the Alba Berlin system. Do you remember hearing any stories about him at San Francisco State?
To be honest my coaches have never mentioned his name to me. You do not get to hear a lot of stories because in the past a lot of people thought that Sf was going to be a easy win but we have been changing that in the last couple of years so hopefully they can keep it up.
Your uncle does mention that you lose against him in one on one. Please set the record straight. Who wins these games really?
He only beat me one time but it was a long long time ago. Once I started to get good he did not want to play me anymore because he said he was to old, but he knew that he was going to lose.
What is a hidden secret about John Bynum that nobody in Germany would ever know about?
That is a tough question he does not keep a lot of secrets so it is hard to tell.
Do you get to work out with the NBA Zeller brothers in the summer in Visalia or even other players? How has these experiences helped you best?
Not really. Most of the time I when I came back home for the summer I would workout with my old COS coaches so they would always keep in shape. It is nice because you are still able to play against good competition and stay in shape. But in Visalia there is literally nothing to do and it is so hot outside that a lot of us would go to the gym and workout.
How does a summer work out plan look like for you on and off the court?
Off the court it starts off with getting stronger. I do a lot of workouts in the pool because it is less strain on my body. Of course I am in the gym. I go twice a day one in the afternoon and then another time in the evening. It really does not change a lot from the regular season. The only difference is I am able to workout a lot harder because I don’t have to save my body for the game so I am able to go 100 percent.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
My Rushmore would be Lebron, Kobe, Jordan, and then Shaq. But it is so hard to only choose four players.
You obviously grew up in the Lebron era, but what is your personal opinion about the neverending debate of the who´s the best of all-time Jordan or James?
It is so hard for me to be able to compare the two players because they are so different. I never had the chance to watch Jordan play a 82 game season so I only get to watch highlights of what he has done. But if I had to choose one I would say Lebron. There is just nothing on the basketball court that he can´t do. He has played at a very high level throughout his whole career and been at the top for almost his whole career. But if I could draft any player my first pick would be Lebron.
You like the Oklahoma Thunder. How disappointed were you that this team couldn´t function properly with three superstars. What do you think will be the next step for this club?
It was tough to watch them play this season. I am a huge Carmelo fan and was hoping they were going to have a really good season together but they just could not put it together. The next step is Westbrook. I don´t know if he is going to be able to change how he plays. They just can’t seem to win plus he does not make his teammates better. As you have seen over the years when players leave they seem to get better
A poll of NBA coaches voted for coach of the year and Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens got no vote. How can that happen considering how he has developed the team in the last few years. Is there jealously among the coaches?
I don’t think that there is jealousy in the league. I just feel like they have to give the award to someone new every year. I believe that Brad Stevens is the best coach in the NBA. I think just because the Raptors got the number one seed in the east they felt like they had to give it to him but I was in awe when I saw that he did not get 1 vote.
Will the Boston Celtics be able to win the NBA championship next year with Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving and their nice supporting cast?
I don´t know but their team is really good. When your team is winning like that it is hard to keep your team because players want more money and want to be able to play big minutes. They could but they would have to go through Lebron if he stays in Cleveland but they have a really good chance to make it to the finals. But if the Warriors stay together that is going to be a very hard team to beat. I think that they are one of the best teams to ever play.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Bad Boys 2. I don’t like going to the movies so I have not seen a new movie in a long time.
Thanks Brantley for the chat.