Nijal Pearson (196-SF-1997, college: Texas St.) is a 24 year old 196cm forward from Beaumont, Texas playing his third professional season and second with the Rostock Seawolves currently averaging 12,3ppg, 7,0rpg, 2,6apg and 1,6spg. Last season with Rostock he averaged 14.1ppg, 5.6rpg, 3.2apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 32.9%, FT: 79.3%. He played his rookie season with Chorale de Roanne Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA) averaging 6.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 20.7%, FT: 66.7%, in Jan.’21 signed at Lahti Basketball (Finland-Korisliiga) averaging 22.1ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 81.3%. He began his basketball career at Beaumont Central High School
and then played at Texas State University at San Marcos (NCAA) from 2016-2020 playing a total of 131 NCAA games. He improved his scoring average each season and as a senior averaged 19.4ppg, 5.4rpg, 2.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 77.2%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Thanks Nijal for talking to germanhoops.com.You resigned with Rostock. How big of a motivation was being able to play in a top 5 league in Europe with the easyCredit BBL?
It is a big motivation to play in the BBL. I feel like I’m a high level player and can play at that level. I want to prove that I’m better then those high level players in the BBL. I love to play on a big stage.
I’m sure also that the fans played a huge role in you wanting to come back. Have you ever seen so passionate fans like the SeaWolves in your life?
I have only been overseas a short time, but so far I haven’t seen as passionate fans as ours. Our fans were really important in our success. I think that our fans will only get bigger now that we are in the BBL. We and our fans didn’t go to the BBL just to be here, but we will compete.
Congrats on winning the Pro A title over the Tigers Tuebingen last season. They were the number one team in the Pro A in the standings. The games were tight. How much of a role did your team experience play?
Even if we had a losing streak near the end of the regular season, we always felt that we were the best team in the Pro A. Experience played a huge role and only grew during the season. I learned a lot from our veterans. Our main scorers were new to this stage, but I felt like our guys all felt talented enough to play at a high level.
The team had a losing streak going into the playoffs but then had a 8-1 record to finish the season. What was key after the loss to PS Karlsruhe for the turnaround? Was there a team meeting or something? What happened then that allowed the team to sparkle the rest of the way?
We made some small tweaks and had just had Covid before the playoffs began. We were so motivated to finally play in the playoffs that we lost some games. But as soon as the playoffs began all we needed was one win and then it went from there.
What was the biggest strength of the team? Was it a combination of all knowing their roles and having that touch of unselfishness?
I think our biggest strength was our trust in each other. I think that every guy on the team could have done more. We could have had 4 different guys lead the team in scoring. It was all about opportunity and what the team needed in certain situations. Each guy did what was best for the team and help us win the title. Guys put their ego’s to the side.
How much of a pleasure was it being teammates with guards Chris Carter, Jordan Roland and Brad Loesing. What did each guy give the team best for the success?
They were all great teammates. It was a big differnce to what I had been accustomed to to having 2 veteran point guards. They were great leaders while Roland is a great scorer. All were hard workers and very attentive. They also are very professional and were always locked in.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 196cm swing man. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
I would compare my game to a Marcus Smart or Jimmy Butler. I feel like I’m a player that can impact the game on and off the stat sheet.
You’re a guy that has proved in school and in the pro’s that you can score and also fill the stat sheet. What other strengths does your game incorporate?
Everything. There isn’t anything that I can’t do. I’m a well rounded player.
Is your three ball still a work in progress? Do you feel like you can grow into a 40% shooter? How much of self-confidence plays a roll in your shooting?
I want to get to the 44%-45% mark. I never stop working on my shot. My shot isn’t a strength but it isn’t a weakness either. I feel like that if I can continue to improve my shot that it then could have a big impact on my career.
You continue to be a very ambitious defender. Where do you see yourself as a defender now and where do you still want to get to?
We were the best defensive team in the Pro A. I led my team in steals and blocks. I feel like I was the best defender in pro A last season. I like to anchor the defense from the wing and fly on defense and make plays all over the court. I want to be the best defender in the BBL. I trust my feet and the angles on the court. I know that there are many great players in the BBL, but it is all about making it tough for guys and making an impact.
On what area’s of your game are you working on most so you can continue to grow as a player?
I’m working on everything. I’m a work horse and love to work in the lab. I love to improve and learn new things. Even if I were to make the NBA and win some rings, I wouldn’t be satisfied. I would still be in the lab each day and want to get better. There guys out there that aren’t honest with themselves and can’t self reflect on what they need to work on.
In your rookie season you split time with Chorale de Roanne Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA) averaging 6.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 20.7%, FT: 66.7%, in Jan.’21 signed at Lahti Basketball (Finland-Korisliiga) averaging 22.1ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 81.3%. How tough was Covid for you and how much of a factor was it for you leaving France to go to Finland?
My rookie season was difficult. It was difficult coming overseas and having to start my professional career with Covid. I had to fight against lock downs, rules and overseas life. I felt a lot of pressure and couldn’t be in a smooth environment because of Covid. I felt like I was playing in a bowl. I left a lock down in the states to arrive to one in France. I knew that times were tough, but it was either about figuring it out or being left behind. I figured it out. I’m glad that I went through it. It was a very important experience for me.
What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie in France where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I don’t know. I had no crazy life changing experiences. Everything was so Covid. Rostock felt like my rookie season.
You then finished the season very strong in Finland. You needed no adjustment period there. Do you feel like your game was suited better for the Korisliga?
Obviously the Korisliga was a lesser league than France Pro A. My situation in France wasn’t easy. At that time with Covid, I was just too young to understand how to succeed at that level. In Finland I understood that I had to show that I belonged. I led the league in scoring as a rookie. That wasn’t easy to do. There are some very good players in that league. Finland was a lot about having confidence and refinding my love for the game.
You had a great playoff series against Vilpas averaging 22/5/2 stats and lost a tough series including the last 3 games combined only by 10 points. What will you always remember from this series?
I learned that winning a playoff series isn’t about only 1 guy. I felt that I f I could score 25-30 points we would win. But I learned that if you don’t get your teammates involved you don’t win. I learned it isn’t only about always scoring but making the right play at the right situation.
You played at Texas State University San Marcos from 2016-2020 playing a total of 131 games and improved your scoring average each season. How do you remember growing as a player there?
I was focused and attentive and always had that will to get better. I wanted to get better each day. Each day was a grind to get better. I would complete a task and then I was on to completing the next task. I never relaxed. My ambition to grow was very big.
You lost 2 Sun Belt finals. Which one was the toughest?
The first one was tougher. I was sure that I would be back multiple times. I took the first one for granted. They were both good experiences and got me prepared for my Rostock season. I feel like we could of won my senior year but Covid stopped that.
You had so many personal memorable games against schools like Arkansas State, Portland, Coastal and Bethany just to name a few. Which was your most memorable?
I don’t know. I can give you so many memories of so many games. I can still describe so many different situations of different games
How did Danny Kaspar groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
He made sure that we came to work each day. He played many mental games and made sure that we were mentally tough. If it was playing overseas or having a 9-5 job, he made sure that we were prepared for life. He would have mental road blocks and it wasn’t always easy, but I’m glad that he did that.
Who won a 1-1 back in the day you or Kavin Gilder-Tilbury who played 3 years in German
He can’t beat me. He is a very smart player and would make you pay when you turned your head. But he definitely was a great player.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that would go to the NBA?
Kevin Hervy was a big time player as was Rashawn Thomas.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Jarrett Allen, Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, Ronald March, Tre Larenz-Nottinghill, Jaylen Shead
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
Jordan. Jordan’s basketball ability and fluidity was unmatched. Lebron is the best athlete with a brain. Kobe reached a level in 2008-2009 that no player ever reached. But if Steph wins 2 more titles, then he is the greatest of all-time for me.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I saw it. They shouldn’t have left it alone. It was cool but not as good as the first.
Thanks Nijal for the chat.