Nick Hornsby is a 24 year old 201cm forward that was born in Irvine, California and completed his second professional season in Germany and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen helping them win the pro A title averaging 12,1ppg,7,5rpg and 3,4apg Last season as a rookie he played with Giessen 46ers II (Germany-ProB) playing 23games averaging 13.9ppg, 7.6rpg, 2.9apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 70.3% He also played 2BBL games for Giessen. He won two high school titles with Tustin and then played at Sacramento State from 2013-2017 playing a total of 123 NCAA games and was able to improve his scoring and rebounding each season. As a senior he played 31 games averaging 11.3ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 71.2%.He spoke to germanhoops.com at the end of the 2018-2019 season.
Nick thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Before we get to the incredible season, I have to ask you about your stomach. When you touch back down at home what will be the first eatery that you will visit?
The first place I’ll probably go eat at is either chronic taco or in and out . Those are usually my go to places once I land.
Congrats on winning the 2019 Pro B title. How good does it feel winning the title and where does this rank in your basketball career highlights?
Thank you. It feels great to win this especially with such great teammates to enjoy it with. It ranks pretty high I have won some titles before though back in high school.
How was the celebrations? Did the team do something special afterwards? Was there anything you learned about certain teammates in the celebration that you never would have dreamed of?
The celebration was great we all spent time together after the game that night and also a couple days afterwards. We all went bowling together as a team which was actually really fun.
It was the first time that the arena was sold out since the legendary game 5 against Frankfurt in 2008 which I luckily was at. Please describe the atmosphere and what your feelings were after the buzzer sounded?
That atmosphere was amazing especially seeing how the crowd began to grow more and more with every game. Everyone has always been loud and supportive no matter what time of day it was. After hearing the buzzer go off I was ecstatic! Knowing that everything we worked for had just come into fruition felt great.
After Munster played you tough in game one, the Bayer Giants Leverkusen came home and destroyed them. Was there anything special that head coach Hansi Gnad stressed before the game or was it pretty clear after a 28-2 season what had to be done?
No there wasn’t anything out of the normal Hansi said. We just all agreed that we had to do a better job with our defense and guarding the 3point line.
The Bayer Giants Leverkusen played a great game 2 at home hitting 11 three’s and outrebounding Munster by 26. How much fun was it playing this game at home and what will you always remember from it?
I’d say every game at home is exciting and fun. The most memorable thing for me will definitely be the fact that everyone got in the game and scored. I was really happy to see Jacob go in there and score.
Let’s talk about the season. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen came out strong and finished consistently until the end. Is this the greatest team that you have been a part of in your career?
I would say this team is tied with my old high school team. We had a very similar season and I have been blessed to be a part of both teams.
You stressed in our first interview this about the secret of the success. ‘The chemistry this team has together is great. We are all comfortable with each other and have a great time during every practice’. How do you feel was the team able to grow from the start to the end of the season?
I feel like we consistently kept that chemistry which was huge. We also learned how to adjust from game to game to different teams and situations.
It is never easy to have such a consistent season after teams keep gunning for you each weekend and the pressure builds. What was most key for the team being able to cope with the building pressure week in and week out?
I don’t believe we ever felt pressure at all which was nice. We just all wanted to go out there and get the job. We wanted to be successful and reach our goals as a team.
How much of a challenge was it for the team being the team that everyone guns for you. How do you feel did the team grow in character during the season? Did you see teammates make a special transition in their character just through this incredible season?
Like I said there was no pressure for us we were just excited and ready to play. I’d said people I saw make a good transition were both Lennart and Lars. They both grew and got better throughout the year.
Obviously the team chemistry was huge, but what part of the team’s game do you feel improved most over the course of the season?
I’d say our rebounding improved . We were always big but there were games we would rely on Dennis a lot. I think some guys stepped up in that aspect both while he was playing and once he got hurt.
The team had so many massive highlights during the season like the 103-101 win over Giessen, the exciting 94-92 playoff win over Schwelm or the crazy come from behind win in Bernau 101-97. What was your personal favorite team moment?
I’d say my personal favorite game would be the Bernau come back. As a team we had every emotion going through us. Definitely one of the best come backs I’ve ever seen and been a part of.
You stated this about head coach Hansi Gnad in our last interview. ‘Hansi is a great coach. A player’s coach as most people would say. He always gives me confidence in the things that I do which is great. The plays he has created for our team are great with the players that we have. He is a very good coach especially because of how successful he was in the past as player’. How do you feel did he grow further as a coach this season?
It being the first time he coached on this level he definitely grew more in a way of just understanding and trust certain decisions players made. He always gave us a chance to explain ourselves and just talk about what we thought would work.
What was your most special moment with Hansi Gnad this season. Was there a specific tip he gave you on or off the court where you will be forever grateful for?
I wouldn’t say there was a really special moment but he and our assistant coach Jacques helped me gain more confidently in my shot throughout the year.
Let’s talk about your teammates. You stressed this about the guard duo Nino Celebic and Alexander Blessig. ‘It’s very different to have two point guards on the court at the same time but I’d say they are the best duo in the guard spot. I have a lot of confidence in those two guys and trust them completely’. Would the Bayer Giants Leverkusen have been so successful without them?
That’s hard to say they are both really good point guards. We always did well with both on the court and even just one on the court at the time.
How vital was captain Tim Schonborn. He is a player where you will always get 100% and that lethal three pointer. Is there something you picked up from him in the leadership area?
Tim was very vital. He is a great shooter and brings a lot of energy with those shots. I would say I learned some different ways to look at the game talking to him.
The club had many young Germans like Lars Thiemann or Lennart Winter. Which player so you feel made the most strides this season?
I would definitely say both Lennart and Lars made huge strides. I’m proud of both of them because they play for three different teams and I know it’s trying and hard on the body and mental.
Let’s talk about your game. You led the team in scoring, rebounding and steals. How content were you with your personal game on the court?
I was very content. I feel like I had a solid year but I couldn’t do it without my teammates and coaches they made me feel comfortable and that’s huge.
You had a slow stretch in December, but in 2019 really picked up your game scoring in double figures in 13 of your last 15 games and had a massive playoffs. What was key in you making this turnaround in your game?
I would say the difference was just putting more time into the gym and giving myself more confidence. I’d also try not to force things if situations weren’t going well.
How do you feel did your game grow this season in a huge winning culture? Your stats didn’t change that much from last year despite playing 5 minutes less this season?
I’d say my game grew in a sense of licking and choosing better moments to attack. Also my confidence in my own ability grew as well. Playing less time never bothered me. I just knew I had to do the best I could and give everything I had with the time I was given.
You always strive to shoot over 40% from outside. This season you were close at 37%. How do you feel did your shot selection improve this season playing in a very team orientated offense with Leverkusen?
I’d say my shot selection was a little different from three mainly because I’d have to pick and choose when to shoot them more. We had great shooters on our team so I knew if I needed to make that extra pass I’d do it.
In our last interview you stated this concerning the BBL. ‘I think my hunger grows every day to be at that level. I know it takes time and I have things to improve on but it would be great to get there some day’. Are you the guy that will continue to go step by step? I’m sure the Pro A is suitable for you now?
Yeah I am definitely the guy that is trying to make the step by step process to get there. If the opportunity ever presented itself that’d be a blessing.
Even if you had a huge game in Bernau, I can imagine your buzzer beater in Munster was your season personal favorite game?
I would honestly say my favorite game was Bernau. I was extremely proud and happy that we were able to pull ourselves together and win that game coming back from down 21.
Please take me through that last shot against Munster. It seemed like you never looked at the shot clock. Was this whole experience just automatic?
What’s funny is I actually caught the ball and looked at the clock. Once I shot it though I thought it was going to bank in so did my teammate Michi. Sometimes in practice when we have breaks I mess around and shoot shots like that actually.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro B this season?
The toughest player I had to play against was probably Rasheed Moore. He was a good scorer and very athletic.
What is the next step for you? I can imagine you will stay in Leverkusen or will you seek another opportunity in another country?
I haven’t decided what my next step is. I am just happy to be back home with my family and friends right now.
On what things will you be focusing most in the lab this summer as you continue to look to improve your game?
I’d say something I want to work on this summer is my shot more. Also some more athleticism and strength.
Please name your five all-time best teammates in college and pro’s
That’s hard to do honestly I like all my teammates I’ve had . I’ve been really lucky with not having someone I don’t get a long with.
What was your most special Dirk Nowitski moment that you remember?
I never really watched basketball when I was younger so I don’t have one honestly.
What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?
I wasn’t surprised honestly. To me different eras will have their own greatest players of all-time. In my opinion he’s up there with Jordan for sure.
Charles Barkley recently proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion?
Tom Brady is a winner but I don’t know enough facts about his entire career to answer that.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Avengers End game which is probably a top 5 all time for me.
Thanks Nick for the chat.