Rayshawn Simmons is a 25 year old 192cm guard from St louis, Missouri, that completed his fourth professional season and first in Germany with Team Ehingen averaging 11,5ppg, 3,4rpg and 9,4apg. Last season he played with the Logan Thunder (Australia-QBL) playing 18 games averaging 12.6ppg, 4.1rpg, Assists-1 (8.4apg), FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 76.2%. As a rookie he played with Orli Prostejov (Czech Republic-NBL) playing 15 games averaging 11.9ppg, 4.5rpg, Assists-4 (5.3apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 26.1%, FT: 71.2%. He began his basketball career with Moberly Area CC and then finished at Central Michigan (NCAA) playing 95 NCAA games over the course of three seasons and as a senior played 33 game averaging 12.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 5.0apg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 28.3%, FT: 64.1%. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the 2018-2019 season.
Thanks Rayshawn for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
I’m currently in my hometown Saint Louis, Missouri (USA) spending some time with family.
It has been some months since our last interview. How has basketball time flown by in this time?
Basketball has been good. Took a tough first round loss in playoffs not long ago, so now I’ve just been relaxing spending time with family.
Congrats on helping Ehingen reach the Pro A playoffs. The team had a massive turn around from the season before. What was the secret to the success this season?
Thank you. The secret to the success was just a group of guys willing to do whatever it takes to win and having a group of guys that enjoyed playing together.
After remembering the season with Ehingen last season reaching position 15, what would you have said if somebody had told you in preseason that the club would finish in seventh place?
I was a guy that came in from day one and told the GM we would be going to the playoffs this year and emphasizing it to guys on the team until everyone believed it. The team last year had nothing to do with our group of guys.
Ehingen didn’t have an easy playoff foe with Heidelberg who swept you. After getting swept do you feel like the team underachieved a bit in the playoffs and should have given them a better fight?
No, I don’t feel like we underachieved at all. We had a team that could’ve advanced but after having two starters (one German and one American) go down with 4 games left in the season before the playoffs we knew we’d have our hands full. We were one of the youngest 3 teams in the league and had one of the lower budgets in the league, so making playoffs or even not finishing bottom two we couldn’t underachieve.
You came into the playoffs with the third best offense averaging 83 points per game, but against Heidelberg averaged only 69 points. Do you feel like the offense let you down or did Heidelberg defend better than what you expected?
Hat off to Heidelberg. They did a terrific job with their defensive scheme but the biggest difference in the scoring was Seger Bonifant and Tim Harsbargen being injured. Those were our two best shooters and Seger was the leagues best shooter. Those two combined average 24-26ppg.
Ehingen played with a slim rotation in the playoffs. How much of an effect did that have on your success?
That had a huge affect but we were forced to ride a slim rotation because of injuries.
Seger Bonifant missed a game and in the other two games couldn’t explode. Do you feel like the lethal Seger Bonifant was missing and if present would have turned the series into a different one?
The series would’ve definitely been different if he was able to play. I’m not saying we’d have won the series but for sure would’ve won a game.
It was a very special season for Team Ehingen. How vital was the team ability to always get up and being successful in certain down times of the season?
It was vital that we all maintained our relationships with each other because we all had a respect for each other and genuinely cared about each other.
The team played it’s best basketball in January and February winning 8 of 9 games. What was the team doing so well in this time that they couldn’t always do in other stretches of the season?
We just had it rolling then had some injuries and stuff going on in the month of March and cooled off.
The team had many big wins, but what was the team’s biggest win of the season? Possibly the two exciting back to back two point wins against Artland and Phoenix Hagen?
I would say the Paderborn game because it was a point in our season where it would turn into a couple straight wins or losses. I would probably say the win at Nuremberg in January as well.
You have seen many very talented shooters in your career with Seger Bonifant. Do you believe he has what it takes to get a chance to play in the BBL? Wouldn’t be a delight if you and him were in the BBL next season?
I believe there’s no real ceiling for him as a player and can play anywhere in Europe at the rate he shoots the ball. It would be nice for sure.
Another guy that has made huge strides is German Kevin Yebo. In our last interview you stated about him. Kevin Yebo is one of the best players in the league. He has no real ceiling & I’m excited to see him continue to improve this year & in his career. He’s a special player with athleticism you just can’t coach or teach. He’s extremely coachable with a eagerness to learn & improve daily. I really appreciate his natural feel for the game. He knows when to cut, pop, screen & fill the lane with me on the break in transition. We work & play off of each other extremely well. He’s a special talent who works hard & is also a testament to Coach Dom’s track record of improving players.’. Is he another guy ready for the BBL?
Yes, Kevin for sure is ready for the BBL, he’s a rare talent and only been playing basketball for about 6 years. HE’s only going to get better.
What kind of experience was it playing with versatile forward Tanner Leissner? How did his game make your game easier?
Tanner made my game easier just simply because I could always depend on him to be where he is supposed to be and if I saw something he would try it or challenge me to be better daily.
Talk a little about the development of German Dom Uhl and Gianni Otto. What strides did they make and what did you appreciate most about their games?
They both got a lot better from game 1 to the end but I feel we all did. I appreciate the fact that I knew no matter what I could count on them to make an impact in every game and never complain about minutes or touches.
Let’s talk about your game. You had very good stats in your first season in the German Pro A averaging 11,5ppg, 3,4rpg and 9,4apg in 30 minutes. How content were you with your personal season on the court?
I wasn’t content honestly because I feel I could’ve done more. I’m one of my toughest critics.
What do you believe your stats would have been had you played 36-37 minutes which are always possible in the Pro A?
I think my scoring would’ve been higher for sure and I probably would’ve averaged the double double. The season wasn’t about that though so I was never concerned. Wins and durability was more important to me.
In our last interview you stated that ‘. I think I can lead with the best of leaders in the world & have the ability to make every single guy around me better’. You didn’t lie because you led Ehingen into the playoffs a team that had been fighting against staying in the league the previous years. How do you feel did you grow as a leader with Ehingen?
Thank you. I think I grew as a leader and better at communicating or finding how to get certain people going or comfortable.
You showed that you are a very strong playmaker always finding your teammates and almost averaged 10apg. Was it just a few minutes that was missing for you to attain double double stats in points and assists?
I’m not going to blame it on minutes but even with minutes played it was attainable.
You stated in our last interview that your defensive qualities often go unnoticed on the court. Do you feel like area’s in your defensive game grew in the Ehingen system?
I think I learned how to be more active with my hands and being disruptive.
There are so many talented guards all over the world, but BBL teams get a closer look at the guys in Germany. Do you feel like possibly some BBL teams took notice? Do you feel like you could be an impact player in the BBL?
I hope so. I think I could impact a team for sure.
What was your personal best and favorite game with Ehingen? Possibly the wins against Heidelberg, Rostock or Trier?
My favorite game was the one at Rostock.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro A this season?
There was a lot of good guys. It’s tough to say just one.
What is the next step for you? Could you imagine remaining in Germany or would you like to give a new country and culture and basketball style a chance?
My next step is to continue getting better and I’ll discuss teams with my agent here soon.
On what things will you be working on this summer to continue to keep improving as a player and keep moving up the basketball ladder?
I will be working on getting my shot better along with becoming more flexible.
If you had to pick your personal favorite starting five of teammates over the years which players would you chose?
Chris Fowler Braylon Rayson Seger Bonifant Kevin Yebo Tanner Leissner
What is your personal opinion about the never ending debate of who is the greatest between Michael Jordan and Lebron James?
Two different eras and can’t compare.
What is your early opinion where Luka Doncic will end one day in the NBA? Could he be one of the greatest Europeans that ever played in the NBA when all is said and done?
He should win rookie of the year in my opinion and for sure.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Us. The new Jordan Peele movie.
Thanks Rayshawn for the chat.