Donnell Cegers (197-PF-1993, college: NMU) is a 29 year old 197cm forward playing his second professional season and first with BC Raiffeisen Flyers Wels (Austria-BSL). He played his rookie season with BC Zestaponi 2020 (Georgia-A League) averaging 20.1ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.2apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 59.4%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 78.7%. Last season he split time with Delikatesas Joniskis (Lithuania-NKL) averaging 19.6ppg, 7.8rpg, 2.6apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 62.1%, 3FGP: 28.3%, FT: 76.1%, in Feb.’22 moved to BC Telsiai (Lithuania-NKL) averaging 12.7ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 62.5%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 76.0%. He began his basketball career at Marquette University High School and then proceeded to play at 3 schools starting with Kishwaukee College (JUCO) averaging 16.4ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 67.5%, St. Cloud State University (NCAA2) averaging 9.2ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 68.2% and Northern Michigan University (NCAA2) averaging 10.0ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 23.3%, FT: 67.3%. He spoke to eurobasket before a test game in Frankfurt against the Fraport Skyliners.
Thanks Donnell for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
I am currently in Wels, Austria. Playing for the Wels Flyers. Basketball here is treating me well. A great group of hard working guys and when the work ethic is there success is bound to follow
Your playing your first season with BC Raiffeisen Flyers Wels (Austria-BSL) and are playing a test game in Germany today against the Fraport Skyliners. What do you know in general about the country and it’s basketball?
I know Germany is a very well respected country for basketball and is recognized/watched throughout Europe. It will be a great experience to play against a team there.
The thing that stands out most in your Bio is the massive gap between 2016 to 2021 where you played no pro basketball. Why did you start your professional career so late?
After I finished playing college basketball in 2016 I finished school in 2017. From there went home and tried to continue my career through a few different outlets that didn’t work out. That’s the short answer, but eventually I was able to get an opportunity and kept it going from there.
What kind of life did you have the last 5 years. Were you 100% focused on a job or was basketball always in the back of your mind?
Basketball was always the goal but of course when you’re not getting paid you have to find another way to make a living. So I worked jobs but would stay active with basketball and working out.
Were you able to keep in shape regularly the last 5 years? How did your whole fitness and basketball skills training look like the last 5 years?
I was able to stay in shape. Probably not top basketball shape seeing as I wasn’t playing for a club where basketball and training was the focus every day. But I never let myself get out of shape in such a way where I wouldn’t be able to compete.
Wels has won 3 titles. How much of a joy has it been playing for the Flyers Wels? What have you learned to appreciate most about the organization?
The biggest joy I’ve had here so far is the focus on getting better. The coaches really stress the importance of improving every day and from a personal standpoint I like that. From a team standpoint I like it as well because it sets a level of accountability for everyone to keep progressing at the same rate as the rest of the team.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 197cm forward that can do it all. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would be the best match?
That’s a tough question because I don’t really try to model my game after any particular player. But I believe the player that my game resembles the most would be Charles Barkley. Slightly undersized forward that’s physical and has versatility.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet with ease. Would you call yourself a modern day forward?
I believe I’m a modern day forward. But I also believe basketball has evolved to where the ‘modern day forward’ has become the norm and older styles of play for forwards is become obsolete. So it’s more so adjusting the game nowadays and what will make you an asset for a team.
How big is versatility in your game? You seem to be a guy that enjoys to facilitate’
Versatility is a very important aspect of my game because it allows me the ability to constantly have an impact no matter what may be going right or wrong any given night. If I were to just score, on an off night I wouldn’t be able to contribute much. But having the ability to do multiple things within the game allows me to remain a threat no matter how one aspect is going.
On what area’s of your game are you still working on to keep moving up the ladder?
Nobody is perfect so I don’t just work on improving one area of my game. I want to improve everything. Even Steph Curry works to improve his jump shot and he’s the best shooter in the world. I believe if you aren’t improving/getting better then you’re getting worse, so I want to improve on all aspects of my game. I may give more attention to certain aspects but I still work on my overall game constantly.
You put up great stats. How do you explain the consistency in stats for different teams after a very long absence from the game?
Like I said before basketball was always the goal so I never stopped playing. I stayed in shape, worked out, continued to play locally and most importantly still had the drive and love for the game. So the biggest adjustment getting into professional basketball after a few years was getting the rhythm for the game and timing back.
As a rookie you played for BC Zestaponi 2020 (Georgia-A League) averaging 20.1ppg), 8.3rpg, 2.2apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 59.4%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 78.7%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie oversas where you knew that you were very far away from home?
The biggest wake up call or difference was the expectations. It’s expected clubs want you to perform in games but there are also expectations in practice, conditioning, lifting, etc. Having eyes on me to perform well in everything we did as a team no matter what was one of the biggest wake up calls.
You were teammates with James Fleming who is playing in Germany this season with Paderborn. Have you been following his career and what did you learn to appreciate most bout him as a person and player?
Of course I’ve been keeping up with James and everything he has going on, on and off the court. We keep in touch with each other so it’s easier to know exactly what’s going on rather than having to search for news. But the things I learned to appreciate from him are 1: how genuine of a person he is. 2: his work ethic and dedication. His passion and never quit attitude pushed me to go harder. He’s very dedicated and hard working so I’m excited for his success to come this season.
You steadily moved up the basketball ladder playing JUCO, and NCAA 2. How vital was it for you personally being able to play at 3 schools instead of 1 school? What were the biggest things you learned at each institution?
I wouldn’t say it was vital. I would just say that was my path. I believe most things happen for a reason and whether that reason was good or bad I learned from each situation. The biggest lesson I learned at juco was that ‘killer’ mentality on the court and competitiveness. At St. Cloud I started to see a more business side to basketball. Coaches jobs are potentially on the line every year so they’re not going to coddle a player. It’s up to the player to perform and earn everything. At northern the biggest lesson I learned was the importance of maturity. I may not have realized its importance in the time I was there, but looking back later I was able to really learn from mistakes and certain situations.
You begam your career with Kishwaukee College (JUCO) averaging 16.4ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 67.5%. ). Each guy I have interviewed that played JUCO has said it was a very tough experience but one they wouldn’t have traded in for the world? How was it for you?
I would describe it that same way. Everyone is working hard to get better, play more, play well, and get a scholarship. So it was very intense but taught me a lot of valuable lessons and introduced me to a lot of life long friends. Being young and on your own for the first time in college and sharing similar goals/interests with your teammates, along with working hard everyday together and supporting each other creates a lasting bond. Nothing compares
In your second season you played for St. Cloud State University (NCAA2) playing 21 games averaging 9.2ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 68.2%. You had good games with much minutes and other games where you played 4 ot 7 minutes in total?
To be completely honest, I really don’t remember much about the college games at St. Cloud and Northern. Other than a few memories here and there I can’t really recall everything.
You played your senior year at Northern Michigan University (NCAA2) averaging 10.0ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 23.3%, FT: 67.3%. How did head coach Bill Sall groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
I wouldn’t say one coach in particular groomed me to be a professional. If anything I would attribute life lessons more to preparing me for a professional career. There a certain things you have to learn on your own that others can tell you but you won’t fully understand or listen to until you experience it.
Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Isaiah Johnson?
Isaiah Johnson is my little bro so of course I’d win. He’s also a very good player who has improved his game a lot and who I’m expecting big things from.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced that reached the NBA?
The toughest player I played against was Joe Alexander by far. I think he played for the bucks if I’m not mistaken and also played in Israel a few seasons.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
With all due respect to the players I’ve played with it would be impossible to name only five. Some are the best teammates I’ve played with based on skill and other are the best teammate based on relationship. And to me those go hand in hand. This may sound funny but basketball isn’t always about basketball and some teammates understand that more and it shows. And I’ve honestly have never had a bad teammate. I’ve heard some horror stories from others about conflict with their teammates but fortunately for me I’ve never had to experience anything like that. And for that I am grateful for all of my past and current teammates.
Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Stephen Curry, Giannis, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Lebron James.
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
Jordan is the greatest. End of debate.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I actually haven’t seen the sequel. I heard mixed reviews about it which made me kind of nervous to watch it I guess. But it’s always hard to duplicate a classic so either way some people are naturally going to think the first movie is better.
Thanks Donnell for the chat.